Kochi, Aug 13 (IANS) The Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) here on Thursday launched a research project to assess the status of 27 species of marine mammals and five species of sea turtles in Indian waters.

The study aims to address the crucial information gap on status of stocks of marine mammals as well as of sea turtles. Rs 5.66 crore has also been sanctioned for the three-year study by the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA).

This research assumes significance in the context of emerging seafood trade-related challenges faced by the country.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), USA had issued import provisions of Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), stating that seafood-exporting countries should not allow intentional killing of marine mammals in commercial fisheries.

For exporting fish and fish products, the US has given a five-year exemption period starting January 1, 2017 to nations for developing regulatory programmes by assessing marine mammal stocks.

J.K. Jena, Deputy Director General of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), while launching the project through a webinar, said that this research project would bolster the preparedness of the country in meeting the challenge faced by the seafood export industry, and enhance the indigenous capacity to address the emerging conservation concerns of marine mammals and sea turtles.

A. Gopalakrishnan, director of CMFRI, said marine mammals and sea turtles play key roles in maintaining marine ecosystems.

“While government and non-governmental organisations have undertaken studies on distribution, biological and ecological characteristics, the information on status of stocks of marine mammals as well as of sea turtles is not available”, said the director.

K.S. Srinivas, chairman, MPEDA said the country is looking forward to this project with a hope that it would help solve the issues related to seafood exports in the country and is being implemented with the technical support of NOAA.



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