The Gulf of Mannar (GoM) Marine National Park, which had been implementing coral rehabilitation programme since 2002 employing ‘concrete frame slabs’ method, has proposed to form ‘coral nurseries’ – an innovative method for rehabilitation – around two islands.
Themarine national park had sent a proposal to form ‘coral nurseries’ around Kurusadai island in Mandapam group and Nallathanni island in Thoothukudi group, and launch rehabilitation through transplantation method, officials said.
“Corals raised in the nurseries would be transplanted in areas where corals have witnessed massive mortality due to bleaching, bio-invasion and disease outbreak,” the officials said, adding the government had accepted the proposal in principle.
They said the government would allocate funds for establishing ‘coral nurseries’ after the marine national park submitted a detailed project report in a couple of months. “Transplantation of coral fragments, raised in the nurseries, is seen as a useful and effective technique for coral restoration,” they said, adding a collection of native species could be grown in the nurseries.
Under the coral rehabilitation programme, the marine national park had covered more than eight sq km in the GoM region, where coral reefs suffered bleaching and degradation due to climate change and attack by invasive ‘kappaphycus seaweed’, the officials said.
Coral reef areas were located in the Palk Bay in Tamil Nadu, Gulf of Kutch in Gujarat, Lakshaweep and the Andaman and Nicobar islands, but the GoM was the major coral reef area with high biodiversity. The coral colonies were located mainly in shallow waters around the 21 uninhabited islands in the GoM.
Significant coral bleaching and mortality were witnessed in the GoM in 2010 and 2016 due to high surface temperature. Coral reefs also faced threats from destructive fishing, diseases, bio-invasion and pollution. Restoration and conservation efforts were critical as the reefs protected the livelihood of dependant people, the officials added.