Despite the excellent state of fisheries in Sri Lanka, the sector suffers from one serious loss of earnings: post-catch losses (or the degradation of the product between the time it is caught and its sale to consumers) are estimated to be 40%. Without increasing the already considerable fishing effort, improving product quality is the main lever to ensure higher income and sustainable employment to the some 600,000 people on the island who make a living from fishing.
The Ministry for Fisheries and AFD are therefore planning to invest in two to four fishing ports in the south-west of the island, including Galle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
With such strong economic potential, the export sector for tuna-based products has been identified as a priority for financing. Investment will cover the rehabilitation of port infrastructure and facilities, reorganisation of ports, reductions in energy consumption and improving the management of solid and liquid waste.
The project will also contribute to improving the management of ports and their environmental impact, reinforcing inspections and promoting sustainable management of fishing resources by establishing methods for monitoring marine populations, improving traceability of catches and building the capacities of the Sri Lankan institutions.
These activities represent an estimated investment of €120 million, €8 million of which could be financed by a grant from the European Union.
The expected outcomes are an improvement in the quality of fish taken, with a priority on fish for export, and more sustainable fishing resources, which will lead to an increase in income for the men and women in the fishing sector in Sri Lanka. It will also maintain and develop employment.
More modern facilities and more effective port management will also create more favourable working conditions for fishermen, boat builders, wholesalers, port authorities and stakeholders in the sector more generally.
A feasibility study to identify priority ports
The feasibility study for the project was launched on 15 February 2019 in the Galle fishing port, in the presence of Mr Eric Lavertu, Ambassador of France in Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Martin Parent, Director of the Sri Lanka AFD office and Mr Ruwanchandra, Secretary to the Ministry for Fisheries.
This nine-month study will confirm which ports should benefit from the investment programme, as well as its cost, structure and schedule. For the first five months, the consultant will conduct an in-depth audit of the state of the existing infrastructure, working with specialists in civil engineering for ports, technicians and divers in order to carry out detailed inspections of breakwaters, sea walls, quays, initial sale rooms and all existing facilities in the four pre-selected ports.
This first mission will provide a precise diagnosis of the damage caused by the 2004 tsunami and the condition of the existing infrastructure, as well as a rehabilitation and maintenance plan to ensure that the future facilities financed by AFD are built on robust, durable foundations. The project will contribute to providing suitable working conditions for fisheries workers and will provide for the long-term future of employment in the sector.