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Sri Lanka

Country Overview

The Republic of Sri Lanka is located 31km south of India, separated by a shallow sea, the Palk Strait. Sri Lanka and the Southern tip of India are on the same continental shelf. Sri Lanka has an area of approximately 65,610km2 and a coastline of 1,620 km. The country has a wide variety of coastal habitat types, including estuaries and lagoons, mangroves, sea grass beds, salt marshes, coral reefs, barrier beaches, spits and dunes (Joseph, 2003). These habitats contain a rich component of the country’s biodiversity. Reef types include coral, sandstone and rocky reefs, and take the form of fringing, patch or platform reefs. Reefs cover approximately 68,000 hectares throughout the country, the most extensive of which are found in northern Sri Lanka in the Gulf of Mannar (Rajasuriya, et al. 2004). The south western coast is mostly characterized by rocky headlands, and is subject to strong winds and waves from the southwest monsoon. The eastern (and leeward side) of the country, by contrast, is characterized by fringing reefs (Rajasuriya, et al. 2004).

MPAs in Sri Lanka

Marine protected areas in Sri Lanka are designed as national park, marine sanctuaries and fishery management areas. MPAs have been established to manage the coastal zone, and to address coastal zone resource degradation. Most of Sri Lanka’s MPAs are aimed at protecting biodiversity particularly on and around coral reefs, mangroves, and sea grass beds. Besides these marine protected areas the country also protects marine biodiversity through fishery-managed areas (FMAs), and certain terrestrial protected areas (TPAs) that also have marine components. The map above shows the distribution of MPA sin Sri Lanka and MPA database lists them.

Protected areas in Sri Lanka are declared and managed by the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWLC) under the 1993 Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance (FFPO). The National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA) is charged with conducting research and monitoring activities around marine parks, and has made important progress in the last decade (Perera and de Vos, 2007).

  • BOBLME. 2011. Status of Marine Protected Areas and Fish Refugia in the Bay of Bengal Large Marine Ecosystem. BOBLME – 2011 – Ecology – 10
  • Joseph, L. 2003. National report of Sri Lanka on the formulation of a transboundary diagnostic analysis and strategic action plan for the Bay of Bengal Large Marine Ecosystem Programme. Report of FAO/BOBLME Programme. Chennai India
  • Rajasuriya, A., H. Zahir, K. Venkataraman, Z. Islam and J. Tamelander. 2004. Status of Coral Reefs in South Asia: Bangladesh, Chagos, India, Maldives and Sri Lanka. In C. Wilkinson (ed). Status of coral reefs of the world: 2004. Volume 1. Australian Institute of Marine Science, Townsville, Queensland, Australia. 301 pp.
  • RAMSAR 2011. The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance,
  • World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA). 2013. last accessed October 2013
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Sri Lanka


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