Social Dimensions of Marine Protected Area (MPA) Implementation in India: Do Fishing Communities Benefit
Workshop, 21-22 January 2009, Chennai, India (Click here for the complete prospectus)

Background and Rationale
In the case of India, the first MPA was designated in 1967 for the protection of wetlands and of the birds migrating there, even before a specific legal framework for protected areas (PAs) was put in place. According to the Government of India there are 31 MPAs in India, designated mainly in 1980s and early 1990s. The main MPAs in mainland India are the Gulf of Mannar national park and biosphere reserve, Gahirmatha wildlife sanctuary, Gulf of Kutch national park and wildlife sanctuary, Malvan (marine) wildlife sanctuary, and Sunderbans national park and biosphere reserve. There also are several PAs in Andaman and Nicobar islands.

With the objective of documenting and analyzing the experiences and views of fishing communities living in or near different MPAs in India, and suggesting ways in which livelihood concerns can be integrated into the MPA programme of work, ICSF has recently undertaken case studies in the Gulf of Mannar national park and biosphere reserve, the Malvan (marine) wildlife sanctuary, the Sunderbans national park and biosphere reserve and the Gulf of Kutch wildlife sanctuary and national park. An earlier study documented the conservation and livelihood conflicts in the Gahirmatha sanctuary.

The studies highlight that though there are policy spaces available for participatory management of MPAs, various legal and institutional issues are hampering implementation of livelihood-sensitive approaches to biodiversity conservation and resources management, with consequences for livelihoods of fishing communities in MPA areas. The very effectiveness of the MPA initiative itself is being impacted as communities do not consider themselves as part of the MPA process.

The two-day workshop was called:

  • to discuss the findings of case studies and of other experiences of MPA implementation in India, from a fishing community perspective;
  • to provide a forum to discuss legal, institutional and other relevant aspects of MPA implementation in India; and
  • to put forward proposals for achieving livelihood-sensitive conservation and management of coastal and fisheries resources.


The two-day programme included an overview presentation, case study presentations from the various MPAs, presentations by the state governments and group discussions

Case studies and Presentations

Government presentations on the case study sites

Other presentations

The workshop brought together various institutions of the government both at central and state level, fishing community representatives, NGOs, environmental groups and scientists working on the issue of MPAs. A total of 76 participants attended the workshop.


The workshop produced a statement that recommends to a) Integrate fundamental principles of participation, environmental justice, social justice, and human rights into the implementation of marine and coastal protected areas; b) Address threats to coastal and marine ecosystems from non-fishery sources; c) Enforce marine fishing regulation act in all the states and union territories; d) Adopt legislation to conserve and manage living resources of the EEZ and e) Adopt an integrated approach for the management of coastal and marine living resources.
View full statement (English) (Hindi) (Gujarathi) (Marathi) (Oriya) (Tamil) (Telugu)


This publication—the India MPA Workshop Proceedings—contains the prospectus of the workshop, a report of the proceedings and the consensus statement that was reached by organizations and individuals who particapated in the workshop. This publication will be useful for fishworkers, non-governmental organizations, policymakers, trade unions, researchers and others interested in natural resource management and coastal and fishing communities.

View full proceedings