Dugong and Seagrass Conservation Project

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We are so pleased being a project partner of GEF Dugong and Seagrass Conservation Project. This global multi- country project works in 8 nations of Indo- Pacific region, including Sri Lanka. The other countries are Indonesia, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mozambique, Solomon Islands, Timor- Leste and Vanuatu. Dugong and Seagrass Conservation project aims enhancing the conservation effectiveness of Seagrass Ecosystems supporting Globally Significant populations of Dugongs across the Indian and Pacific Ocean basins. This Project is executed by the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund, with financing from the GEF, implementation support by UNEP and technical support from the CMS Dugong MoU Secretariat.

Being one of the six project partners in Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka Turtle Conservation Project’s (SLTCP) role is providing incentives to local communities in return for wise stewardship of coastal habitats.

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SLTCP run its project based in Kalpitiya. Kalpitiya is located in North- western coast of the island in the peninsula of Puttalam lagoon. Puttalam lagoon is a large lagoon that has a large extent of Seagrass community in Sri Lanka. References say that there had been a significant population of Dugongs in this area including Gulf of Mannar.

SLTCP trains community members in Marketing and Branding of community products

SLTCP has recently conducted another training programme for the community members in Kalpitiya and Puttalam areas. This programme was a part of Dugong and Sea grass concervation project which is implemented by SLTCP in six villages around Kalpitiya and Puttalam. The main objective of this programme is to create more awareness on Marketing and branding of various community products such as Batik, garment items, ornamental fish, crabs, sea bass etc. In order to increase the income of the local community members. A qualified trainer was consulted and hired for the training. In addition, another training was given an accountant keeping and finance management. Furthermore, a training on ornamental fish breeding was also provided at the same training programme. SLTCP introduces alternative livelihoods for community members to reduce their dependence on vanishing natural resources.

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We have selected 6 localities alongside Puttalam lagoon to initiate our portion of Dugong and Sea Grass project. Among them 2 localities are located in mainland, while the rest of sites are located in lagoon peninsula.

Following are our major sites

Sites in peninsula,

  1. Sotthupitiya
  2. Palliwasathurei
  3. Anawasala
  4. Kandakkuliya

Sites in Mainland

  1. Thirikkapallama
  2. Serakkuliya

Sotthupitiya-

Sea Bass is a marine fish that has a fast growth rate and a good demand. There is a culture of this species in shallow areas of lagoons/ shallow sea and Puttalam lagoon suits well for this. Construction and function of five Sea Bass pens have been funded and construction of each has already been completed.

It was noted that there is a shortage of sanitary facilities in this village. Some families were using a common toilet. We decided to fund construction of five toilets in order to facilitate good sanitary practices. At the moment, Construction of three toilets has been completed. The other two toilets have been completed apart from the roofs and doors.

Women of the fisher community also try to contribute by doing minor work. It is a good incentive to teach them sewing and encourage them to create their own market for their own products. With the previous experience of the organization, they will be given a training programme on how to make cotton bags, which has a great international demand. Other than that, they will be taught about major sewing principles to make a sustainable living.

Seven Sewing machines have been handed over for the women of the area, as there will be a sewing training programme planned for those.

We breed and introduce new platy and other live baring species in Colombo to introduce ornamental fish culture to this site. This will be another good option of incentives.

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Palliwasathurei-

Crab culture is a method adopted to minimize wastage of harvest. Fishermen’s harvest usually contains a less demand portion. This is the crab population that is in the process of shedding their shell. These are in intermediate stage and can’t be sold at a good price, making only a third of the original price. Such harvest is normally released back to the lagoon and fishermen find this as a waste of both time and effort. Crab cages are used to keep that soft shelled harvest for 15 days, until it become a proper harvest.  At the same time, other immature crabs are also kept in cages for months to get a good quality harvest, later on.

We gave monetary support to construct 6 cages, which are now completed and functioning.

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Anawasala

It was decided to initiate a salt packet production, as requested by fisher community leaders. Being so close to one of the major salterns of the island, it proved to be a good incentive. Furthermore we agreed to fund packaging material for the initial production and it’s under process, at present. This will benefit 10 fisher families as material and a training has been given to 10 housewives of the community to how to package.

Illegal push nets 0f 10 fishermen will be replaced with legally accepted proper fishing nets.

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Serakkuliya-

It has been planned to implement a sewing training programme to the village women. We donated 10 sewing machines to the community, already. The sewing training programme will be started soon.

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Thirikkapallama

In this site Sea Bass culture has not been practiced so far and it’s now introduced by the organization. This will benefit 18 families from the area. Monetary support was given to construction and function of a large pen.

10 sewing machines have already been handed- over to benefit village women, as a sewing programme to be conducted to them soon.

In addition we have another site called “ Kandakkuliya”, where we are yet to start our incentives programme. Suggested by the residents, we have planned to implement a batik training programme there. We donated a water tank for the school children in one of the rural schools. This has been a very important requirement in this very dry area, over the years.

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For Global project, Please visit :  http://www.dugongconservation.org

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