Conserving coastal commons of Odisha – an action research project

Vineetha Venugopal, Biswa Swaroop Das

Indias diverse coastal landscapes and ecosystems form the backbone of India’s fisheries sector and sustain the livelihoods of millions of marine fishers. However, when it comes to making decisions on the future of our precious coastal and marine commons, the voices of coastal communities are lost. Despite many progressive legislations, there is still a lack of formal recognition of the rights of fishing communities over marine and coastal commons. This places local communities squarely at a disadvantage in taking responsibility and control over oceanic and coastal conservation, a role that is enshrined by several global agreements including the SDGs. 

We plan to intervene in this critical space, generating multi-disciplinary knowledge on India’s precious coastal and marine commons. Simultaneously we intervene in our long-term sites such as Odisha, to build the capacities and abilities of local communities in generating and disseminating their knowledge and actively protecting and restoring the commons. Towards this, we have embarked on participatory coastal mapping, documenting coastal community governance traditions, knowledge and practices on common spaces and its uses. 

In the long term, we aim to work towards building a model for sustainable community-led governance of coastal commons including beach spaces and adjacent socio-ecological spaces traditionally used by the specialist groups among coastal communities. 

Researchers: Vineetha Venugopal and Biswa Swaroop Das

Advisors: Aarthi Sridhar and Naveen Namboothiri


While working on this project, to familiarize ourselves and other Dakshin researchers with the conceptual underpinnings of the commons, ‘commoning’ and opportunities and challenges for conservation and environmental justice, we conceptualized and designed the following learning modules:

Venugopal,V, Das. B.S, Namboothri. N and Sridhar, A. (2021). Commoning Coastal Odisha. Dakshin Foundation.

Bezbaroa, I .(2020). What are commons? Dakshin Foundation.

Bezbaroa, I. (2020). Commons and governance. Dakshin Foundation

Venugopal, V. (2020). Commoning Practices – Towards becoming ‘in common. Dakshin Foundation.

Venugopal, V. (2020). The role of LEK in governing the commons – an overview. Dakshin Foundation.

Jojan, A. (2020). Linking biodiversity to concept of commons. Dakshin Foundation.

Jojan, A. (2020). Legal concepts and principles governing coastal and marine commons. Dakshin Foundation.

Popular articles:

Das, B.S. (2020). The Shore Scene: How Coastal Regulation Zones Can Help India’s Fishers Reclaim Coastal Commons. The Bastion.

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