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    The Battle for Vidathalativu : A joint Press Conference


The Battle for Vidathalativu : A joint Press Conference

VIDATTALTIVU: The largest Mangrove Wetland to suffer de-gazette and destruction for Aquaculture

With the collaboration of seven organizations, the Wildlife and Nature Protection Society, along with Environmental Foundation Limited, Federation of Environmental Organizations, Lanka Environment Fund, Lanka Nature Conservationists, The Parrotfish Collective and The Pearl Protectors, jointly organized a major press conference on this degazetting issue on the 6th of December at the BMICH. As an additional step, we have sent in a few more RTI’s to the respective departments and authorities asking for the relevant details. 




In 2018, on being presented with the joint proposal for the de-gazette of the Nature Reserve, by the Ministries of Forestry and Wildlife, the Cabinet requested that an Environmental Impact Study be undertaken on the area. The Terms of Reference for the study were then issued by the Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC), and the National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA) undertook to conduct the study, and they submitted their report to the DWC. In 2019, the DWC appointed a Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC) to study the matters raised in it. The TEC strongly rejected any attempts to de-gazette Vidattaltivu.


Later that year, the DWC forwarded all the reports, and the decision of TEC, to the Ministry of Wildlife. However, in 2020, and despite the TEC decision, the Ministry of Fisheries kept continuous pressure on the Ministry of Wildlife to de-gazette this Nature Reserve. And shockingly, as per the National Aquatic Development Authority of Sri Lanka (NAQDA), this area has been identified to be degazetted for Aquaculture!




This proposed development is in the face of a TEC decision that Vidattaltivu should not be subject to de-gazette. This is against the Laws of Sri Lanka, specifically the Fauna & Flora Protection Ordinance (FFPO). In addition, it should be noted that over 25 Government Agencies were involved in reaching the initial proposal to declare Vidattaltivu a protected area. Therefore, is the self-interest of a few, who look forward to short-term economic gain by overriding the overall needs of the Nation continuing to drag our country into further disarray?

It is not just the mangrove forests that will be destroyed, but the meadows of seagrass and coral reefs that they protect, and the local communities who survive on its natural gifts. As example, the world-renowned blue swimmer crab (Portunus pelagicus), captured at Vidattaltivu, brings foreign currency earnings and is therefore, of significant economic value to the country. Many fish and other marine organisms tend to breed in the sea grasses. In fact, about 15% of the fisher population in Mannar are from Vidattaltivu and they earn a stable and a decent income from this rich and complex ecosystem.  The seagrass itself is home to the critically endangered Dugong (Dugong dugon).


Some press articles can be found below.

Destructive fishery farm in sanctuary endangers marine ecosystems | Print Edition - The Sunday Times, Sri Lanka