The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has joined hands with the Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) in an effort to build resilience against the impact of climate change on wetlands. The duo is slated to map, validate and protect smaller wetlands in the coastal region and restore them through coastal livelihood programmes.
This is the first time a fisheries institute is collaborating with the ISRO to develop a comprehensive climate resilient framework for fisheries and wetlands.
Smaller wetlands cover an area of more than 5 lakh hectares across the country, with Kerala alone having as many as 2,592 such wetlands.
Thus, the CMFRI and the Space Applications Centre (SAC) of the ISRO signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the development of a mobile app and a centralised web portal with complete database of wetlands in the country which were smaller than 2.25 hectares.
According to the MoU, the two institutes will identify and demarcate the wetlands and restore the degraded ones through suitable livelihood options such as coastal aquaculture.
The mobile app will be used for real-time monitoring of the wetlands and giving advisories to the stakeholders and the coastal people.
The collaborative move is part of a national framework for fisheries and wetlands recently developed by the National Innovations in Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA), a project of the CMFRI.
The NICRA project aims to find ways and means to mitigate the impact of climate change on marine fisheries and coastal region. According to the MoU, the National Wetland Atlas, already developed by the SAC, will be updated with real-time data of physical, chemical and biological parameters of the wetlands to be provided by the CMFRI.
P.U. Zacharia, who is attached to the NICRA project, said the real-time data of the demarcated coastal wetlands would greatly help in developing a conservation plan for the degraded wetlands in the region, besides utilising these resources for livelihood prospects in the area such as shrimp and crab farming.
"Smaller wetlands across the country are in a highly neglected state owing to multiple reasons. Climate variability induced rainfall drastically changes the physio-chemical characteristics of such wetlands, which was evidently seen during the devastating floods in Kerala last year.
"The collaborative initiative will help develop a comprehensive wetland information system which could facilitate the village-level wetland advisories to the local people by scientific communities," Zacharia said.
"Wetlands are highly prospective for some selective aquaculture ventures which will help the local people earn economical gains" he added.