3.1 Assessment of Marine Living Resources

At multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional programme aimed at making an assessment of the marine living resources beyond 70 m depth within the Indian EEZ and correlating the fish abundance/availability with the oceanographic parameters, was initiated during 1997-98. The major objectives of this programme are to have a realistic and reliable information on the potential of marine living resources in the Indian EEZ for sustainable development and management and to enhance the marine living resource potential of Indian seas.

Six major projects which are pre-requisites for a realistic assessment of the marine living resources are undertaken. FORV Sagar Sampada has carried out 10 cruises for the above projects on Marine Living Resources, during 1998-99. The important observations made during these cruises are summarised hereunder:

Towards assessment of environmental parameters and the marine living resources (primary and secondary) in the Indian EEZ and the role of Myctophid fauna in the mesopelagic habitat, altogether 90 stations along the EEZ were sampled for water quality studies from different depths, upto 1000 m. Phytoplankton sampling was made upto 125 m depth and zooplankton collected by using bongo nets and multiple plankton nets. The benthic environment is also found to be potentially productive as indicated by the presence of chlorophyll-a in the mud samples. The stock assessment, biology and resource mapping of deep sea shrimps, lobsters, cephalopods and fishes in the EEZ of India project envisages assessment of the living resources in the continental slope area with special emphasis on benthic resources. Sampling has already been initiated along the east and west coast of India, for analysis. For studies on the Deep Scattering Layers (DSL), samples collected from within the EEZ of the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal on the basis of acoustic recordings from various depths were sorted and identified upto group level in case of zooplankton (copepods, euphausids, amphipods, siphonophores, ostracods, decapods, jelly fishes, etc.) and upto family level in the case of major micronektonic components (fishes- myctophids and photichthids, leptocephalus, crabs, pelagic shrimps and cephalopods). In the harvest technology and catch composition of deep-sea fishery resources project,demersal expo model trawls, mid-water pelagic trawls and Isaac Kid mid-water trawls were tested for gear efficiency. A week's training on harvest technology methodologies, was conducted for the research scholars. Under the Toxic Algal Blooms investigations project to identify and enumerate toxic phytoplankton in the EEZ of India, to study the physico-chemical factors affecting the distribution, growth and multiplication of toxic phytoplankton, to understand the effect of toxic algae on other organisms and to evolve a mathematical model for the prediction or early detection of occurrence of toxic algal blooms; Trichodesmium, Goniaulax, Noctiluca and Oscillatoria spp. were isolated from the samples collected in the Indian EEZ. The investigations on the benthic productivity in the EEZ of India were studied by collecting samples from 45 stations in the shelf waters on the east coast of India. Duplicate samples were collected using grab for macrobenthos and meiobenthos from all the stations and these are being processed in the laboratory.