29 January 2021.
Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Prakash Javadekar has released Marine Mega Fauna Stranding Guidelines and the National Marine Turtle Action Plan in New Delhi. This is to create a conservation model for the marine mega fauna and marine turtles.
- The documents released contain ways and means to promote inter-sectoral action for conservation.
- These two documents highlight actions to be taken for handling stranded animals on shore, stranded or entangled animals in the sea or on a boat
- Includes management actions for improved coordination, reducing threats to marine species and their habitats, rehabilitation of degraded habitats.
- It enhances people’s participation, advance scientific research and exchange of information on marine mammals and marine turtles and their habitats.
Need for these guidelines and action plan:
- India has rich marine biodiversity along a vast coastline of over 7,500 km.
- This includes colorful fish, sharks, including Whale Sharks, turtles and big mammals like whales, dolphins and dugongs to bright corals
- The marine habitats not only harbour diverse species but also provide resources essential for human wellbeing.
- Millions of people depend on these resources ranging from maritime trade and transport, food, mineral resources, cultural traditions, spiritual values and inspiration that draws tourists from around the world..
- Managing such challenging situations requires coordination, action and people’s participation which would help in the long-term conservation of marine species and their habitats.
Challenges faced by Marine Resources:
- The marine resources and habitats have immense economic, ecological and cultural values in India.
- But, the marine mega fauna species and marine turtles face a wide variety of challenges.
- The challenges include stranding and entanglement.
- Sea turtles or marine turtles are reptiles of the order- Testudines.
- The seven existing species of sea turtles are green sea turtle, loggerhead sea turtle, Kemp’s Sea turtle, olive ridley sea turtle, hawksbill sea turtle and leather back sea turtle.
- Slaughtered for their eggs, meat, skin and shells.
- Suffer poaching and over exploitation.
- They face habitat destruction and accidental capture called as bycatch in fishing gear.
- Climate change has an impact on turtle nesting sites.
- It alters sand temperatures which the effects the sex of hatchlings.
- All 7 species of marine turtles are listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
- 3 are classified as critically endangered by IUCN and a further 3 are classified as endangered.