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Management of coastal resources in Puttalam lagoon, Sri Lanka

Author(s): Pathirana KPP, Kamal ARI,  Riyas MC, Safeek ALM

Abstract

Puttalam Lagoon is one of the productive estuaries in the Northwest coast of Sri Lanka with a surface area of 32,700 ha (see Figure1). The lagoon receives fresh water from two rivers, Kala Oya and Mee Oya whose average discharges were estimated to be about 2.2 m 3 /s and 8.1 m 3 /s respectively. The lagoon is very rich in natural resources such as fish, shellfish, coral reefs, sand dunes, mangroves, sea grass beds, salt marshes and beaches. The main occupations of the people living in the area are fishing, trading fish products and agriculture. Human activities within and outside the system have resulted in the degradation of these valuable resources. Rapid and uncontrolled development of shrimp farming by converting mangrove forests and salt marshes has resulted in severe degradation of the valuable ecological habitats. Use of harmful and unsustainable fishing methods has lead to the reduction of fish varieties in the lagoon and in the degradation of the sea grass beds. This paper presents the results of the study that was carried out to investigate the present degradation levels of coastal resources in Puttalam lagoon and to review the effectiveness of existing management plans. A number of sustainable management options that can be implemented were also identified during the study.

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