Sri lankan Agriculture, Livestock Development, Irrigation and Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Minister P. Harrison informed the Parliament yesterday the local canned fish industry was meeting a part of the market demand at an affordable price while tapping export markets but acknowledged more support was necessary to make it globally competitive.
Sri lankan Agriculture, Livestock Development, Irrigation and Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development Minister P. Harrison responding to a supplementary question held that there are several local companies engaged in the canned fish industry in the island including a venture started by actor Kamal Addaraarachchi that is performing well.
“However, the Sri lankan Government alone cant develop the fisheries industry. So, the World Bank and Norway have started several programs to provide advice and diverse assistance required to develop the fisheries industry in Sri Lanka,” said the Minister. Meanwhile, United National Party MP Hesha Withanage charged former fisheries ministers for robbing the fishermen from their fuel purchase and maintaining unlawful control over fisheries harbours.
“The politicians retain the power in local fisheries harbours. In the past, there was a system the fishermen had to pay some money from their fuel purchases for boats. This takes place in certain harbours at different levels. It is better if the Government can establish a system to eradicate these irregularities. On the other hand, we are still unable to produce canned fish meeting international standards. Selling Sri Lankans the locally manufactured canned fish will not help to develop the industry,” he charged.
In response, the former Fisheries Minister Sri lankan United People’s Freedom Alliance MP Mahinda Amaraweera held that he does not have fuel filling stations and men to control the harbours. Supporting the MP Amaraweera’s claim, Health, Nutrition and Indigenous Medicine Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne rejected political involvement in making money from selling fuel to fishermen.
“The fishermen cannot make payments to politicians. These fishermen are issued with coupons, which are exchanged for fuel. Sr lankan Since Sirimavo Bandaranayake’s Government, it was tried to establish the canned fish industry. But due to the international intervention, we were unable to succeed with the canned fish industry as planned. However, there are a few local players doing a good production and exporting a part of their canned fish produce,” he said.