Assessing opportunities for livelihood enhancement and diversification in coastal fishing communities of Southern India

The enhancement and diversification of fisheries livelihoods in coastal communities is a critical global concern of governments and supporting organizations such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). This challenge became even more critical following the devastation caused by the tsunami. It has been at the heart of the efforts carried out by the United Nations Team for Recovery Support (UNTRS) to ensure sustainable fisheries livelihoods in tsunami affected areas in India. In this context, FAO and the UNTRS commissioned the present study by Venakatesh Salagrama and Thaddeus Koriya, of Integrated Coastal Management. The authors start with an analysis on how fishers have coped historically with livelihood challenges, in their own way, at the three different stages of fisheries development in India. Building on this analysis, the study then brings in a number of concrete examples from Tamil Nadu and Kerala as well as from Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. The authors then present a critical look into the factors that contribute to the sustainability of post-tsunami livelihoods interventions. The framework suggested by the study can be applied as a useful planning tool for fisheries enhancement and diversification programmes among coastal fisher folk. The authors argue for a bottom up approach and demonstrate the scope within the fisheries sector itself for sustainable livelihoods, provided that enhancement strategies are properly implemented.