Tuesday, October 4, 2011

JKH to restore endangered coral reefs

By Harischandra Gunaratna

Chithral Jayatilake, The Head of Eco Tourism and Special Projects, John Keells Hotel Managements Services Ltd, yesterday said that the company will be spearheading a coral growing effort in December, jointly with the Department of Oceonology and Marine Biology of the Ruhuna University and restore the coral reef in Hikkaduwa.

"We will be investing half a million rupees initially on the six month project which will be carried out on an experimental basis and would continue on depending the success of the project and we are too eager to invest on it further," he said.

Already we have submitted papers to the Wild Life and Conservation Department and are waiting for the green light, Jayatilake said.

"The damaged coral reefs in the area are under stress and it will be a long process to revive it and the growth of it might be just one inch every six months, but it is something that has to be done," he pointed out.

The coral reefs in Hikkaduwa are a main tourist attraction and it has to be preserved .

Asked whether dynamiting for fishing has greatly contributed to the destruction of the reefs, Jayatillake said that he was not in a position to provide an answer as his team started working on the conservation of reefs.

Environmentalists have warned that dynamiting in the area by fisherman, despite a ban has caused a severe threat to the corals.

This is not a ground breaking effort by us and there were other oreganisations such as NGOs ,environmentalists and coservationsits who have contributed a great deal in this effort, a modest Jayatilake added.

John Keells Hotels have refurbished and expanded the Coral Gardens Hotel and will be launching it in early November as Chaaya Tranz, a 150 room hotel, selling a room at US$ 200 from what was 60 US$, before refurbishment.

The company plans to make the hotel a base for whale watching in Mirissa, one of the hot spots in the South coast for the pastime.

John Keells Hotels have invested 15.5 million US$ in revamping the property in Hikkaduwa and the other in Yala, which will named Chaaya Wild Yala Game Lodge.

source - www.island.lk

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