Project to help develop appropriate management plan to protect affected areas in Gulf of Mannar and Palk Bay

In a bid to protect the coral colonies in the Gulf of Mannar National Marine Park (GOMNMP), the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has sanctioned a three-year research project to study the impact of exotic seaweed ‘Kappaphycus alvarezii’ on corals and develop a management plan to protect the coral and sea-grass areas in the region.

The MoEF sanctioning the first comprehensive project to study the environmental impact of  the exotic seaweed on coral reefs and associated resources like sea-grass bed and fishery resources assumed significance against the backdrop of multinational companies promoting the cultivation of Kappaphycus alvarezii, a source of sulphated polysaccharides, commonly called carrageenan, used in food items (soft drinks and ice creams) and pharmaceuticals. The Tuticorin-based Suganthi Devadason Marine Research Institute (SDMRI) has been awarded the Rs.24.13-lakh project. “We have launched the project after receiving the first instalment of the outlay recently,” Patterson Edward, Director, SDMRI, told The Hindu .

He said the institute would complete the study within the stipulated period focussing on how the exotic seaweed affected the coral colonies, besides mapping the affected areas and suggesting conservation measures.

The institute would appoint two full-time research fellows with scuba diving skills and conduct the study in detail, in association with the State Forest Department, he noted.

Studies conducted so far had revealed that cultivation of the exotic seaweed in the south Palk Bay had invaded over two square kilometres of coral reef areas in the Mandapam coastin about five years.

“The impacts are visible as the broken seaweed fragments develop a thick green mat on the corals and kill them by smothering, shading them from sunlight. Abrasion occurs within six months of invasion, resulting in loss of habitat and associated fisheries,” he said. The study included a detailed survey and identification of seaweed-affected coral and sea-grass areas in the GOMNMP, assessment of invasion and extent of damage, he pointed out.


  • Institute to appoint two full-time research fellows with scuba diving skills and conduct the study in detail

  • As per studies, cultivation of the exotic seaweed had invaded over two square kilometres of coral reef areas in Mandapam coast


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