(A report based on observation my coastal environmental bike expedition along the tamil nadu coastal villages






I. II. III. Introduction Tamil Nadu and the enroute of journey Background and Scope • Creation of environmental awareness • Collection of information related to environmental problems and marine organisms. Tamil Nadu and the enroute of journey Area specific socio environmental problems: 1. Pulicat 2. Cuddalore SIPCOT 3. Point Calimere 4. Aquaculture 5. Bomb fishing 6. Trawlers 7. Sand mining 8. Sterlite 9. Sethusumdrum Canal Project 10. Atomic power station Fishermen’s basic problems • • • VII. • • • VIII. • • • • • Water Sanitation Economy Stock depletion in commercially exploited species for the last 10 years Ban on 52 species including Sharks and Rays 45 days ban on fishing Sea cucumbers Sea horses Turtles Dolphins Sea Cows

IV. V.


Interviewing Fishers:

Endangered species, and their current status of Tamil Nadu

IX. Suggestion

Our oceans and its untamed resources are going to the edge of their existence. Most of the marine living resources are exploited

indiscriminately. This continuous over exploitation in all parts of the world is greatly reducing the variety and richness of the life in the sea. For too long

the seas of the world have been considered as an inexhaustible source of food, as having an infinite capacity to absorb and purify our wastes and as a source of all the raw materials needed to maintain an industrial society. It is now apparent that none of these assumptions is true and the human population at the current level of technological development has the ability to inflict massive destruction of the seas, just as we have done on the land. At present, the seas remain in good condition relative to the land (especially 2km from the shore), and they should not be permitted to get degraded for our very existence in the future. Coastal ecosystem is the interface between the land and sea. It covers 8% of the earth. It is productive and diverse, and it includes wetlands, bays and continental shelves. Now, the coastal zone is under threat due to

human inhabitation (about 6/10 living within the 60km of the shore). Within the next 20 – 30 years the population of the coastal zone will be doubled and this will pose a serious threat to the coastal resources. It is therefore of utmost importance to maintain the biodiversity and ecological balance. India is rich in estuaries, beaches, mangroves, coral reefs, seagrasses beds and algal communities and island ecosystems. wealth of the oceans. They protect and support the

Many economically important marine fishes and

invertebrates are depending upon these regions for habitat and food. Conservation of the biodiversity and its importance are felt but not full action – oriented in the field. The scientists are interested in conservation but not involved in it. The organizations involved in the conservation of coastal

marine ecosystems are mainly interested in getting funds and submitting the manipulated reports for asking grants from funding agencies. The

Governments of all nations and international organizations are now trying to

protect and conserve marine living resources by creating awareness, establishing marine parks and rearing centers. Marine parks of some developing countries are only in the form of “PAPER PARKS”. They are not only the places of ecological importance but also of over exploitation for indiscriminate unlawful fishing. Unfortunately the rate of conservation is lagging behind destruction. This is due to the The

conservation efforts without considering the local communities.

upliftment of fisherfolks and the conservation of marine animals are tightly interrelated with each other. Without the heartfelt involvement of fishermen community, we can never protect the vanishing coastal marine ecosystems. The scientists and government officials at higher levels make their decisions and laws for conserving the environment, without clear understanding of real scenario of man and ecosystems. In my field experience, every coastal

village of our state has its own socio economic and environmental problems. Their opinions and basic needs are largely ignored in conservation activities. Most of the surveys conducted by the research institutions are only in the main landing centers and ignoring the actual status of the tiny remote villages. Most of the surveyors don’t have the experience in assessing the endangered species. No one has the right to stop the fishermen from exploitation of endangered species or for other developmental activities without suggesting alternative livelihood options. In the absence of the livelihood security, it is not wise to introduce the 45 days of fishing ban or ban on the 52 species of endangered fishes. The socio economic problems of coastal people have to be studied extensively in order to save the sea. In my trip, I tried to interact with the people of Tamil Nadu coast. The effective environmental awareness and development

programmes can be successful only through proper communication between the Government, NGOs and the research centers. The findings and solutions that are proposed by the research centers for environmental problems don’t come to the media or applied practically. Thousands of Ph.D., theses with useful information and solutions are sleeping in the libraries of all Universities. Here, I am briefly discussing of my personal observations without hiding or exaggerating the issues.

It is not an altogether a happy story to look at the pollution status, disappearance of marine animals and problems of fisherfolks of Tamil Nadu coast. It is not. It features prominently the wanton destruction of some of the most valuable fisheries. This reveals repeated failure of the Government to take effective steps against the depletion of resources. This report does not pretend to be a deep research on the fishermen problems or endangered species. It intends to analyze the

ecological and social issues essential for the government action. The critical point to tackle in this report is livelihood security of local community that leads to ecological security.

Tamil Nadu is the southern most part of the Indian peninsula with the Bay of Bengal to its East, the Arabian Sea to its West and the Indian Ocean in the South. It has a long coast of nearly 1100 km. Tamil Nadu has an area of 1, 29,901 km2 that is about 4% of the total area of India and has an 8% of total population of India. This state bordered in the North by the state of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, while to its West lies the state of Kerala, the latter naturally separated by the Western Ghats that form a fascinating landscape in this southern peninsula. An ancient plateau with A distinct structural and geographical background characterizes Tamil Nadu. It is characterized by a broad stretch of plains lying parallel to the coast. The plains are further classified in to Coromandel, Alluvial and Southerly plains. The coastline in the east is remarkably straight with well - formed beaches; the most famous of this is being Marina (second best in the world). The estuaries are mostly occupied by beautiful mangrove forest. Pitchavaram and Muthupet are such wonderful places. The Palk Strait separates Tamil Nadu from Sri Lanka, characterized by shallow water with sea grass beds. There is a holy island for Hindus and the birthplace of Dr.A.P.J.Abdul kalam, President of India called Rameswaram. It is in the southern part of Tamil Nadu and connected with the mainland by Pamban Bridge. A group of 10 coral reef islands are located. The Indian Government declared it as

“Biosphere Reserve”, the first in the South East Asia. My journey started from Pulicat on 20th May 2002 and finished at Kanyakumari on 6th June 2002. From that place, I met a lot of people including fishermen with catamaran, mechanized boats, canoes of all along coast. I travelled through tiny remote villages and Rameswaram Island (up to Dhanushkodi) which are far from the National Highway. This trip was painstaking and was not as easy as I thought. The entry to small villages was really a thrilling experience to me. I tried to visit a maximum number of villages everyday. The number of villages and traveling time in a day

depended on the condition of the bike, responses from villages, distance

between the two stations and the road conditions. I covered more than 300 villages in a distance of 1200 km. Districts covered 1. Thiruvalluvar District 2. Kanchipuram District 3. Vizhuppuram District 4. Pondicherry 5. Cuddalore District 6. Nagai District 7. Thiruvarur District 8. Thanjavur District 9. Pudhukkottai District 10. Ramanathapuram District 11. Tuticorin District 12. Thirunelveli District 13. Kanyakumari District

Awareness Creation on the importance of Mangroves and Coral reefs in Tamil Nadu coastal villages.

To study the stock depletion in the commercially exploited fishes in Tamil Nadu for the last 10 years.







problems of fishermen community in Tamil Nadu. • To study the opinion of fisherfolks about ban on 52 species (including sharks and rays),45 days ban on fishing. • To study the opinion of the fisherfolks about the endangered species. • To find a solution for the above problems in order to protect our coastal environment.

We are provided with lot of gifts from Mother Nature for our need but not for greed. Unfortunately, intense human impact on the environment depletes the possessions, resulting in the boomerang effect on human globally. The people of Tamil Nadu are also affected indirectly. Hence, there is a need to let the people to know what will actually happen if the environment is extremely disturbed. This has been the vital subject in the United Nations conferences. In this contest, I autonomously tried it among our people. For the survey, the current issues like ban on 52 species, ban on fishing for 45 days, Coastal Environmental pollution were taken up. More than eight hundreds people were participated in the survey. Whenever I entered in to the villages, a cluster of persons surrounded me and I preferred the place, where the people are usually aggregating like in front of the temples, below trees, landing centers, houses of village heads and net repairing places. This trip was planned to create awareness among the people about the ecological and economical importance of Coral Reefs and Mangroves. It was done successfully by distributing pamphlets, chatting with people, by taking seminars (15 minutes) among the staffs of Non Governmental Organizations. I distributed totally 2500 pamphlets. Of those, 1000 were regarding the Coral reefs (for Gulf of Mannar region) and the remaining were about the mangroves (for Pitchavaram and Muthupet areas) and their importance. Collection of Data I collected data on the fishermen’s problem, pollution, depletion of the commercially exploited species and endangered species (Dugongs, Dolphins, Turtles, Sea horses, Sea cucumbers) and opinion with regard to the banning of 52 species and 45 days of ban on fishing.

During 1590 and 1610 A.D the Dutch landed and settled down at Pulicat to establish joint trade with local Muslims, with the East Indies (Batavia). The Dutch stayed on at Pulicat till about 1690 AD and their ships were able to enter Pulicat, 3.8m depths. From that period the siltation started and going on even now at a rate of 1m/Century. By about 1800 A.D the lake depth was reduced to 2 m, so that the British could not bring their ship to Pulicat and they abandoned Pulicat as a natural Port. Recent paleobotanical studies indicate that the 500 – 200 years ago luxurious mangroves were thrived in Pulicat. . The Indian Government declared the Pulicat Lake as a “Ramsar Site”. In Tamil it is called as “Pazhaverkadu” which means “forest of rooted fruit” which specifies the mangroves. It includes 26 fisherman villages that depend the Pulicat lake for livelihood. The total area of the lake is 600 km2 with average depth of 1 – 3 m which favors larval development of fishes and shrimps. These organisms from the sea are migrated to the lake for laying eggs that attract the migratory birds from other countries. Only Dry wastelands are lining the roadside to Pulicat Lake. Some of the villages can be reached only by boat. Those villages are located on long sandy stretches with 25km long and .1 to 1 km width. It separates the sea and backwater. Those fishermen of the sand bar are the evicted people from the Sri Harikotta rocket launching station area. They lead a tough life and are struggling everyday for fishing. I could see their poor conditions with net and boat without proper catch of fish.

Thermal Pollution Here, the thermal pollution affects both human and the

environment. The power station in North Madras uses coal for electricity production. Warming of aquatic ecosystem occurs to the point where

desirable organisms are adversely affected. Large quantities of heat added to the aquatic systems, cause ecological disruptions of the food chain of the entire system. Plants and animals thrive best in certain temperature ranges. Hence, changes in the temperature of water will affect the types and numbers of organisms in the aquatic ecosystem. The use of river and lake waters in some countries for industrial cooling purposes can raise the Temperature of the water to produce major changes in the ecosystems. Every engine that burns fuel uses the heat to perform work. This must discharge waste heat leading to serious environmental problems. At present, most of the electricity is produced by burning fossil fuel and nuclear materials. The amount of heat that must be removed from an electricity generating facility is quite large. One million kilowatt plant running at 40% efficiency would heat 10 million litres of water to 350C every hour. It is not surprising that discharge of such large quantities of heat to aquatic systems, cause ecological distruptions. Impacts • Many species that face chronic effects may lead to death. Due to the higher temperatures the life span should be shortened. For example, Daphnia (a copepod) lives for 108 days at 46 days at 82 0F. • Higher temperature also leads to faster growth rates, shorter life spans and lower populations and biomass. Increasing temperature can also increases the toxicity of substances. For example: Carp can tolerate 120ppm Carbon dioxide in the water at 10C, 60ppm itself is lethal at 36 C.
0 0

F but 29


Temperature changes may increase the vulnerability of a species to predation and parasitism.

Temperature may increase the effects of toxic pollutants present in the water. In addition, the chemical reaction increases 2 to 5 times for every increase of 100C rise in temperature which affects photosynthesis, nitrogen fixation by blue green algae, and enzyme activity. Higher temperatures also affect the physical and chemical properties of water such as density, viscosity, vapour pressure and dissolved oxygen.

Maximum development rates in Penaeus monodon (Black Tiger Shrimp) is between 25°C and 31.5°C. It is proved experimentally that 18-hour exposure at 37°C is lethal.

Algae, the habitat for larvae are easily killed by the acute thermal stress.

The clayey sediments of the lake retain heat much larger than the sand. So, the lake water maintains high temperatures for a long time than the sea. This kills all the larvae of fishes and shrimps.

The anadromous migratory fishes are diverted from the lake for breeding that reduces their fisheries.

The sudden release of effluents in to the water kills the aquatic organisms within a short period. For example, in August 5 of 2001, thousands of fishes died and floated in the Pulicat water. To

oppose the thermal pollution, the people immediately boycotted the school, bank, light house of the Pulicat region. After a compromise with the Collector of Thiruvalluvar District, the strike was withdrawn. Like this, the Pulicat people have made several struggles.

Mouth Closure The installation of stones for the extension of Chennai port is creating negative effects on the northern side of Chennai. For example, the sea water now entering into the Royapuram, Ennore areas is causing erosion of road, houses.Huts of fishermen which are being destroyed by the waves everyday. The Lake mouth is now becoming shallower than before and

sometimes it is completely closed. This greatly affects the fishery of Pulicat Lake by blocking the movement of aquatic organisms between the lake and sea. The people of Pulicat pointed out that the siltation in the lake mouth is now increasing. They also blamed the port construction diverts the currents to settle its sand particles in the lake mouth. In 2000 the mouth was completely closed for about 8 months. People asked the Government to open the lake mouth, which directly influence their economy. The Government sent a team for estimating the expenditure to widen the lake mouth. It was calculated at about 30 lakhs for widening. But, the Government Officials refused to do the same and said that there was no fund. But, now the Government is constructing a landing centre inside the lake, estimated at Rs.1 Crore. The people feel that they cannot go for fishing in the lake as there will be a permanent situation in the mouth. Hence, it would have been better, as suggested by the people to use Rs. 30 lakhs out of Rs. 1 Crore for widening and the remaining for constructing landing centre


The survey regarding north chennai thermal power

station and port was undertaken. 26.6.95 Hunger strike by the villagers to cancel both the plans

that would cause a great damage to the Pulicat area. 28.3.96 station. 8.7.97 In this regard a group discussion was held in the office of Discussion with the chief engineer and officers of thermal

the Collector of Thiruvalluvar District. 21.10.97 The above was held again. 16.2.98 Election. 7.5.98 A group discussion was held in the Collectorate with the People from all the 26 villages boycotted the Parliament

Officers of Fishery Department, Electricity Board and Port Trust at Tamil Nadu Housing Board Office. 20.5.98 Concerning this problem, a Human Chain demonstration

was held at Valluvar Kottam, Chennai. 12.7.99 All the villagers demonstrated a ‘road roko’ on the way to

Thermal Power Station. 17.7.99, 30.10.99 & 30.5.2000 A group discussion was again held in front of the Minister and Collector with Officers of Fishery Department, Electricity Board and Port Trust at Tamil Nadu Housing Board Office to solve the problem of Pulicat. Now, the people of Pulicat are thinking that the above are not to solve their problem but only a formality. Their struggle is still continuing ….

Estuarine systems are highly complex, dynamic and subject to many internal and external relationships that are subject to change over time (Imperial and Hennessey, 1996). The pollutants that enter into inshore

waters and estuaries create serious problems causing extensive damage to the life and activities of the living aquatic organisms, cause eventual mass mortality (Ananthan, 1994). There were outbreaks of methyl mercury poisoning known as Mina Mata disease in Japan during 1950’s and in Iraq in 1970’s caused by eating contaminated fish. In Cuddalore area, several industries have come up with assistance from SIPCOT (Small Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu) Vanavil dyes and chemicals Limited, SPIC Pharma, J.K Pharma chemical Limited, Pentasia Chemicals Limited, etc., are located on the banks of Uppanar estuary. SIPCOT is manufacturing fluoride, dyes, drugs, antibiotics, pulps, pesticides and other chemicals. Most of these industries are wet process industries and they consume large quantity of water. There are six plants discharging effluents throughout the year to the backwater of Paravanar, which is connected to the sea (Srinivasan, 1992). Out of 44 industries, 16 chemical industries drain the effluents with mercury in to the estuaries. Studies on fluoride contents from this industrial area was made by Karunagaran(1990), while studies on hydrobiology of Uppanar backwater by Murugan, (1989) and hydrobiological investigation on the intertidal diatoms in Uppanar estuary were made by Mathavan Pillai, (1994). Bioaccumulation of heavy metals like Iron, Manganese, Zinc and Copper in the scad fishes from Cuddalore water was made by Srinivasan,(1992). Mercury content in SIPCOT (Kudikadu)∗ ∗ Sediment - .17 – 6.71 µ g g-1 Phytoplankton - .12 – 6.71 µg g-1 Zooplankton - .49 – 8.87µg g-1 µ (Source: Rajaraman (2001)

Mercury (Hg) Of the several heavy metals released from the industries, mercury is one of the most dangerous heavy metals, which causes severe effect on the biological organisms. For eg: Minamita disease, Japan. Brain Damage: Inorganic Hg does not readily penetrate the bloodbrain barriers (Grant, 1971). When inhaled, it initially gets deposited in the lungs, later it is transported by the blood to other parts of the body, including brain. The effects of Hg on the brain is permanent, as cells of the central nervous system, once damaged, do not recover. If a person swallows a fish containing methyl Hg, about 90 – 95% is absorbed by the intestines (Grant 1971). It is transported throughout the body and much of this gets concentrated in the kidney and liver. It causes serious damage to the liver, pancreas, kidneys and the brain. In brain, it destroys the cells, particularly in the cerebellum (leading to disturbances of equilibrium) and the frontal cortex (personality disturbances). Methyl Hg apparently

passes readily through the placental barrier in to the fetus, where concentration of the Hg builds up to levels several times higher than those in the mother (Auronson, 1971): reaching high levels particularly in the foetal brain (Montague and Montegue, 1971). Methyl Hg (as well as phenyl Hg) is known to interfere with the process of cell division, causing daughter cells to receive an unequal number of chromosomes. This phenomenon, know as disjunction, has been

demonstrated in plant cells, fruit flies and tissue culture from mice and humans. (Grant, 1971) Montague and Montague: Mitra1986).

Solutions • • Dredging of contaminated sediments. Increasing the pH of the sediments in order to favour demethylation and to increase volatilization. • Introducing oxygen consuming materials so as to create anaerobic conditions in the sediments and thus reducing Hg methylation. • Covering the sediments with fresh finally divided, highly adsorptive materials such as clay. • Covering the sediments with any inorganic inert material.

Fluorosis When Fluoride compounds are more than the optimum level, the diseases in relation to the bones and teeth appear. fluorosis are common in those villages. The symptoms of

The fluoride compounds in the

effluents are mixed with the nearby water source. Resistance of Pathogens This is one of the vital effects. Some industries of SIPCOT area are producing antibiotics and release the effluents in to the natural environment without proper treatment. So, the disease-producing

microorganisms in that area independently develop the resistance against the antibiotics. When the people take the antibiotics for diseases, they do not get cured. Fishery The endemic aquatic species are continuously exposed to the toxic effluents. The biomagnification process increases the concentration of the toxicants in the human body. The sardines and mackerels are the seasonally available fishes, which contribute a major part in the Cuddalore fishery. Now,

the above two species, particularly Oil sardines are greatly reduced than before. The reason may be the industrial chemical wastes might affect those fishes. Hence, the shoal is diverting to other directions to avoid the polluted coastal waters. Air Pollution It is severe in the SIPCOT area and whenever we cross the SIPCOT area by bus we can feel the difficulty in respiration. The accidental release of harmful gases is also common in the industries. Sometimes it is affecting the surrounding villages, which results in unconsciousness and vomiting in the whole village.

The Point Calimere wild life and bird sanctuary is situated on a low promontory on the Coromandel Coast in Nagappattinam District. sanctuary forms one of the seaward apexes of the cauvery river delta. In 1967, the point calimere with a forest area of 24.17 km2 was declared as the point calimere wild life and bird sanctuary. In 1988, a The

proposal was sent to the Tamil Nadu Government to extend the area of the Sanctuary to include the Great Vedaranyam Swamp and the Talaignayar Reserve Forest. The Sanctuary is divided into three divisions. They are 1. The Tropical Dry Evergreen Forest at Point Calimere (24.2 km2). 2. The Great Vedaranyam Swamp (349 km2). 3. The mangrove forest of Talaignayar Reserve Forest (12.4 km2). The forest is a tropical dry evergreen forest, which harbours many species of medicinal plants that find use in the Indian systems of medicine. 18 species of mammals, 250 species of birds, and 25 species of reptiles have been recorded in the sanctuary. Problem Chemplast is an industry in the Northern side of the sanctuary. It separates Bromine from the highly concentrated seawater. To increase

salinity, they are pumping the seawater in to the shallow ponds serially and keeps it for a period of time. This reduces the water content by evaporation, thus increasing the salinity to about more that 100 ppt. After the separation of chemicals, the wastewater let in to forest through canal.

Causes • The continuous holding of seas water in the ponds increases the salinity of the ground water. Now, ground water of point calimere is inappropriate to drink. The people are suffering from water scarcity. • High salinity depletes the oxygen level in the storage ponds. Hence, the survival of aquatic organisms is critical. • 15 – 20 years back the people had sowed in the paddy fields of point calimere . The situation is now turned in to up side down. The paddy fields are converted in to waste lands by the hyper salination of the soil. • The habitat destruction decreases the diversity of migratory birds from several parts of the world. The migratory birds from thousands of kilometers cannot build the energy to return to their native place. • The industrial waste with high concentration of Fe++ is having a pale red colour. Several medicinal plants are vanishing or under threat caused by the Chemplast waste effluents. • People have reported that the air pollution of Chemplast generates the Asthma and eye flaws. • Bunds in the Pudhu river, Sitthankoil river and Manavaikkal river interrupt the Anadromous migration of fishes, followed by fishing.

The shrimp aquaculture industry expanded significantly throughout Asia and Latin America during the 1980s and this expansion was generated largely by abundant wild seed, static supplies of shrimp from capture fisheries, and high profits from cultured shrimp (Fast and Menasvata 2000). In 1999, farmers produced an estimated 814,250 metric tones of shrimp (Rosenberry 1999), and this represents about 25% of the total shrimp production worldwide. In early phases of its development, shrimp farming and

aquaculture in general were thought to be completely “clean” industries (Weston 1991). Slowly, this perception is changing as overdevelopment of shrimp farming industries in localized areas around the world begins to create noticeable changes in the natural environment. Shrimp aquaculture has been criticized by organizations and individuals that charge the industry as being environmentally irresponsible. Publications such as Murky Waters by Goldburg and Triplett (1997) and the recent article in Nature by Naylor et al. (2000) identify a number of environmental problems associated with shrimp culture, including habitat destruction, water pollution, non-native introductions, collection of wild shrimp, and excessive use of marine protein in shrimp feeds. Although there are examples that illustrate the negative environmental impacts of shrimp farming (Chua et al. 1989,Primavera 1991) these impacts often have resulted from poor planning and management rather than something inherently destructive about shrimp culture per se (Boyd 1996, Boyd and Clay 1998). Although some of these charges have merit, others are not supported by scientific data. Clearly, it is in the industry’s best interest to engage in environmentally responsible methods of production if long-term viability of the industry is to be achieved. Now, the researchers continue to develop and evaluate approaches to shrimp culture that protect both the natural environment as well as the shrimp culture environment. For example, by reducing water exchange rates, effluent discharge is minimized, thereby reducing nutrient and biological pollution in surrounding waters. In addition, because influent water can serve as a vector for disease, the potential for pathogen introduction into the shrimp culture environment is reduced.

In CAS in Marine Biology, Annamalai University, the research is proceeding which include stringent prohibitions on wetland destruction,

regulation of effluents and support of research to eliminate and / or reduce effluents, escapement prevention technology and development of high-health stocks, minimizing entrainment of estuarine biota through water conservation and screening technology, and regulation of chemical use in the shrimp farming industry and support of research on shrimp pathology and environmentally safe disease control. Work is still in progress and not all problems have been resolved to the complete satisfaction. However, the culture ponds in CAS in Marine Biology serve as a model of how to encourage sustainable economic development through commercial shrimp farming while abating adverse environmental impacts on estuarine systems. To further improve the situation, the development and adoption of “best management practices” for shrimp aquaculture is recommended. Environmental impacts of Shrimp Farming Globally, the most important adverse environmental effect of shrimp farming is the destruction of wetland areas, primarily mangrove swamps, for shrimp pond construction (Lee and Wickins 1992). Mangroves are of vital importance to their estuarine ecosystems (Odum and Heald 1972). Shrimp farming is one of the few industries that can profitably utilize wetlands, so there is little competition for space from other interests. There is a definite irony in destroying wetlands for shrimp pond construction. As productive

wetlands are removed from the estuarine system, wild shrimp populations decline (Turner 1977) and the ability to recruit and/ or catch juvenile shrimp for stocking ponds may be reduced. species are impacted. Estuary Eutrophication from Shrimp Pond Effluent A second important effect of shrimp farming on the estuarine environment is the discharge of nutrientladen pond water and Local fisheries for shrimp and other

Eutrophication, or at least hepernutrification, of the receiving body. Under this category, interrelated environmental impacts can take several forms including dissolved oxygen demand of effluent, and increases in phytoplankton, macrophyte, and microbial abundance in response to nutrient inputs.

Virtually all shrimp farms use water exchange to some degree (Lee and Wickins 1992). Philips et al. (1991) note that production of a metric tons of shrimp uses 16, 000 metric tons, 36, 000 metric tons, and 55, 000 metric tons of water for extensive, semi intensive and intensive respectively. Water Use and Entrainment of Estuarine Biota Shrimp farms are largely dependent upon the use of estuarine water for filling ponds and for subsequent water exchange. The discharge of water and added nutrients, solids, and phytoplankton associated with pond communities is a concern and so is the removal of estuarine biota in the process of transferring water into ponds. While it is conceivable that estuarine organisms could be pumped into ponds and later discharged back to the estuary with effluent, this is not likely to occur and most organisms entrained will perish in the process. Environmental Effects of Chemicals Used in Shrimp Farming In recent years, use of chemotherapeutics in aquaculture has become a concern. In other animal production operations, such as the beef and pork industries, antibiotics are frequently used on a continual basis to prevent disease and enhance growth (CATOMA 1992). Beveridge et al.

(1991) lists a wide range of chemicals used in certain types of fish culture including therapeutics, vaccines, hormones, flesh pigments, anesthetics, disinfectants and water treatment compounds. They note that the chemicals used in system fabrication may also find their way into water. The impacts of these chemicals related to concern for human health and/or the estuarine environment.

Aquaculture in Tamil Nadu All the above problems discussed above are now present in Tamil Nadu. Here, aquaculture is considered as an outstanding issue for NGOs and coastal people. The coastal waste lands which are not suitable for the agriculture or any other purposes are successfully converted in to the shrimp farms along the coast. The major species cultivated in the shrimp farms is Penaeus monodon (Black Tiger Shrimp). It fetches around Rs.400/kg. The

short period of culture, availability of broad wastelands for a cheaper rate and high profit has been attracting all towards aquaculture. This multimillion

dollar industry is giving a considerable amount of foreign exchange now occupying almost all the coastal areas, from Thiruvalluvar District to Ramanathapuram District. The severity of socio-economic problems caused by aquaculture varied from place to place, which depends on the location of shrimp farms adjacent to coastal villages. The salination of ground water is the major problem for the villages. The storing of brackish water nearer to villages increases the salinity of the ground water. Thus, several villages are now struggling for the potable water. The Muthupet mangrove forest is one of the ecologically important places which is now under threat of deforestation from aquaculture. The effect on the environment can be reduced by the application of scientific knowledge to manage the farms and proper alternatives for drinking water. Here, the problem is not with the shrimp farms but the poor management and lack of knowledge. A proper management with scientific advice can maintain a shrimp farm with great reduction in pollution, the village people have also reported that some self-seeking people use this issue to make money from shrimp farmers. They simply provoke the rural people for campaigning against aquaculture, but after the deal with the shrimp farmers, they simply withdraw the campaign. Naturally, the mangroves act as a bio-filter for waste effluents. For treating the effluents from 1 hectare of shrimp farm, about 21 acres of mangroves are required. But in the Muthupet region, around 1,200 hectares of shrimp farms are releasing their effluents into 12,500 hectares of mangrove forest. So, the concentration of effluents in the mangrove forest is extremely high which can cause negative effect to the environment.

Solutions • • • • Controlling the number of shrimp farms in an area. Regulation of stocking density and application of chemicals. Eradication of shrimp farms in the ecologically important areas. Proper alternatives should be given to the villages that are affected by the shrimp farms. • The construction of buffer zones between the shrimp farms and the nearby paddy fields can reduce the effect of salinity on the fresh water.

This is the most destructive method of fishing, which is currently proceeding in between Thondi and Rameswaram (Southern Palk Strait). Thiruppalakkudi is one of the main villages where Bomb fishing is prominent. When I visited that village, I perceived the blood stains of fishes which had splashed on the sailing cloth. In this method, the fishermen cut the branches of trees (Prosopis juliflora) and tie them in order to make the bunch with 3m of diameter. This cluster is towed in the sea for about 500 to 1000 m distance from the shore. It is kept there for a few days. The decayed leaves of

branches provide shadow and food for fishes. It attracts the small fishes followed by the large. After checking the fish aggregation under the cluster, the fishermen throw the locally made bomb on the cluster. Each and every fish including larvae are smashed in to pieces within a second. The wellconditioned fishes are then collected. The tragedy is, the bomb fishing

method gives only 10% of fishes to the fishermen. The remaining 90% are not collected as they are blown into pieces. • This illegal method is common in the above mentioned areas. The ignorance of fisherfolks and the carelessness of the concerned departments is the reason for the continuation of bomb fishing. Some of the fishermen have lost their body parts in the bomb accidents. As it is an illegal method, the accidents are being hidden. Also, they cannot claim the insurance for the bomb accident. The handicapped victims of bomb accident are now seen in the villages. • The diversity and density of the species of small sizes and the sea grass beds are immensely destroyed in the above areas.

It is another problematic fishing device. The mishandling of trawlers is causing the problems to both environment and humen. The clash between the trawlers and small boats is common along Tamil Nadu Coast. blame each other for illegal operations. They

The continuous monitoring of trawl

fishing in the prohibited areas is not practically possible in the vast sea. According to the Government policy, the trawlers should be operated only 6 km away from the shore. But, the illegal operation in the prohibited areas is going on as usual. For example, in between the Point Calimere (Nagai Dist.) and Adirampattinam (Thanjavur Dist), the shore length is more or less 70 km. Here, the seawater is enriched with nutrients, carried from the Cauvery river discharges. Moreover the bottom is shallow, furnished with dense seaweeds and sea grasses. The high nutrient water from the Muthupet mangrove

region gets mixed here and increases the productivity. At present, this amazing breeding ground is threatened by unauthorized trawl fishing. The trawlers are furtively entering in to this zone during the nights. They operate the trawl net, along the shallow coastal region and return before dawn. This has been going on regularly, resulting in the damage of the flora and fauna. Thus, the trawlers are making environmental devastation all along the Tamil Nadu Coast by overexploitation, illegal operation and catching of non-edible organisms that are called as the trash fishes. The trash fishes are containing different variety of marine organisms. They were released back to the sea in the past years. But, now they are utilized in the artificial feed preparation as protein source. This continuous removing of benthic organisms is decreasing the diversity, dropping the trophical level and weakening or altering the food chain.











Garnet,Titanium,Thorium and other minerals. The Government allows the digging of sand in the classical beaches with some restrictions. But, the contractors do not bother about the rules, resulting in unlimited mining. Sand mining has resulted in the coastal villages of Nagai, Tuticorin, Thirunelveli, Kanyakumari districts and the Pondicherry being under the threat of sea erosion and habitat destruction. This kind of illegal activities are now

removing the sand dunes that provide protection against cyclones. The high level pressures from Government and businessmen control the protest against sand mining. For example, People of Perumanal village, Tuticorin district protested against sand mining. This resulted in an incident on December 16, 1996. During this, a violence between people and police was burst out that injured several persons, resulting in 6 cases against the village people. The villagers have refused to ask any help from the Government

even the basic needs like water and electricity problems. I could observe the fear and hesitation in the faces of village people while talking about the sand mining.

It is a copper smelting plant of Tuticorin. The people of Goa, Gujarat and Maharashtra heavily opposed the establishment of this Copper smelting Plant. It is everybody’s guess why this Copper Smelting Plant’s construction was rooted out from Ratnagiri (Maharashtra) even after an expenditure of Rs. 200 Crores. The same plant was constructed in Tuticorin in 128 acres. Within the two years, the construction was completed with 1300 Crores of expenditure. No one would oppose when an industry comes up, provided there is a balance between industry and environment. But we have to oppose tooth

and nail when something is encroaching other’s field. When many of the native industries in and around us are giving employment opportunities to millions of people, there is no necessity absolutely for another industry which might harm the existing industries, agriculture, fisheries and human beings. It is said that, the plant is using the out modeled and out dated, dismounted machineries from the copper smelting plant of Chile Island. The main raw material is the copper concentrate that is imported from other countries like Australia and Africa. The other raw materials are fluxes, coal and lime stones available indigenously. The copper concentrate contains 28% Copper, 26% iron, 30% sulphur, 8% silica and 6% others. Even though it is a heavy industry, a berth for this industry has been given at SIPCOT complex in Tuticorin, which is only 5km from the thickly populated areas in and around Tuticorin. The main purpose of the industry is to extract copper along with During smelting, the sulphur is converted into sulphur di

other materials.

oxide, which is used for manufacturing of sulphuric acid at the rate of 1200MT/day. The solid waste discharged in the event of peak production is about 151,200 TPA. The quantum of water required for the operation of this plant is enormous. The height of the Chimney is said to be only 60 meters. The original proposal of disposal of effluents through15km pipe into the sea was modified into an effluent storage tank near the industry, after heavy opposition from the people particularly the fisherman community of Tuticorin.

• •

Respiratory disorders Leakage of gas in July 5, 1997 caused the unconciousness of 150 persons.

• •

August 20, 1997, the same was repeated. 13.5 million liters of water is required for strelite/day. It increases water scarcity and water pollution.

The stored waste is seeping down and gets mixed with the ground water. Similar to the above, the sterlite and the thermal power plant is

causing a number of damages to the environment.

The marine ecosystem of the Gulf of Mannar is endowed with four specialized ecosystems namely island ecosystem, mangrove ecosystem, seagrass ecosystem and coral reef ecosystem. The 21 islands in the Gulf of Mannar on the south eastern coast of India extending from Rameswaram island on the north and Tuticorin on the south, along with their marine environment between latitude 8°47’– 9°15’N and longitude 78° 12’– 79° 14’E, have been notified as India’s first Marine Biosphere Reserve (MBR). Most of the islands have luxuriant growth of mangroves on their shorelines and the sandy shores of the islands offer an excellent ground for turtle nesting. The sea bottom of the inshore area around the islands is carpeted with sea grass beds which not only serve as feeding grounds for sea cows( Dugong dugon), but also harbours most of the other communities. Highly productive fringing and patchy coral reef that surrounds the islands is the most complex and delicate ecosystem, which is often referred to as “underwater tropical rain forest”, a treasure house for marine ornamental fishes. This unique marine ecosystem of Gulf of Mannar is one of the richest for biodiversity resources in Indian subcontinent. About 36,000 species of flora and fauna are known to occur in the Gulf of Mannar. The total area is 10,500 sq.km and commercial fishing is done in about 5,500 sq km within 50m depths. Nearly 50,000

humans dwelling in 47 villages along the 180 km coastline bordering the Gulf of Mannar side depends on the biodiversity resources of this Marine Biosphere Reserve for livelihood. Present threats to the Gulf of Mannar Marine Biosphere Reserve There has been considerable change in Gulf of Mannar when compared to the last 25 years. This is due to industrialization and other development activities along the coastal belt of the Gulf of Mannar. In the Gulf of Mannar region, Tuticorin is under severe pressure due to increasing number of industries on the coast. The major industries located in and around Tuticorin are Tuticorin Thermal Power Station, SPIC, TAC, Dharangadhara Chemicals and Tuticorin Salt Marine Chemicals. The ash discharge from the power plant and chemical waste effluents from industries are adversely affecting the sea grasses and coral ecosystems in the vicinity. Other

disturbances including trawler operations, destructive fishing using dynamite or poison and dredging harbour channel. The Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay act as protected basins where there is high deposition of suspended sediments carried by littoral drift. These suspended sediments in the surface coastal water affect the marine habitats, especially coral reefs and fish population. Based on the observations made by several researchers, the plume of suspended load from Vedharanyam, moves towards Jaffna and also towards Rameswaram islands. Considerable amount of suspended load from the Palk Bay enters it to the Gulf of Mannar and it further moves towards Tuticorin harbour and its spread gets reduced beyond this area probably due to the obstruction by harbour structure. Such deposits of sediments would ultimately affect the sensitive ecosystem especially the coral reefs. Impact of sethusamudram canal project The Government of India has proposed to implement the Sethusamudram Canal Project in The Gulf of Mannar. This Project will affect the marine ecosystem of the Marine Biosphere Reserve as constant dredging throw up will deposit on the coral reefs, which will smother the rare fauna and flora and ultimately destroy the unique, endemic and endangered species. At present, the frequently passing ships are releasing oils and other wastes which would completely disturb the marine habitat in the coastal areas of Tuticorin. Progressive disappearance of live coral beds inside the Tuticorin harbour, islands of Tuticorin and surrounding areas testifies this. Further, the larvae of pearl oysters, fish and polyps of coral reefs are not tolerant to excessive concentration of pollutnts like oil, chemical wastes and thermal ash, which affect the entire ecosystem in Tuticorin coastal areas. The impacts and threats to the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve owing to the implementation of Sethusamuthram Ship Canal project are expected as follows. • Frequent passage of ships will disturb the habitat of endangered, endemic, unique and threatened species.

The Dredging activities will damage the coral reef and sea grass ecosystems by sedimentation, oil spills and other wastes.

• • • •

Degradation of benthic community. Loss of biodiversity. Reduction in fishery production. Introduction of exotic species and harmful biofouling communities through the passage of ships.

Loss of income sources (low level fish catching) to coastal communities.

The pollutants from the ships will kill the remaining reefs, which will never rejuvenate.

• •

The authorities will prohibit fishing in the shipping route. Hundreds of fishermen will be evicted from their native place for this project. So, while implementing the Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project, we

will definitely loose our great gift of nature. It is just like the killing of a person for a beautiful coffin. Most of the people of Tamil Nadu including politicians

are approving the Sethusamudram Canal project. But, they all will know when the reality will bite in future. This Project may be most benefited one for the ship owners, businessmen and multimillionaires. A fisherman of the Gulf of Mannar region will not get any profit, but will definitely loose their jobs. It is proved that the coral reef is one of the rich biodiversity areas, next to the rain forests. In Southeast Asia, our Gulf of Mannar is the first Marine Biosphere Reserve. The Central and State Governments set up the GOMMBRE on 18.2.1989 jointly. The Government of Tamilnadu in G.O.Ms No.962 dated 10.9.1986 have notified the declaration of the 21 islands of the GOM as Marine National Park for the purpose of protecting marine wild life and their environment up to 3.5 fathoms on the bay side and 5 fathoms depth on the seaward side, under section 35(1) of the wild life (Protection) Act 1972. The Sethusamuthram Canal project will dig out tonnes and tonnes of corals from

the Gulf of Mannar, the great castles of marine life. Thus, fishing in the entire south coast will be greatly reduced.

It is the current issue among the people about the Cudankulam Atomic Power Station and its jeopardy. Several countries are now closing their Atomic Power Plants and avoiding the new construction of this kind. Government officials have to explain the safety and have to give the guarantee for people’s life. Instead of this, a present scientist of Atomic

research reported to a newspaper that they would take strict action on the persons who are speaking against that Project. The people living around the atomic power station are very much worried about their future. Apart from the future effects, now itself it silently affects the rights of the Perumanal catamaran fishermen. In the monsoon season, the sea is usually rough. Hence, they are used to do fishing in the southern side, where the river meets the sea. But, now the big pipes are installed in the sea from the atomic power station. Accidents of small boats and catamaran, tearing of net with the pipes is now common in that area. So, the Atomic Power Station affects the daily income of this villagers and the sand mining erodes their houses. In a NGO report, the atomic plant was first planned to be constructed in Kerala. But, after the refusal by Kerala Government, this project came to Tamil Nadu. It is also constructed nearer to the densely populated areas like Nagercoil, Tuticorin and Kanyakumari. Suggestions • The Atomic plant authorities should come close with the people and try to understand their problems. • They should create the awareness about the importance, need of electricity production from the risky method in the southernmost part of India and the safety of the Atomic Power Station.

They should form a separate council for the improvement of surrounding villages, which will increase the interaction and good opinion from the villagers.

The method of nuclear waste disposal should be explained to the public.

They should give the first preference to the nearby villagers for job opportunities.

They should not release the heated effluents in to the sea directly.

I could see day-to-day problems faced by the coastal people. I could feel their problems when I had stayed, slept and talked with them. I brief them here. Water A good potable water is not available in any of the villages. The people are struggling for a glass of drinking water especially, the coastal villages of southern districts. Sand mining and misplaced shrimp farms are responsible for the salination of ground water. The Ramanathapuram District is now facing the maximum level of water scarcity. They are having only dried wells, air blowing pipes but not a drop of potable water. Walking up to 1 to 3 km for water is the daily responsibility of women in those areas. The milky white water (due to soil) from the man made pits is used as potable water. Common Reasons • Artificial pumping of ground water in the coastal towns lead to salination of ground water. • • Sand Mining reduces the water holding capacity of the soil. Holding of saline water in misplaced shrimp farms near the villages increases the salinity of ground water. • • The water gradually decreases or sometimes dries off in the rivers. Illegal occupation of fresh water ponds for house construction.

Sanitation The forgotten word in most of the coastal villages is ‘sanitation’. The majority of the village houses are not having toilet facilities. They are simply using the beaches and near by bushes. The error is not only with regard to money but also due to mentality of people. The marine fishes are free from pollution with delicious taste, but, when they are handled in the landing centers, they are getting pathogens of all diseases. The NGOs are now changing this situation slowly.

Average income of Tamil Nadu fishermen = 50-100/day Economy Financial status is decides the opportunity for learning education, thinking about the environmental awareness and struggle for rights. The poor people in the coastal villages need money for net, boat repair etc., so, they need the help of Government or other sources. For an immediate solution, they get it from the moneylenders. The people for the credit pay 5% - 10% of interest. This cruel money lending business cannot be avoided in the critical situations. But, it swallows a considerable part of the earned money. This is now slowly changing. The Government is advocating bank savings to the village women through NGOs. Each village is divided in to cluster and then

groups. Each group has 20 women. They put money in banks in the name of the group continuously. If anyone of them need money, for medicinal or educational or emergency purposes, the required money is withdrawn and given to the concerning member of the group. Here, the role of the NGO is, visiting the villages and explaining about the importance of Self Help Groups (SHG). They induce the village woman to join in the SHG and weekly training is conducted in the field centers. This is one of the best Government Projects that is successfully carried out by NGOs in Tamil Nadu. This plan has been successful in reducing the money lending business in hundreds of villages.

The involvement of outsiders in fishing, other than the traditional fishermen is creating trouble for the environment and fisherfolks. The rich outside people investing their money in mechanized boats and urge the

workers to scrap the sea and bring out whatever available in the net. The poor fishermen are working in the trawlers only for a meager salary. This is one of the reasons for environmental destruction. Fuel The fuel is used in the form of wood, kerosene and gas for cooking. The second and third are comparatively expensive than the first. (Prosopis spicifera) the plant is the main source for wood in the coastal area. The rate of kerosene is rose from Rs.3 to Rs.16 rupees within the last 7 - 8 years. Only the middle and higher classes use the LPG. The people below the poverty line are depending only on the wood. The women and children are daily collecting the dried plant materials. In Mangrove regions like Pichavaram and Muthupet, they are using mangrove plants like Avicennia sp. for fuel. But, now the cutting of mangroves is strictly prohibited. The introduction of biogas utilization is now being tried by a NGO in the southern districts, but it is only in the initial stage. An NGO is trying to regenerate mangrove forest in the Pichavaram and Muthupet areas. The mangroves of Muthupet are being used illegally for the arrack preparation as fuel wood within the forest, which is the major reason for the mangrove depletion in the Muthupet mangrove forest.

The fishes listed in the table were caught and sold in the market in an adequate amount, ten years ago. Even though they are now available, the capture is very less than the past. It indicates stock depletion of those fish populations. The environmental changes and other harmful man- made

activities are causing the stock depletion. The regional variation in the vernacular name of the fishes makes the matching of scientific name difficult. For example, Lactarius lactarius (used in traditional medicine) is called in Tamil as sudhumbu in Pulicat region, as surumbu in Cuddalore region and as Kuthippu in the Southern Districts. Zone 1: Pulicat through Chennai Vernacular Name. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. Pal sura Koduva Pala Kendai Vellai era Kaala Ora Seppili Odan Madavai Kavalai Paarai Poovali Sudhumbu Ullan Vaalai Kezhutthi Kalla thazhai Gerres abbreviatus Mugil cephalus Sardinella sp. Carangoides sp. Opisthopterus tardoore Lactarius lactarius Hilsa ilisha Trichiurus sp. Arius sp. Scientific Name. Scoliodon sp. Lates calcarifer Chanos chanos Penaeus indicus Polynemus sp. Siganus jayus

Zone : 2 Mahabalipuram to Cuddalore region:

18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45. 46. 47. 48. 49. 50. 51. 52.

Sudhumbu Poruva Thattai Kavalai Vaalai Saavaalai Therai Kutthuva Choodai Panna Kaala Sitthela Vengan Thattanankarai Velluda Pala Kendai Vowel Sankara Paal sura Thokkara Perunthankikarai Matlesi Anaikathalai Thovai Sennakunni Kandal Musakkamparai Valankamparai Karthigai vaalai Therankanni Surumbai Vankarachii Ullam Nethili Surumbu Kaakkan Panni

Lactarius lactarius Engraulis taty Sardinella sp. Trichiurus sp. Trichiurus sp. Pellona indica Sardinella aldella Johinus sp. Polynemus tetradactylum

Pertica filamentosa Chanos chanos Pampus sp. Lutjanus sp. Scoliodon sp. Leiognathus sp. Leiognathus sp. Escualosa throracata Johnius sp. Cepola abbreviata Aecetes sp. Caranx sp. Caranx sp. Stoleophorus indicus Lactarius lactarius Harpodon nehereus Hilsa ilisha Stolephorus sp. Lactarius lactarius Pomadasys kaakan. Epinephelus sp.

53. 54. 55. 56. 57. 58. 59. 60.

Vela meen Kanavai Karuval Ullam Poikkam Poikutti Nangal kutti Komban sura Kezhuthi

Anoxypristis cuspidatus Octopus, Loligo sp. and Sepia sp. Hilsa sp.

Sphyrna zygaena Arius sp.

Zone : 3 Palk Strait region: 61. 62. 63. 64. 65. 66. 67. 68. 69. 70. 71. 72. 73. 74. 75. 76. 77. 78. 79. 80. 81. 82. Kuural Komban sura Mundankani Vela meen Panna Kuthuppu Semmeen Koravi Kizhangan Seela Karal Senkani Kattikalai Katta Vowel Kadavura Kumula Nai manjala Uluvai Savalai Kuural Sala meen Rastrelliger faughni Saurida tumbil Eleotris sp. Trichiurus sp. Protonibea diacanthus Sardinella sp. Pampus argentius Psammoperca waigiensis Ploydactylus sp. Sillago sihama Scomberomorus sp. Lethrinus nebulosus Johinus sp. Lactarius lactarius Lutjanus sp. Protonibea diacanthus Sphyrna zygaena

Zone: 4 (Pamban to Kanyakumari) 83. 84. 85. 86. 87. 88. 89. 90. 91. 92. 93. Vela meen Mural Arunthal Komban sura Kadavura Navarai Savalai Seela Poovalai Netheli Samba kuni Stolephorus sp. Acetus phorous Polynemus tetradactylum Lactarius lactarius Polyneuras pomaras Polydactylus sp. Protonibea diacanthus Johinus sp. Johnius sp. Sardinella sp. Arius sp. Arius sp. Arius sp. Penaeus semisulcatus Eleotris sp. Sphyrnea zygaena Lepturacanthus savala Scomberomorus sp. Sphyrna zyganea Anoxypristis cuspidatus Hemiramphus sp.

94. Kaala 95. Kuthippu 96. Singi era 97. Iluppan 98. Katta meen 99. Kuural 101.Vaniampanna 102.Kuzhi panna 103.Pal vekkai 104.Sala mean 105.Pothikezuthu 106.Mambazhakezhuthu 107.Salpa kezhuthu 108.Madakku era 109.Uluvai mean 110.Vellai kuri meen 111.Vedakomban 112.Araambu 113.Theekkuchi meen

Though, 52 species of different Phyla are banned by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, the ban on sharks is felt much among the fishermen. So, here I am discussing some of the interesting information of sharks and their fishery. Sharks are generally cold blooded, large, cartilaginous fishes, which are fast swimming, known for their numerous sharp teeth, distinctive dorsal fin and skill in locating underwater prey. They are the members of

elasmobranches that live the same way they did more that 200 million years ago. Sharks belong to the class Chondrichthys and subclass Elasmobranchii. The estimated 375 species are divided in to 8 orders and 30 families. They range in size from the dwarf dog fish( family:squalidae), less than 20cm in length to the massive whale shark (family:Rhiniodartidae) which reaches a length of more than 12m. Depending on the species, sharks inhibit either shallow or coastal waters or the open ocean and some species such as six gill shark (Hexanchus grilous) live at depths of more than 1800m. The shark fishery assumed a lucrative role in view of its great demand for their fins and flesh. are: • • • • • Fins and fin rays Meat Liver oil, liver and fish meal Cartilage Skin and jaws The major products for trade from sharks

Shark fin is a highly valued commodity in overseas markets such as Hong Kong, Singapore and other South East Asian countries, USA, UAE, Sri Lanka

and Europe where the shark fin soup is considered as a great table delicacy. In India, the fins of the following species are being collected and exported (Source:MPEDA). 1. Sphyrna zygaena (Hammer head Shark) 2. Rhizoprionodon acutus (Milk Shark) 3. Scoliodon laticaudatus (Yellow dog Shark) 4. Carcharhinus melanopterus (Black tip reef Shark) 5. Rhincobatus djeddensis (Guitar Shark) 6. Negaprion actutidans (Sicklefin lemon Shark) 7. Rhiniodon typus (Whale Shark) Shark meat It is consumed locally, either in fresh or dried forms. Fresh shark meat gained popularity in recent years. Large sharks fetch from Rs.1500 – 5000/piece at the major Fisheries Harbours such as Cochin (Kerala) and Puri(Orissa). Small sized species (Scoiliodon sp.) are marketed fresh and can fetch Rs. 75 – 150/piece in local markets. Shark liver It is a rich source of vitamin A and D. It was in great demand during II World War. Large Sharks (Tiger Sharks, Hammer Head Shark and Black fin Shark) are the commercially important species. The largest market for shark liver oil is Japan where it is used by the cosmetic industry. Germany is also employing shark liver oil in the textile, leather, paints and varnish industries. Stearin and liver meal are the byproducts from liver oil. Stearin is used in the manufacture of candles, soups and paints where as liver meal is used in poultry feed.

Cartilage There is an occasional demand for “Shark bone” which is powdered and made into tablets (Source:CIFT), the price of which ranges from US$ 15 – 20/kg. It is reported to have anti cancer properties. Skin The skin of the sharks is processed in to good quality leather. Jaws In India, there is an unorganized trade for shark jaws as curios. The teeth are also used as beads on artificial jewelers.

Singapore Srilanka Taiwan UAE

45,00% 40,00% 35,00% 30,00% 25,00% 20,00% 15,00% 10,00% 5,00% 0,00%






Figure 1. Average share in quantity (t) of shark fin export from India to countries of destination during 1995 – 99. Now, the availability of all sharks is greatly reduced. The ban on fishing of sharks is not easy. The target fishing is not a major fishing method in our country. Whatever coming in the net or hooks has to be taken to the market. So, how can we suggest them to stop the shark fishery without giving a solution or a proper awareness among the people? In my survey, I could observe that 99% of the fishermen oppose the ban on the 52 species, especially sharks.


Reason for shark disappearance: The following reasons are quoted for the reduction in number of sharks. • Slow growth and long time for maturation. So, the recruitment is not easy like other finfishes. • Females give birth to only a few numbers of young ones, which greatly varied from other fishes. For example, Sardines release millions of eggs per season. • The sharks like whale sharks are very slow in swimming, defenceless and can be easily caught. The whale sharks are one of the fastly depleting animals in the world. The adventurous

thinking of catching a big fish and heroism may be a reason to catch the whale sharks. • • Overexploitation is considered as the primary problem. Habitat destruction is finally affecting the sharks through the food chain (as they are the predators).

98% Not Accepted

2% Accepted

Figure: Opinion of TamilNadu fishermen regarding the Ban on 52 species

To know the view of the fishermen regarding the ban of fishing for 45 days, a survey was made in my trip. In the survey along Tamil Nadu coast, 85% of the fishermen agreed with the ban (including all types of boat operators). 10% are, a part of the trawler operators who are not accepting the ban. The remaining 5% includes the small scale fishermen using catamaran are not worried about the ban. Of the total 85%, of agreed fishermen, 40% are claimed a better alternative during the banning period. The remaining 45% are accepted the ban on fishing for 45 days without hesitation. The sprit and hurry in repairing the nets and vessels could be seen in the fishermen in the last few days of banning period. However in some areas, some are operating the vessels before the completion of 45 days. After 45 days, the operations of trawl nets with minimum mesh size are depleting the recruits soon. The coastal areas of Pondicherry Union territory are receiving 90kg of rice and Rs.300 per family during the ban period. It is not possible for Tamil Nadu where the coastal area is very long. The fishermen of the Tamil Nadu area wish to find the remedies like in Pondicherry. Though the Tamil Nadu

Government announced the plans, it is not reaching the people in proper time. The period selected for ban is not suitable for all fishes. Because, all fishes are not breeding at the same season, some fishes are breeding only at the monsoon period when the temperature is low. So, it is the controversy that the ban period is not suitable for Tamil Nadu. Whatever it may be, the ban supports the freedom of marine ecosystem atleast for 45 days.

100% 80% 60% 40% 20% 0% 1 2 3 40% accepting without hesitation

45% claimed alternatives

Figure: Showing the view of the Tamil Nadu fishermen on 45 days of ban on fishing.

1. 85% - Agreed the ban {Red- 45% claimed alternatives, Blue- } 2. 10% - Not accepting 3. 5% - Not worried.

It is a group of endangered species. Till to-day, no special gear or net has been devised exclusively to catch sea cucumbers. They are

defenseless animals and are easy to catch. 95 % of Sea Cucumbers are collected by skin diving in the shallow waters of 2 – 10 m. Four to six divers go in country boats with sails at sunrise and return in the afternoon. Even small boys are engaged in diving operations. The divers take net bags in which live sea cucumbers are brought to the shore. Aluminium flippers are used for diving. Trawlers are collecting the entire sea cucumber of an area, which also does harm to the bottom. Areas of collection: At present, sea cucumbers are collected from a narrow strip in Gulf of Manner and Palk Bay. They are fished in the Gulf of Mannnar area from Pamben to

Tuticorin. In the Palk Bay from Rameswaram to Mallipatnam. Along the Gulf of Mannar Chinnapalayam,Vedalai,Mandapam, Periapatnam, Kilakarai and Tuticorin are important centers. In the Palk Bay, Rameswaram, Devipatnam, Tiruppalakudi, Karankuda, Mullumonai, Tondi, Pasipatnam, Pudupatnam, Ammapatnam and Kattumavadi are the most important centers.

Thiruppalakudi is the most important centre along the Palk Bay where there is overfishing. Sea Cucumbers of Tamil Nadu Actinopyga echinitites Bohadschia marmorata Stichopus chloronotus (rare) Stichopus variegates Holothuria atra

Sea Horses are the member of the family Syngnathidae which also include pipe fishes and sea dragons. They are found in shallow, coastal, tropical and temperate waters, including coral reefs, sea grasses, mangrove and estuaries. They primarily occupy less than 15m depths. Mother”. Sea Horses are used as an ingredient in traditional medicines particularly in South East Asia where traditional Chinese medicine and its derivatives (eg: Japanese and Korean traditional medicines) have used perhaps for about 600 years. Sea Horses are credited with having medicinal a role to play in increasing and balancing vital energy flows within the body, as well as curative role for such ailments as impotence and infertility, asthma, high cholesterol, goiter, kidney disorders and persistent nodules. They are also reported to facilitate parturition, act as a powerful general tonic and as a potent aphrodisiac. In 1995, it was conservatively estimated that atleast 20 million Sea Horses (more than 56 metric tones) were caught for the traditional medicine market. In addition, more than one million live sea horses are caught for aquarium trade, mostly destined for sale in North America, Europe, Japan and Taiwan. The value of sea horses is quite high, the price of dried sea horses in Hong Kong markets ranges from Rs. 11,500 to 50,400 (US$ 275 – 1200) per kg depending on the species, quality and size. In response to a significant increase in international demand, a target fishery for sea horses along the east coast of India in the Gulf of Mannar was started in 1992. India is one of the largest exporters of dried sea horses globally, exporting atleast 3.6 tonnes(~ 1.3 million Sea Horses) annually, and contributes to about 30% of the global Sea Horse trade. Here, males incubate the fertilized eggs in a brood pouch. Hence, it is called as “Mr.

Sea Horses are exploited both as an incidental catch (by-catch in trawl nets) and target catch, for export. Along the Ramanathapuram coast, dried sea horse is used as a medicine to arrest whooping cough in children. Demand for medicinal purposes would grow at an annual rate of about 8 – 10 % in China alone.

There is also a substantial reduction in the size of the harvested individuals and increased removal of immature males. The indiscriminate exploitation of sea horses coupled with a general degradation of their habitat, put their populations under pressure. Sea horse biological characteristics such as slow growth rate (they take one year to attain maturity), low natural adult mortality, structured mating patterns, low fecundity – with each pair producing about 1000 young per year (very low compared to other fishes), lengthy parental care, sparse distribution, limited mobility make them vulnerable particularly to selective fishing pressure. The IUCN Red list of Threatened Animals includes most of Indo – Pacific sea horse species. Recently the Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India through a Gazette Notification has included all Syngnathids in Schedule I of the Wild Life (Protection) Act, 1972. But, the lack of promotion of

conservation awareness programmes among fisherfolks could drive the underground trade and could divert the scarce resources towards enforcement.

Tamil Nadu is unique in India in possessing five species of sea turtles of which three species – the Olive ridley, the Hawksbill and the leatherback – nest here (the last very rarely). The Coral and sea grass area in the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay provide rich feeding habitats for turtles. 4000 to 5000 turtles were being caught annually in the late nineteen sixties in southern Tamil Nadu, three quarters being green turtles: olive ridleys and loggerheads together formed one fifth of the total (Jones & Fernando, 1968). Man has been exploiting sea turtles for several millennia, for eggs, meat, shell, flipper hide, oil, fat or blood. He still does and will probably continue to do so as long as possible. Haunting for subsistence (as defined by Frazier 1981), that relatively innocuous form of exploitation has been largely replaced by commercial exploitation, which demands the slaughtering of thousands of sea turtles, indiscriminately and year round, and where retailers and middlemen stand to earn huge profits. (Sheker Dattatri,1984). The rapid ‘development’ of beaches for recreation – preciously inaccessible or untouched – for housing resorts or other constructions is perhaps one of the most serious threats today and coupled with other forms of disturbance or habitat modifications such as erosion preventive embarkments, jetties, port etc., sand mining and lights on the beaches, to name a few that have rapidly and seriously reduced the length of available suitable nesting habitat. Nature of threat to turtle and their breeding Human settlements, beach resorts, jetties, ports, erosion preventive embarkments,lights on beaches, Fishing activities, beached boats, sand

mining for construction and black sand for Titanium ore, marine pollution (sometimes even small plastic bags are eaten by turtles which block the stomach resulting the death). Proliferation of mechanized fishing boats are increasing the operational range. Madras – Mahabalipuram beach: Development of housing and beach resorts along the coast may deal the death blow to the already heavily pressured Ridley population here. Control on beach development, use of bright lights at night, pollution and other problems discussed in the previous paragraph must be considered in protecting nesting beaches near and in urban areas. Point Calimere: This Sanctuary has a beautiful turtle-breeding coast. Few years back, the Government maintained a rearing center. Lack of funds, has forced to close the center. The turtle eggs are facing problem from the wild predators of the Sanctuary. Trained persons, funds, co-ordination between Forest Department and local people will definitely rejuvenate the rearing center. Here the superstitious belief is conserving the turtles. As the fisherman is considering the turtle as unlucky animal, he won’t like to catch the turtle in his net. But, if it is caught it is cut in to piece within the boat and taken to the shore (in the Gulf of Mannar area). Once, turtle eggs were collected in a large number all along the state beaches and sold in the local market. Now, the pressure from Government has greatly reduces the egg collection. But, in the Cuddalore District (last February), we, students have seen the persons with a stick and a bag for the egg collection, during midnights and who ran fastly when he thought us as the forest officials.

There are about 80 species of marine mammals in the world, that include 10 species of Mysticete, 48 species of Odontocete, 20 species of Pinnipeds and one species each of Dugong sp. and sea otter (O’Shea, 1998). In India, these are 22 species of marine mammals reported so far (James & Lal Mohan, 1987). Marine mammals are one of the most important biotic constituents of marine environment. Among the marine mammals, dolphins and whales have drawn the attention of people worldwide, as they have close affinity with human being in many respects. They are warm blooded, their breathing effected by lungs and they give birth to young ones which suckle milk secreted by the mammary glands of the mother. Marine mammals

including whales are hunted and killed in pelagic expeditions. In the countries like Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, dolphin oil is used as liniment for treating nervous disorders, rheumatism and burns and also as tonic for treating impotency and asthma. Pregnant woman sometimes take dolphin’s oil with the belief that it will ensure a healthy baby. Dolphin’s oil is mixed with banana leaves and fed to cows to fatten before being taken to market. In addition, disease outbreaks and infestation of parasites also drastically reduce the populations. Sometimes, operations of gill nets cause hazards to marine

mammals, by way of accidental catch. Although some incidental mortality of cetaceans has been occurring in fishing activities for a very long time significant contribution of such mortality to the depletion of cetacean population could be recognized only during the last 25 years. *No fisherman is catching the Dolphins. Here, a Superstitious belief saves the dolphin. The fishermen of Tamil Nadu are considering the Dolphins as a God creature. Hence, they never disturb the dolphins when they come to the shore.

There is a population of the dugong in the Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay. Around a number of islands that exist in the Gulf of Mannar between Rameswaram and Tuticorin, offer shelter and food to dugongs. Dugongs were chiefly caught around Musal Island off Mandapam, Appa Island and Balayamuni Island off Kilakarai. In Palk Bay, dugongs are recorded off

Adirampattinam, Devipattinam and Thondi. In the Gulf of Mannar the number of dugongs has considerably decreased, compared to easier times. It is likely that this is due to depletion of the stock as a consequence of indiscriminate capture. Dugongs are fished in India mostly for their flesh. With its slow rate of reproduction and prolonged gestation period the Dugong cannot withstand unscrupulous depredation. Enforcing the law

regulating capture should conserve the Dugong resources. There is great need for giving the priorities to the act that takes adequate measures to prevent indiscriminate capture as dugongs are in a very vulnerable position with the operation of increasing numbers of nylon nets. Enforcement of

legislation should not pose much difficulty as Dugongs are continued to be caught in shallow coastal waters and illegal capture could be easily detected. As the fishermen are mostly illiterate and ignorant of the decrease in abundance of dugongs as a consequence of thoughtless exploitation, extensive propaganda has to be carried out by Government fisheries department and Non Governmental Organizations.

Our present knowledge on the magnitude of resumes, population dynamics, age and growth, reproduction biology and ecological aspects of the dugong is very meager. Detailed investigations should be carried out on these aspects as the information gathered will be helpful in proper management of the resources. The sea cow is now very rare but if it is entangled in the net, it is cut into small pieces within the boat itself and is sold secretly (1kg = Rs.60.).


The waste heated effluents from the North Chennai Thermal Power

Station should be properly treated and should not be allowed to mix continuously in Pulicat lake. II. The reason for erosion in the Rayapuram areas should be intensively

studied and suitable alternative such as implementation of stones and cement boulder should be done. III. IV. The effect of industrial effluents in SIPCOT area should be monitored

periodically. Legal action should be taken on the industries that overcome the rules of Pollution Control Board V. The Chemplast of Point Calimere should turn its drainage canal away The waste water should not be allowed to enter in to

from the forest. Sanctuary. VI.

The number of shrimp farms near hamlet areas, stocking density and

application of chemicals should be regulated. The designing of buffer zone is an effective way of reducing the environmental impacts. VII. The over exploitation and catching of small sized fishes by trawlers The Government should

should be prevented through strict legal action.

control the net manufacturing companies to control the mesh size. It will be very useful in the control of small sized fish capturing. VIII. Bomb fishing should be stopped through the legal control on sales and

transport of explosives. The strict maintenance of law and order in the case of bomb fishing will help to stop it. IX. Sterlite and its continuous causes to the environment should be

extensively studied. The waste disposal should be regularly watched by a committee, which should include the scientists, NGO staffs and local people.


The sethu samudram project may destroy the entire Palk Strait and Gulf

of Mannar by shipping. So, precautionary actions should be taken before starting the sethu samudram project. XI. The central government should declared the funding to establish the

turtle rearing centres in the nesting beaches of Tamil Nadu. XII. The trade of sea horses, sea cucumbers, ornamental shells should be

regulated and alternatives should be provided to the people. XIII. The Government should give importance to provide the basic

requirements like water, sanitation, education and loans to the fisherman community through Non Governmental Organizations. XIV. The people’s concentration on the environment, biodiversity

maintenance, eco friendly utilization should be improved through education and visual media. XV. The sea ranching of endangered species in association with the awareness programmes, strict implementation of laws and order, suitable alternatives for fisherfolks and the involvement of Non Governmental

Organizations and the research institutes will offer a good environment to our future generations.



Fund to Research

Fund to NGOs

Interaction between R & NGO Awarness & Sustainable Rural Development

Environmental Development

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