Sri Lanka’s Ornamental Fish Industry to be upgraded 

By Zahida Rizvi


Sri Lanka`s State Minister for Ornamental Fish, Inland Fish and Shrimp Farming, Fishery Harbour Development, Multi-Day Fishing and Fish Exports, Kanchana Wijesekera

The Sri Lankan Government has introduced low interest loan schemes and other financial support, training, and technical assistance for beginners as well as for the people already involved in the Ornamental Fish industry, The Morning Business learnt.

Sri Lanka`s State Minister for Ornamental Fish, Inland Fish and Shrimp Farming, Fishery Harbour Development, Multi-Day Fishing, and Fish Exports Kanchana Wijesekera, addressing the third international ornamental fish trade and technical virtual conference said that the Export Development Board of Sri Lanka has created a platform to facilitate ornamental fish through the participation of Sri Lankan producers and exporters in international exhibitions related to ornamental fish trade. 

“The ornamental fish industry is lagging far behind in comparison to the food fish aquaculture sector in regards to technology advancement, and the future of the ornamental fish industry depends on the extent of application of aquaculture practices into the production of ornamental fish,” he said.

The Minister further said the Sri Lankan Government has vowed to develop the Ornamental fish industry with the aim of attaining a 100% increase in the export income from the existing level and increasing livelihood opportunities, particularly in rural areas. 

The strategies for the development of ornamental fish industry include diversification of species and variety composition of export fish basket by improving quality, minimising pressure on natural stocks in the wild through promotion of domestication and captive breeding, particularly of marine and indigenous ornamental fish, further discourage use of destructive fishing methods which includes tissue culture of ornamental aquatic plants, and reduce mortalities throughout the supply chain by introducing best management practices and overall improving fish health management.

“Technology advancement and sharing among producer countries is a key for the development of this sector. Some of the areas which need attention are optimum packing conditions for ornamental fish during transport: breeding and farming of high valued species and intensification of ornamental fish farming systems,” Wijesekera added.

Sri Lanka consists of 111 ornamental fish species living in freshwater and marine habitats, is reputed as a supplier of good quality fish to the international market, and has had a steady expansion of its trade involving more than 125 countries. 

Ornamental fish exports consist of 70% of freshwater ornamentals and 30% of marine ornamentals. During the last decade Sri Lanka’s ornamental fish exports showed a compounded annual growth rate of 7.2% in value, when compared to the compounded growth rate of 3.2% observed during 2001 to 2010 period. Fancy guppy varieties from Sri Lanka have become very popular all over the world and fancy guppies contribute to 65% of our freshwater ornamental fish export volumes. 

In 2019, Sri Lanka exported ornamental fish to 76 countries, and 80% of that export volume were to 11 countries. 

Prices obtained by exporters have remained virtually static over a number of years despite increase in associated production costs such as artemia, feed, chemicals, drugs etc. Further stringent health screening tests required by importing countries also add to the costs of the exporter. This has impacted the development of the ornamental fish industry negatively. Establishment of a market information system, by INFOFISH or any other relevant international organisation, will pave the way to ease the situation.