Fish prices to drop sharply | Sunday Observer
Surge in fish resources soon - NARA

Fish prices to drop sharply

23 July, 2023

There will be significant surge in productivity and a remarkable increase in fish resources in Sri Lankan waters from now until December, according to the National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA).

The head of the Marine Biological Resources Division at NARA, Dr. R. P. Prabath Krishantha Jayasinghe said there had been a shortage of marine fish in recent months. He attributed the scarcity of fish resources to the delayed southwestern monsoons, which had hindered the upwelling of cold, nutrient-rich water from beneath, which are essential to fertilise biological productivity in the Sri Lankan seas.

Dr. Jayasinghe said, “The monsoons are rapidly approaching, and this will bring about a significant change in the situation,” adding that marine environmental conditions can lead to substantial shifts in fish distribution and density within short timeframes, which will have notable implications for fishing abundance.

Dr. Jayasinghe referred to the current high prices of fish in the market and assured that the prices would drop significantly with conditions changing in the seas.

He was responding to the Sunday Observer’s inquiry regarding the reasons behind the dwindling marine fish resources and the plans of the Fisheries Ministry to ensure the sustainability of the local fisheries industry. He said the Fisheries Ministry aims to implement measures to maintain the industry at a sustainable level recognising the sector’s potential to generate foreign exchange for the country.

Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Minister Douglas Devanada is engaging in positive bilateral discussions with the Indian Government to address the long-standing problem of Indian fishers poaching in Sri Lanka’s territorial waters. Their use of bottom trawling as fishing gear has severely damaged Sri Lanka’s sea bed, contributing to the dwindling fish resources in the region.

The country’s export earnings from seafood have recorded an increase of 17.1 percent amounting to US$ 24.76 million in April 2023 compared to April 2022. This was achieved by exporting frozen fish, fresh fish, and shrimp. Earnings from ornamental fish increased significantly by 105.83 percent to US$ 2.12 million in April 2023 compared to April 2022. The ministry is taking steps to enhance fish exports to Japan, the US, and the UK.

The ministry is drafting a new Bill relating to fisheries development, including new laws to strengthen and modernise fisheries management. This initiative is being undertaken on the direction of President Ranil Wickremesinghe, and the draft is expected to be presented to the President before the end of this year.