Sri Lanka is endowed with over 116 lagoons and estuaries along its coastline. These brackish water bodies serve to protect the island’s coastal regions and communities from extreme natural phenomena, while contributing to the country’s food security as well as providing means of livelihood to hundreds of lagoon-dependent coastal communities.
The Brackish Water Fisheries Management Unit of the Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (DFAR) was established in December 2015 with the aim of governing Sri Lanka’s lagoons and estuaries to ensure sustainability of their natural resources as well as the livelihoods of families that subsist on such resources.
Following a successful pilot project; Sustainable Lagoons and Livelihoods to establish site-specific collaborative governance systems in 18 selected lagoons in Sri Lanka, the BMU intends to replicate this system of co-governance in all brackish water bodies in the island. Collaborative governance entails facilitating collaboration between hierarchical and self-governance systems to ensure joint exercise of economic, political and administrative authority to responsibly utilize Sri Lanka’s lagoon and estuary ecosystems and resources. Collaborative governance of brackish water bodies, local people along with all other stakeholders take up the process of self-organizing that takes into consideration of “users and rulers together” in order for the preservation, protection, management and utilization of the unique ecology of each of these water bodies.