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    The Fresh Catch off the Indian Ocean


  • The Export Potential of the Fisheries Industry in Sri Lanka

    An exotic variety of seafood from Sri Lanka

    An island nation encircled by the Indian Ocean from every side, Sri Lanka has been tapping into the bounty of the Indian ocean for times immemorial. Fishing in the Indian Ocean and the many lagoons scattered throughout the entire coastline has always been the primary means of living for most people in Sri Lanka’s coastal communities. The independent fishers have been going fishing for the twin purposes of subsistence and selling.

    The large multi-day fishing vessels with hired crews are commercial operators engaged in deep-sea fishing. Seafood or at least dry fish makes it to almost every meal of most Sri Lankans barring those who follow strict vegan diets. Apart from coastal fishing and deep-sea fishing, Sri Lanka produces seafood and crustaceans such as prawn and shrimp through aquaculture and also through inland fishing. The larger fisheries industry spans all these three industry sub-segments.

    An Enormous Stock of Fisheries Resources

    Sri Lanka is endowed with a huge stock of fishing resources, which the country owes to its territorial waters covering an expanse of 21,500sq. km., the UN-Mandated Exclusive Economic Zone of 517,000sq.km., 260,000ha of freshwater bodies, 158,000ha of lagoons & estuaries, 71,000ha of mangrove zones, mudflats & salt marshes, and the growing aquaculture industry of the country. That apart, Sri Lanka receives a perennial harvest of seafood irrespective of the seasonal impact. When it's off-season on the West Coast, we can go fishing on the East Coast and vice versa. The perennial harvest of seafood has all to do with Sri Lanka’s being an island on the part of the Indian Ocean that’s by and large without major weather problems like tornadoes. This has enabled Sri Lanka to maintain a stable supply of seafood and even progressively step it up in response to the rising global demand.

    Lucrative Opportunities in the Aquaculture

    Sri Lanka plans to strengthen their value-chain in aquaculture including brood-stock/domestication, juvenile production, feed development/production, on-growing and marketing. With its unique geographical location in South-East Asia, Sri Lanka aims to become a major player within the growing aquaculture industry in the region. According to FAO, about 50% of seafood now comes from aquaculture, yet 90% of Sri Lanka's seafood is still wild-caught. This represents a solid business opportunity for international aquaculture technology suppliers, investors, and distributors. Aquaculture is now changing from a subsector into concentrated commodity production, aiming for advanced technology level with development towards a sustainable industry in all water bodies (freshwater, brackish water and at sea).

    The future potential for aquaculture in Sri Lanka is unique in Asia which can reduce the wild-caught supply from 90% to 10% and where aquaculture can fill the gap. Thus, the timing has never been more conducive to starting commercial business ventures on a bilateral level in Sri Lanka. Moreover, the L. vannamei high-yield prawn variety, also known as pacific white or white leg shrimp, was introduced to Sri Lanka in 2018 and is in higher demand globally. In the European Union, L. vannamei imports are around 85%, with the remaining volumes from the black tiger (P. monodon). The industry is simultaneously recommended to adapt into Critical Better Management Practices (CBMP), which among others, include zero water exchange (Biofloc technology).

    Growing the Freshwater Fisheries’ Stock Further

    Sri Lanka is endowed with more than 12,000 reservoirs (that is, some 260,000ha of freshwater bodies). Depending on their hydrological regimes, they are broadly categorized into perennial and seasonal reservoirs and are secondarily used for the development of inland fisheries. The introduction of Culture-based Fisheries (CBF) into perennial reservoirs has led to significant increases in fish production, increased availability of fresh fish to rural communities, enhanced livelihood opportunities and income for fishers and strengthened the rural economy.

    Nile Tilapia, Catla, Rohu, and Mrigal are the main contributory species for fish production through CBF in perennial reservoirs. Although the contribution to the overall catch is low, stocking freshwater prawns (Macrobrachium rosenbergii) is financially feasible as well. The authorities in charge of the development of the fisheries’ sector continue to run hatcheries and release the hatchlings to the reservoirs. With the continual monitoring and stricter management to ensure sustainable inland fishing in collaboration with Community-based Organisations (CBOs), the sector has been showing significant growth for the past few years. But there’s ample room to expand the potential further.

    The global market for seafood and crustaceans

    Amid the COVID-19 crisis, the global market for Seafood estimated at US$113.2 billion in the year 2020, is projected to reach a revised size of US$138.7 billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 2.9% over the period from 2020 to 2027. The seafood market in the U.S. was estimated at US$6.3 Billion in 2020. China, the world`s second-largest economy, is forecast to reach a projected market size of US$53.5 Billion by the year 2027 trailing a CAGR of 3.7% over the analysis period 2020 to 2027. Among the other noteworthy geographic markets are Japan and Canada, each forecast to grow at 1.3% and 2.1% respectively over the 2020-2027 period. Within Europe, Germany is forecast to grow at approximately 1.6% CAGR.

    In the global Tuna segment, the USA, Canada, Japan, China and Europe will drive the 2.7% CAGR estimated for this segment. These regional markets accounting for a combined market size of US$7.9 Billion in the year 2020 will reach a projected size of US$9.5 billion over the forecast period. China will remain among the fastest-growing in this cluster of regional markets. Led by countries such as Australia, India, and South Korea, the market in Asia-Pacific is forecast to reach US$41.2 Billion by the year 2027, while Latin America will expand at a 2.4% CAGR through the forecast period.

    The surging global demand for seafood indicates that Sri Lanka too can ramp up the production of its high-value seafood products and enlarge the market share without much trouble. Holistic growth across all the fisheries sub-sectors through strategic planning and sustainable fishing will help develop the export potential of the fisheries industry in Sri Lanka.

Fish & Fisheries Products

Sri Lanka’s seafood product sector has emerged as a quality exporter of a wide variety of fish, with the most popular of them being tuna. Sri Lanka’s rich and relished seafood of different varieties are available through an extensive network of exporters.

Product Varieties & Suppliers