Artificial coral reefs to enhance fish resources in Karaikal Coast

M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation’s Fish for All Research and Training centre jointly with the NABARD bank inaugurated the artificial coral reef programme at Karaikal on Thursday, August 23, 2018.

Dr. Velvizhi.S, Head, Fish for All Research and Training Centre spoke about the rationale behind creating artificial reefs, which over a period of time would create a natural ecosystem for fish. “The fishers living in the nearby area will be positively benefitted with a good catch and this will help enhance their economic status, in about a year or two from the time of deployment.” She cited the experience of deploying an artificial reef at Tuticorin in 2004 with the support of UNDP and how beneficial the reef has turned out to be in the years that followed.

Thiru Kamala Kannan, Minister of Education and Agriculture, Govt of Puducherry, while formally congratulating the Fish for All Centre team of MSSRF for demonstrating innovative technologies to enhance fish resources, spoke about how we need to use natural resources in a sustainable manner and leave a rich natural environment for the generations to come. He said, “The strength to do it lies with the youth of today and they must be involved in such programs, for the benefit of society at large.” He promised that the Puducherry Government will provide the necessary support to MSSRF to implement novel interventions in the future.

Smt. Padma Ragunathan, Chief General Manager NABARD, spoke on the bank’s keen interest in supporting the fishing community’s wellbeing. She spoke of the various infrastructure development projects that the bank has undertaken in fishing communities in the form of laying roads, and developing organised market spaces for fish vendors. She said, “Over the last one year, with the support of MSSRF and local fishermen’s input the artificial reef project has grown in phased manner. NABARD will be ready to fund projects where the stakeholders are involved in participatory development and execution of the project.”

Thiru Kesavan, IAS, District Collector, Karaikal, pointed out that while the fishers understand the significance of reefs, the presence of reefs - both natural and artificial signified healthy marine ecosystem, with plenty of fish resources. He stated, “coral reefs thrive at an ambient temperature of 27 degrees Celsius, and India is privileged to fall in this temperature zone. With 40% of protein in our food intake coming from marine resources, he said that it is projects like these which help livelihood enhancement and also food security in coastal communities.” He credited NABARD and MSSRF for coming up with this initiative.

In January 2018, underwater sea floor survey and scuba diving was conducted to identify the site for artificial reef deployment. Dedicated study and research was carried out by the scientists at the Fish for All Centre, to design and develop the right kind of structure for the various fish species, especially lobsters, groupers and small fishes, as different species require habitats of different nature. The artificial reef is made of concrete structures weighing 52 tons and is to be deployed at a distance of 23 kms off the shore.

Other than being just a source of income to the fishers, the artificial reef is a live learning centre for students and researchers of marine biology and ecology. Moreover, scuba diving is a growing leisure activity and can help bring in extra income to the village. The project has been implemented with the active participation of fishers from T.R. Pattinam village in Karaikal.

The event was attended by Thiru Kamala Kannan (Minister of Education and Agriculture, Govt of Puducherry),  Thiru Kesavan IAS (District collector, Karaikal) , Thiru Vikranth Raja (Deputy collector), Smt. Padma Ragunathan (Chief General Manager, NABARD), Smt. Uma Gurunoorthy (DDM, NABARD Puducherry)Smt. Geeta Anand (MLA, Neravi Karaikal), Mr. Kaviarasan (assistant Director of fisheries, karaikal), Commandant Vivek Dogra (Commanding officer, Indian Coast Guard, Karaikal), Mr. Subramaniyam (Inspector, Coastal security police, Karaikal), scientists from MSSRF and most importantly fishers from the villages.