An Echelon Media Company
Sunday May 19th, 2024

Si Lanka halts coastal fishing over X-Press Pearl pollution hitting 5,600 boats

PROTECTED: Oil containment booms deployed in Negombo lagoon released by Minister Kanchana Wijesekara.

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has halted coastal fisheries from Kalutara South of the capital to Negombo in the north over debris and chemicals pollution from the burning hulk of the ill-fated ship MV X-Press Pearl, leaving 5,600 fishing boats without work, a minister said.

“The ban will continue until officials such as Marine Environmental Protection Authority and National
Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency gives us the clearance for fishing again,” State Minister for fisheries Kanchana Wijesekara said.

“Not only the fishing community, have we also identified around 28 industries that is affected by this ban such as dry fish vendors, fish vendors.”

In addition to the coastal area stretching over 80 kilometres, fishermen from further North towards Wennapuwa have also been told not to down to the area, he said.

There was no bar fishermen from other areas, Wijesekara said.

He said around 5,600 one-day boats involved in coastal fisheries have been hit by the ban.

Authorities were working out a compensation scheme with the Treasury he said.

However multi-day boats fishing in deep water and those fishing in international waters have been allowed to work he said.

Wijesekara said fish now in the market did not come from the polluted waters as there was no fishing over the past two days which was a Buddhist holiday, but from earlier.

“There is no reason to panic and we can assure you that no fish that was sold were contaminated due to this incident,” Wijesekara said.

“We banned fishing from last Sunday and no fish from those areas came to the market.”

Chairperson o the Marine Environmental Protection Authority, Dharshani Lahandapura said plastic granules from flotsam and chemicals were affecting marine life.

“These beads have spread from Dikovita to Ma oya beach and beaches from Wellawatta to Galkissa to Angulana have also been polluted due to this incident,” she said.

“We have fishing breeding places, Negombo lagoon and Mangrove plants and these are very sensitive environment and we believe this incident can affect them as well.”

Fishing has been halted in Negombo lagoon and protective gear have been placed to prevent debris from coming in, Wijesekera said.

Lahandapura said MEPA was collecting evidence to submit a claim against the ship. An expert panel was being assembled to assess the impact, which may take as much as three years, she said.

In the meantime, an interim claim will be made. Already a complaint was made at Harbhour Police she said.

Indian Coast Guard Vessels equipment containment equipment were standing by in case there was an oil leach from the X-Press Pearl, Sri Lanka Navy said.

By May 28, the fire on the ship was confined to the stern and the likelihood of it breaking up and sinking was reduced, State Minister of Coastal Conservation Nalaka Godahewa said.

Investigations were under-way to find if someone is at fault, but the first priority was to put the fire out, he said. (Colombo/ May 28/2021 – Updated)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment

Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sri Lanka seeks to draw youth into agri-entrepreneurship with 1.6bn funding

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Agriculture and Plantation Industries has earmarked 1.6 billion rupees for the establishment of 160 model farms across the island, that are to be owned and operated by youth agri-entrepreneurs.

“The Ministry of Agriculture and Plantation Industries has taken steps to allocate 1,600 million rupees to establish 160 villages in 25 districts with 6 youth agri entrepreneurship villages in each district,” Minister Mahinda Amaraweera was quoted in a statement.

“Arrangements have been made to provide an amount of one million rupees to each village under the first phase.”

The Minister said the aim of the program is to attract youth to agriculture and to introduce them to new agricultural technology, so they could target local markets and exports.

Under the initiative vegetables, fruits, plantation crops, and fish are to be harvested, and livestock products are to be produced in the villages. (Colombo/May18/2024)

Continue Reading

Sri Lanka Navy nabs fishermen engaged in illegal fishing

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Navy apprehended eight persons engaged in illegal fishing in the seas off Ambalanpokkanei, Mullaitivu, Poduwakattu, and Trincomalee, this week.

“The operations also led to the seizure of 3 dinghies and unauthorized fishing gear employed for these illegal acts,” it said in a statement.

“The Sri Lanka Navy remains vigilant and conducts operations to combat illegal fishing in its sea and coastal areas, with a view to supporting legal fishing activities.”

The fishermen were engaging in light-coarse fishing and using unauthorized fishing nets.

They were intercepted by the SLNS Gotabaya and SLNS Walagamba of the Eastern Naval Command.

The individuals were identified as residents of Mullaitivu, Kuchchaveli and Poduwakattu, aged between 21 to 53 years.

The fishermen, dinghies and unauthorized fishing gear were handed over to the Assistant Directorate of Fisheries – Mullaitivu, and the Fisheries Inspector of Trincomalee for legal action, the Navy said. (Colombo/May18/2024)

Continue Reading

Fifteen years after the end of the war, victims still await justice at Mullivaikkal: Amnesty

ECONOMYNEXT – Speaking at a commemoration marking the 15th anniversary of the end of Sri Lanka’s internal armed conflict on 18 May 2009, which culminated in the brutal Mullivaikkal offensive where countless civilian lives were lost, Secretary General at Amnesty International Agnès Callamard said:

“Today’s anniversary is a grim reminder of the collective failure of the Sri Lankan authorities and the international community to deliver justice to the many victims of Sri Lanka’s three-decade-long internal armed conflict.

It is sobering to stand in the same place where, 15 years ago, countless civilian lives were lost during the last days of the war.

Ahead of this event, we have witnessed clampdown on the memory initiatives, including arrests, arbitrary detentions and deliberately skewed interpretations of the Tamil community’s attempts to remember their people lost to the war. Authorities must respect the space for victims to grieve, memorialise their loved ones and respect their right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

UN investigations have found credible evidence of crimes under international law and other violations of international human rights and humanitarian law committed by those on both sides of the conflict, yet there has been little in the way of an independent or impartial national inquiry into such serious crimes.

Meanwhile, the families of those who were forcibly disappeared during the conflict have been left to search desperately for their loved ones. It is truly heartbreaking to hear from victims how long they have been demanding justice in vain.

The Sri Lankan government is best placed to provide answers to the victims, however numerous domestic mechanisms to establish accountability in the last 15 years have been mere window dressing.

The report by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights released earlier this week too reiterates the gaping deficits in Sri Lanka’s accountability initiatives that has contributed to impunity remaining deeply entrenched.

Tens of thousands of victims and their families continue to suffer in anguish as they await truth, justice, and reparations. We stand in solidarity with them here in Mullivaikkal today.”


During the internal armed conflict from 1983 to 2009, Sri Lankan government forces and their armed political affiliates committed extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and acts of torture against Tamils suspected of links to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

The LTTE also launched indiscriminate suicide attacks on civilian targets like buses and railway stations, assassinated politicians and critics, and forcibly recruited children as fighters.

Violations of international human rights and humanitarian law peaked in the final months of the conflict, most notably in May 2009 when some 300,000 displaced civilians were trapped between the warring parties.

It was at Mullivaikkal, a small village in Mullaitivu district in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka, where the final offensive between the Sri Lankan forces and the LTTE took place, killing at least 40,000 civilians according to UN estimates.

Each year, on 18 May, a memorial event at Mullivaikkal brings together thousands of war-affected Tamils to commemorate those lost to the war and demand justice and accountability.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) this week released a report on accountability for enforced disappearances in Sri Lanka.

Continue Reading