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‘Chinese language funding’ in sea cucumber farm sparks considerations amongst northern Sri Lankan fishermen 

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Northern Sri Lankan fishermen see authorities’s thrust on industrial aquaculture as newest risk to their livelihoods and land.

Northern Sri Lankan fishermen see authorities’s thrust on industrial aquaculture as newest risk to their livelihoods and land.

Citing media reviews of a Chinese language agency investing in a sea cucumber farm in Pungudutivu, off Jaffna Peninsula in northern Sri Lanka, native fishermen have raised concern over its potential impression on their livelihoods, marine ecosystem, and land.  

“We recognise the necessity for funding in our war-affected area, however the sea cucumber farms are primarily for exports. They may solely convey extra hurt than profit for these of us residing right here,” mentioned Annalingam Annarasa, President of the Jaffna Fisheries Federation.  The industrial ventures, they worry, might adversely have an effect on the native marine ecology on which their livelihoods rely.

Small-scale artisanal fishermen like him see the federal government’s current push on aquaculture as the most recent blow to their livelihoods, already precarious as a result of relentless bottom-trawling by Indian fishermen of their seas for years, and the drastic, almost four-fold enhance in kerosene worth final month.

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In 2021, Sri Lanka exported about 336 tonnes of sea cucumber to China, Singapore, and Hong Kong, based on native media reviews. Determined to search out {dollars} to stabilise its battered economic system, the Sri Lankan authorities seems to have recognized potential for each, international funding and exports in breeding and promoting the sausage-shaped marine animal thought-about a delicacy in China and Southeast Asia. Locals don’t eat sea cucumbers.

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In June this yr, the Cupboard accepted a proposal for a large-scale industrial sea cucumber venture spanning 5,000 acres in Jaffna, Mannar, Kilinochchi and Batticaloa districts within the north and east, after Sri Lanka earned “a big quantity” of international trade by exporting sea cucumbers. The proposal got here from Fisheries Minister Douglas Devananda, who represents Jaffna district in Parliament. The Nationwide Aquaculture Improvement Authority functioning below his ministry is main the initiative.

“We want each funding and expertise within the north to domesticate sea cucumbers. I’ve been asking India for 5 to 6 years however haven’t had any response. We should discover different choices, proper? We’re solely speaking to a Chinese language agency, no venture has been finalised but,” Mr. Devananda instructed The Hindu, including he’ll “by no means permit” any risk to India’s safety considerations. Pungudutivu, the place the farm is being proposed, is close to Nainativu, which is without doubt one of the three islands the place Sri Lanka had cleared a Chinese language renewable power venture final yr. Nevertheless, with India objecting to it, citing the venture’s proximity to its southern coast, Sri Lanka cancelled the enterprise, as a substitute agreeing to accommodate an Indian venture on the three websites.

Jobs or battle?

The ocean cucumber tasks will “definitely convey jobs regionally,” the Minister additional mentioned, guaranteeing the venture won’t have an effect on native fishermen.

When contacted, the Chinese language Embassy mentioned it had no data but on a Chinese language agency investing in a sea cucumber farm within the small island off Jaffna Peninsula. “It could possibly be a non-public firm negotiating on a industrial foundation,” a spokesman mentioned. Nevertheless, pointing to an current three way partnership between a Chinese language agency and Sri Lanka, within the coastal village of Ariyalai in Jaffna, the Chinese language official mentioned “it has created about one thousand jobs for close by villages. Final yr it offered 5 lakh sea cucumber seedlings to native farmers without spending a dime and $ a million was introduced in.”

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One other Chinese language venture within the neighbouring Kilinochchi district confronted stiff opposition final yr from native fishermen who objected to the farm fencing off some land adjoining the ocean, limiting entry to even native fishermen. “We agitated since they weren’t consulting us, and we seen that whereas the agency was promoted a hatchery, they have been really fishing the ocean cucumbers from our waters. That form of massive catch frequently can actually injury our marine assets,” mentioned Okay. Baheerathan of the Koutharimunai Fishermen’s Affiliation.

In line with locals, Chinese language investments are fewer in comparison with the proliferation of some 250 sea cucumber farms within the north within the final yr. “A lot of the buyers are locals, however many are usually not from the fisher group. They’re politically well-connected and influential…the true challenge is our Fisheries Ministry is now centered solely on aquaculture for earnings, and never fisheries which can be about livelihoods. Fishermen like us, our experiences or data don’t determine of their plans,” Mr. Annarasa mentioned.

By- The Hindu

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