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Sri Lanka is a tropical island situated near the equator and surrounded by the Indian Ocean. Nature gifted water species especially ornamental fish, reef fish, invertebrates, live corals and aquatic plants are of considerable importance to Sri Lankan economy. During the past few decades, the marine ornamental industry has become more popular and considered as a foreign earning sector in Sri Lanka. The export of marine ornamental fish has significantly increased by 22.7% in 2016 compared to previous years and contribute to the continuous share of Sri Lankan economy. This industry has a high potential for expansion due to the abundant availability of natural resources.
Marine fish and invertebrates are collected from the water around the island by professional divers and exported all over the world. The major diving site for collection include Kalpitiya, Ambalangoda, Hikkaduwa, Bentota, Tangalle, Weligama, and Trincomalee. The major buyers are USA, Japan, Australia, Canada, European Union and Middle Eastern Countries. The annual growth of marine ornamental fish industry is 0.93% and the sector has identified major plans to increase the profit margin by breeding high value ornamental fish including exciting new species and rare varieties endemic to Tropical Island.
Marine ornamental aquarium compose of more colorful and striking fish species, invertebrates, corals and aquatic plants.
Marine ornamental fish species with high export demand include Red sea fish, Diamond goby, Diesel, Scissor Tail Clownfish, Scorpion blenny, Red coral perch, Eightline Wrasse, Fighter goby, White sand goby, Koran angel, Regal Angel fish, Two-colored blenny, Elvis Damsel Fish, Tiger goby, Three spot damsel, Blue ring with high export demand.
Marine ornamental fish species prohibited from export comprises Blue and yellow grouper, Two- spined angelfish, Dotted butterfly fish, Lion fish, Saddled Butterfly fish, Masked bannerfish.
Marine invertebrates comprises Hippolis matha, Red fire shrimp, Dancing shrimp, Green carpet anemone, Crimson star fish, Hingebeak shrimp, Flower Sea Urchin, Tube Anemone Purple, Corn Rose Bulb Anemone, Spotted trapeze crab, Yellow Sponge Brittles, Orange line Sea Slug.
Corals found in the marine are Polyps, Zoas, Soft corals, LPS corals, Clams and Mushrooms.
By introducing new technologies in the water management system and better understanding in the nutrition and disease management, the development has supported this sector as a global industry. This industry became commercialized and about 50 companies export over 1000 varieties of live ornamental fish around 40 countries world over which contribute 0.74% of the global demand for ornamental fish. Trade experience over 60 years endowed with some private companies to include Lumbini Aquarium, Aquamarines International, etc. Improved varieties of sea horse are exported to UK and European markets with great success and earns high export value. The Department of Animal Quarantine issue a certificate for every shipment to ensure that the export fish are in good health.
Ornamental fish keeping is one of the most popular hobby in the world nowadays. Scientists reported looking at the fish moving in the tanks gives mental relaxation, reduce stress and avoid frustration. Like other pets, it is not danger and harmful to human.
Risks, Barriers and Challenges:
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