Technical and financial appraisal of harbour development proposals – Sri Lanka

Each of the main international trading blocs – North America, the Far East and Western Europe – are net importers of seafood, sourcing a fair proportion of requirements from developing countries. One such supplier is Sri Lanka, a key source of fresh tuna to international catering and retail markets, particularly within Western Europe. But as restaurateurs and supermarket seafood buyers clamber to demonstrate their ethical and eco-friendly credentials, so too do they ask their suppliers to adhere to ever greater standards of behaviour. To meet these standards, Sri Lanka is seeking to upgrade and extend its fishing harbours.

But fishing is but one element of harbour use. As the economy settles and grows after a period of considerable political instability, so pressure on often already over-stretched commercial port facilities increases. This is the case within the greater Colombo urban area, and a master planning exercise has recommended some major reorganisation of existing facilities and construction of new facilities, including a new fishing harbour designed to relieve congestion in main port areas, and to meet the changing requirements of the fishing fleet and international seafood traders.

Nautilus was called in under sub-contract to Scott Wilson (with whom the company has collaborated before) to undertake a due diligence exercise on detailed design, build and operate proposals for a new fishing harbour. Commissioned by a major international development bank, the task set the consultants was to provide independent advice on the funding application.

A key element of the work was to evaluate the technical assumptions used in the design and costing of the new facility, based on assessments of demand, projected future use, operational requirements, and incorporation of a range of improved services and facilities. Nautilus provided specialist advice on fishery industry development and operational requirements – evolution of fleet and fishing opportunities, seafood handling and fleet support facilities, markets and pricing, and assessment of the likely social and socio-economic implications of policies to relocate major fleet elements from nearby harbours and beaches, and assumptions that fishing-related income would be sufficient to fund major restructuring of fleet composition and fishing practices.