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In-Depth Jobs

Issue no 16, 15-21 July 2023

Blue Economy-Opportunities for Income Generation


Avinash Mishra & Madhubanti Dutta

The Blue Economy is the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of the ocean ecosystem. India, being a coastal country, has vast potential for utilising the resources of the ocean to generate income and create opportunities for the people living in coastal regions. India has a coastline of 7,517 km, of which the mainland peninsular coast accounts for 5,423 km, and the coastlines of Andaman, Nicobar, and Lakshadweep Islands account for 2,094 km. The long coastline encompasses a total of 79 districts in the nine maritime states and four Union Territories (UTs). The Indian coastline has diverse sensitive ecosystems such as coral reefs, mangroves, tidal mudflats, sand dunes, estuaries, lagoons, marshes, and vegetated wetlands. Many of these coastal ecosystems are known for their rich biodiversity and are unique habitats or seasonal nesting sites for endangered marine fauna. India is one among the 17 "megadiverse" countries in the world, and about 15,000 coastal and marine species of flora and fauna have been reported in India, which is about 5.33% of the world's marine diversity. This rich repository of coastal and marine biodiversity is highly productive and provides a multitude of ecosystem services. India's Opportunities on the Coast are Shipping and Trade, Marine Fisheries, Travel and Tourism, Aquaculture, Energy, and Mining. The Draft Blue Economy policy framework was released by the Indian Government in 2021, aimed at promoting sustainable development and optimal utilisation of all sectors of the maritime domain in the country's coastal areas. The policy document contains several key recommendations that cover a range of areas, including National Accounting Framework for Blue Economy and Ocean Governance, Coastal Marine Spatial Planning and Tourism Priority, Marine Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Fish Processing, Manufacturing, Emerging Industries, Trade, Technology, Services, and Skill Development, Logistics, Infrastructure, and Shipping, Coastal and Deep-Sea Mining and Offshore Energy, Security, Strategic Dimensions, and International Engagement. Overall, the draft Blue Economy policy framework provides a comprehensive roadmap for the development of the Blue Economy in India, with a focus on sustainability, inclusivity, and innovation.

Blue Economy's Contribution to Income Generation: Coastal shipping is a sustainable mode of transportation that can reduce the pressure on the country's road and rail networks. It can also reduce carbon emissions and contribute to the country's efforts to combat climate change. India has a significant opportunity to develop its port infrastructure to handle increasing volumes of maritime trade. The development of modern and efficient ports can improve the country's connectivity with other countries and regions, leading to increased trade and economic growth. India has a long history of shipbuilding and repair, and it can leverage this expertise to support the Blue Economy. The development of modern shipbuilding and repair facilities can generate employment opportunities and contribute to the country's economic growth. The Blue Economy can also contribute to the development of marine tourism, which can provide sustainable transportation options for tourists. The development of marinas and water transport infrastructure can improve connectivity between different tourist destinations and provide an eco-friendly mode of transportation. In India, the Blue Economy has become increasingly important, given the country's long coastline, abundant marine resources, and the potential for economic growth and development. The Indian Government has taken several initiatives to promote the growth and development of the fisheries sector in the country. The Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) - 'Blue Revolution: Integrated Development and Management of Fisheries' was launched in 2015-16 with an outlay of Rs 3000 crores for a period of 5 years. This scheme aimed to promote sustainable and responsible development of the fisheries sector and address critical gaps in the fisheries infrastructure. In 2018-19, the 'Fisheries and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development Fund' (FIDF) was created with a fund size of Rs. 7522.48 crores to provide concessional finance to the state/UT Governments, their entities, and the private sector for the development of fisheries infrastructure. In May 2020, the Indian Government launched a new flagship scheme called the 'Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana' (PMMSY) with an investment of Rs. 20,050 crore. The PMMSY scheme aims to bring about the Blue Revolution through sustainable and responsible development of the fisheries sector in the country. This scheme is being implemented for a period of five years from 2020-21 to 2024-25 in all States and UTs. As a result of these initiatives, the fisheries sector in India has shown impressive growth in recent years, with an average annual growth rate of about 10% during 2014-15 to 2018-19. Fish production has registered an average annual growth of more than 7% and stood at an alltime high of 141.64 lakh metric tons during 2019-20. Despite various issues faced by the sector during the Covid-19 pandemic, India has achieved an all-time high export of marine products worth US$ 7165 million during April to February 2021- 22.

Significance of Transportation Sector in Blue Economy: To foster the growth of the Blue Economy, the Indian Government launched the National Perspective Plan for the Sagarmala Programme in 2016. This strategic initiative aims to facilitate port-led development and harness the immense potential of India's coastline and maritime sector. An integral component of the Sagarmala Programme is the Coastal Mission, which focuses on the advancement of coastal communities and the improvement of their livelihoods. Through the implementation of infrastructure projects, skill development initiatives, and entrepreneurship programmes, the mission aims to promote sustainable development in coastal areas. Under the Coastal Mission, various initiatives have been introduced, including the establishment of fishing harbours, cold storage facilities, and fish processing centres. Additionally, efforts are being made to promote coastal tourism and preserve the delicate coastal ecosystems. Skill development and training programmes are also being prioritised to enhance the capacity of coastal communities. The transportation sector within the Blue Economy holds immense potential for environmental benefits. By employing low-emission vessels, embracing energy-efficient transportation practices, and promoting sustainable shipping methods, it becomes possible to reduce the sector's carbon footprint and minimise environmental degradation. Consequently, the transportation sector plays a critical role in the development of India's Blue Economy. Its sustainable growth not only drives economic expansion and creates employment opportunities but also facilitates trade and commerce while ensuring minimal environmental harm. The government's initiatives to promote the transportation sector, coupled with sustainable practices, contribute significantly to India's economic growth and environmental sustainability.

Contribution of the Blue Economy to Global GDP: The Blue Economy, defined as the sustainable utilisation of ocean resources for economic advancement, is increasingly recognised as a vital sector within the global economy. Recent studies suggest that the Blue Economy makes a substantial contribution to the worldwide Gross Domestic Product (GDP). While estimates may vary, according to a report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the ocean economy contributed approximately USD 1.5 trillion to the global GDP in 2010, representing approximately 2.5% of the world's GDP. The report further projects that the ocean economy has the potential to double its contribution to the global economy by 2030. The Blue Economy encompasses a wide array of economic activities, including fisheries and aquaculture, maritime transport, offshore oil and gas, renewable energy, tourism, and coastal protection. These activities generate employment opportunities, income, and revenue for governments, making significant contributions to national and regional economies. Fisheries and aquaculture emerge as prominent contributors to the Blue Economy. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) reports that the global seafood industry generates an estimated USD 362 billion in annual revenue and employs over 50 million people worldwide. Similarly, the maritime transport sector, responsible for approximately 80% of global trade by volume and over 70% by value, plays a pivotal role in driving the Blue Economy's growth. Additional sectors such as offshore oil and gas, renewable energy, and tourism also make noteworthy contributions to the Blue Economy. For example, the renewable energy sector, encompassing offshore wind and wave power, is projected to experience substantial growth in the forthcoming years due to the escalating demand for clean energy sources.

Blue Economy and Carbon Emissions: The Blue Economy refers to the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, while preserving the health of the ocean ecosystem. While the Blue Economy is not directly responsible for carbon emissions, it can contribute to reducing emissions in several ways, such as promoting renewable energy and sustainable practices. In India, the share of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions from the Blue Economy is not readily available since it is a sector that encompasses various economic activities. However, India is among the top five emitters of CO2 in the world, accounting for approximately 7% of global emissions. India has been taking measures to reduce its carbon emissions, including implementing renewable energy projects and promoting energy efficiency measures. The country has set a target to increase the share of renewable energy in its energy mix to 40% by 2030, and it is making significant investments in solar and wind power. The transportation sector, which is a crucial component of the Blue Economy, is also a significant contributor to India's carbon emissions. However, the government has been taking steps to promote sustainable transportation practices, such as promoting the use of electric vehicles and upgrading the country's ports and inland waterways to reduce emissions from maritime transport. Furthermore, the Blue Economy has the potential to contribute to reducing carbon emissions by promoting sustainable fishing practices, restoring marine ecosystems, and investing in renewable energy technologies. For instance, the development of offshore wind and wave power projects can significantly reduce the country's reliance on fossil fuels and promote a cleaner and more sustainable energy future.

Way Forward

Driving Blue Economy Growth: Key Components for Sustainable Development


Resource availability: The availability of marine resources, such as fish, minerals, and energy, is a critical factor in the growth of the Blue Economy. The sustainable management and utilisation of these resources can significantly enhance the economic potential of the Blue Economy.

1.       Technological advancements: Technological advancements, such as advanced fishing techniques, marine biotechnology, and renewable energy technologies, can significantly improve the efficiency and productivity of Blue Economy activities and promote sustain-able economic growth.

2.       Investment and financing: Adequate investment and financing are crucial for the development and expansion of Blue Economy activities. Investment in modern infrastructure, such as ports, harbours, and coastal protection, can significantly improve the efficiency and competitiveness of the Blue Economy sectors

3.       Regulatory frameworks: The development of effective regulatory frameworks and policies can promote sustainable and responsible economic growth in the Blue Economy. Regulations that promote sustainable fisheries and aquaculture practices, marine conservation, and renewable energy development can significantly enhance the economic potential of the Blue Economy.

4.       Human capital development: The development of skilled human capital, such as marine scientists, engineers, and technicians, can significantly enhance the productivity and efficiency of Blue Economy activities. Providing training and education programmes that promote the development of skilled labour can significantly enhance the economic potential of the Blue Economy.

In conclusion, the growth of the Blue Economy is driven by several components, including resource availability, technological advancements, investment and financing, regulatory frameworks, and human capital development. Promoting sustainable and responsible economic growth in the Blue Economy requires a comprehensive approach that considers these components and balances economic development with environmental conservation and social welfare.

(Authors: Avinash Mishra is Adviser (Natural Resources, Environment & Climate Change Division), NITI Aayog, GoI. He can be reached at amishra-pc@gov.in. Madhubanti Dutta is Young Professional with NITI Aayog, GoI.

She can be reached at dutta.madhusbanti@gov.in.)

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