The Canned Fish Manufacturers Association of Sri Lanka (CFMASL), thanked the government for assisting local producers and industries during the Covid lockdown period, its President Shiran Fernando said.
Fernando said during the Covid lockdown period the country faced difficulties in importing goods into the country. At that time President Gotabaya Rajapaksa requested the CFMASL to produce canned fish for Sathosa and pledged whatever support they needed during the curfew time. The President delivered the assistance through the fisheries ministry and police and they were able to manufacture canned fish with additional shifts including night shift by recruiting additional staff from the vicinity of its factory.
He said if the government continues to assist them within three years, local fish manufacturers will be able to produce the full requirement of the country and within four years enter the export market. In 2019 Sri Lanka imported over 250,000 salmon cans daily and this has now come down to 150,000 cans per day which will result in a substantial reduction in import cost of canned fish. He also said Local canned fish manufacturers have increased their daily production to 150,000 cans and plan to increase it up to 200,000 with the existing machinery.
He also thanked the government for reemploying the tax on imported fish to Rs 100 per kilogram from Rs 50 per kilogram. Fernando however noted that Local producers have not increased the price of locally produced salmon cans. In 2019 Sri Lanka imported US$ 70 million worth of canned fish. This full amount could be saved if local industries are developed. When canned fish is produced locally there is 100 percent value addition as they purchase fish, tins, salt and labels from within the country
. Also local fishermen will receive a better price and higher income which would lead to their development. Local empty tin manufacturing companies will also expand with more plants and employees.
He said although in the Western Province the fisheries industry has made a marked improvement, the Eastern Province has not seen the required development in the fisheries industry. Fernando therefore urged the government while assisting the local industries to pay attention in the development of the Eastern Province fisheries industry which has a huge potential.
He said due to the 35 year war one generation has gone out of fishing in the Eastern Province needs to be developed in order to be able to have a fish harvest throughout the year. Therefore the Oluvil habour in the Eastern Province should be developed without delay.(MFJ)