Pathfinder Foundation Recommends a Presidential Task Force on Ocean Resources
The Pathfinder Foundation is recommending that a Presidential Task Force on Ocean Resources be appointed to mobilise ideas of the well-informed and concerned public on protecting and utilizing the rich and varied resources of the sea around us.
“This Task Force should be mandated and empowered to develop a comprehensive multi sectorial strategy to responsibly utilize our ocean and its resources. This body would also be responsible for the ultimate coordination and implementation of the strategy,” says a media release from the Foundation.
The Foundation notes that Sri Lanka has, throughout its post-independence history, neglected the sea around her, a very valuable and accessible natural resource. The country’s location to some of the world’s important sea-borne trade routes, says the release, was recognised by European colonists, such as Portugal, the Netherlands and Britain. During “World War II, Britain had used it “as the base for protection of their “possessions” in Asia,” it notes.
Therefore, ‘Sri Lanka, having regained her political independence and possessing a navy, coast guard, and merchant marine of its own should be ready to exploit the “strategic location” recognized by foreign naval powers for over some 500 years,” the release states, adding, that in 2018, Pathfinder Foundation had set up the Centre for the Law of the Sea in a bid to recognise the importance of ocean related activities.
The Foundation suggests that the Task Force be made up of members of the academia and the private sector who have the knowledge and experience ‘in the conservation of our ocean resources and their sustainable utilization.”
The media release also notes that the relationship between the Sri Lankan people and the Ocean ‘has been complex and complicated. Sometimes insular and parochial attitudes have prevented our nation, unlike other islands, from thinking big when dealing with the ocean and its resources.” The Pathfinder Foundation believes that a complete change in our mindset and attitudes is necessary, if Sri Lanka is to fully tap into the unlimited resources offered by our oceans.” The process for change, says the release, may have to begin with the system of education.
To convey this reorientation the Pathfinder Foundation suggests that the map of Sri Lanka depicted here, which highlights and profiles the nation’s prime location at the midpoint of the Indian Ocean, be used by the Government as the symbol for outreach activities related to this initiative.
Pathfinder Foundation is suggesting that the Task Force address the following areas:
a. National and regional security.
b. Environmental and ecological protection.
c. Trade, navigation, shipping and related activities.
d. Regional connectivity and ferry services.
f. Aquaculture, Fisheries and food.
g. Mineral and Petroleum resources.
h. Logistics and Ports.
i. Coastal development.
j. Ocean related scientific research and technology development.
k. Energy and alternate energy opportunities.
l. Culture and recreation.
m. Education and training.