By:Staff WriterColombo (LNW): The Sri Lankan government has recently introduced regulations to address the ill effects and illicit practices in sea cucumber cultivations involving Chinese companies exerting a threat for the survival of local fishermen, who depend on the sea for their livelihoods, fisheries ministry sources divulged.
According to new regulations, it has restricted the areas where sea cucumber farms can be established and set minimum distances from the shore. The government has also imposed fines and other penalties for those who violate regulations.
Sea cucumber farming is a relatively new industry in Sri Lanka, but it has quickly gained popularity due to its potential for high profits.
However, the rapid expansion of sea cucumber farms operated by Chinese companies in Sri Lanka has caused concerns among local fishermen, who depend on the sea for their livelihoods.
Some local fishermen have reported that the sea cucumber farms are affecting their catch, as the farms are taking up large areas of the seabed, which reduces the available space for fish to breed and feed.
In addition, some fishermen have claimed that the use of chemicals and antibiotics in sea cucumber farming is having a negative impact on the marine environment and the health of fish in the area.
Moreover, the Chinese companies operating the sea cucumber farms are accused of employing mainly Chinese workers and not hiring local people, which has added to the resentment of local communities towards the industry.
However, critics argue that the regulations are not enough, as they do not address the fundamental issues of the environmental impact and the exclusion of local people from the industry.
Therefore, there is a need for the government and the companies involved in sea cucumber farming to work with local communities to address these concerns and find solutions that are beneficial for all parties involved.
Sea cucumber farming, like any aquaculture activity, can have environmental impacts, including potential damage to marine life and ecosystems.
One of the main concerns associated with sea cucumber farming is the use of antibiotics and other chemicals to control disease and promote growth in the farmed animals.
These chemicals can potentially leach into the surrounding water and affect the health of other marine organisms.
Additionally, the waste generated by the sea cucumbers can contribute to water pollution and eutrophication, which can negatively impact marine ecosystems.
Sea cucumber farming can also lead to habitat destruction and alteration, particularly if farms are located in sensitive or ecologically important areas.
The installation of sea cucumber farm structures on the seafloor can impact sedimentation and disturb benthic habitats. The removal of wild sea cucumbers to stock the farms can also reduce populations and impact biodiversity in the area.
In addition, in 2016, China and Sri Lanka signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the “Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road” initiative, which includes cooperation in fisheries and aquatic product processing.
In 2020, Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Development announced that it had signed an agreement with a Chinese company to set up a sea cucumber farm in the eastern province of Batticaloa.
The project is now operating at full scale creating jobs for local residents and boost the country’s export earnings.