The committee of National Board for Wildlife has refused to provide endangered sea horses for national project on development of potential drugs from the ocean.
The Maharashtra government had sought the environment ministry’s approval to collect 1 kg of imperiled species from Arabian Sea for the research project, which aims at developing medicines from aquatic species in four states.
Sea horses are found along the coast of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and Goa. A proposal submitted by the state government said sea horses played a vital “role in increasing and balancing vital energy flows within the body, as well as a curative role for many ailments...”
At a meeting of the standing committee of National Board for Wildlife chaired by Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, the proposal was rejected after conservationists opposed it saying it will open a Pandora box as organisations will seek mindless extraction of species listed in the Schedule-I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Collection of species under the law is prohibited.
“We have nipped the proposal in the bud itself,” said M.K. Ranjit Singh, a team member. “If we give permission for research then we should also be open to the idea that it could be meant for commercial purpose as well.”
Conservationists believe sea horses get easily affected by loss of habitat, pollution or even small changes in their environment, making them the first indicators of the health of the near-shore marine habitat.