Dan Richardson, Head of Operations, Aslam Pathiri, Manager, Hatchery & Nursery Operations, and Fayas Buhary, Manager Special Projects present seabass fingerlings to a farmer
In an effort to bolster national fish production as well as to improve the livelihoods and food security initiatives of smallholder farmers in Sri Lanka, Oceanpick (Pvt) Ltd. -South Asia’s spearheading oceanic farming operator-, recently distributed free fingerlings to small-scale fish farmers across the island. The distribution was undertaken in the presence of officials from the National Aquaculture Development Authority of Sri Lanka (NAQDA), and served to attest to the sustainable aquaculture company’s commitment to supporting local start-ups of artisanal Seabass farming operations.
A joint venture between Aberdeen Holding, Kames Fish Farming Ltd. of Scotland, and other investors-, Oceanpick was founded in 2011 with the aim to narrow the demand-supply gap of premium quality seafood without compromising on dwindling species numbers. Having started off as South Asia’s first ever commercial-scale offshore oceanic farm for finfish, and currently still the only offshore aquaculture operation in Sri Lanka, the BOI-approved company’s operations are highly sustainable, harnessing the strong currents and high quality of seawater off the northeast coast of the island to allow the fish to breed and thrive in its natural saltwater environment.
Operating from its main Seabass and Barramundi hatchery and farming facility in the untouched waters of Trincomalee, Oceanpick is positioned with a geographical advantage, nestled amongst a major aquaculture hub alongside India and Bangladesh. However, the sustainable marine fish farm has taken the lead in Seabass and Barramundi culture, having recently being awarded the Global Aquaculture Alliance’s Best Aquaculture Practice (BAP) certification for Barramundi in South Asia; highlighting Sri Lanka on the map as having the first BAP-certified aquaculture facility in the region.
Seabass farming has proven to be an effective and sustainable economic activity; one that has the capacity to increase the income of fishing communities owing to its low environmental and operational costs.
At the Oceanpick facility, Seabass fingerlings are first allowed to hatch out and grow in the company’s on-shore nursery located close to the sea sites, and are then transferred to sea cages anchored to the ocean floor, where strict biosecurity standards are maintained and the waters consistently monitored for temperature and salinity. In 2019 alone Oceanpick facilitated the growth of over a million fingerlings, and as a result, were able to produce a surplus that is now able to benefit the growth of the fisheries sector in more ways than one.
“Over the years our facility has played a significant role in responsible farming that produces all-natural, nutrient-rich, and superior quality seafood, underscoring the sustainability of our facility and overall operations,” said Dan Richardson, Head of Operations at Oceanpick. “However, smallholder fish farmers are as crucial for the future growth of the fisheries sector. We felt the need to step in to strengthen connections by combining our resources, with the aim to both boost production as well as help restore livelihoods.”
Fayas Buhary, Manager Special Projects, Dan Richardson, Head of Operations, Aslam Pathiri, Manager, Hatchery & Nursery Operations present seabass fingerlings to farmers (2nd and 4th from left)
Oceanpick seabass fingerlings ready to be distributed in support of small-scale fish farmers