In Poompuhar (a town in the Mayiladuthurai District in Tamil Nadu), the Fish for All Research and Training Centre, a pioneering initiative by the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF), celebrated its 14th anniversary on December 26 last year. To mark the milestone and journey of 14 years serving the coastal communities, a commemoration event was organised there on January 4.
The home-shed mini solar dryer launched on the day is designed for fisherwomen to use in their homes to dry fish hygienically and in an environmentally friendly way, improving marketing opportunities. The initiative is supported by Indian Overseas Bank and is meant to reach hundreds of fisherwomen.
The exclusive helpline facility for fisherwomen was inaugurated in collaboration with Reliance Foundation and USAID. It will address queries related to post-harvest fishing linkages, disconnects, etc.
Digital tools (tablets) were distributed to the fisherwomen. Several youths from coastal villages who had volunteered to remove discarded ghost gears from the sea and shoreline were felicitated. MSSRF and ICAR (Indian Council of Agricultural Research) – Central Institute of Brackishwater Aquaculture (CIBA) signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on training and research.
After G.N. Hariharan, executive director, MSSRF, made the introductory remarks, Dr Soumya Swaminathan, chairperson, MSSRF, credited the Fish For All Centre for dedicated efforts towards empowering coastal communities. She drew attention to the impacts of a rapidly changing climate that has disastrous effects for livelihoods and health. The exclusive helpline facility and the home-shed mini solar dryer for fisherwomen will benefit them, she said, pointing out that fisherwomen deal with highly perishable produce and are constantly faced with marketing challenges. “Fisherwomen are therefore the crucial link in the fisheries sector, and the initiatives launched today are tremendously useful to secure a stable income.”
Dr Soumya highlighted the importance of collaborations towards adaptation initiatives and policies, as well as the integration of AI and information and communication technologies (ICT) to build resilience for fishers manage climate change risks.
Kuldeep Kumar Lal, director, ICAR – CIBA spoke about the importance of improving family nutrition and health with the help of community power. Ajith Kumar, principal scientist and head, Centre for Peninsular Aquatic Genetic Resources, Kochi, emphasised the need to prioritise coastal communities and noted the equal importance of achieving Blue Revolution goals for sustainable livelihoods and the environment.
Several strategic partners-representatives from Annamalai University, Fisheries and Fishermen Welfare (Karaikal), CMFRI (Mandapam), District Industrial Centre (Mayiladuthurai) as well as community partners from Trawler Boat Association, Tamil Nadu Fishermen Welfare Board, and many fish farmers and coastal community members spoke, expressing their gratitude to the MSSRF Fish for All Centre and for the many interventions that had improved their lives.