[India, USA] Lakshmi Murthy, a seaweed harvester from Chinnapaalam, village close to Gulf of Mannar marine national park and member of Ramnad Traditional Fish-workers Trade Union, has been selected to receive 2015 Seacology prize for leadership. She left for US on Tuesday to collect the award.
According to write up in its website, Seacology, an US-based organisation, said its leadership selected Ms Moorthy of Tamil Nadu, as the recipient of the 2015 seacology prize.
According to a brief on its website, since childhood, Lakshmi has worked in the Gulf of Mannar as a seaweed harvester, a subsistence living for many of the women of her community.
In 2002, that livelihood came under threat as the government, in a well-meaning but poorly designed action, began enforcing a marine reserve in their traditional harvesting grounds. The womens boats and even food and water were confiscated, sometimes by corrupt officials who demanded bribes to return them.
Ms Moorthy helped organise the displaced workers into a federation, of which she became president. After a long period of negotiation with government representatives, NGOs, and conservation scientists, the group struck an agreement to protect both the environment and womens livelihood.
In 2014, the government agreed to recognise the Gulf of Mannar seaweed collectors as a unique group of women fishers and issued them biometric ID cards to protect them from harassment by officials. They are now free to safeguard the resource and to pursue their livelihood.
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