If Sri Lanka was able to exploit the sea to its full potential it will be able to present a ‘Sea Budget’ and refrain from obtaining loans from global financial agencies and donors, Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne said.
Addressing a ceremony held in Matara, Nunawella to mark the opening of the ‘Community Centre’ Dr. Senaratne said it is sad to note that 21% of children in the country are malnourished, which is a scar on the image of Sri Lanka.
“Our main target in the fisheries sector is to support the government to eradicate malnutrition and anaemia. To do this, we must exploit the resources of the outer periphery of our sea and engage in deep sea fishing. I expect to deploy 400 multi-day fishing boats for fishing in international waters,” Minister Senaratne said.
The crew for these multi-day fishing craft will be recruited from among foreign nationals, as Sri Lanka faces a severe dearth of fisheries technicians. But the first training institution of fisheries technicians at Beruwela will produce the fisheries professionals needed for the country in the future, he said.
The future of the world economy remains in the sea and man’s existence remain in the fisheries industry. That was why the International Monetary Fund has mooted the idea of a ‘Blue Ocean’ programme. Therefore, each and every country that has the ocean as a part of its boundary and islands needs to have a national plan to exploit the sea for its development,” Dr. Senaratne emphasised.
Minister Senaratne said the Fisheries Bank will be established in 2012 with the assistance of foreign investors. Fishermen will have the opportunity to obtain a loan in double quick time for the minimum possible interest once the Fisheries Bank is established.
Minister Senaratne expressed his gratitude to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for its support to develop the fisheries sector in Sri Lanka. (By Sandun A. Jayasekera)