The Minister also stated that during the last few years the import of fisheries products had gradually declined. While in 2010, we imported 80,013 metric tons of fish products. In 2012 there was a decline in imports by 13%, the volume being 71,413 metric tons. Imports of dried fish amounted to 18,477 metric tons in 2010, in 2012 there was a reduction 20% with the volume of 14,165 metric tons.
In 2010 we imported 27,304 metric tons of dried sprats while in 2012 we imported a reduced quantity amounting to 25,181 metric tons, the volume being less by 9%. In 2010 we imported 2871 metric tons of maldive fish while in 2012 we were able to reduce this quantity still further to 1383 metric tons indicating a 50% reduction.
While we export a fair number of fisheries products including fish, prawns, crabs, ornamental fish and fish food we import dried fish, sprats and maldive fish, with a quantity of tinned salmon for use in hotels.
Minister Rajitha Senarathne emphasized that a number of projects had been launched under the Divi Neguma program of the Economic Development Ministry. Self employment projects were encouraged with the provision of training and financial assistance. Women have now taken up self employment projects for the production of dried fish and maldive fish. We are now manufacturing a considerable amount of dried fish and maldive fish and it will be possible to improve these industries enabling us to produce our requirements locally. We are also hoping to set up some factories for manufacturing tinned salmon. While our exports have brought in 31,792 million rupees in 2013 we have now planned to increase this amount to 50,000 million rupees within the next few years.