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.