Mangrove restoration for sustainable fishery in Palk Bay, India

omcar foundation
Published: 14 November 2015
Last edited: 28 March 2019
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Summary

Mangrove degradation in our area is due to lack of awareness about the benefit of mangroves. They were considered as the fuel wood, eradicated for shrimp farming and cattle grazing. There is no systematic, participatory mangrove restoration approach in Palk Bay. So our organization seeks to address this issue by raising awareness among local community by involving them in participatory mangrove conservation practices in Palk Bay.

Classifications

Region
South Asia
Scale of implementation
Local
Subnational
Ecosystem
Mangrove
Marine and coastal ecosystems
Seagrass
Theme
Disaster risk reduction
Fisheries and aquaculture
Outreach & communications
Sustainable livelihoods
Challenges
Unsustainable harvesting incl. Overfishing
Ecosystem loss
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Poor monitoring and enforcement
Poor governance and participation

Location

Palk Bay, India

Challenges

Mangrove degradation in our area is due to lack of awareness about the benefit of mangroves as they are considered as fuel wood, eradicated for shrimp farming and cattle grazing. There is no systematic, participatory mangrove restoration approach in Palk Bay. So we seek to address this issue by raising awareness among local community by involving them in participatory mangrove conservation practices

Beneficiaries

Fishermen and women, school students, young fishers/ school dropout youths.

How do the building blocks interact?

Awareness is not just speaking about, but it has its real value when we have commitment by performing field actions with the local community to participate, enjoy and conserve together. Counting from five to one in building blocks, It was all started simply with a self motivated bike expedition in 2002 (inspired by Che guevara motor cycle diaries) and Sea kayak expedition in 2007, which then leaded to set up an organization named as OMCAR (Organization for Marine Conservation, Awareness and Research). This NGO set up helped to initiate regular, systematic mangrove awareness field trips regularly for students followed by fully fledged mangrove restoration in our coast. Participation of local community has significantly increased in our mangrove restoration and planning activities, who understood, support and work with us. Seed funding of 30,000 euro is needed in the beginning, as there was continuous field work for plantations, nurseries and training has to be organized. In the following years 12,000 euro is needed every year.

Impacts

We planted more than 75,000 mangroves and created awareness about marine conservation among ~60000 students. Our mangrove plantation sites are now grown up into small mangrove forest thickets, which benefits local fishing community. The trained youth volunteers by our organization are assisting us in mangrove plantation and awareness. Our team now successfully created GIS map of entire reserve forest of Muthupet (protected area) with local forest department, which helps them for better management. Our technical support and field survey helped to create accurate boundary line along the boundary stones for about 13,000 hectares. Our village level mangrove GIS maps are displayed in community halls which supports decision making on new mangrove plantation sites, land use management and flood prevention. After a good recognization for our approach with local community, they helped us to establish Palk Bay Environment Education Centre in a coastal village which is now developing as a main place for coastal ecosystem conservation, research and awareness in our district in Palk Bay.

Story

There should be a commitment, endurance and self-motivation among young people to come forward to spend their time and energy for conservation. When we have a good young conservation leader in every locality, there will be well protected sites in every part of our globe. It is our duty to act, to be a role model and to convey the conservation message to next generation. In 2002, I did 1100 km bike expedition along the coast for marine awareness. In 2006, I rowed a kayak all alone 600 km for creating awareness. While keeping up my education up to PhD, I also spent time with school students for marine education. I understood the need for technical knowledge such as mangrove restoration techniques, nursery techniques and GIS for implementing various conservation goals. I got financial support from Light House Foundation, Germany. So, I spent every day to learn, develop and apply those techniques and bind traditional knowledge from fishers. Our participatory mangrove GIS project is an example, where fisher women drawn their village, which then converted into digital GIS maps to use for community decision making in land use pattern. I developed a low cost GIS mapping strategy for this project. My mangrove restoration vision has been passed on to hundreds of youths, women and fishers, who work with us through backyard nurseries, school mangrove nurseries and restoration site maintenance. It resulted the restoration and extension of degraded mangroves in our region. Still I go underwater, took photographs of fishes and plants. My underwater videos showed to every student in local schools. During my visits abroad, I took photographs of nature in that country, and compared it with our own local nature – which is an interesting lesson for students. I wrote popular articles often in local state newspaper to stress the need for the conservation of marine and coastal ecosystems by sharing by research findings. I remember that I dreamed of becoming a marine biologist in my teenage, and feeling very happy as it becomes my full time profession and everyday life now. From my little experience in life, I can say that any youth from any part of the world can become a conservation leader with self motivation, commitment and passion on nature to create a “Wilder World”.

Contributed by

Vedharajan Balaji OMCAR Foundation

Other contributors

OMCAR Foundation