Sri Lanka is well-known across the globe for its branded 'Ceylon Tea and gems and in an attempt to create another brand into the picture, the Ceylon Fishery and Harbours Corporation (CFHC) is branding tuna fish exported from Sri Lanka.
At this brand launch held in Colombo last week, Ministers Prof G L Peiris, Felix Perera and Deputy Minister Neomal Perera and President Rajapaksa's son Namal Rajapaksa, Chairman, Tharunyata Hetak were present as chief guests. Asanga Abeyagoonasekera, Chairman, CFHC said Sri Lanka is in a position to brand its tuna because of established practices that qualify them for this exalted status. Along with the launching of branding Sri Lankan tuna exports, the occasion also marked the 100th whale watching programme conducted by CFHC and John Keells Holdings through Walker Tours.
Mr Abeyagoonasekera said it would take as long as 20 years from now to have Sri Lankan tuna as the best brand in the world. He said that branding would ensure the product is environmentally friendly and maintained to the highest standards of hygiene in the processing and packaging, and to provide a fresh and high quality product on the dining tables across the world.
He said that branding of Sri Lankan tuna would provide several benefits such as distinct identity for customers to build up brand loyalty and value addition. Roshan Fernando, President, Sea Food Exporters Association of Sri Lanka said that the Sri Lankan fleet is around 41,000 fishing vessels with an annual fish production of around 300,000 metric tons out of which only 7% is exported. He said that the demand for credible certified sustainable seafood is driving a positive change the way the oceans are fished and today about 150 fisheries all over the world are at some stage of the independent assessment process to ascertain the potential.
He said that while the Sri Lankan fisheries policy is based on sustainability and good management practices, management practices enforced by many regional countries are policies such as no foreign fishing being licensed, banning or outlawing of per-seining and trawling which are proven to be indiscriminate fishing methods that have a negative effect on the seabed environment and enforcing mandatory long line fishing method for exported chilled tuna ensuring sustainability of the fishery.
Ajit Gunawardene, Deputy Chairman, John Keells Holdings said that they are striving for success in the whale watching programme and together with CFHC are taking tourists in this programme. He said that they have registered an 85% success rate in these whale watching excursions. He said that for the future they should have better vessels and better crews.