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Social media reports on harmful prawn farming in Puttalam false: NAQDA

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s National Aquaculture Development Authority (NAQDA) denied yesterday that, contrary to reports circulating on social media, it had given permission for prawn farming projects that could negatively impact the environment.

In a statement issued yesterday, NAQDA said false reports circulating on social media about alleged freshwater prawn farming, primarily in the Puttalam district, showed “unrealistic environmental damage”.

“We can assure you that no such environmental damage has been done or that we have given permission to carry out such activities under NAQDA projects,” the statutory body said.

According to NAQDA, freshwater prawn farming is the main commercial aquaculture export from Sri Lanka and the quantity of shrimp exported from the country has gradually increased over the past 10 years.

NAQDA statistics show that in 2019, Sri Lanka exported 2,115 metric tons of shrimp valued at Rs 3,522 million, indicating an increase in exports by about 683 metric tons from 2009 to 2019. The shrimp industry has produced 6,400 metric tons of shrimp over the past decade, excluding any wild captured shrimps, the statement said.

In 2004, due to unplanned aquaculture farming in the Puttalam district, freshwater prawn farming was destroyed with the spread of the whit spot disease, said NAQDA. However, with the establishment of the Coastal Aquaculture Extension and Monitoring Unit (CAEMU), NAQDA said it could increase the productivity of the industry while also implementing laws and regulations to minimise the impact on the environment.

The main impact of aquaculture farming to the environment has been identified as the loss of mangrove plants, the statutory body said, adding that the CAEMU has planted 11,080 mangrove plants and is continuing to add to that number under the supervision of NAQDA.

NAQDA further said that the construction of new freshwater prawn farms has been suspended in the Puttalam district. To open a prawn farm, a NAQDA-issued license must be obtained. This license will be valid for 12 months and should be renewed within 30 days after its expiration date.

NAQDA said that in order to open a prawn farm in the North Western province, the necessary license will be issued by the North Western Provincial Environmental Authority and to open a prawn farm in any other province a license should be obtain by the Central Environmental Authority.

To obtain the license prawn farmers must first acquire an Environmental Protection license first.

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If the farm is in a coastal area, farmers should get the clearance for the property through the Department of Coast Conservation and Coastal Resource management.

NAQDA said no permission or clearance will be given for any farming in conservation forests in Sri Lanka.

The statutory body in its statement has asked members of the public to contact the following phone, fax and email addresses for any complaints regarding illegal prawn farming or any aquaculture activity harming the marine environment.

Coastal Aquaculture Extension and Monitoring Unit 

Phone/ fax number – 032 2258762

[email protected]

NAQDA 

President- 011 2786497

[email protected]

(Colombo/Sep25/2020)

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