A View of the Inland Fisheries of Sri Lanka: Past, Present and Future




Sri Lanka has a lucrative inland fisheries based on introduced fishes from Africa. This was initiated in 1951 when Oreochromis mossambicus (a tilapia) was introduced into the country. The present yield from the larger shallow reservoirs where this fishery flourishes is about 250 kg ha-1 y-1. The rise of this fishery is discussed. Attempts made to culture fish in ponds using common carp were initiated in the early nineteen fillies but no success has been achieved. Using Chinese and Indian carps from the nineteen seventies for culture and stocking small reservoirs has not been a success either. The history of these attempts and the results are given together with the complicating factors of political and religious cross currents that have influenced fish culture in Sri Lanka. The use of tilapias instead of carps to stock small reservoirs and in fish culture have had more success than carps in the tropics generally in recent years and this alternative may prove a way to establish a viable enterprise of tilapia where it may have failed due to poor technology. Evidence is presented that not only are carps a failure in fish culture but the few that are caught are not very marketable. This trend is also evident in many countries around the world while the popularity of tilapias has grown. Tilapias are marketed worldwide and served in the best of restaurants in Asia Europe and America. More importantly they are in much demand in most tropical countries where they are raised or caught in lake and reservoirs. Claims that there are large quantities of indigenous minor cyprinids (carplets) that can be harvested have so far not been demonstrated. The actual claims of being able to harvest as much as 900 kg ha-1 y-1 of these fishes is a value more than three times the tilapia fishery. which incidentally is one of the richest in the world.


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