Biodiversity of the Gulf of Mannar provide many ecosystem goods and services, and these benefits are being compromised due to lack of information, awareness and inadequate policies. This issue gains more urgency as climate change will exacerbate threats as well as act synergistically with existing threats.
Current threats to biodiversity in the Gulf of Mannar include pollution unplanned coastal development, illegal activities like coral mining, dynamite fishing, dredging and siltation and over exploitation of biological resources.
In the absence of a knowledge base and status, strong and robust policy and legal framework, technical knowledge and tools, financing and awareness, biodiversity in the Gulf of Mannar will likely decline to a ‘point of no return’. In such a situation, even abundant resources will not be sufficient to restore ecosystem services and benefits, thereby creating devastating environmental, social and economic implications for both India and Sri Lanka.
In order to address threats to marine and coastal biodiversity in the Gulf of Mannar, a regional initiative Living resources of the Gulf of Mannar (GoM): Assessment of key species and habitats for enhancing awareness and for conservation policy formulation, will be implemented by India and Sri Lanka with funds from the Mangroves for the Future(MFF) Initiative.
Launched in December 2006, MFF is a multi-agency, multi-country initiative for the long-term conservation and sustainable management of coastal ecosystems. MFF covers countries in South and Southeast Asia and the Western Indian Ocean, with special focus on India, Indonesia, Maldives, Pakistan, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam
The agreement between the MFF Regional Secretariat in Bangkok and IUCN Sri Lanka Office was signed on 28 September, 2012 in the presence of the Chair of the MFF National Steering Committee of Sri Lanka. IUCN Sri Lanka will enter into contract with IUCN India to formalize the project.
The proposed project will seek to build a knowledge base on coastal and marine biodiversity, identify values and threats, create awareness and identify gaps in legal and policy frameworks especially at a regional level, which hinder the long-term survival of biodiversity and its benefits in the Gulf of Mannar. It will also include pilot awareness and conservation initiatives, which can serve as case studies, with lessons learnt.