Sri Lanka has spent a mammoth Rs.650 million for the installation of vessel monitoring systems (VMS), while incurring losses of approximately US$ 48 million in seafood exports till June this year when compared to the corresponding period last year.

Director General, Sri Lanka Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, M.C.L Fernando speaking to The Nation Gain stated that the cost to import the equipment had been completely borne by the Government but added that an amount of Rs.2600 would have to be levied from each boat owner every month in order to make payments to the satellite company based in Australia.

“Right now the amount is paid by the government. But we will have to request the boat owners to pay for it in due course,” he added.

He added that the department had installed VMS on 813 out of an estimated 1500 vessels island-wide. “We have 18 fishing harbors island-wide where 1500 vessels go to the international waters to fish,” he said.

Installation of VMS was a key requirement for Sri Lanka to get itself out of the ban imposed by the European Union (EU) on importing the country’s fisheries products to their region. The ban was imposed in January this year against Illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing methodology adopted by the country.

The ban had an impact on at least 190,000 fishing families in the country as exports to 21 nations of the EU were halted.

Sri Lanka’s fishing exports had been continuously recording losses owing to the EU ban and as of June this year, the country had earned US$ 86 million through seafood exportation, a US$ 48 million drop compared to the corresponding period last year where it earned US$ 134.2 million.

Meanwhile, a delegation from the EU would visit Sri Lanka during the second week of October to study the progress made and submit a report to the EU. “We have done our part. It is up to the EU to decide,” President, Sea Food Exporters Association of Sri Lanka, Roshan Fernando said.

According to the external sector performance review of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka for the month of June, the country’s seafood exports continued to decline due to the on exports of fisheries products to the EU. “Accordingly, in June 2015, seafood exports to EU declined by 72 percent, year-on-year, while such exports to other markets increased by 18 percent, year-on-year,” the report said.