Sri Lanka’s Inland Fisheries And Aquaculture
Developing Sri Lanka's Inland Fisheries And Aquaculture
As the major source of protein in Sri Lanka, fish plays a vital role in meeting the population's basic nutritional and livelihood needs. However, the country's extensive freshwater and brackish water resources, which are potentially a rich source of food and income for rural populations, are currently underexploited. Indeed, statistics show that only 12% of the country's fish production came from inland fisheries and aquaculture in 2000.
Moreover, there is a growing demand for fish in both rural and urban markets, and also significant opportunities for the sale of freshwater fish and aquatic products beyond traditional local markets. Both community–based and private sector initiatives already exist to take advantage of these opportunities, but such enterprises need support if they are to invest in developing inland fisheries and aquaculture production. Specifically, there is a need for fish seed for stocking, trained extension staff and outreach, and medium–term credit to finance increased production.
WorldFish Brood Stock Development Project
The Fish Breeding and Genetics Group of the WorldFish Center is addressing these drawbacks to production by implementing a brood stock development project in collaboration with the National Aquaculture Development Authority (NAQDA) of the Sri Lankan Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources.
The project is developing a national breeding structure for aquaculture species in Sri Lanka: developing fast growing strains of cultured species (Labeo dussumieri, the local carp species of Sri Lanka, and GIFT tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus **see note below) adapted to local conditions, enhancing skills and knowledge of local personnel in the areas of breeding, genetics, statistics and data analysis; and facilitating access to credit.
The project is expected to result in increased production of freshwater fish and other aquatic products for rural, urban and export markets, improved quality and increased consumption of inland fish; improved access to credit for use in inland fisheries and aquaculture; and strengthened capacity of NAQDA and other sector institutions. In addition, increased investment by small and medium scale private entrepreneurs will be encouraged, and community–based fisheries management will be strengthened.
Local Capacity Building
A strong emphasis is placed by the project on local capacity building through formal training courses, technical advice, joint work, study visits and other channels (meetings, seminars, workshops, communications and personal contacts). Training courses focus on brood stock management, effective population size, the control of inbreeding, management of the breeding program, data recording and statistical analysis. Local staff is exposed to practical activities, especially conducting hands-on field work.
The project is also expected to have positive social and economic impacts in the community. Expected outcomes include improving the living standard of poor people and contributing to gender equality via the creation of employment for women in rural areas of Sri Lanka.
The GIFT strain was developed by the Genetic Improvement of Farmed Tilapia (GIFT) project, which involved The WorldFish Center, several partner countries in Asia, and Norway. GIFT has shown a remarkable genetic gain in growth rate (exceeding 80%) and has out–performed other strains being exploited in a variety of farming systems in Asia. Adoption of the GIFT strain in several Asian countries has increased production, lowered costs, increased consumption and in some cases improved the overall nutritional status of the sectors of the population involved.
The process used to develop the GIFT and Labeo dussumieri strains is known as selective breeding. It uses naturally existing variation in the population, increasing the frequency of the genes that are favorable to farming. It is different from transgenesis, which results in genetically modified organisms and entails human intervention in the introduction of foreign genetic material (DNA) into a host genome.