Education & Outreach
The marine coastal environments in India are in a state of decline. Some of the major influences for which include improper land use, overexploitation of natural resources (fish, sand, etc.), polluting effluents from industry, plastic litter and loss of marine life. What we are seeing today is an emptier ocean, a dirtier coast line and a community highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change due to increased coastal erosion.
ReefWatch is working with the Karnataka Forest department, a number of organizations and local veterinarians to increase awareness about the need for Marine conservation and sustainable practices.
The Karnataka Coastal Conservation Project works in coordination with the Karnataka Forest Department under an MOU that allows conducting Post Mortems, Scientific Analysis and Sample collection of Marine Megafauna across the coast of Karnataka.
Marine Megafauna are key components of marine ecosystems, but, as they are long-lived and have low reproductive rates, their populations are usually the first to be reduced by human pressures. Several species of cetaceans and sea turtles known to be vulnerable or endangered have been recorded in Karnataka waters. As most of these species are apex predators or filter feeders in their respective food chains, they are reliable indicators of the health of the marine environment. Changes in populations or incidences of disease or starvation can be used to indicate specific excessive human pressures such as pollution, overfishing, etc.
Recording and studying such data can assist in the creation of more sustainable policy and practices in industry involving marine environments. As further development projects are expected to come up along the coast, the information and data collected from our work can be used to conduct Ecological Impact Assessments that may prevent over polluting or unsustainable development projects from being built, ensuring sustainability in other industries such as fisheries. Collected data may also be used to create an Environmental Baseline for use in Climate Change Research and Policy.
Through community participation and involvement we aim to spread information and awareness about our marine stranding network and create a robust stranding reporting network. Alongside the Karnataka Forest Department, we engage with local fishing communities, schools and colleges, spreading awareness and environmental education to create wider networks for reporting strandings and marine disasters. Through promotion of alternative livelihoods and sustainable tourism we hope to cement our position with local communities. The project works in collaboration with the Karnataka Forest Department, Fisheries Department, local NGOs and Sustainable Tourism operators.
WOMEN'S LIVELIHOOD DEVELOPMENT
The aim of the project is two-fold; Improve Marine ecosystems through removal of ocean waste and improve lives of women who belong to low single income families along the coast.
Ocean waste is a major issue plaguing the oceans at the moment. A large component of the waste is plastics, they are an extremely hazardous and durable material. ReefWatch is working on improving the health of marine coastal environments through beach cleans and by indirectly employing women to collect trash from the coasts of Karnataka. The waste will be bought from them, segregated, processed and upcycled/recycled.
Women along the coast belong to single income families and rely on fisheries for their income. The collapse of fisheries has greatly reduced their income pushing many of these families below the poverty line. This greatly reduces their access to healthcare, education and generally better living conditions. The Livelihoods project aims to employ these women and supplement their family’s income to help them access better living.
At ReefWatch we believe in the importance of having scientific data to back up our active conservation initiatives.
Our Karnataka team is working on gathering scientific data on Marine strandings and conducting a general analysis of the health of local ecosystems.
Beach surveys are done to analyse sand samples for microplastics and nutrient values. This is being done to set up an accessible database that can be used as a reference point to monitor and compare the health of these beaches in the future. The physical and chemical composition of these will vary based on human activity such as release of effluence, construction and accidents at sea resulting in oil spills.
Mangrove habitats are an especially important and sensitive ecosystem. They are nurseries for many species of fish and other bio-indicators. These intertidal habitats are also known to protect coastlines by reducing sand erosion and regulating temperatures. ReefWatch conducts surveys to check for biodiversity and nutrient values to monitor the health of our precious mangrove habitats along Karnataka’s coastline.