MEPA Reiterates Commitment to Protecting Sri Lanka’s Marine Ecology. UN experts on marine ecology arrive to advise on future actions to be taken. The Marine Environment Protection Agency (MEPA) has sought advise from marine ecology experts from the United Nations (UN) to normalise the impact from the MV X-Press Pearl incident that has impacted Sri Lanka’s pristine coastline which is a mainstay of the Island’s tourism sector and fishing community.
A team from UN who are experts on coastal conservation would be arriving to Sri Lanka to advise MEPA and Central Environmental Authority (CEA) on future action that should be taken with regards the environment and legal proceedings that have arisen due to the incident. Due to the MV X – Press incident nearly 200 kilometers of Sri Lanka’s pristine coastline, a popular stretch amongst foreign tourist and the main source of income for the Island’s fishing community was polluted from debris washing up on shore from the ill-fated vessel.
Sri Lanka’s pristine coastline is a Mecca for foreign tourist who flock the island’s white sandy beaches for the sun and surf. In 2019, Sri Lanka hosted nearly two million tourists.
“As an island nation, Sri Lanka’s 1,785 kilometers coastline is the country’s greatest natural asset, hence I will assure to the public that the government will take all steps to make Sri Lanka’s beaches debris free,” said, Dr. Nalaka Godahewa, the State Minister for Urban Development, Cost Conservation, Waste Disposal and Community Cleanliness.
“MEPA and the tri-forces are working hard to bring Sri Lanka’s effected coastline back to normalcy as beaches are a mainstay for the hospitality industry to attract tourists. Hence, we are working with local and foreign experts as well as reputed international institutions to guarantee that Sri Lanka beaches are safe destination for holiday makers,” Dr. Godahewa said.
To date MEPA, with the support of the tri-forces has collected over 1,000 tons of debris from 200 kilometers stretch of Sri Lanka’s North-Western to Southern coastline and stored in 44 containers, including plastic nurdles stored in a hazardous waste facility provided by the Central Environmental Authority (CEA).
Dharshani Lahandapura, Chairperson of MEPA said, “I would thank for the Sri Lanka tri-forces for the yeomen service provided by them to conduct coastal cleanup. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown we couldn’t seek the assistance of the marine and wild life enthusiasts to assist on the beach cleanup. Hence, I’m especially grateful to HE the President, Secretary Defense and the commanders of the tri-forces for coming forward to assist MEPA at our time of need.”
Dr. Anil Jasinghe, Secretary, Ministry of Environment. said, he is awaiting instructions from AG to dispose the debris in an environmentally safe and secure manner. “The CEA has the facility and technology to safely deal with the disposal of debris collected from the beaches, which is allegedly from the MV X – Press Pearl,” Dr. Jasinge said.
MEPA has submitted an interim claim amounting to USD (United States Dollars) 40 million from X – Press Feeders/Sea consortium, the parent company of the ill-fated MV X – Press Pearl, which caught fire off the coast of Colombo on May 21, 2021.
“MEPA has commenced litigation for the first interim claim from the owners of MV X-Press Pearl and her insurers. The claim will be used to clean the damage caused by the incident and pay compensation for those whose livelihoods have been impacted,” said, Dr. Godahewa. “The fisheries industry has been hit hard due to the MV – Xpress Pearl incident and as a responsible government we will compensate the fishing community for their loss of income.”
Eco system services 50% of oxygen generated by the sea. Their was a similar incident that The 1000 tons of debris won’t be disposed “The biggest catastrophe in this incident is the plastic nerds that was released into the sea,” said Dr. Anil Jasinghe, Secretary, Ministry of Environment. There is a large quantity of containers still trapped inside the ship and we intend to make sure that the remaining containers will be removed by the salvage operation without releasing any cargo to the ocean Hence we are actively discussing with foreign experts and the UN to seek The UN has declared the regeneration of the of environment for the decade.