|Extinction of lobsters, coral reefs in Sri Lanka
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|Author:||Saman [ Fri Feb 11, 2011 4:50 pm ]|
|Post subject:||Extinction of lobsters, coral reefs in Sri Lanka|
Tourism affected by extinction of lobsters, coral reefs
By Srian Obeysekere / The BL, Sunday, February 6, 2011
Copyright © Rivira Media Corporation Ltd
Sri Lanka has lost 70 per cent of tourists to the Maldives in respect of marine tourism, according to two of the country’s leading marine experts. These marine experts claimed that there had been an extinction of Sri Lanka’s exotic coral reefs, and lobsters with the marine habitat destroyed by as much as 95 per cent with the authorities turning a blind eye to it. In fact, they charged, there were only dead coral reef zones now.
“Poaching of lobsters has been rampant by underwater divers who sell a lobster for as much as Rs.5,000 to tourists and tourist hotels. In addition, fishermen too contributed to the erosion,” claimed Ariyaseela Wickramanayake, Chairman Master Divers Association.
He stressed that the tourist authorities had to act fast to protect whatever lobsters there are today and redevelop the coral reefs by declaring zones in the South and East as sanctuaries.
“At least 30 per cent of the natural habitats in Trincomalee in the East should be declared a sanctuary since that is one region that was fortunately unaffected by poachers with those sea zones being prohibited areas during the 30-year war,” said Wickramanayake. Wickramanayake stressed that there was ‘nowhere in the world a place like Galle to exploit tourism-wise.’ “Unfortunately, this is not happening,” Wickramanayake alleged.
Adding to this, Arjan Rajasooriya, Conservation Executive and Marine Conservationist of the National Aquatic Resources Agency (NARA) said, “The largest living Dutch Fort is in Sri Lanka being four square miles. But it is not protected by the authorities. It is being vandalised at will.”
He went on to elaborate that the other aspect of the Dutch Fort was that today, people in Holland did not know that there was a Dutch Fort in Sri Lanka in its entire splendour.
He charged that the tourism authorities had failed to sell the Dutch Fort to tourists as an ideal attraction to visit in the world.
“In fact, there are thousands of Dutch tourists who fly over Sri Lanka to other world destinations totally unaware of this magnificent fort,” alleged Rajasooriya. The duo was airing their views to the tourist authorities, at a seminar headed by Sri Lanka Tourism Chairman, Dr Nalaka Godahewa.
They stressed that re-salvaging the country’s natural marine resources had to start now if Sri Lanka was to maximise the potential of the abundance of nature around the country.
Responding to their pleas, the Chairman, Sri Lanka Tourism, Dr Nalaka Godahewa said that in a way the Tourist Board was helpless to address the situation. Therefore, he requested the divers association and NARA to work with the board as volunteers to arrest this situation.
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