India harbours an extensive coastline of over 7,500 kms and is listed amongst the world’s 17 megadiverse countries. It has a continental shelf of 468,000 km² and an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 2.02 million km² spread across 10 maritime states and 5 union territories. The marine biodiversity of the country is housed within a plethora of habitats - from brackish lagoons, estuaries, coastal marshes and mudflats, to mangrove forests, seagrass meadows, coral reefs, and sandy and rocky beaches. These habitats form important breeding, nursery, aggregation and feeding grounds for invertebrates, fish and marine megafauna.
Along with the varied biodiversity across several sites, these ecosystems contribute to the livelihood and sustenance of millions of people- 30% of the population -living along the coasts. However, these ecosystems and the associated marine life face a range of threats that include rapid habitat degradation, overfishing, drastic population declines from unsustainable harvesting of at-risk species, illegal trade, the incidental capture of marine megafauna and climate change.
The WCS-India Marine Program is addressing these threats by working with communities, the Government of India, and partner organisations to overcome these challenges through a multidisciplinary approach with the aim of conserving the unique diversity of India’s coastal habitats and seas.
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