Gabriella D’Cruz is a marine conservationist interested in coastal law, coral reef and cetacean conservation and marine education. Living in a country with as vast a coastline and immense a population as India, she is interested in the challenges of conserving local marine resources in keeping with the needs of a growing coastal population. She runs an initiative called Ocean of Change which aims at creating a marine module for schools in the coastal state of Goa.
Having grown up along the coast, I am deeply concerned with the degradation of India’s marine ecosystems. My undergraduate degree in Environmental Science at Fergusson College in Pune was where I understood the science behind marine ecological processes but working with organizations such as the National Institute of Oceanography, and the World Wildlife Fund as well as with local coastal businesses was where I truly understood the complexities of marine resource management. I believe that capacity building programs that encourage community stewardship, educational programs that initiative conversations about marine ecosystems, and policy and law based on sound science are where we need to begin, in order to conserve India’s extensive and fragile marine resources.
I am very grateful to have received the Oxford Indira Gandhi Graduate Scholarship to pursue my Masters in Biodiversity Conservation and Management this year. It was Mrs. Gandhi who adjured for the conservation of India’s coastline, through a directive which was later formulated into the Coastal Regulation Zone Rules in the year 1991. This progressive piece of legislation stands today as the primary custodian of India’s coastline.
Through my learnings at Oxford, I hope to be a part of the collective endeavours of the researchers, conservationists, policy makers, and coastal communities that continue to sustain India’s incredible marine ecosystems.