TED Case Studies

Sri Lanka Coral

     CASE NUMBER:        261
     CASE NAME:          Sri Lanka Coral


1.        The Issue

     The coral reefs of the Indian Ocean are being destroyed by
mining.  The people of Sri Lanka are strip mining the coral reefs
and atolls surrounding the island in the attempt to achieve short
term economic gain.  The coral is then processed and used in
construction materials, most frequently building blocks and a lime
plaster very popular with native builders.  The government of Sri
Lanka has attempted to slow the mining of coral to very
disheartening results.  

2.        Description

     Natives of Sri Lanka, armed with crowbars and hammers, proceed
to mine coral from the reefs surrounding the island.  The coral is
used in construction both in building blocks and lime plaster used
to create buildings and roadways to aid the tourism industry
finding its foothold in the island nation.  Every year an estimated
10,000 tons of live coral and fragments are mined from Sri Lankan

     Government officials claim 80% of the island's reefs are
already damaged.  Biologists have noted a drop in coastal fish
stocks as a direct result of coral mining.  More dangerous to the
island is the destruction of a natural breakwater.  The reefs and
atolls off Sri Lanka provide the island with protection from
erosion and especially from destruction during monsoon season. 
Officials partially attribute the erosion of Sri Lankažs west coast
to coral mining.

     The reefs are likened to tropical rain forests in that they
both grow in otherwise barren areas and support vast quantities of
life.  Coral is a living animal that builds upon itself.  The
living coral rests atop dead coral.  The miners are not
discriminate about whether they take live or dead coral.  If the
live coral is mined the reef will be destroyed.  Likewise if only
dead coral is mined the reef loses its foundations and is again
destroyed.  Scientists from University of Newcastle, studying
similar reef destruction cases, found that even two decades had not
been enough time for the reef to begin rebuilding itself.  similar
problems in the Caribbean and the Pacific have led to the creation
of marine reserves and managed parks.

3.        Related Cases

     CORAL case
     BAUXITE case
     BARRIER case
     CUBA case

     Keyword Clusters    
     (1): Forum                    = SRI Lanka
     (2): Bio-geography            = TROPical
     (3): Environmental Problem    = CORAL Loss

4.        Draft Author: Teri Emmons


5.        Discourse and Status: DISagreement and INPROGress.

     The disagreement is among the Sri Lankan peoples, those who
want to continue mining and those who see the necessity of ceasing
the destruction of the reefs.

6.        Forum and Scope: Sri Lanka and UNILATeral

     Sri Lankan 1983 ban on coral mining and processing.

7.        Decision Breadth: 1 Sri Lanka

     The decision in this case is the ban on coral processing and
as that is an internal law the decision breadth is only one. 
However, similar cases are appearing all around the Indian Ocean:
the ease coast of Africa, the south of India, and the Maldive
Islands for example.

8.        Legal Standing: LAW

     The case refers to the 1983 national ban on coral work and
processing, in Sri Lanka, ten years later, it still is less than
properly effective.


9.        Locations

     a.   Domain:        Asia
     b.   Site:          Indian Ocean
     c.   Impact:        Sri Lanka

10.       Sub-National Factors: NO

     Unless the miners can be pitted against the government, but,
the ban came from the government not the minority.

11.       Type of Habitat: OCEAN


12.       Type of Measure: INDirect

     Tourism demands construction and therefore the economic
attractiveness of coral mining increases but neither the money nor
the coral are going out of country.

13.       Impact: DIRect

     The impact of the ban on coral work should have a direct
relationship on the mining of coral.  However, there can also be an
indirect affect, that of tourism and the demand for more
construction therefore more mining.

14.       Relation of Measure to Impact

     a. Directly related      : YES  Coral
     b. Indirectly related    : NO
     c. Not related           : NO
     d. Process related       : YES  CORAL Loss

15.       Trade Product Identification: CORAL

     The natives of Sri Lanka mine about 10,000 tons of live coral
every year.

16.       Economic Data

17.       Impact of Measure on Trade Competitiveness: BAN

18.       Industry Sector: MINE

19.       Exporter and Importer: SRI Lanka nd MANY


20.       Environmental Problem Type: CORAL 

     Not only coral loss, but also the loss of bio diversity and
the protection provided to the island from monsoons by the reefs.

21.       Name, Type and Diversity of species

     Name:          Coral
     Species:       Coral
     Biodiversity:  NA

     Mining of coral not only causes the loss of coral but also the
loss of the species it provided a living to: fish, mollusks and
anemone for example.

22.       Impact and Effect: HIGH and REGULatory
     If the reefs arenžt saved the island could be destroyed.  The
1983 law is a ban on coral work to save the environment as well as
the island.

23.       Urgency and Lifetime: HIGH and 100s of years

     Coral is a living organism that builds upon itself.  Coral
reefs are hundreds of years old.  But as to how long one coral
animal lives I could not locate.

24.       Substitutes: SYNTHetic

     If the government found an economically attractive alternative
to coral for construction the demand for coral lime plaster would
go down.  


25.       Culture: YES

     Like pearl divers, coral mining is a way of life for some of
the inhabitants of Sri Lanka.  The government offered 41 families
agricultural land in an attempt to get them to stop mining coral. 
Only 9 families accepted the offer.

26.       Human Rights: NO

27.       Trans-Border: NO
     Unless one would like to take into consideration that like
cases are happening throughout the Indian Ocean.

28.       Relevant Literature

Robert Percival An Account of the Island of Ceylon. Dehiwala, Sri
Lanka: Tisara Prakasakayo, 1975.

Marlise Simons, "Indian Ocean Coral Reefs are Ravaged by Mining,"
The New York Times. August 8, 1993, p.3.

"World Wire,"  Wall Street Journal. May 28, 1992

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