The population of Abalones, the marine gastropod mollusc, Haliotis varia, has drastically dwindled along Gulf of Mannar due to anthropogenic impact.

Adequate measures should be taken to protect the endangered species from further depletion to conserve the biodiversity.

In Gulf of Mannar (GoM), one small sized abalone species (Haliotis varia) was rarely available in two small beds of Tuticorin coast and Krusadai Island of Mandapam, J.K. Patterson Edward, Director, Suganthi Devadasan Marine Research Institute (SDMRI), Tuticorin said on Friday. Due to rare population, there was no commercial trade of this species.

Based on survey by SDMRI, which is affiliated to Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, Tirunelveli, during its coral reef diversity inventory, the findings indicated that abalone population along GoM was threatened. The entire population along Tuticorin coast, which was once rich with over 300 adults and juveniles during 2003 - 2004, is completely vanished now. Hence this lone species is rarely available only on Krusadai Island.

The abalone meat has high demand for its delicacy in countries abroad.

“Unlike other countries, the commercially viable field level culture technology is not available for abalone production in India. The only option to conserve the remaining few abalone populations along GoM, is to avoid factors causing disturbances to abalone beds in Krusadai Island for a minimum of fifteen years.

Protection and management efforts are also necessary required to restore the abalone bed. It is high time to adopt conservatory measures to protect the lone threatened abalone, H.varia from depletion”, Dr. Patterson added.

Successful commercial culture practices were adopted in the middle of 1990s in countries abroad. The commercial abalone farming countries for consumption include China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Australia, Canada, Chile, France, Iceland, Ireland, Mexico, Namibia, New Zealand, South Africa, Thailand, and the United States.

S. Narayanan, Regional Deputy Director, National Wild Life Crime Control Bureau, told TheHindu that “If the authorities concerned of State government find it an endangered species, it could be recommended to Central government for including it under the Wild Life Protection Act, 1972 for legal protection”.

J.D. Jameson, former Director, Research and Extension, FCRI, Tuticorin, said twenty four other molluscan species were being legally protected. M. Sundarakumar, Wild Life Warden, Ramanathapuram, said the officials were strictly monitoring the Krusadai Island since it was under the radius of Marine National Park.