© Sri Lanka Association for Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Fisheries resources in alleviation of hunger and malnutrition in Sri Lanka -accomplishment and challenges

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  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
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  © Sri Lanka Association for Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Sri Lanka J. Aquat. Sci. 18   (2013): 1-15 Fisheries resources in alleviation of hunger and malnutrition in Sri Lanka - accomplishment and challenges 1   UPALI S. AMARASINGHE Department of Zoology, University of Kelaniya, Kelaniya GQ11600, Sri Lanka (E-mail: zoousa@kln.ac.lk)  Abstract 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 Introduction The member countries of the United Nations have committed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and accordingly, its target is to halve  between 1990 and 2015 the proportion of people living on less than $1 a day (a 1   Paper presented at the Global Symposium on Aquatic Resources for Eradicating Hunger and Malnutrition  –   Opportunities and Challenges that was held from 4 th  to 6 th  December 2012, Mangalore, Karnataka, India.    2 U.S. Amarasinghe/ Sri Lanka J. Aquat. Sci. 18   (2013): 1-15 © Sri Lanka Association for Fisheries and Aquatic Resources measure of income poverty) and the proportion of people suffering from hunger (a measure of the non-income face of poverty). Sri Lanka is reputed as a country with  better basic health indicators than most countries with comparable per capita incomes. However, child under-nutrition in Sri Lanka is very high (Anon. 2010). Malnutrition and income poverty are known to be highly correlated and income is one of the major determinants influencing children ‟s nutrition  (Strauss and Thomas 1995). In Sri Lanka, the contribution of the fisheries sector to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has been marginal (1.2%) (Anon. 2011). Nevertheless, the sector contributes around 70% of the animal protein of the diet of people (Anon. 2007). In this paper, the role of fisheries and aquaculture of Sri Lanka in alleviating hunger and malnutrition is reviewed. Fisheries sector: Current Status In Sri Lanka, marine fishery dominates the total fish production with a percentage contribution of 86%. Inland fisheries and aquaculture form 14% of the total fish  production (Figure 1). Currently per capita fish consumption in Sri Lanka is 13 kg per annum (http://www.fisheries.gov.lk/statistics.html), which is much lower than the global annual average of 18.8 kg (FAO 2012). The fisheries sector of Sri Lanka  provides direct employment to about 150,000 people while another 100,000 are employed in related activities. Also, about 400,000 people are employed in fish trade and allied activities.  3 U.S. Amarasinghe/ Sri Lanka J. Aquat. Sci. 18   (2013): 1-15 © Sri Lanka Association for Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Figure 1. Fish production from different sub-sectors in Sri Lanka. Source: http://www.fisheries.gov.lk/statistics.html  Marine fisheries The extent of Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Sri Lanka is about 517,000 km 2  and about 5.7% of which is covered by the continental shelf with the average width of 22 km. The coastal fisheries sub-sector in this continental shelf area produces about 50% of total annual fish production. In the offshore and deep sea fisheries sub-sector, multi-day boats are operated and the major fishing gear types are drift gillnetting and long lining. There has been a recent trend that crew members of some multi-day boats (especially in the southern Sri Lanka) operate surrounding nets to catch fishes attracted to flotsam and the major species caught are  Decapterus russelli ,  Elagatis bipinnulata , Coryphaena hippurus  and  Abalistes stellatus  (Ariyaratne and Amarasinghe 2012). This study also indicated that juvenile tunas (15-60 cm TL) were caught in flotsam-associated surrounding nets as they aggregated around floating objects in offshore areas. As floating objects are known to aggregate pelagic fish, they may affect migratory behaviour of fish and their overall biology may be affected due to maladaptation to the artificial habitat, which is speculated by the ecological trap hypothesis (Dagorn et al. 2010). The analysis of the changes of behavioural patterns due to attraction to flotsam and biological consequences of life-history changes such as growth and body condition of fish are therefore needed to be investigated.  4 U.S. Amarasinghe/ Sri Lanka J. Aquat. Sci. 18   (2013): 1-15 © Sri Lanka Association for Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Inland Fisheries The commercial-scale inland capture fisheries come from major irrigation and hydroelectric reservoirs (> 750 ha) and the total extent of such reservoirs is about 70,000 ha (about 42% of the total extent of lentic water bodies). Small-scale fisheries exist in the medium-scale reservoirs (250  –  750 ha), which form about 10% of the total extent. The minor irrigation reservoirs (<250 ha), generally refer  red to as “village tanks” the cumulative extent of which is about 39,000 ha, can be categorized into two groups depending on the water retention period. The reservoirs which retain water throughout the year are called “minor perennial reservoirs” and those  which retain water for 7- 9 months each year are locally known as “seasonal reservoirs” or “non -  perennial reservoirs” (Mendis 1977). In the minor perennial reservoirs, subsistence level fisheries exist (Murray et al. 2001; Pushpalatha and Chandrasoma 2010). The non-perennial reservoirs are small (< 60 ha) and are largely rain-fed (from inter-monsoonal and northeast monsoonal rains from October to January). They tend to be eutrophic due to addition of nutrients from the catchment areas. The inland fish  production is essentially from the multitude of reservoirs of the country. The positive relationship between reservoir extent in each district and district-wise inland fish  production (Figure 2) indicates the importance of the reservoir resource for inland fish  production. Culture-based fisheries The inland fisheries sub-sector includes capture fisheries in inland waters, culture- based fisheries and shrimp farming (Table 1). It must be noted however, that the CBF  production in minor perennial reservoirs of the country is included under the category of inland capture fisheries. Total annual CBF production from minor perennial reservoirs as a percentage of total inland capture fisheries production is about 2.25% (Table 2). Hatchery reared fish are released into seasonal reservoirs and minor perennial reservoirs not primarily managed for fish production, and are recaptured upon reaching a desirable size (De Silva 2003). This enhancement strategy termed as culture-based fisheries (CBF) was suggested to be managed by the rural communities, whose livelihoods were dependent on reservoirs for irrigation of agricultural lands, watering their cattle and buffaloes and domestic uses (Mendis 1977). CBF combine elements of aquaculture and capture fisheries and rely entirely on the natural productivity of the water body for growth of fish, and on artificial stocking as a means of recruitment (Lorenzen 1995).  5 U.S. Amarasinghe/ Sri Lanka J. Aquat. Sci. 18   (2013): 1-15 © Sri Lanka Association for Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Table 1. Inland fisheries and aquaculture production (metric tons) in Sri Lanka  –   2011 (http://www.fisheries.gov.lk/statistics.html) Production/year Capture fisheries 50,050 Culture-based fisheries in non-perennial reservoirs 5,360 Shrimp farming 4,150 Total 59,560 Table 2. Annual CBF production of minor perennial reservoirs as deduced from the available information (adopted from Amarasinghe 2010). 2007 2008  Number of fingerlings stocked in minor perennial reservoirs (x10 6 ) 1 4.61 5.70 Estimated total extent of minor perennial reservoirs stocked (ha) 2 6,147 7,600 Estimated CBF production from minor perennial reservoirs (tonnes) 3 1,279 1,581 Total inland capture fisheries production (tonnes) a 30,200 37,170 CBF production from minor perennial reservoirs as a percentage of total inland capture fisheries  production 4.24 4.25 1  Source  –   www.fisheries.gov.lk;  2  Estimated on the basis of average stocking density of 750 fingerlings in minor perennial reservoirs; 3  Estimated assuming average CBF  production of minor perennial reservoirs as 208 kg ha -1  yr  -1  (Pushpalatha and Chandrasoma 2010).
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