Reflecting on Three Months of Coastal Grassroots Fellowship

The second cohort of Coastal Grassroots Fellowship (CGF) for women from coastal communities of the Palk Bay region of Tamil Nadu started last March with a wonderful group of twelve women. They were excited about this fellowship opportunity and the learning platform that it offered them. Together we developed the structure for the fellowship programme, keeping in mind the objective of enhancing their leadership qualities and capabilities. As a fellowship coordinator, it was thrilling to work with these amazing women.

Whose commons are they?

“What are ‘commons’?”

I posed the question to a room of fourteen women participants. One of them had a quick and ready answer.

“They are resources everyone can use. Like the roads; the seas; the beaches.”

“Do you really mean ‘everyone’? Will my boat get a space on the beach in your village?”

“Ummm…yes, I think so. If they are the commons, then you should be able to use them.”

I could see that even as she spoke those words, she was unconvinced by her own answer. She searched the room for assistance, and another participant pitched in. A spontaneous debate ensued and suddenly the whole room was abuzz.

The surprisingly dazzling world of coral reefs

The world of coral reefs has always fascinated me. Did you know that the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the largest coral reef system in the world, covers more than two thousand square kilometres?! What really got me thinking is how these massive and stunning reefs are built by such tiny animals. What are the early life-history processes that are responsible for building these habitats that house about 25% of all marine life? Which factors facilitate this reef-building and which ones deter? Determined to find answers to these questions, I dove into the world of coral settlement and recruitment last field season.

Dakshin’s reduction fisheries project sails to Palk Bay!

By E. Haripriya and Meghana Teerthala | After an intensive and insightful fieldwork at Mangalore, we set sail to Palk Bay this September to initiate reduction fisheries work in Tamil Nadu. Palk Bay is a shallow stretch of sea between India and Sri Lanka with a rich seagrass ecosystem. Besides, it is also known for its geopolitical intricacies pertaining to the fisheries sector.

We started with a rapid two-week scoping exercise covering 8 fish landing centres along Palk Bay, from Mallipattinam in the north to Rameshwaram in the south.

Building infrastructures of resilience among migrant fishers

By Satya Sainath | As part of our ongoing project on Migration and Infrastructures of Resilience of Small Scale Fishers’, we co-created Community-Databases of Migrant Fishers (CDMF) in select villages of two districts – Ganjam, Odisha, and Nagapattinam, Tamil Nadu. CDMF provides vital information to gram panchayats to reach migrant workers in case of under emergencies.
We are in the process of piloting an Interactive-Voice Response (IVR) system to reach migrant fishers in these two sites. Through this IVR initiative, vital information on entitlements, welfare schemes of the state governments, health and safety information on migrant fishers and the latest judicial rulings pertaining to their rights can be shared. Read more.

CC chugs along

By Devathi Parashuram and Shivangi Pant | There have been a few changes at Current Conservation since our last newsletter update. Greta Ann Sam has been Managing Editor since April. In May, we welcomed Shivangi Pant on board, as the new Managing Editor (Art & Design). We have since published (and printed) two issues: 16.1 and the recent marine-themed 16.2. The latter has stories that span oceans, highlighting the ecology of killer whales, the need to protect swimways, the history of ambergris (whale vomit), and the use of bioacoustics in marine research, amongst other things. Read more.

Dakshin’s work on reduction fisheries – latest updates from Mangalore

By Abhilasha Sharma | After a thorough planning and ideation phase, our project on reduction fisheries has now taken off in full swing! Reduction fisheries refer to the conversion or reduction of fish caught from the oceans into products like fish meal and fish oil (FMFO) to make feed for industries like poultry and aquaculture. Converting large volumes of fish catch into FMFO rather than using it for direct human consumption can have multiple implications, not only for ecology, but also for the nutritional security and well-being of fishing communities. However, a lack of adequate information on the sector makes it difficult to address these implications. In its initial phase, this project, in collaboration with WWF-India, seeks to develop a broad understanding of the reduction fisheries sector in India.

Humans of the Sea – Saw Thesorow

“I met Saw Thesorow in 2010, when I joined the leatherback monitoring camps in Little Andaman, where we spent 3-4 months on the remote beaches of South and West bay cut off from the outside world. Thesorow’s familiarity with the work and the place, and his quick thinking were always something we could rely on. He always trusted his instincts and had a very balanced approach to problem-solving. Through the years my relationship with him has evolved from being a field assistant, a friend, to a brother.” – Adhith Swaminathan, Base Manager, ANET

From Zoom to Wide: Life lessons from photographer Palani Kumar 

By Pradeep Elangovan | The black and white image is still floating in my mind. Whether it had colour or not, I am not able to clearly remember. The girl child in this image, with tears welling up in her eyes, watching her father’s corpse lying beside the glass dead body freezer box, still haunts me. Her father worked as a manual scavenger. The photo of the wailing woman kissing her husband’s corpse has a similar effect on me. Those two moments were given a voice by photographer Palani Kumar. Palani constantly keeps rotating his camera’s eye searching for millions of yet unspoken marginalized people and objects, presenting their hidden worlds and dreams to the world.