Old buses, trains and compartments taken off the roads and tracks will be dumped in the sea for an environmental cause – to provide shelter for fish and marine life to live and breed. The Minister of Fisheries’ proposal for using decommissioned vehicles in this way has been welcomed by environmentalists and marine experts.
Artificial manmade structures, such as sunken ships, can play a role in the sea very much like that of coral – by offering a habitat for marine life. Fish and other sea creatures are drawn to such structures to escape predators, find food, and lay eggs.
“Coral reefs perform this service naturally, while sunken or floating objects act as fish-aggregating devices,” explained Fisheries Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne.
Fishermen include shipwreck sites in their fishing radar screens. These sites have an abundance of fish.
Sunken ships facilitate marine life. The seas around Sri Lanka are dotted with shipwrecks – vessels that were sunk as a result of accidents, natural causes, war and conflicts. The country has been on a shipping trade route for centuries. More than 200 shipwrecks are believed to be lying in Sri Lankan waters.
In 2012, the Fisheries Minister tabled a paper on the use of large abandoned vehicles to encourage the growth of fish populations, and Cabinet approved the proposal in February 2011. The salvage of shipwrecks is banned. Some experts, however, question the use of buses and train coaches, saying these will break up after a couple of monsoons, and the accompanying strong underwater currents.
Meanwhile, experts hail the proposal, while emphasising the need to give priority to protecting of what remains of the coral reefs surrounding the island.