So here I am in Colombo, Sri Lanka, at the International Ornamental Fish Conference (see link).
What have I learnt?
I learnt that the Sri Lankan government is more than fully supportive of its ornamental fish industry. Currently, Sri Lanka is the 6th largest exporter of ornamental fishes, having doubled its exports in the last 5 years, to take on a market share of 5%. Doesn’t sound like much, but this equates to a turnover of ~AUD$100M. By the year 2020, they’re focused on doubling it yet again!
How do I mean that they’re being backed by their government? Well, this conference was attended by the:
- CEO of the Export Development Board,
- Minister of Fisheries & Aquatic Resources,
- State Minister of Fisheries & Aquatic Resources,
- Minister for International Trade, and
- Director of the Coastal Aquaculture Development (NAQDA)
- >150 local delegates sponsored by the government of Sri Lanka
These government departments will be working together to achieve their national goal, will also help with financing up to 80% for start-ups, and will help with market access, by organising their presence at several international aquarium/pet conventions.
There was also very strong media presence, and they have organised through INFOFISH, the invitation of speakers from around the world to share their learnings and experiences. They’ve even employed translators for real-time translation for the talks we’re giving!
Head sets for the translation service.
Why is the government and community so keen to support ornamental fish trade? It’s because there’s going to be huge socioeconomic gains to be had. It provides rural/remote communities an avenue for earning an income (in a term coined, “Trade not Aid”), allows women to gain employment locally (35,000 people employed in the line of ornamental fishes), has a relatively low start-up cost (~USD$2000), and there is expertise locally to farm fish, and there is demand for the product (global demand is increasing by 14% each year). This is exciting times for ornamental fish producers in Sri Lanka. I can only wish our Australian government could view our industry in a similar manner.
This conference will cover aspects of fish health, conservation, trade trends, marketing opportunities, regulation, biosecurity and more.
Check out some of the sights I’ve taken in – see link.