The Space Applications Centre at Ahmedabad has used remote sensing data to assess the area under coral reefs and prepare a coral reef atlas of India. In the fisheries institutes the research focus has been on studying marine fish habitats, fish catch and the economics offish catch. In areas of coral reefs they have focused on studying the ecology of the coral reefs with a focus on fisheries of commercial value; such as ornamental fish, holothurians, live bait availability for tuna fisheries etc.
Reliable base-line data does not exist on the extent of live coral cover, species diversity and abundance or status of the reef. This could be mainly due to the paucity of facilities and trained manpower to monitor and collect underwater data.
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There is also very little hard data on the impact of human activities on coral reefs and the relationship between the human economy and coral reef ecology has not received much emphasis. The Department of Ocean Development has recently received a grant from the world bank, to prepare a CIS based information system for critical habitats for coastal ecosystems. This will include all the coral ecosystems in India including the patches and submerged banks found along the West coast of India. The CMFRI has regional offices at Mandapam and Tuticorin and have carried out pioneering work related to surveys of the islands and the reefs.
An effect of environment and human interference on the coral reefs of Palk bay and Gulf of Mannar has been carried out by Pillai in A study of the different species and genera of corals found in the Gulf of Mannar has been carried out by Pillai in The Centre for Advanced study in Marine Biology, Annamalai University has also carried out several studies on the ecology and status of the reefs in the Gulf of Mannar.
The Madurai-Kamraj University is involved in an underwater survey using scuba equipment, of the islands of Gulf of Mannar in relation to studying the ecology of ornamental fishes of export value in the Gulf of Mannar.
They have established Scuba diving facilities with all the necessary equipment to carry out underwater ecological studies in the Gulf of Mannar. These facilities will be utilized for man-power development in this field of practical significance. With the emphasis on people centered development and sustainable management of biodiversity, management research has become a priority.
The M. The project report is being prepared jointly with the Tamilnadu Forest Department. The focus of the plan has to be on co-management initiatives involving participation by local people. At CARI while the research focus is on agriculture and culture fisheries, pioneering work on coral and related species taxonomy has also been carried out. This includes a detailed report on the islands, their coral fauna, reef associated resources and suggestions for conservation and management. The Anna University has prepared but not published , scale of maps for the Andaman islands.
The research focus has now shifted from carrying out taxonomic studies of corals and related species to extensive surveys and ecological studies of the coral reef and monitoring reef health.
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No research on human-reef interactions exists. Independent studies of the reefs have also been carried out on a reef watch program Wood C, With the emphasis on people centered development and sustainable management of biodiversity, management research has become a priority. The Lakshadweep Islands The fauna and flora of Lakshadweep islands have attracted the attention of many naturalists, one of the earliest being Dr.
Gardiner who explored the Maldives and Minicoy the southern most island of the Lakshadweep group. During the last nine decades, several studies in this region have been undertaken by the National Institute of Oceanography, Zoological Survey of India and the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute.
The ZSI carried out extensive surveys in and published in , a volume on the fauna of Lakshadweep State fauna series 2. Studies conducted in the Lakshadweep so far have recently been compiled by Bakus Quantitative data on the distribution and abundance of corals and other associated organisms on a reef flat at Agatti reef flat are now available Rodrigues, In the UT of Lakshadweep CMFRI has located a field station at Minicoy Island, while the focus of their work is related to the commercial fish resources of the Lakshadeep seas, pioneering work in coral and related species taxonomy has also been carried out.
Centre for Earth Studies, Trivandrum has prepared several reports relating to erosion and coastline changes. The Space Application Centre at Ahmedabad has mapped the coral reefs and atolls for the entire Union territory. The A. Murugappa Chettiar Research Centre, Chennai carried out a study on Energy use in the Islands with an emphasis on time and Energy availability for women's needs. Hoon, V, Swaminathan Research Foundation is carrying out a project on developing an Agri-biodiversity Conservation Corps of local volunteers.
In May , ten volunteers were trained in simple techniques of underwater transect surveys to carry out regular monitoring of the underwater reef biodiversity. The Space Application Centre, Ahmedabad has prepared maps including coral reef areas with the help of satellite data.
The Gujrat Ecology Commission, a Non Governmental Organisation has been active in carrying out field research based on socio-economics in this area and has also been active in developing and carrying out awareness programmes among students, policy makers and the forest department. Human and economic impact on the reef systems Reefs resources have traditionally been are a major source of food for local inhabitants and of major economic value in terms of commercial exploitation. Reefs in India provide economic security to the communities who live alongside them. In the villages around the Gulf of Mannar the traditional fishermen have been catching reef fish, diving for pearls, sacred chanks, holothuria and sea weed for centuries.
In Lakshadweep the reefs are a safety net for food in the monsoon season and also provide the live bait that forms the basis for the commercial Tuna Fishing. Perceptions of Coral reefs differ according to the priorities of the people in contact with the reef. Traditional fishers and people whose livelihood is dependent on the reef perceive reefs as a safety net in their food production system.
For them they are happy hunting grounds where clams, octopus, mollusks and other rich food organisms live and provide them with food and cash income. They also perceive the reef as a defense against the erosive forces of the ocean waves. These people would never willingly destroy the reefs since they realize that they have a long term dependency on them and any destruction of the reef would be destroying the goose that lays golden eggs.
Navigators dread reefs and associate them with ship wrecks. Naval officers only see them as hindrances that come in their way of carrying out their navigational duties. They consider them as hazard zones on their navigation routes. Scientists, scuba divers and snorkeling tourists perceive reefs as places of mystery and wonder.
How the corals grow and reefs develop have been questions that have excited their imagination and stimulated their enquiries for several centuries. Mainland communities see reefs as a storehouse of limestone to be extracted for the cement and lime industry. These different perceptions and the fact that reefs are common property resources can often lead to conflicts in resource use on reefs.
It also raises special questions on how to effectively manage and monitor coral reef resources. To have an understanding of the human ecology of the coral reef islands it is important to understand the relationship between local populations and the reef resources.