Local environmentalists and activists are opposing the government’s decision to legalize spearfishing in the country. According to them the Sports Ministry is to inform the Navy and Fisheries Ministry that tourists will be permitted to spearfish. Those concerned have called the decision destructive and detrimental to our marine environment.
“Spearfishing was banned in Sri Lanka in 2017 under the Fisheries Act after an endangered hump head wrasse was killed in Unawatuna. Since 2013, red light has been given against the use of spearfishing to avoid killing 15 endemic and endangered species. This was not effective as in 2014, 13 recorded cases of spearfishing were used against these 15 species. The plight continued till the ban was introduced.” Marine protection group The Pearl Protectors said.
According to them Spearfishing is a practice prominent amongst Russian and Eurasian tourists considered as trophy fishing. Shallow water fish including coral fish and endangered fish becomes targets of such practice. “At least the practice was to a minimum as this ban made it an offense to import, possess and use spearfishing gear” it said.
“As the monitoring of species killed through spearfishing is ineffective, this legalization will be detrimental to our marine environment. Tour operators will openly promote spearfishing while more inexperienced tourists will spearfish any moving fish in shallow waters, as a result, threatening our endemic and endangered marine life. This is a classic example of putting profits before conserving our unique environment. By catering towards foreign tourist’s entertainment, we will be in direct line of losing our marine resources and environment” the group further added.
They have now called on the Minister of Sports to reconsider this legalization and instead, increase penalties on perpetrators.