New Delhi, Feb 13 (PTI) The Centre has identified over 100 coastal and marine sites as conservation reserves under its National Wildlife Action Plan for 2017-2031, a biennial report released by the government said.

As per the second biennial update report (BUR) of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), submitted to the UN body on climate change in December 2018, India is encouraging participation of local communities in governance by recognising the conservation reserves.

“India is implementing measures to sustainably harness the potential of blue economy while building the climate resilience of the ecosystems and local coastal communities. Around 106 coastal and marine sites have been identified as conservation or community reserves to increase participation of local communities in governance,” it said.

Under the National Wildlife Action Plan for the period 2017 to 2031, the government is working towards the conservation of coastal and marine ecosystems from the impacts of climate change, the report said.

The government said in its report that in the last four and a half years, India has not only been able to sustain but also increase its mangrove cover at a time when these ecosystems are disappearing at an alarming rate across the world.

“Towards fulfilment of India’s commitment to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), several initiatives have been taken to meet the targets set under SDG 14- Life Below Water,” it said.

As per the report, India has rich coastal and marine wealth along the eastern and western coasts as well as the Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep Islands.

“Dense mangrove forests of Sunderbans, which India shares with Bangladesh, world’s largest congregations of nesting turtles in Odisha, beautiful seagrass beds in the Palk Bay, enigmatic sea cows in the Gulf of Mannar, majestic whale sharks frequenting the waters of the Gulf of Kutch and some of the world’s most magnificent coral reefs in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep are few examples of the rare treasures of India’s coastal and marine biodiversity,” the report said.

The coastal and marine sector is also a source of valuable fish protein not only for the growing population but also contributes to the global food basket and in turn provides valuable foreign exchange to the country, it said.

“India produced 3.8 million metric tonnes of seafood during 2017, valued at Rs 5.28 lakh million at landing centre and Rs 8 lakh million at the retail level. The fisheries sector supports around 9.3 lakh active and part-time fishers, one of the largest workforce of fishers in the world,” the report said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.