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Green Business Ideas: Algae can help fishermen earn during lean catch periods.

19 Feb

Over fishing is a sad story repeated along the sea-coast everywhere. Documentaries showing the haggard faces of fishermen staring at an uncertain future, as the catch dwindles each year have won acclaim and awards. But barring a few who genuinely want the fishing communities to survive; the World at large is still oblivious to the problems. According to a 2008 UN report, the world’s fishing fleets are losing $50 billion USD each year through depleted stocks and poor fisheries management.

Unlike Currency you can not print fish when you want. The Economy unfortunately has to bow down to Ecology. But while the world grapples at what would be the model for ” Sustainable Capitalism” as opposed to ” Crony Capitalism“, a man has to earn his bread and put the meal on the table.

So, what does a fishing community do when there is no fish to catch?  All they need to do is harvest some algae for producing Bio-fuel. Marine Algae  is  used as food, medicine & fertilizer. Bio-fuel already is a nascent  industry which is well recognized though not reached its full potential but in the coming years as the World moves away from fossil fuel, it would gain prominence as another alternate to various other clean tech energy source. Moreover algae is a proven “carbon sink” and this alone would attract Carbon funding and thus help in poverty alleviation.

In India we are blessed with a long coastline. Along this coast line live some very poor fishing communities live who can benefit from alga-culture . Also in India we have the brackish water lakes like – Kaliveli Lake, Tamil NaduKerala Backwaters, Series of lagoons and lakes in KeralaPulicat Lake, north of Chennai; The Rann of Kutch, Gujarat.

In the famous Aurovile, Pondicherry; India. How Spirulina farming can benefit the community can be seen. That such a beautiful “Sustainable Capitalism” will be found in Aurovile – a universal town where men and women of all countries are able to live in peace and progressive harmony above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities. The purpose of Auroville is to realise human unity – was not a surprise. The Government of India along with the help of the States can set up training institutes where the marginalized fishermen  learn to “corral” the algae just like salmon farming. As there is a demand for marine algae in medicine; Spirulina is the most known. It has food and medicinal value which is well documented. The income generated by such activities, be it production of food or fuel; could help the people to cope with the pressures of living in the modern world.

But what is more important than helping the fishermen is Educating the consumers. Massive information campaign, especially by the famous restaurants around the World about why one should not order for “that fish” during certain season. And the menus should display – “this particular fish is from the cold storage & not a fresh catch. For fresh fish wait for the harvesting season.” Its time to live & let live.

In the Hindu Culture, during the season called “Shraavana” ( pronounced -shra -van ); no non-veterinarian eating community eats fish, meat, poultry or eggs. This season coincides with the monsoon season. It is a time for replenishment for all. A culture of sustainable living was part of the Ethos. Even plants and trees were venerated, each has a name and direct association with a Hindu God. One had to justify why a tree needed to be felled, and a collective decision was taken by the village council in fair and transparent manner, should even one person object.  However, in our race towards modernity we have lost the touch of reality. I am sure that there would have been similar laws in the ancient Europe and Americas. Laws bulldozed over by the mighty corporations and inventors of the bottom trawling net, which scrapes out every living thing right up-to the bottom of the sea floor.

We many presume that we have become more advanced and developed than our ancestors; however Nature is proving it wrong in every turn ! The result is for all to see.

 

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