Oceanpick is set to embark on Sri Lanka’s first ever oceanic farm for finfish this August.
The project aims to focus on “responsible farming” of high quality marine fish, providing a platform to cater to a growing appetite for quality seafood without overly pressurising wild stocks. As per FAO statistics, nearly 50% of fish production worldwide comes from farmed sources, where as Sri Lanka lags far behind in reaching a sustainable equilibrium and relies 90% or more on wild capture, thus risking depletion of wild stocks beyond sustainable levels in the longer run. Oceanpick hopes its endeavours will trigger a change that will lead Sri Lanka in the direction of reaching a more equitable balance.
The agreement was signed by Oceanpick Founder and Director Irfan Thassim and Board of Investment of Sri Lanka Chairman Dr. Lakshman Jayaweera.
The project will set up its farms in the open sea off the Trincomalee coast, the first such cage system to be set up in the country, with an ambitious plan to reach nearly 1,000 tons over the next several years. Partnered by a Scottish farming company that pioneered oceanic farming in the North Atlantic some 40 years ago producing salmon, rainbow trout and halibut, Oceanpick plans to operate Trinco farms as per the same world class standards of their partners.
Whist Sri Lanka’s previous attempts at aquaculture have been mostly been concentrated in brackish water lagoons, fresh water bodies or in land based ponds, Oceanpick recognised the superiority of sea-grown produce. This coupled with the greater depth and tidal current profiles offered by the oceans, the company has handpicked pristine locations in the Trincomalee open seas for its activities.
The first choice species that Oceanpick will produce will be Barramundi or Asian Sea Bass, locally referred to as Modha. Barramundi has been a preferred fish for its mild buttery taste and Omega 3 content. To ensure peak freshness of all its produce, the project intends to vertically control the entire cold chain process.
The total investment of this project would be around $ 2.5 million. This project will no doubt raise the profile of Sri Lanka’s fisheries sector, providing over 100 job opportunities and a new avenue for graduate training, whilst paving the way for import substitution and developing of a value-added product. It could also trigger growth of several other related businesses both upstream and downstream including feed manufacture.