Extensive outreach primes Sri Lankan area for dugong and seagrass conservation

August 22, 2016

LK7 Project Update: Jan thru June 2016

All incentive programmes introduced by SLTCP developed well in this period. The baseline conditions in each site were assessed through a socio-economic and environment studies. The team also collected information on historical cases of dugong sightings in Puttalam district.

The incentives to communities were provided further to assessing needs, raising awareness about marine conservation issues related to seagrass and their dependent biodiversity and setting in a participatory manner conservation objectives to reduce the negative impact of fishing practices. The community members were also familiarised with the Dugong and Seagrass Conservation Project. All incentives are provided to communities on the basis of a Memorandum of Understanding. All sites were monitored through monthly visits.

SLTCP provided legally accepted, harmless fishing nets in substitute of illegal gear to 10 beneficiaries at Sotthupitiya and 25 beneficiaries in Serakkuliya.

The Partner continued to developing alternative programmes to fishing – a seabass aquaculture programme and a crab culture programme.

A seabass aquaculture site initiated at Thirikkapallama, benefiting 11 families, was monitored in January – the aquaculture facility (a net) is in the lagoon itself.

600 fingerlings had been introduced but the severe floods in May washed away part of the stock. Five seabass facilities (net) had been previously established in Sotthupitiya and first harvest was collected in February this year. The next introduction of fingerlings will be done in August.

The crab culture programme introduced in Palliwasathurei last year was monitored in January – all cages were filled with crabs, which had been caught from the mangrove habitat, restored before by SLTCP.

The batik programme targeting the female part of the communities continued to develop and was initiated in Kandakuliya, in February 2016. The community members were trained and subsequently their work was monitored to help them improve.

The batik group was given instructions to illustrate dugongs and seagrass on their products in order to encourage conservation and awareness about these species.

The sewing programme progressed with the donation of 10 new sewing machines to the communities in Thirikkapallama. The community members there and in Sotthupitiya and Serakkuliya, where sewing machines had been previously provided, received a professional training.

As part of the incentives and following local communities’ needs, SLTCP improved facilities in two primary schools – an audio- visual systems for two pre- schools at Sotthupitiya and Kandakuliya were donated in June. Awareness raising for kids and their teachers on dugong and seagrass conservation was conducted by the Partner.

The work on the incentives was supplemented with rich awareness raising for seagrass, dugongs and other seagrass dependent species (global Project activity 221). The awareness programme was initiated in March, comprising lectures and a film on dugong and seagrass conservation. The awareness raising events were organised in LK7 project sites, with support from the community leaders. Awareness raising lectures were carried out for government officers at Divisional Secretariat in Kalpitiya.

In this reporting period, SLTCP initiated the preparation for a national art competition ‘Werale asiriya’ on marine environment for school students, as part of the global Project, to be held in September. The topic of the competition is dugongs and seagrass.

The competition was announced in April in collaboration with Wijeya newspapers Ltd and over 3000 paintings were received by the end of June 2016.

More about the results from the competition will be presented in the next progress report.

SLTCP promoted the Project and the importance of seagrass and dependent biodiversity at the annual environmental day exhibition, on 5 June, held in Matale, central province, Sri Lanka. New set of educational panels and models of sea turtles were produced for the SLTCP exhibition unit and displayed. Panels carrying message to encourage marine mammal conservation and a model of coral reef ecosystem were also displayed at the exhibition.