The word “Kadalamma” meaning Mother Ocean has been used for many generations to refer to the sea.
Indigenous fisherman, marine researcher and Chevening scholar Kumar Sahayaraju, gave the January 2022 seminar as part of the Seabed Habitats Seminar Series. Kumar spoke of the indigenous knowledge of the Mukkuva indigenous fishing community in India. The community has seen a close connection with the sea for generations and depend on it for their livelihood. Due to the increasing pressures of large scale industrial development at this coast, marine habitats rich in biodiversity have deteriorated after being neglected. Kumar brought attention to this issue through his seminar and by fostering collaborations with scientists as well as the general public. Citizen science initiatives involving the indigenous fishermen, ocean literacy initiatives to encourage a greater connection with the ocean habitats, and more extensive scientific insights into management are all possible solutions. Furthermore, indigenous knowledge needs to be adequately recorded and documented in order to be preserved for future generations. We would like to cordially thank Kumar for joining us and bringing light to this issue, which has parallels around the world.
Happy new year for 2022! We are pleased to announce that Kumar Sahayaraju, Chevening Scholar, fisherman, and indigenous marine researcher at University of Sussex, UK will be giving a seminar on Tuesday 25th January at 1300 GMT on “Seabed ecosystems and Indigenous livelihoods in Southwest coast of India.”
It is identified by the indigenous fishers that Southeastern Arabian Sea has several biodiversity-rich reefs. Most of the reefs are rocky, some of them shaped like platforms. There are also sandy reefs and those developed over shipwrecks. Colonies of corals and mussels comprise much of the reef biodiversity, and support livelihoods of more than 300,000 artisanal fishers engaged in sustainable fishing. The local artisanal fishing practices involve a deep understanding of seabed morphology, seasonal variations in weather and sea state, seasonal climatic factors, astronomical objects and marine biodiversity. Amidst concerns about large-scale biodiversity loss in recent years these reefs are also challenged by anthropological and climate pressures. Much of the biodiversity in these regions is poorly documented in the scientific literature, and yet the Indigenous and local knowledge of many areas is extensive, but often overlooked. The session discusses about the importance and features of seabed ecosystem as a livelihood source of indigenous fishers in South India.
Biography: Kumar Sahayaraju is an emerging Marine Biotechnologist from an indigenous fishing community in South India. Being an Engineer in Biotechnology and a scuba diver, he has the experiences of working with organisations like Friends of Marine Life (FML), an indigenous marine research organisation in Kerala and M.S.Swaminadhan Research Foundation (MSSRF) with a capacity of marine researcher and community youth leader. He is doing sea bed ecosystem studies on the Southwest coast of India and documenting the biodiversity by incorporating the knowledge of the Mukkuva indigenous fishing community in India. As a founding member of Coastal Students Cultural Forum (CSCF), he undertakes marine environment related voluntary activism and promoting ocean literacy with coastal youth and graduate students. He has graduated from University of Stirling with a prestigious UK Chevening Scholarship. He is currently working as research assistant for University of Sussex, UK and volunteering as with Radio Kadal-Community radio for fishermen in Trivandrum. In addition to this, he is volunteering with Climate Science, Ireland on Climate Education in India. He is frequently engaging on climate change, conservation of marine resources and issues of indigenous Fisherfolk in South India.
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