We have extended our award-winning community-led conservation approach to protect Sri Lanka's most vulnerable marine life, to ensure sustainable livelihoods for those dependent on our territorial waters and beautiful coastline

Based in Kalpitiya in Northwest Sri Lanka, our Marine Project is directly addressing the conservation issues affecting Sri Lanka’s marine wildlife and is providing opportunities for ecotourism and alternative livelihoods to promote sustainable development in the area.

Sri Lanka’s coastline is rich with marine wildlife and is already a well-known destination for whale and dolphin watching. The coastline is also a vital habitat for sea turtles, dolphins, and sharks, among other species, and has a number of healthy coral reefs.

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A Coastline Under Threat

Over one million people depend upon fisheries for their income in Sri Lanka by exploiting living and non-living aquatic resources. Fish products remain the major source of protein in local diets. Economically the fisheries sector contributed 1.8 percent to the GDP in 2014, earning US$ 1,350 million. Given the high number of people reliant on Sri Lanka’s marine resources, there is a clear need for a long-term, sustainable approach to their management.​

The biggest threats to marine life in Sri Lanka are the fisheries industry, particularly illegal fishermen operating from India, and human activity along the coastline. Furthermore, mining of the sea bed for fossil fuels is common, with short-term benefits to the economy prioritised over long-term ecosystem protection and fisheries health.


A lack of education around sustainable fishing and marine protection intensify these threats.Additionally, some species, such as sea turtles, are particularly vulnerable due to poaching and habitat encroachment, and are often unintentionally caught in fishing nets as by-catch. And finally, plastic pollution blights many of Sri Lanka’s beautiful beaches and causes long-term damage to marine ecosystems.​


An Opportunity For Change

Rapid economic development and population growth mean the need for long-term marine conservation is stronger than ever.


The current levels of effective management and conservation work being carried out in relation to Sri Lanka’s marine and coastal ecosystems is inadequate and need greater efforts considering that over one million people make a living from marine resources.


With the reduction in conflict and increase in safety, tourism and investment comes an opportunity to help preserve and regenerate some of Sri Lanka’s unique and economically important marine and coastal ecosystems and biodiversity while benefiting local communities through preserving and restoring sources of food and income.

A Long-Term, Sustainable Solution

We aim to address the lack of knowledge around Sri Lanka’s marine resources by completing a comprehensive study on the ecology of the marine life here. Furthermore, we will seek to eliminate destructive fishing techniques and over-fishing in the local area. Instead, promoting ecotourism and sustainable fishing practices, working with the local communities to educate and empower them to manage the resources in a sustainable way, preserving their livelihoods for the long-term.

The project incorporates sea turtle, shark, dugong and pink dolphin conservation, including nesting surveys, monitoring programmes, in-situ hatching projects, as well as educational workshops, beach clean-ups, mangrove planting, and waste management schemes; all supported by our volunteer programme. These projects will combine to provide comprehensive and thorough protection for Sri Lanka’s most vulnerable marine wildlife and their ecosystems.

Diving in the Reef

Volunteer For The Marine Project

"On Friday we watched fishermen coming back from their early morning fishing. Getting to know the methods and practices of the local fishermen and the way these people interact with the ocean is the key to understanding their impact on the marine ecosystems."

Volunteer, Tim Gotz, Germany

The Marine Project is based on joint and innovative research and collaborative spirit that encourages civil society participation and citizen science. The Project is a practical demonstration of integrating scientific research and community-based conservation with the principles of ecotourism, green technology and sustainable development.


Our efforts are contributing to increasing the knowledge about Sri Lanka’s marine resources and in their conservation and sustainable management. The Marine Project provides volunteers the opportunity to participate in field work to study as well as help in the conservation of threatened and endangered marine, coastal and lagoon environments by supporting and assisting the SLWCS research scientists in their activities.


For information about the Marine Project Volunteering Program, please contact us at: info@slwcs.org