Fisheries resources in alleviation of hunger and malnutrition in Sri Lanka - accomplishment and challenges




Sri Lanka is reputed as a country with better basic health indicators than most countries with comparable per capita incomes, but child under-nutrition in the country is very high. Fisheries sector plays a significant role in alleviating hunger and malnutrition because about 70% of animal protein of the diets of people comes from this sector.  Currently per capita fish consumption in Sri Lanka is 13 kg per annum. Nevertheless, there is a significant potential to increase this value. Marine fisheries production forms about 86% of national fish production, but potential for its further increase is remote except for a few under-exploited fish stocks such as those attracted to flotsam. The inland fisheries sub-sector, on the other hand, has a great potential for development through further expansion of culture-based fisheries (CBF) in small village reservoirs for which there are legal provisions for agricultural farmers to utilize them for CBF development. With increased demand for fish fingerlings for CBF, there is an urgent need for training rural farmers to establish mini-hatcheries and induced breeding techniques of major carps. There appears to be a high potential for exploiting small indigenous fish species which have been unexploited hitherto, in reservoirs of Sri Lanka. As such, the fishery regulations with the legal provisions to exploit these indigenous fish populations should be implemented through active participation of fisher communities. The inland fishery is a source of animal protein for rural poor available at affordable prices. Hence, development of this sector is imperative for eradicating hunger and malnutrition in the rural communities.

Keywords: culture-based fisheries, flotsam fisheries, food security, reservoir fisheries, small indigenous fish

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