Find Fisheries expertise in Sri Lanka

With a water area of 2906 km2, a shelf area of 27800 km2, a coastline of 1770 km and an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 517000 km2, Sri Lanka has extensive fishing grounds, and the fisheries sector contributes about $340 million to the GDP (2004). The industry is estimated to employ about 250,000 in the primary sector and 100,000 in the secondary sector. There are at least 1137 fishing villages in the marine sector, and 1289 in the inland sector; a total of at least 2626 villages considered to derive their main income from fisheries. Exports are nearly double the value of fishery imports, $94 million compared to $59 million in 2004.

Fisheries are composed of three main sectors, the coastal, offshore and deep sea, and inland and aquaculture. The marine subsector is by far the most important, contributing nearly 90% of the total fish catch, 60% of which is coastal. About 90% of the marine catch profile is consumed locally, while the remaining 10% is exported. The catch profile includes Spanish Mackerel, Trevally, skipjack tuna, Yellowfin tuna, other tuna-like species, shark and skate, Rockfish, shore seine species, Prawns, and lobster.

An important characteristic of Sri Lanka’s fishing industry is that it is dominated by the private sector, except for a few boats owned by co-operative societies or by the very few companies. The vast majority of boats are owned and operated by thousands of individual fishers, families and informal groups. The aquaculture-based prawn industry (which is dominated by brackish water shrimp farming) on the other hand has been struggling over the last few years, causing heavy losses for investors.

The inland sub-sector is practiced in Sri Lanka’s 103 perennial rivers, of which 23 have river basins over 500km2. Of the 280000 ha of inland water bodies, 160,000 ha are lakes and ponds, while the rest consists of lagoons and marshlands. The catch profile includes indigenous species including Labeo dissoumeari and Puntius Sarana but these account for a small portion of the catch. Introduced fish make up most of the catch, including tilapias which dominate inland fish landings.

The National Environmental Act, No. 47 was passed to provide for the protection, management and enhancement of the environment.

Fisheries organisations in Sri Lanka
Department of Fisheries & Aquatic Resources