In a bid to wean away those engaged in seaweed collection in the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve, the Marine Algal Research Station has launched training and seaweed cultivation programme for the benefit of coastal population in Erwadi and surrounding areas.
The Marine Algal Research Station of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research – Central Salt and Marine Chemicals Research Institute (CSIR-CSMCRI), which developed commercially sustainable methods for cultivating three species of seaweed, launched the training programme at Chinna Erwadi near here on Saturday evening.
K. Eswaran, Scientist in charge of the Research Station, said that they had selected 100 beneficiaries from five villages in and around Erwadi to train and enable them to cultivate the species of ‘Gracilaria edulis, ‘Gelidiella acerosa and ‘Gelidiella deblis’ in the Gulf of Mannar under the raft method.
Under the ‘Make in India’ concept to transfer the benefits of technology developed at research stations to the common people, each beneficiary would be given five rafts, weed and the technology free of cost to help them earn additional income and prevent them from the ‘indiscriminate harvest’ of seaweed in the protected islands, he said. “The training and seaweed cultivation will begin on November 23 and the beneficiaries could harvest the seaweed in 45 days,” Mr. Eswaran said adding the agar industries in the State have offered to procure the seaweed directly from the cultivators. The Fisheries Department, the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve Trust (GOMBRT) and banks were being roped in for funding support, he added.
M. Ganesan, Senior Scientist, who had developed the raft method along with a team of scientists, said that they proposed to bring in 1,000 people under the training and cultivation programme by March 2017.
T S Tangae, Director, GOMBRT, Deepak S Belgi, Wildlife Warden, Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park, and Kasinatha Pandian, Deputy Director of Fisheries, who attended the launch function, lauded the training programme, stating it would provide an alternative livelihood to the fishing community and wean them away from over-exploiting marine resources.