SL002.1 – Definition of socio-economic drivers of fishing pressure in eastern Sri Lanka – Overview
SL002.1 – Definition of socio-economic drivers of fishing pressure in eastern Sri Lanka
Coral reefs around the world are being degraded by both human activities and natural impacts. In order to mitigate such impacts, the Sri Lankan have decided to establish an MPA on the reefs of eastern Sril Lanka which are some of the best preserved reefs in this country. Blue Resources Trust (BRT) conducts long term coral reef research and monitoring in Sri Lanka to document anthropogenic impacts on coral reefs and associated habitats. Local reef-based fisheries are one of the major livelihoods for local communities but also one of the greatest sources of anthropogenic pressure on coral reef communities.
Climate, geography and ecosystems
The project is based in Kalkudah, a small fishing village located near the popular resort beach of Pasikudah, in the eastern dry zone of Sri Lanka. The climate is hot and dry, with a wet season from December to February.
The landscape is flat, comprising of scrub forests, dry tropical forests, agricultural lands and coastal wetlands, with isolated rocky hillocks further inland. The coastline consists of sandy beaches, lagoons, estuaries and coral reefs. The Maduru Oya river system drains into the ocean via the Valachchenai estuary which contains extensive mangrove habitats and seagrass communities. Fringing coral reefs and rocky reefs are found along the coast, with significant reef systems around Kayankerni, Pasikudah and Punnakuda. Kayankerni reef remains of the healthiest coral reef systems in Sri Lanka, with minimal impacts from the 2016 coral bleaching event.
Blue Resources Trust is currently supporting initiatives by the Sri Lankan Department of Wildlife Conservation to declare the reef as a marine sanctuary. There are also several shipwrecks in the area including the SS British Sergeant, sunk by Japanese planes in WWII.
March through to October
November through to February
Rainy weather resulting from the North East monsoon.
This project is mostly land-based and can be performed year-long.
Grassland and scrub forest
Key focus organisms
The east coast of Sri Lanka is rich in marine biodiversity. Fringing coral reefs along the east coast are known to contain more than 100 species of hard corals and over 200 species of reef fish. However, due to the lack of many detailed biodiversity assessments these numbers are likely to be heavily underestimated.
Reefs in the area are home to several threatened species and species with restricted distribution. These include the hard corals species Echinopora robusta and Porites desilverii and several reef fish such as the Humphead wrasse (Cheilinus undulates), and the Sri Lanka humphead parrotfish (Chlorurus rhakoura). Four species of seagrass are found within Valachchenai lagoon including the only known record of Halodule pinifolia from the east coast of Sri Lanka. Our partner, Blue Resources Trust, currently has research programs focusing on coral reefs, seagrass habitats and elasmobranchs.