Sri Lankan aquarium fish exporters in reef clean-up

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lankan exporters of tropical fish plan to start a reef cleaning campaign to protect the habitat of their export product for which there is growing demand in world markets, officials said.

The Coral Reef Enrichment Program, an effort to protect the marine fish habitat in coral reef Ecosystems around the country’s coast, will start in Trincomalee on 17 August 2016, said Sathyendra Wijayapura, the head of the committee in charge of the clean-up.

Ornamental fish exports earned $17 million in 2015, half from fish in inland waters and the rest from the sea, he told a news conference.
But global demand is high with the world market being $206 million, said Wijayapura, a former president of Sri Lanka’s Live Tropical Fish Exporters Association (LTFEA), the industrial body representing ornamental fish exports in the country.

“There’s a big opportunity to increase exports,” he said. 

Over 250 divers will take part in the clean up of coral colonies in an effort to improve the marine habitat ecosystems in the coral reefs, he said.

Anil Premaratne, chairman of National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA), said the reefs were being damaged by pollution, mostly manmade and much of which comes from the shore.

“Raising public awareness is most effective way to prevent pollution,” he said.

The cleanup is a costly exercise with experienced divers needed to collect waste from reefs 2-3 km offshore, he added.
(COLOMBO, July 22, 2016)

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