Sri Lankans face up to ‘unmeasurable cost’ of cargo ship disaster

Fishing communities fear for future as oil, plastic and toxic chemicals devastate ecosystem

Until last week Lucien Justin, the chair of the Jude Watta fisheries committee in Wattala, near Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, lived a simple life. He and his wife ate two meals a day, and their small community of 90 fishers regularly supported each other with food and money. “If we fish, money comes. If not, we are left hungry,” he said.

After the worst maritime disaster in Sri Lanka’s history poisoned the waters near where he fishes, however, he fears even that simple life is now in dire danger. “People are scared. Even if we caught fish, they wouldn’t eat it because they think it’s poisonous,” he said.

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