Resumption of fish exports to European Union by early next year – Rajitha

* Cabinet approves export of Gyrinopswalla plant

by Zacki Jabbar

The government said yesterday that it was confident that because most issues raised by the European Union regarding unregulated fishing practices had been addressed, fish exports to the EU could resume early next year.

Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne told the weekly Cabinet press briefing at the Information Department in Colombo, that the EU’s concern with regard to the need for legislation combating illegal fishing was being addressed in the government’s action plan which had dealt with 30 of the 36 issues raised.

"The authorities in Brussels are being kept informed of the steps taken to address the concerns that had been raised. We expect to resume fish exports to the EU by early next year," he said, adding that the EU was Sri Lanka’s biggest importers of tuna and swordfish.

Senaratne recalled that the EU had issued special directives to fish exporting countries including Sri Lanka, on the subject of illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing practices in 2010. It imposed sanctions on Sri Lanka on January, 15 2015.

"The Action Plan includes 57 tasks with 21 issues to be solved and 36 aims. We have fulfilled 30 out of 36 aims and the rest will be fulfilled soon. Satisfactory progress has been achieved in resolving issues and it is being reported to the EU monthly. A comprehensive report was furnished to the EU on May 15 and June 30 , 2015."

In 2014, Sri Lanka exported 5,552 MT of fisheries products and made an income of Rs. 9,103 million.

Senaratne said that on a memorandum submitted by President Maithripala Sirisena in his capacity as the Mahaweli Development and Environment Minister, the Cabinet on Wednesday approved formalisation of the export of Gyrinopswalla plant also known as Wallapatta.

The possession and transportation of Gyrinopswalla plant on a commercial basis based on a permit issued by the respective authority had also been endorsed. Accordingly officials of the Department of Forest Conservation, the Department of Wildlife Conservation and the Biodiversity Secretariat would be called upon to enforce necessary action for the conservation of Gyrinopswalla plant which had been included in a Red List prepared in 2012, he added.

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