- Coastal and marine ecosystems in Sri Lanka present a wide range of companies which might be important to coastal communities and the surroundings.
- To guard these ecosystems whereas addressing nationwide improvement wants, Sri Lanka is well-positioned to spend money on a “blue economic system” that focuses on financial progress that comes with and protects the surroundings and ecosystem companies.
- Officers and consultants have recognized enormous potential to reinforce livelihoods and worth chains in Sri Lanka’s coastal and marine sector with out destroying native ecosystems, primarily based on technical experience and steerage.
- If improvement of the coastal sector could be achieved in concord with ecosystem progress and conservation, proponents say, this may improve Sri Lanka’s capacities for local weather change mitigation and adaptation, supporting the resilience of its inhabitants and its commitments underneath the Paris Settlement.
COLOMBO — Authorities in Sri Lanka have referred to as for a renewed give attention to conserving the island’s wealthy coastal ecosystems, figuring out the “blue economic system” as key to the nation’s sustainable improvement.
The Indian Ocean island has a shoreline of 1,340 kilometers (833 miles), territorial waters spanning 21,500 sq. kilometers (8,300 sq. miles), and an unique financial zone of 517,000 km2 (200,000 mi2), almost eight times its land area. Its coastal zone is residence to a lot of the city inhabitants and infrastructure in addition to to bountiful ecosystems that embrace mangrove forests, tidal marshes, seagrass beds, and coral reefs.
Nonetheless, massive swaths of those ecosystems have been lost or degraded over latest many years, leaving many components of the coastal belt uncovered.
“Despite the fact that we’re blessed with our geographical location and with our pristine and extremely biodiverse coastal and marine surroundings, our coastal and marine environments are underneath immense strain,” Darshani Lahandapura, chair of Sri Lanka’s Marine Atmosphere Safety Authority (MEPA), informed an annual research symposium on the marine surroundings in Might. “Whereas a lot consideration is concentrated on the issues going through the ocean, the ocean can be the supply of potential options and improvements.
“Ocean-based local weather actions akin to ocean-based renewable vitality, ocean-based transportation, coastal and marine ecosystems, fisheries and aquaculture, and carbon storage within the seabed have the potential to shut the emission hole and mitigate local weather change impacts,” Lahandapura added. “Sustainably growing oceans and financial progress for improvement whereas sustaining ocean well being can outline a brand new period of alternatives for ocean-facing nations.”
The idea of the “blue economic system” promotes inclusive financial progress and livelihood improvement that additionally ensures the environmental sustainability of oceans and coastal areas. UNESCO defines it as “the decoupling of socioeconomic development through oceans-related sectors and activities from environmental and ecosystems degradation.”
Pathways towards a blue economic system
A blue economic system can embrace renewable vitality, fisheries, maritime transport, tourism, waste administration, and different sectors linked to the coastal and marine surroundings, in accordance with Ruchira Cumaranatunga, a senior professor on the Division of Fisheries and Aquaculture of the University of Ruhuna.
“There are various sustainable socioeconomic improvement packages that might be carried out in Sri Lanka with out harming or with the least impression to the pure vegetation,” Cumaranatunga informed Mongabay.
“They’re attainable and economically possible, however when getting ready such improvement packages, appropriate consultants on coastal surroundings and vegetation must be consulted.”
Sri Lanka isn’t in need of ocean-related data and experience. However this experience must be actively utilized and built-in into planning and implementation processes, Cumaranatunga stated. Enhancing livelihoods that use coastal and marine assets in a sustainable and holistic means is usually made tough by gaps in consciousness, data, institutional coordination, and cross-sectoral collaboration, he added.
Boosting sustainability and financial progress within the coastal belt with out harming the surroundings can enhance current livelihoods, for instance by optimizing provide chains, introducing worth addition, or decreasing post-harvest losses in fisheries.
“With respect to fishery waste in Sri Lanka, it’s discarded haphazardly with out contemplating that it’s a precious useful resource, inflicting severe environmental impacts,” Cumaranatunga stated.
Yearly, 50-60% of Sri Lanka’s fish harvest is discarded as trash fish or fishery waste and dumped into lagoons, estuaries, or the ocean. Nonetheless, if collected, fish waste might be transformed to precious merchandise, for instance animal feed, fertilizer, fish oil, fish-skin leather-based, collagen and gelatine, chitin and chitosan from crab shells and shrimp waste, or pure calcium from shellfish.
Specialists have lengthy recognized many alternatives to create further livelihoods in Sri Lanka’s coastal and marine sector with out destroying native ecosystems, for instance by way of seaweed farming, which is presently solely carried out on a small scale with out worth addition; coral reef transplanting to create synthetic reefs; captive breeding to replenish fish populations; mariculture; and even constructing an underwater observatory for tourism and academic functions. The tourism sector itself supplies many alternatives for sustainable improvement throughout the blue economic system and would enormously profit from wholesome ecosystems, proponents say.
“In Sri Lanka, when buildings are put up, the coastal vegetation is eliminated to get a greater view of the ocean with out pondering of its features,” Cumaranatunga stated. “If the coastal vegetation is stored as nature tracks for individuals to stroll by way of and nonetheless get to the seaside whereas having fun with the great thing about coastal pure ecosystems, it might additionally assist to guard the shoreline and act as a barrier in opposition to coastal erosion. This type of improvement will give long-term advantages whereas serving to sustainable socio-economic improvement.”
When restoration packages have been launched for already disturbed coastal ecosystems, the pure wildlife of those areas must be considered to forestall introduction of alien or invasive species, consultants say. For instance, when replanting mangroves, the pure range and density must be considered, for which aerial images and even Google pictures previous to destruction might be used.
Weak coastal communities that always rely upon just a few key livelihoods, akin to fisheries or tourism, would additionally profit underneath a blue economic system, proponents say. Local weather-related impacts and different shocks can severely have an effect on these livelihoods and push individuals into poverty, and if coastal ecosystems are degraded and misplaced, this may scale back fish populations and tourism potential as effectively.
However thriving ecosystems would assist mitigate these impacts whereas additionally offering a wide range of other goods and services, for instance safety in opposition to floods, discount of coastal erosion, and better carbon sequestration — with mangroves and different blue carbon ecosystems being among the many best ecosystems on the planet for local weather change mitigation.
Nationwide and world alignments
Already, the shift towards a blue economic system is enshrined in Sri Lanka’s nationwide coverage framework, “Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour,” which commits to “sustainable ocean useful resource administration for a blue-green economic system.” Different key insurance policies and commitments embrace Sri Lanka’s nationally decided contributions underneath the Paris Settlement; the nationwide adaptation plan for local weather change impacts; and the nationwide coverage on conservation and sustainable use of mangrove ecosystems in Sri Lanka.
Throughout the world context, Sri Lanka’s efforts to maneuver towards a blue economic system align immediately with the Sustainable Development Goals; the U.N. Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030; and the U.N. Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030. Sri Lanka can be the chair of the Mangrove Ecosystems and Livelihood Motion Group underneath the Commonwealth Blue Charter and a member of the Indian Ocean Rim Affiliation, which has a priority focus area on the blue economy in addition to a “blue carbon hub.”
Its place as an island surrounded by the pure wealth of the Indian Ocean offers Sri Lanka monumental potential to spend money on its blue economic system, consultants say. However they observe this may require the sustainable and built-in administration of coastal and marine areas, inclusion of ecosystems into planning processes, session of technical consultants, and a authorized regime that facilitates these processes.
Consciousness creation and coaching are essential, as is additional analysis targeted on sensible software and the development of livelihoods, overlaying subjects akin to marine ecology, blue carbon, sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, ecotourism, round economic system, renewable vitality, management and therapy of land-based waste and air pollution, and perceptions and threat notions amongst coastal populations.
Between the impacts of local weather change, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the necessity for sustainable improvement, coastal and marine ecosystem conservation can unlock many synergies for Sri Lanka’s blue economic system, proponents say. Conservation and improvement would not have to be at odds, they argue: they are often mutually useful, assist livelihoods, and tackle the causes and impacts of local weather change.
Banner picture of mangroves, additionally among the many most efficient coastal ecosystems offering a variety of advantages and companies, from flood safety to fish nurseries and carbon sequestration. Picture courtesy of Kanchana Handunnetti.