Even though India is among the most diverse countries in the world when it comes to marine bio-diversity, there has been hardly any research since Independence to study this, said Zoological Survey of India Director K. Venkataraman.

Delivering a talk on ‘Marine and Coastal Biodiversity in India’ during the second day of a four-day workshop on Integrated Coastal Zone Management organised at the Karnataka Fisheries College on Tuesday, Mr. Venkataraman said only species that can be commercially-exploited have been researched.

“Marine research has a long history in India. But, there are questions as to what we have added to what the British have done,” he said, adding that the government research procedures routinely involved sending the lowest bidding contractors to go on expeditions.

“In one case, they collected marine samples, but didn’t put a drop of formalin to preserve it,” the director added. He noted that despite the government having set up numerous research institutes to study marine wildlife, there was a problem of redundancy, where, the same research was being undertaken by multiple institutes. “India is spending crores of money gathering and re-gathering the same data,” said Mr. Venkataraman. It is due to this that India has identified just around 17,000 marine species, compared to 22,000 by China, or 32,000 by Japan and Australia.

Among the gaps in Indian research, he said, were estuary studies – citing the case of the bio-diverse Chilika lake where just two studies have been conducted in the past century – lagoon eco-systems, Mangrove eco-system, sea grass, sea insects, effect of invading alien species in the local ecosystem, among others.