8.2 Island Development

The Ninth Five Year Plan programme proposed by the Department for island development envisages giving impetus for achieving various charters of the Department in the field of demonstration of technology having a bearing on the socio-economic aspects of the island community. The new programmes proposed to be implemented include enhancement of marine living resources with particular reference to development of technologies for augmenting the stock of commercial finfish and shellfish species, marine ornamental fishes, sea weed, etc., introduction of physical oceanographic studies in the island groups as a part of the ongoing programme on pollution monitoring under the Coastal Ocean Monitoring and Prediction System; setting up of tide gauges for measuring the tidal fluctuations and sea level rise, etc. In addition, the ongoing programmes on rejuvenation of coral reefs; monitoring of pollution in different transects already identified in and around Port Blair, providing laboratory facilities for research in various disciplines of marine science, etc., were continued.

Keeping the aforesaid in view, the Governing Council of NIOT, Chennai in its 12th meeting held in December, 1997 approved the implementation of a multi-institutional mission mode project for Island Development from January, 1998 onwards with the main objective of development and dissemination of viable technologies for enhancement of marine living resources, ocean energy and coastal processes for pollution monitoring in the A&N islands and other island groups for the benefit of the island community.

In March, 1998, the Department approved a multi-institutional project for Enhancement of Marine Living Resources through lobster rearing and fattening at a total cost of Rs. 133.24 lakh, for implementation through NIOT. This project has been taken up for implementation with NIOT as the nodal agency with the participation of Dept. of Fisheries, Govt. of Tamil Nadu; Dept. of Fisheries, A&N Administration; University of Madras, Dept. of Zoology, Chennai and the Acquaculture Foundation of India, Chennai.

This programme is aimed at developing viable technologies for enhancement of the lobster resources in the island groups through rearing and fattening of lobsters and its sea ranching and sea farming for the benefit of island community. The technology to be addressed includes synchronisation of moulting and reproduction of lobsters stimulating the growth process through hormonal manipulation, maturation and spawning through various methods, hatching and incubation studies on female brooders, fattening by administration of hormones and supplementary formulated feed, etc. This project will be implemented for two years and subsequently will be expanded to cover other viable marine species on a continuing basis.

While the facilities for breeding and rearing, particularly the wet lab and other facilities are being created on the main land, the programme for fattening and sea ranching will be carried out at A&N islands, to be expanded subsequently to other areas. This project is expected to benefit about 500 island families and produce about 100 tonnes of live lobsters for export.

The Department of Fisheries, Govt. of Tamil Nadu has handed over the hatchery premises at Neelankarai to initiate preliminary studies on laboratory maintenance of lobsters. The project personnel who have been appointed have already visited lobster landing centres, holding facilities and research centres at Tuticorin and Cochin. Based on the information gathered from these visits, juvenile lobsters have been procured and preliminary experiments have already been initiated at the hatchery.

The project personnel have been selected and positioned. These research personnel are presently evolving the experimental strategy for each component of the project. Four research teams have already been formed, each headed by a Project Scientist supported by a Technical Assistant. The research areas are water quality and disease management, bio-chemistry of growth hormones, feed formulation and fattening studies and larval rearing. The detailed survey plans for lobster resources in Gulf of Mannar and Andaman Islands were formulated and carried out. Construction of wetlab is underway and is expected to be ready for experiment in the next few months.