A spokesman of the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources has countered allegations made by the US-based NGO Seafood Watch, saying that the allegations made by the NGO were simply unfounded.
Mr. Roshan Fernando, Executive Director / CEO of the Tuna Fisheries Improvement Project (FIP) added that Sri Lanka used the long-line method to catch tuna, which was the most traditional and sustainable method. Sri Lanka was a member of the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) and had to abide by certain rules and regulations, Fernando pointed out, adding that Sri Lanka had an active Vessel Monitoring System (VMS), and the restrictive rules and regulations, the severity of the penalties, the effective mechanisms for 100% compliance as well as the measures taken by the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DFAR) were well-known to the European Union Regulatory Board, even if they were unknown to customers.
Fernando added that Sri Lanka’s long-line fishing fleet had been classified as a semi-professional fishing fleet with fishing boats being below 24ms in length and having no freezing capability. He added that Sri Lanka was taking all necessary measures to ensure sustainability and fulfillment of the present 82% compliance score of the IOTC regulations. He pointed out that Sri Lanka wouldn’t hesitate to threaten litigation against the NGOs spreading false propaganda against the Sri Lankan fisheries export, which was causing loss of livelihood to fishers, most of whom were living below the poverty line.