Ocean is considered as the source of the world’s seventh largest economy, based on the gross marine products generated from it. According to the estimation made for the year 2015, be the World Wide Fund for Nature, the key ocean assets amount to over US $ 24 trillion. The economic force that our oceans-BLUE ECONOMY, are blessed with is thus bountiful.
In the recent past, the term blue economy has gained wide popularity and often seen occupying place in the limelight of media. Though the terminology refers to the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs, at its core, it actually means delinking of socioeconomic development through ocean related sectors or activities from environmental degradation. In other words the oceans are to be utilized for our economic growth without compromising the health of the ocean.
Although Indian Ocean is endowed with rich wealth of natural resources it is yet to be fully tapped for economic development from ocean, seas and coastal resources for harnessing high value products and processes. Recently, blue economy is gaining significance in Indian Ocean Rim Region for the economic development and for the human welfare, because of the diverse range of the valuable resources in the Indian Ocean. It supports coral reefs and sea-grass beds to mineral resources in deep oceans and provides value added products and services. India, having a coastline of above 7,500 km, spanning into nine maritime States and two Union Territories (UTs) in the mainland, and two island UTs with 12 major and 187 non-major ports, plays crucial role in sustaining growth for trade and commerce. The largest coastline supports various enterprising activities in inland waterways and port based activities. Blue economy supports 95% business with sea transportation, oil and petroleum resources using Indian Ocean as the economic hub.
India’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) extends to 2.02 million sq km and the continental shelf area to 0.18 million sq km. The Indian coast support about 30% of 1.25 billion Indian populations and the eco-systems is known for high biological productivity for rich fauna and flora. The exploited marine fisheries resources from the coastal area have been reported maximum from the present fishing grounds up to 200m depth. However due to urbanization and anthropogenic activities, the coastal fisheries are being faces with several threats, due to indiscriminate fishing, habitat degradation and pollution.
The economic activity in the ocean is based on the rapidly expanding ocean industries combined with large oil and gas, shipbuilding and maritime equipment. There lies great potential for marine aquaculture, capture fisheries, fish processing, offshore wind, and port based activities to provide employment especially in marine aquaculture, fish processing, offshore wind etc. Globally, the market of certified sustainable seafood is growing at a rate of 35% per annum and has been increasing constantly through exports of frozen shrimp and other products. Among the coastal states Gujarat, Andhrapradesh, Kerala are contributing high in quantity and value of exports and produce is marketed in United States, South East Asia and European Union. The demand is continuously growing for marine resources of food, energy, minerals and novel products.
The blue economy measure supports fisheries, sea energy, ports and naval sea bed, ocean studies and marine biotechnology research. It also supports various other sectors viz. fishing capture, fishery and aquaculture, novel marine products of high value drugs, chemicals and bio-products, mineral resources for oil and gas, deep-sea mining and hydrocarbon, renewable energy resources for wave energy projects and offshore wind energy. In manufacturing sector it provides support for boats, fishing nets, under-water equipment or devices and mariculture structures like rafts, cages, pens etc. The construction at the coast and sea and to the mainland is also a high promising sector of blue economy for employment generation.
It is a powerful engine for shipping and ports for fishing harbors and shipyards. The sea treasure has been a great excitement for the scientific community and the public. It provides opportunities for tourism for coral dives and fishing service to coastal community, metrological consultancy and geo-informatics, submarine telecom provides high end opportunities. The inventorisation and digitalization of resource mapping through satellite and imaging system supports identification of fishing grounds and climate warning systems with ICT linkages can produce relevant database for operational management.
In 21st Century Global initiatives are being taken on blue economy by countries like Australia, European Union, China and also by India and many more countries are in the race in harvesting the ocean resources giving emphasis on blue economy especially on coastal security, economic and environment activities in the maritime domain and sustainable development of sea based resources. India in collaboration with neighboring nations is promoting the blue economy based activities in Indian Ocean with emphasis on environmental sustainability issues. The current focus is confined to marine products, including minerals and metals with focus on non-living resources. The sector can support the developmental activities.
Source: Aquaculture Spectrum