Protecting our coasts

From the dense mangroves in the Sunderbans and the nesting sea turtles in Orissa to the majestic whale sharks in the Gulf of Kutch and the breathtaking coral reefs in Lakshadweep, India’s 8,000-km-long coastline is a treasure trove of marine life. These waters are also spawning and breeding ground for a variety of fish. The countries fisheries industry has thrived for centuries thanks to the richness of its marine life.

In spite of all this, India’s ocean environment has been neglected. Within the political system, understanding on this issue is either limited or poor and the policy focus is ad hoc. Even with the limited information available it is quite clear that the country’s coast line and marine environment is under threat.

The execution of massive projects such as ports with inadequate assessments of their impacts on the local environment and the livelihoods they sustain is a matter of serious concern. The 11th Five Year Plan has identified 331 ports for development on the mainland. That’s the equivalent of having a port every 20 km or so along India’s 6,000-km-long mainland coast.  

The cumulative impacts of these ports on the environment have not been assessed and their economic advantage is not known as half of the ports in the country are under utilised.

Apart from endangering marine habitats, this also poses a significant threat to the livelihoods of coastal communities. Fisheries resources in several parts of the country are under severe stress. By offering a variety of subsidies and incentives, governments at the centre and state level have allowed too many mechanised boats to operate, resulting in too many boats chasing too few fish.

 Campaign story:

The campaign for oceans is currently focused on three specific areas:

  1. Coastal development: Coastal real estate is most prized for tourism, industries, aquaculture, nuclear and thermal power plants or ports, all of which leave behind a devastated coastal environment. The Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) Notification 1991 was meant to protect our coasts but has failed to do so. Greenpeace is demanding that the notification be strengthened and implemented and industries and infrastructure projects be kept away from eco-sensitive areas.

  2. Overfishing: Increasingly, a wide range of marine ecologists and scientists think that the biggest single threat to marine ecosystems today is overfishing. The appetite for fish is exceeding the ocean’s ecological limits with devastating impacts on marine ecosystems. Scientists are warning that overfishing could result in profound changes in our oceans, perhaps changing them forever.

  3. Marine reserves: Our oceans are in need of protection – from overfishing, pollution, mining and other threats. Marine reserves are an important tool to protect and preserve areas of our oceans that are rich in biodiversity, ecologically significant and vulnerable to destruction. These areas are closed to all extractive uses, such as fishing, mining, oil exploration, waste dumping etc.

The latest updates

 

The rains didn’t stop, nor did the public hearing at Khairnasi

Blog entry by Areeba Hamid | June 20, 2011

It is still raining as I type this from my room in Bhubaneswar. The newspaper says that the low depression over the Bay of Bengal since the beginning of the week will continue to lash the state for the next 24 hours. This means that...

Turtles + Fishermen = Ecology

Blog entry by Areeba Hamid | June 9, 2011

I remember meeting a journalist in Orissa in 2006 for a story on the high turtle mortalities and being told that Greenpeace would be better off protecting the rights of human beings rather than turtles. After all, when it comes to...

TATA vs Turtles stays!

Blog entry by Ashish Fernandes | January 28, 2011

“Congratulations, we won!” that was an excited but restrained Advocate Saikrishna Rajgopal, calling to inform me that the Delhi High Court had dismissed the TATA's plea for an interim injunction against Greenpeace’s TATA vs Turtle...

Analysis of the turtle season 2009-2010

Publication | June 22, 2010 at 17:03

The turtle-fisheries conflict in Orissa typifies the conservation versus livelihood conflict and resulting impasses that exist in marine conservation initiatives in India. Greenpeace’s campaigning efforts in Orissa are focussed on enabling the...

Greenpeace activists unfurl a banner saying

Image | June 9, 2010 at 11:23

Greenpeace activists unfurl a banner saying “Activism is Not a Crime” at the capital’s ‘Gyarah Murti’ sculpture, depicting the Dandi March led by Mahatma Gandhi. Choosing World Oceans Day, Greenpeace activists demanded justice for activists...

The survival of thousands of traditional

Image | June 30, 2009 at 3:30

The survival of thousands of traditional fishermen requires Orissa's marine resources to be managed sustainably. Existing laws such as the State Marine Fisheries Regulation Act need to be enforced effectively, on a consistent basis.

Don't let TATA terminate the turtles

Feature story | March 23, 2009 at 4:30

TATA corporation of India is in the global spotlight as they launch the Nano, the world's cheapest car. But the spotlight ought to be on a costly little secret: TATA's giant port at Dhamra, which threatens the nesting grounds of an endangered...

Turtle mortality – Greenpeace sets target for government

Feature story | February 21, 2008 at 10:38

BHUBANESHWAR , India — With turtle mortalities due to illegal fishing spiralling out of control, Greenpeace today presented the Orissa government with a clear ‘upper limit’ target for turtle mortality along the coast from Paradip to Chilika.

An Olive Ridley Turtle dies after being trapped

Image | February 21, 2008 at 10:26

An Olive Ridley Turtle dies after being trapped in a net

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