Sri Lanka: Managing Coastal Natural Wealth

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Coastal areas are essential to Sri Lanka’s economic development, accounting for the highest concentration of population and economic activity. Sandy beaches, dunes, lagoons, estuaries, fresh water marshes, minerals, mangroves and reefs enrich some 1,600 km of coastline that surrounds the “pearl shaped” island. Approximately 33 percent of Sri Lanka’s population lives in coastal areas that support diverse livelihoods, from fishing to tourism to manufacturing and modern urban services. The coastal ecosystems are uniquely important as they enable multiple human activities.Among all economic activities, tourism and fisheries are the most dependent on the natural resources of the coast. Together, these two sectors generate 10 percent of Sri Lanka’s foreign exchange earnings and account for 6.7 percent of employment. Fisheries make an important contribution to food security, employment, and Gross Domestic Product (GDP), contributing close to 4.5 percent of Sri Lanka’s total export revenue, with further significant growth potential. Nearly 90 percent of the total national fish catch comes from the marine and coastal fishery, and it supports the livelihoods of many artisanal fishermen and those who access or are in the value chain of the large pelagic fishery within the 200 nm Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Along the coast, 20 formal fish harbors accommodate more than 4,000 single and multi-day fishing vessels. The fisheries sector is a major source of employment, providing approximately 500,000 formal and informal jobs.
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World Bank. 2017. Sri Lanka: Managing Coastal Natural Wealth. © World Bank, Washington, DC. License: CC BY 3.0 IGO.
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