The fifth edition of Green Conversations organized by EFL, was conducted on 18th of December 2019 at Hatch CoWorking Spaces, Colombo 01. The theme of the event was Marine Conservation.
Green Conversations is a fast moving event format introduced by EFL, bringing together established environmentalists, organizations and the general public in one platform, to create a space to connect and exchange ideas and find solutions for current environmental issues. Continuing as a series from November 2018, starting with sustainable consumption, Green Conversations will continue to address different environmental topics aligning with the UN Sustainable Goals.
The event began with Mr. Nishan Perera, Co-Founder of Blue Resources Trust and a marine biologist, gave an overview of Sri Lanka’s Marine Biodiversity. He explained the types of marine habitats, and the various marine animals that can be found in and around these habitats in Sri Lanka. He emphasized on the need for conservation of these habitats as it supports a high diversity of hard corals, coastal marine fish, sharks and migratory species that are protected internationally ranging from smaller marine mammals to larger marine mammals. His presentation also explained the work done in Sri Lanka to identify species that were previously unknown, the challenges faced by the marine environment and how to address the issues.
The next speaker was Dr. Terney Pradeep Kumara the General Manager of Marine Environmental Protection Authority (MEPA), who brought the attention to the marine pollution caused in Sri Lanka, and what are the actions taken by the Sri Lankan Government to reduce marine pollution. He further went on to explain the impact of marine pollution around the country in various locations, and how the MEPA and other relevant authorities and interested individuals has taken action to reduce marine pollutions in those areas, while also bringing attention to the legal framework that is already in place to take action to reduce marine and land-based pollution.
Followed by Dr. Terney was EFL’s head of Leagl Ms. Bhagya Wickramasinghe. She added the legal dimension of marine conservation with an overview of the development related marine pollution. She explained the different acts and policies that are present in the Sri Lankan legal framework, the significance of EIAs (Environmental Impact Assessments) before executing development projects in marine areas.
The fourth speaker of the event Dr. Sevvandi Jayakodi, a director of EFL and senior lecturer at the department of Aquaculture and Fisheries in Wayamba University of Sri Lanka, explained the importance of fish sources around the world to every individual of the world, and how the unsustainable fishing can cause stock collapses in the countries fish resources. She emphasized on the challenges faced by fish resources around the world, and the answers to those challenges both locally and internationally. She brought the attention to how the challenges should be addressed, by emphasizing on the social background of traditional fisherman to be sustainable in the fishing industry.
Followed by Dr. Sevvandi was Mr. Darshana Jayawardena from Dive Sri Lanka. His presentation took the attention away from the fisheries of Sri Lanka and to the potential of marine tourism concentrated around the shipwrecks in Sri Lanka. He started his presentation with a success story of a village in Bali which is concentrated on a shipwreck by promoting tourism. He explained how Sri Lanka holds the potential of having shipwrecks in our oceans and promoting shipwreck diving. Mr. Darshana further went on about how this potential can be exploited with the support of the Government by providing facilities and infrastructure and creating a quality tourism industry evolved around shipwreck driving.
The final speaker of the day was Commander Ravi Weerapperuma, the head of Marine Conservation of Sri Lanka Navy. He explained the Sri Lanka Navy’s contribution towards protecting the marine environmental and the initiatives taken by the Navy and other organization to battle plastic pollution around the country. He explained how the Plastic Recycling centre in Crow Island, Mutwal is a key facility in recycling contaminated plastics to produce products such as T-shirts from plastic threads and produce reusable items. Following a video prepared by the Sri Lanka Navy titled “Neela Haritha Sangramaya”, the program ended with a Q & A session, providing the audience an opportunity to connect with the speakers and EFL.