A pioneering sustainable seafood farming company, Taprobane Seafood Group (TSG), was founded in 2011 by Timothy O’ Reilly and Dilan Fernando, with the shared vision of reaching the highest standards of sustainable seafood farming.
TSG has come to be known for producing pasteurized crab meat, frozen and fresh tuna, shrimp, and various other seafood products for some of the world’s most respected brands such as Chicken of the Sea, Hilo Fish, Spi Sea, Handy, Irfish, Torry Harris, and more.
It is also the first Sri Lankan entity to receive the most prestigious highest certification for food standards – FSSC-22000. The company has accreditations from many prestigious, renowned authoritative bodies in the industry, including Ethical Trading Initiatives (ETI), Best Aquaculture practices (BAP), and Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch.
As a pioneer in the field of seafood exports, Taprobane have paved the way for the industry to grow, and remains committed to growing the sector through innovation. For instance, 100% traceability of its product is empowered today by a smartphone application developed jointly with the Colombo University, which enables GPS and GPI tracking to disseminate information to facilitate those involved in fisheries management.
Towards Sustainable & Ethical Business…..
Furthermore, it has always been in the forefront of ethical labour practices in the industry through its enduring commitment towards community empowerment. Over the past few years, it has paid added attention towards creating and shaping living standards, well-being, and the sustainable development of its 1,500 plus employees, attached to 10 processing facilities throughout the Northern and North Western Provinces.
TSG focuses on value addition to ensure that it produces sustainably, and socially responsible seafood products. Every purchase of Premium pasteurized crab meat packed under Chicken of the Sea brand, drives the demand for sustainably sourced seafood. It says us to “pay your workers fairly, and give a fair price to the fishermen”. And says to the fishermen “harvest your resources responsibly, now and for future generations”.
At TSG, it is about developing and encouraging eco-friendly aquaculture, and value addition. Interestingly, one of TSG’s largest project is a voluntary code of conduct with the National Fisheries Institutes Crab Council to become Asia’s pioneer in certified sustainably-sourced Sri Lankan Blue Swimming Crab, and commenced the Blue Swimming Crab Fisheries Improvement Project (FIP).
In January 2019, Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, in the USA recommended the Sri Lankan Blue Swimming Crab as the only “Eco – Recommended” crabs in the South East Asian Region. This is the first ever national level achievement for fisheries in Sri Lanka, which will be a key marketing factor for the Seafood exports to the USA market.TSG is humbly proud for its contribution towards this impeccable achievement through its voluntary project for the Fisheries Improvement Project (FIP).
The US, EU, and Japan are strong markets for seafood exports from Sri Lanka, while China is a potential importer of Sri Lankan seafood, along with Singapore, Hong Kong, and Thailand. TSG’s export markets are to be expanded to Canada, UK, Spain, India, China, Vietnam, Japan, the Philippines, and Australia.
Talking about the achievements of TSG, Timothy O’Reilly, Managing Director of Taprobane Sea Foods says: “We are pleased and humbly feel proud for our achievements in 2014 at the Export Development Board awards, and thereafter in 2018 being conferred at the National Chamber of Exporters Awards ceremony.”
Taprobane claimed the Presidential Award for the Highest Export Earner at the EDB Awards and coveted Fisheries Sector Extra Large Category Award and two other special awards at the NCE Awards in recognition of its immense contribution to sustainable development efforts in the Northern Province through the EGLR (Employment Generation and Livelihood through Reconciliation) Project, implemented in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation (ILO), as well as for creating employment opportunity for the differently-abled in predominantly war-torn areas. TSG initiated these employment initiatives back in 2012, in partnership with the Disability Network of the Employers’ Federation of Ceylon (EFC), facilitated by ILO’s Local Empowerment, through Economic Development (LEED) Project.
Realization towards Future……
Commenting on whether Sri Lankan entities are taking advantage of available export opportunities, O’Reilly says, “I don’t believe so, mainly, because while GSP-plus is certainly helpful, most Sri Lankan products are being exported to the US. When it comes to Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), I am not sure they are that advantageous for Sri Lanka. It is my belief that encouraging investment and incentives for businesses to set up operations in Sri Lanka makes more sense than allowing in cheap imports from India and China, since the former contributes towards the development of the economy by way of earning foreign exchange and job creation.”
He further believes policies can be aimed at supporting exporters, such as duty drawback schemes, and subsidies for machinery, expansion of facilities, and new investment similar to India, which would certainly be helpful to the seafood and manufacturing sectors; while political and economic factors are certainly challenging for all sectors. A stable government, with a clear and achievable plan will certainly encourage business confidence, and with that more investment, and more jobs.
Compared to other South Asian Countries Sri Lanka is relatively open for foreign business and investment, its young and educated workforce lends itself well to manufacturing, and the export sectors; and Sri Lanka is an island nation. When all this comes together, then the future is bright for exports in the seafood sector in Sri Lanka.
Taprobane Sea Food Group is at the verge of introducing a main stream export boost to Sri Lanka with the commencement of the first ever SPF Vannamei Shrimp farm in Sri Lanka. The success of this project will pave way for a one billion US dollar industry in exports, creating 140,000 employment opportunities in years to come in Sri Lanka, through sustainable aquaculture.