Business

Australian Government to send 4200 VMS units to Sri Lanka in 2021

By Zahida Rizvi

 

The Australian Government will provide 4200 Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) units free of charge to Sri Lanka in April.

Speaking at a press briefing at the Fisheries Ministry, State Minister of Ornamental Fish, Inland Fish and Prawn Farming, Fishery Harbour Development, Multi-Day Fishing, and Fish Exports Kanchana Wijesekara said: “The Australian Government called for an international tender which will be open up next week to send the VMS units to Sri Lanka by April”

“Navy coast guard and the Fisheries Department will work together to fix the 4,200 Vessel monitoring system (VMS) units,” he added.

The Fisheries Ministry has developed a system to track smaller one-day vessels with GPS facilities which eliminates the requirement for fishermen to submit departure or arrival forms, since submissions can be done online.

“We have developed this system for online departures for fishermen, carried out 10,000 online departures in the last two months, and equipped the navy coast guard to the system as well so they can be reached in a case of urgency,” Wijesekara said.

Sri Lanka’s 1,200 units equipped in high sea vessels were dismantled due to services not maintained throughout the years by the service providers.

Fisheries Ministry in line with budget allocation to develop marine and inland resources, anticipates to utilise the government’s allocation of Rs. 390 million for free stockings of fish fingerlings and mini hatcheries.

Additionally, construction of the Fishing Harbour commenced in Gandara with an investment of Rs. 9 billion and two anchorages in Mawella and Rakawa.

Measures have been taken to substitute most of the imports from the inland fishing resources in 2021, since the import export gap is about Rs. 5 billion, reflecting on the imports being stable but the exports having reduced last year.

Sri Lanka had Rs. 53 billion revenue from fish exports in 2019 but in 2020 it had come down to Rs. 39 billion. This represents about a Rs. 14 billion drop in exports. In 2019 the country’s fish imports stood at Rs. 37 billion, but it had only come down to Rs. 35 billion in 2020.

According to the Ministry of Fisheries, European Union (EU) has instructed Sri Lanka to go forward and take further steps legally on the Fisheries Department Act.

“In order to strictly enforce the Act, there is a need to suspend some licenses and identify fisherman who are illegally fishing,” Wijesekara said.

Sri Lanka’s fish exports to the European market were averted after the Government made a pledge to comply with international industrial regulations and other standards in 2016. In addition, the compliance rate has been around 97%.