A top Lankan delegation on the EU Fishery ban is scheduled to leave for Brussels on 30 March revealed the Seafood Exporters Association of Sri Lanka (SEASL) Chairman and Managing Director of Global Sea Foods, Prabhash Subasinghe recently (Thursday)."
This meeting is almost expected to be the final, and a decisive meeting with the EU on the fishery ban issue and its outcome will determine our fishery export outlook to Europe in the future. We believe the outcome shall be favourable for Sri Lanka" he said.
"Especially in the post-ban period, our seafood exports suffered and the situation was made complicated by the unfriendly import and export policy environment. For example, we need to pay a licence fee of $50 per tonne of seafood we export while suffering from inadequate production volumes to meet the export demands. We need the government's support for us to increase production.The 9% tariff charged by China on our seafood exports is a problem and this needs to be discussed at FTA formulation," Subasinghe said.
These comments were made while addressing International Trade Minister Sujeewa Senasinghe on Thursday at the EDB, during a special discussion with Sri Lankan seafood exporters.
"I too have been given to understand that the EU fishery ban issue is now heading towards a favourable resolution and a Lankan team leaving for Brussels is good news for you, our fishery exporters. In fact, 95% of compliance work on the Fishery ban has been completed by us", said Senasinghe.
"The EU ban had a cascading effect on our fishery sector and livelihoods. It also damaged our international image as a reputed seafood exporter. Therefore it is time we start an image building campaign as well as launch sustainable fisheries based efforts so that we can make fishery exports a US$ onebillion sector soon," he said.
"The way to achieve $ onebillion in seafood exports is by becoming smarter in comparison to competition. For example, it is time for Sri Lankan seafood to enter global markets as a common, single brand to build its brand and overcome setbacks. EDB can help in building the Lankan fishery image overseas",said EDB Chairperson and CEO Ms. Indira Malwatte.
In October of 2014 the EU declared that Sri Lanka was not complying with international rules on illegal fishing and that Lankan control systems were inadequate. Fisheries products caught by vessels flagged in Sri Lanka were therefore not able to enter the EU market.
This ban affected Sri Lanka's seafood exports and the 500,000 strong fishery sector livelihoods.
In March 2015, under the supervision of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, a committee was appointed on the fishery ban which continuously met, updating the EU with its progress reports.
Despite the ban, three EU countries (Italy, UK and Netherlands) were among the top five buyers of Lankan seafood in 2014, while the US and Japan topped the list. Lankan seafood production tripled in 2015 compared to 2004, and of the total harvest, only about a quarter was exported due to heavy domestic consumer demand.
More than 70% of Lankan seafood exports comprises tuna fish.The $252.7 million worth of Lankan seafood exports in 2014 declined by 35% to $163.1 million in 2015.
Sri Lanka complies with the stringent regulations imposed by importing countries and adheres to HACCP, BRP, Friend of Sea and other food security environment friendly requirements when it comes to seafood exports.