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Sri Lanka
Rajasuriya, A.; Premaratne, A. (2000). Sri Lanka, in: Sheppard, C.R.C. (Ed.) Seas at the millennium: an environmental evaluation: 2. Regional chapters: The Indian Ocean to The Pacific. pp. 175-187
In: Sheppard, C.R.C. (Ed.) (2000). Seas at the millennium: an environmental evaluation: 2. Regional chapters: The Indian Ocean to The Pacific. Pergamon: Amsterdam. ISBN 0-08-043207-7. XXI, 920 pp., more

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Document type: Review


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  • Rajasuriya, A.
  • Premaratne, A.

    The Indian Ocean island of Sri Lanka has a coastline of about 1,585 km excluding embayments, offshore islands, inlets and lagoons. Within this are tens of thousands of hectares of mangroves, salt marshes, coastal dunes, barrier beaches and spits, lagoons and estuaries. The climate is mainly driven by two alternating monsoon seasons, which generate substantial longshore drift of sediments around the coast. Offshore and in lagoons there are large quantities of seagrasses, and about 2% of the coastline contains fringing coral reefs, in addition to which are numerous patch reefs, generally 15 to 20 km offshore. In the early 1990s, marine fisheries provided full or part-time employment to nearly 100,000 individuals and contributed 1.9% to GDP. Nearly 65% of the animal protein and about 13% of the total protein consumed in Sri Lanka is provided by marine fisheries, which yield about 242,000 tons annually. Coastal fish production reached its highest level in 1994 but has fluctuated since because of both over-exploitation and reduced effort in some areas due to the conflict between separatists and government. Offshore fish production shows similar fluctuations. Although fishing is the only source of income for about 80% of the country's fishermen, doubts have been raised whether the industry can offer adequate opportunities to new entrants to the labour force by the year 2000, though some hitherto under-exploited resources have the potential for increased production. The marine ornamental fishery sector is valuable, as is the chank fishery in the north which supplies mainly Bangladesh and India. A sea cucumber fishery exploits 13 species for export to far eastern countries, but following their collection using scuba diving in some parts, the resource was wiped out after two years. Garbage and waste disposal systems are poor; currently trends are of increasing concentrations of urban wastes. Reclamation of wetland habitats is also an increasing problem which has led to rapid storm-water discharges, with sediment, domestic and industrial waste. Coastal erosion is a major problem and has resulted in damage of and loss to houses, hotels and other coastal infrastructure. Non-point agricultural pollution is a major problem; some farming districts use over 120 kg of fertilizer per ha, and total pesticide use is 2800 tons annually of which about 25% ends up in the sea. Shrimp farming has converted substantial mangrove areas. However, a framework for coastal zone management exists, and in several areas improvements have been made.

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