The government this week decided to stop issuing permits for prawn farms in Puttalam due to poor farming practices, while pledging to provide support for the setting up of farms across other parts of the country.
“We will stop issuing licences for prawn farming in the Puttalam district, and will provide the facilities for prawn farming to be developed in other parts of the country,” Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Ministry Secretary Mangalika Adikari said in an official statement.
She said that this was done under the instructions of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Minister Mahinda Amaraweera.
“Further, we will be providing the facilities and reserving land for prawn farming in the aquatic farm complexes being built in the districts of Mannar and Batticaloa,” she added.
The Ministry said that the lack of regulation of prawn farms in the Puttalam District has created an environment conducive for the spreading of dangerous viruses and bacteria, such as the White Spotted Disease.
“Protective steps have not been taken in discharging the water in use by the farms, which leads to the spreading of dangerous viruses and bacteria among prawns,” it added.
Adikari said that a task force and an action committee have been formed, and the task force will investigate and compile a report on the situation within 3 months.
The decisions were conveyed at a meeting held this week in which various government agencies and the private sector took part.
Official data showed that 7,090 tonnes of prawns were produced in farms in 2015. In 2016, from January to April, 1,340 tonnes of prawns were produced, compared to 590 tonnes year-on-year (YoY), signifying a 127 percent increase.
Sri Lanka exported 1,341 tonnes of prawns in 2015, decreasing from 2,000 tonnes YoY, due to the EU fisheries ban. The value of prawn exports fell to Rs. 1.97 billion from Rs. 3.38 billion YoY.
Exports of lobsters—farmed similar to prawns—fell to 204 tonnes from 301 tonnes YoY, as export earnings fell to Rs. 777 million from Rs. 1.15 billion YoY. (CW)