In terms of production and employment, those fisheries taking place within the continental shelf and undertaking by fishing craft in single day operation was the dominant sub sector and always made the largest contribution to the national fish production. This will be continued up to a certain extent in the plan period as well. In view of the bio physical limitations and the changes being taken place in the near shore coastal environment, it is important to forecast and place more emphasis on the inland, offshore/deep sea and brackish water fishery resources adapting effective technologies to increase the fish production. Strategies have been made in this plan to exceed the coastal production by offshore/deep sea fishing after the mid 2011.
The principal marine fish resources within the continental shelf and the annual sustainable yield within the continental shelf have been estimated by Fridjoft 13 Nansen surveys and were reported as 170,000 Mt (100,000 Mt pelagic fish and 70,000Mt demersal fish). The vessel did not survey inshore waters of less than 10m depth and whole of Palk Bay / Gulf of Mannar shallow water areas in the north. Therefore the potential yield from areas not covered by the survey was estimated at 80,000 Mt (70,000 Mt pelagic fish and 10,000 Mt demersal fish).
Hence the total sustainable yield from the coastal sector would be 250,000 Mt assuming the same density of biomass as obtained during the surveys in the northwest. Although the coastal fish production by 2013 has been targeted around 258,000 Mt in this strategy assuming the areas that were not properly surveyed are the most productive fishing grounds in the coastal waters of Sri Lanka and therefore it is sensible to assume that the density of biomass is highest in these areas and the potential in reality be higher than the estimated 80,000 Mt.