We're extending our award-winning community-led conservation approach to protect Sri Lanka's most vulnerable marine life, ensuring sustainable livelihoods for those dependent on our territorial waters and beautiful coastline
Based in Kalpitiya, north west Sri Lanka, our Marine Resource-conservation Initiative for Nature-based Enterprise (MaRINE) Project will directly address the conservation issues affecting Sri Lanka’s marine wildlife and will provide 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-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.
Rapid economic development and population growth mean the need for long-term marine conservation is stronger than ever.
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 will incorporate 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 a volunteer programme. These projects will combine to provide comprehensive and thorough protection for Sri Lanka’s most vulnerable marine wildlife and their ecosystems.