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Lagoon Management in Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka the livelihoods of small scale lagoon fishermen and women are under threat and Practical Action has been using community based fisheries management approaches to strengthen lagoon livelihoods. Lagoons in Sri Lanka have not only been damaged by the Tsunami, but have also undergone degradation through unsustainable fishing practices, irresponsible tourism development, inappropriate development interventions such as building causeways across lagoons, conflict among resource users and lack of regulation by the state.

Community based governance is a process of collective decision making at community level in partnership with public and private stakeholders with a common objective of sustainable resource management. Practical Action has used this approach in the Panama Lagoon where resources were being exploited by armed groups and powerful people. The lagoon was also polluted as sea boats were allowed to dock there and fish stocks were depleted due to the use of harmful fishing gear. In addition women had been denied access to fish in the lagoon. Practical Action facilitated a community group to regulate fishing practices in the community and a lagoon development plan was constructed with the consensus of all stakeholders, including women. Positive relationships were built with relevant government departments of fisheries and forests and the community issued a legal framework to help combat illegal and harmful practices.

In another area, the Malala and Ebillakela lagoons, Practical Action has facilitated the creation of an institutional framework to strengthen the livelihoods of the 200 fishermen and women that depended on the lagoon but were being prevented from accessing them due to the area being declared a National Park in 1991. As a result the lagoons became state property and the lagoon fishers were denied access to the aquatic resources. As a result conflict arose between traditional fishers and the Wild Life Authority. Through the facilitation process and creation of a framework, fishers have been able to voice their rights and they were assisted to participate in a plan with the relevant authorities that have resulted in conflict prevention. In addition this framework incorporated the interests of fishers and authorities in a win-win situation, because fishers have been able to exercise their traditional fishing rights whilst authorities have also been able to ensure the Fisheries Act and Fauna and Flora Act which are designed to protect the lagoons. 

A giant step in mainstreaming small-scale lagoon fishery in Sri Lanka

Largely due to the successful implementation of Practical Action's project and positive outcomes generated by this concept, the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources on 17th December, 2015 inaugurated a special unit to facilitate fisheries co-governance in lagoons and estuaries in Sri Lanka.

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A breakthrough for key policy change in Sri Lanka’s lagoon governance

Practical Action's Sustainable Lagoons and Livelihoods project team in Sri Lanka have been working with the government on legalising proposed regulations and amendment that will benefit 500,000 lagoon fishers.

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Innovative use of GPS for demarcating lagoons endorsed by Sri Lankan government

The innovative use of GPS (Global Positioning System) coordinates to demarcate the lagoons, introduced by Practical Action’s Sustainable Livelihoods and Lagoons (SLL) project, has been endorsed by Sri Lankan government.

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