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India

Minicoy Island

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Conservation benefit: Establishment of a 2,471-acre marine and mangrove protected area for 20 years

Community benefit: Construction of a natural and cultural heritage museum and two guard posts

Date Approved: 01.2009

Mangroves

This project protects mangroves, which trap more CO2 than any other kind of forest and as a result, slow global warming.

Ocean

This project protects ocean ecosystems, making coastal communities more economically and physically secure in the face of climate change.

The Lakshadweep Archipelago lies in the Arabian Sea, 155 to 280 miles from the west coast of India. Minicoy is the southernmost island of the group, with a total population of approximately 10,000. It is the only island in Lakshadweep that supports mangroves and salt marsh ecosystems.

The Centre for Action Research on Environment Science and Society is working with Minicoyans to revive traditional methods of protecting the reefs and lagoon. Island leaders have committed to creating a no-take protected area for at least 20 years. This are encompasses a 2,471-acre marine area and mangrove ecosystem. In exchange, Seacology will fund a natural and cultural heritage museum, as well as two guard posts for the marine protected area.

Project Updates

June 2020

Field representative Vineeta Hoon recently found herself stranded for more than two months on Minicoy, when the Indian government shut down travel to the mainland because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Never one to miss an opportunity, Vineeta spent some of her unexpected vacation cataloging objects in the natural and cultural museum there. Seacology funded the museum back in 2009.

You can read more about Vineeeta’s adventure here.

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May 2017

Field representative Vineeta Hoon visited the island in April to wrap up this project. The museum building now both highlights the area’s natural history and displays and preserves cultural artifacts. Schoolchildren (from local communities and the mainland), tourists, and college students are visiting it. Community members are holding environmental education events and working with the Department of Environment and Forests.

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May 2015

The building has been completed, including woodwork, floor tiling, painting and wiring. Our partner, the Maliku Development Society, and the Fishers Association continue to campaign against gill net use in the lagoon.

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January 2015

The ground floor, which houses the main museum, is functional, and wiring in the additional rooms should be finished in January 2015. Our partner, the Maliku Development Society, has conducted beach clean-up and awareness activities, and the Fishermen’s Association has been campaigning against gill net use in the lagoon. A few fishermen have been noting fish catch data in cooperation with another NGO called Dakshi. India Field Representative Vineeta Hoon plans a site visit soon.

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June 2014

The first floor of the museum, including wood work, is finished. Tiling of the floor began in December, but they ran out of tiles and had to order more from the mainland. Still to be done: Electrification of the first floor and fixing glass shutters on the display cabinets. All materials had reached Minicoy as of May, and the work was to be completed by June. On the conservation front, MDS continues to petition the administration in hopes of stopping net fishing in the lagoon.

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June 2011

The outer building work and the flooring have been completed. A staircase is proposed to reach the terrace and make it usable. The building has been handed over to the Maliku Development Society (MDS). The members have volunteered to clear the building premises and cut steps into the hillock to reach the building. Members of the MDS have collected artifacts to display in the museum. The display units have yet to be built and the finishing touches need to be given to the building. Conservation work is ongoing. The rope holding the marker buoys to mark the no-take zone within the lagoon was cut by some miscreants in the first week of April. Cable TV aired a news item about it, which resulted in recovering five of the six marker buoys. The Fishermen’s Association has now replaced the marker buoys within the lagoon and is carrying out awareness work on the need for the marker buoys. A music CD called Hewalla, Rhythms of Maliku, featuring environmental songs, was produced with financial help from CARESS and released on the 28th of March.

As construction of the museum has progressed, several families have come forward to provide antique pieces to the museum. These artifacts need to be kept securely on display in locked cabinets. In June 2011, Seacology’s board of directors approved an additional grant for the construction of display units and showcases, as well as two additional rooms to house an office, store, and toilet for the Natural and Cultural History Museum. In return, the community agreed to protect the existing 2,471-acre marine and mangrove reserve for an additional 10 years, for a total of  20 years.

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January 2011

Vineeta Hoon reports that the building work is progressing well after the monsoon. The column work was completed in May 2010 and the ceiling slab was installed in September 2010. In October, the walls were built, and a rain water storage tank was dug under the floor of the building. A banner in front of the building construction site informs the public that this building is being constructed with a grant from Seacology in exchange for the creation of the protected area. The Minicoy fishermen, with support from CARESS, have installed six marker buoys in the lagoon; five are marker buoys for the no-take area, and the sixth is a mooring buoy. As part of the conservation and awareness efforts, CARESS held a workshop to train women in making souvenirs and toys with a marine theme, made with leftover fabric from the women’s homes. The women learned how to make templates of the animals, and cut, sew, and stuff their creations. They also learned about the importance of each creature in the ecosystem, and received a coral reef knowledge certificate, and took on a trip in a glass bottomed boat at the conclusion of the workshop. The women have created a self-help group and will make these souvenirs for additional income. Teachers and students participated in activities such as games and a field trip to learn more about coral reefs, mangroves etc., and about how these ecosystems can be restored with a little help from humans.

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July 2010

Vineeta Hoon reports that the community has completed the concrete work on the pillars and the roof will soon be laid. The building is progressing as scheduled.

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April 2010

Field representative Vineeta Hoon reports that the foundation ceremony was conducted on January 19; the land was cleared and made ready to begin construction. However, construction was delayed until electricity was installed in the first week of March. Once this was accomplished, community members installed a water pump and built a temporary shed to store the immediately required materials. Earth clearing, trenching, and reinforcement of the pillars have been completed. The project contact believes that by the end of April column work will be completed.

The environment warden organized a shore and lagoon clean up, and the Maliku Development Society conducted an environment awareness meeting for families in April. Three fishermen are monitoring fish catch and reef related activity. An underwater survey of the shipwrecks in the lagoon was conducted in January. Photos taken at all the sites will be used for developing communication and awareness materials to emphasize why these areas need to be protected.

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December 2009

Field representative Samit Sawhny reports that the building plan has been completed. Samit met with the project coordinator who said that the labor and construction material is in place and they plan to start on the foundation this month.

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September 2009

The land for the museum was purchased during the first week of August 2009. The land has been cleared, and the community is ready to begin construction. Three local villagers with homes on the shore where the protected area can be observed have volunteered to keep watch and are maintaining a log of daily activities. In addition a poster of the area being protected has been prepared in both English and the local Mahal language. Copies of this poster will be displayed on every village notice board and other prominent places to promote public awareness of the conservation efforts.

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June 2009

As of February 2009 field representative Samit Sawhny began working on coordinating completion of the pre-grant documentation and planning phases for the project. Seacology sent grant documents directly to project leaders to retrieve signatures in March 2009. As of early April 2009 communication is down on the island and the project leader is currently waiting for notification from the site that they are ready to begin the project and plans have been solidified. Additionally, Mr. Sawhny will visit Lakshadweep in July or August 2009. A Seacology delegation will also visit the site in January 2010.

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