Published: Friday 31 January 1997

At a recent workshop on 'Aquatic eco-systems' organised by the biodiversity skills enhancement project in collaboration with the Sri Lankan ministry of transport, environment and women's affairs, marine scientists said that Hikkaduwa, renowned for its coral gardens and sunny beaches, is being threatened by human exploitation. The workshop highlighted industrial pollution in the area and its disastrous effects on marine organisms and the coastal environment.

According to the wildlife department, the Hikkaduwa reef is home to over 160 piscine species and 60 hard and soft corals. Pollution due to the commercialisation of this port town, dredging of the sea and the use of glass-bottom boats have rung the death knell for the remaining corals, fish and aquatic plants.

The workshop also called for setting up of an ecological monitoring system for Hikkaduwa to arrest further degradation. Chandra Jaya wardena, director of the wild- life department announced that the area of the sanctuary would be extended, to be divided into three specific zones -- one for students and researchers, one for snorkeling and one for glassbottom boats.

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