Agri Business

CMFRI to to assess status of marine mammals, sea turtles

Our Bureau Kochi | Updated on August 14, 2020

Unless an exporting nation harvests shrimp without adversely affecting sea turtles, US law forbids it from importing such shrimp

The Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) has launched a research project to assess the status of 27 species of marine mammals and five species of sea turtles in Indian waters.

With an overall budget of ₹5.66 crore, the project is funded by the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) for a period three years. The study aims to address the crucial information gap on the status of stocks of marine mammals and by-catch of sea turtles.

The research assumes significance in the context of emerging seafood trade-related challenges faced by the country. The US-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has said that seafood exporting countries should not allow intentional killing of marine mammals in commercial fisheries. This is in keeping with the provisions of Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA).

For exporting fish and fish products, the US has given a five-year exemption period starting January 1, 2017 to nations for developing regulatory programmes by assessing marine mammal stocks, estimating by-catch, calculating by-catch limits, and reducing total by-catch. Likewise, US Public Law provides that shrimp products should not be imported unless the US certifies that the exporting nation harvests shrimp without adversely affecting sea turtles. Following this, the US has banned import of wild caught shrimp from India from May 2018.

JK Jena, Deputy Director General of Indian Council of Agricultural Research, said in a webinar that the project would bolster the preparedness of the country in meeting the challenges faced by the seafood export industry, and enhance the indigenous capacity to address the emerging conservation concerns of marine mammals and sea turtles.

KS Srinivas, Chairman, MPEDA, said that country is looking forward to this project, which is being implemented with technical support from NOAA, with a hope that it would help solve the issues related to seafood export of the country.

A Gopalakrishnan, CMFRI Director, CMFRI, recalled the significant achievements made by scientists of the institute in research on marine mammals and sea turtles. “Marine mammals and sea turtles play key roles in maintaining marine ecosystems. Considering the need for conservation, the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 listed all the species of marine mammals and sea turtles under Schedule I. However, fisheries interaction and other human interventions have negative effects on the population of these mega fauna. This is evident from frequent reports on by-catch and stranding of these animals along the coastline of India.

“While government and non-government organisations have undertaken studies on distribution, biological and ecological characteristics, the information on status of stocks of marine mammals as well as by-catch of sea turtles is not available,” he said.

Published on August 14, 2020

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