A new Sri Lankan company seeking to pioneer sustainable marine aquaculture off the country’s eastern coast, has pledged to donate 3,000 life jackets to fishermen in Trincomalee, in one of the first corporate sector responses to the recent loss of lives due to stormy weather.
Presenting a letter of commitment to Trincomalee District Parliamentarian and Economic Development Deputy Minister Susantha Punchinilame in Colombo recently, Oceanpick Ltd. said the donation would benefit the crews of 1,480 registered outboard motor boats operating out of 26 fishing villages located on the coast from Thirukoneshwaram Kovil Point to Nilaveli. These villages are in the vicinity of the offshore farming sites assigned to Oceanpick, the company that will lead Sri Lanka’s entry into sustainable oceanic farming. “As a company with an operational presence in an area which also experiences cyclonic weather from time to time, we felt it was imperative to take some tangible action instead of resorting to recriminations,” said Oceanpick (Pvt) Ltd. Founder and Director Irfan Thassim. “We hope this initiative of Oceanpick will create a precedent for other coastal communities and organisations in the country to follow.”
Thassim said an order had already been placed in China for the life jackets, which are expected to arrive in Sri Lanka by August. He said the recent loss of lives had emphasised the importance of educating fishermen on the benefit of carrying safety equipment and complying with directives issued by the Fisheries Ministry and other agencies to ensure they are able to adequately deal with the perils they face in pursuit of their livelihood.
Deputy Minister Susantha Punchinilame welcomed this generous gesture and thanked Oceanpick for its swift initiation of this action. He said this was a step in the right direction and was hopeful such initiatives would be augmented in due course by better communication of weather forecasts and having in place emergency rescue plans.
Oceanpick Ltd. was established to explore a sustainable source of farmed seafood, to prevent over pressurising wild stocks. “A rapid growth in demand for fish seems inevitable in post war Sri Lanka, particularly with a rapidly growing tourism sector,” Thassim explained. A joint venture with a Scottish salmon farming company, Oceanpick is set to be the first company in Sri Lanka to farm Barramundi, locally referred to as Modha, in sea cages off shore.