Recently, in the budget presented in the Parliament, in addition to many other subjects, the Blue Economy ie Blue Economy was also given place. However, experts did not pay much attention to this. India’s coastline is very long, with India being the major country in the Indian Ocean, with the Bay of Bengal in the east and the Arabian Sea in the west. Keeping this fact in mind, the budget has focused on sustainable use of oceans. Currently, the term blue economy or blue economy is used for the economic use of oceans. The development of the blue economy can be developed not only by exploiting water-immersed resources but also as a basis for expanding infrastructure in the oceans amidst the limited opportunities at the site, which will increase GDP. It can also play an important role in nation building.
The oceans are the largest ecosystem in the world, with three-fourths of the Earth. The oceans contribute 5 percent to the global GDP and 350 million people get their livelihood from the oceans. In this context, these areas pose various possibilities and challenges related to climate change, livelihood, commerce and security.
According to the World Bank, when the resources of the oceans are used keeping in mind the economic development, livelihood and employment and health of the oceanic ecosystem, it comes under the Blue Economy. The blue economy is often called the marine economy, coastal economy and ocean economy.
Areas of blue economy for India
- Fisheries Agriculture: It is important that India’s coastal length is about 8000 km. Due to this, fish production in India is developed as an employment in coastal areas. About 1.5 million people in India get direct employment from this sector, with fish production contributing 6 percent to the agricultural sector. Fish is used as the main means of food and nutrition for the coastal population of India. If this sector is given more encouragement in India, it can be a cheap source of improving the nutritional level of India. In addition, it can also generate economic benefits in the form of exports. Let it be known that this sector contributes 270 billion dollars in the world GDP.
- Aquaculture: Currently, the population of India is around 130 crores. In the coming times, food security can emerge as a major challenge for India. It cannot be possible from the nutritional point of view to fulfill the food needs of all through only cereals. For this, oceans can play an important role. Currently, 58 percent of the total fish consumed in the world is produced from aquaculture. Apart from fish, various types of aquatic organisms and flora are developed in a controlled environment in addition to fish. This increases their productivity and utility.
- Marine Biotechnology and Bioprospecting: It is important to note that the seas are spread over three-fourths of the Earth’s area and the seas have the world’s highest biodiversity. The biodiversity of the oceans is used in various fields such as medicines, food items, decorations etc. India can increase its economic benefits by exploring the bio-potential in the oceans.
- Receiving fresh water through desalination: There is an acute shortage of natural fresh water sources in countries like SIDS (Small Island Developing State). Such countries use sea salt water to convert it into fresh water through desalination process. There are also many coastal areas of India where there is scarcity of water sources, presently water scarcity in Chennai has prompted the consideration of such efforts. Although there are some environmental concerns also, the use of this technology should be encouraged by removing it.
- Renewable energy production: Coastal areas of the ocean can be used as a source of renewable energy. In the INDC (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions), India has said to reduce the intensity of carbon emissions by 33-35 percent by the year 2030. In this context, India needs to increase its renewable energy sources. The oceans have the potential to play an important role in the production of not only tidal and thermal but also offshore wind energy. India can increase its renewable energy capacity by encouraging such sectors.
- Maritime transport, port services etc.: 80 percent (volume) of global trade is done by sea routes. This quantity is even higher in developing countries like India. 95 percent of India in terms of quantity and 70 percent in terms of trade is by sea routes. According to this fact, India is increasing the capacity of its port. Simultaneously, the Sagarmala project is also trying to connect the ports with other areas. India wants to gain more capacity in this area because as the size of India’s economy grows in the coming times, so will the size of business. In addition, Chinese ports have more capacity than India, which has benefited from economic growth. India can also boost the development of the port and its related infrastructure by emphasizing the blue economy.
- Tourism: Tourism is developing rapidly in India and the world. 9% of the employment in the world comes only from the tourism sector, as well as tourism contributes 9.8 percent (year 2015) to the world GDP. The tourism sector is also developing rapidly in India, but still India has not been able to use its biodiversity from the tourism point of view. There are many coasts and islands in India (Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Kerala, Goa, Gujarat etc.) that can be developed from the point of view of marine tourism. Maritime tourism has developed well in various countries like Maldives, Mauritius etc. This sector not only has the potential to create more jobs but is also important from the point of view of foreign exchange inflow. It is important to note that India’s imports are more than exports. From this point of view tourism can provide good means of foreign exchange.
- Useful in carbon synthesis (blue carbon): The world is struggling with the dangers of climate change and is working on various efforts to reduce carbon emissions. The carbon that is absorbed by marine and coastal ecosystems is called blue carbon or blue carbon. This absorption is done by mangroves, swampy areas, sea grasses and algae in the form of biomass and depression. The carbon absorption capacity of the oceans is five times higher than that of the ecosystem on land. If the seas are used in climate mitigation, they can be helpful in tackling climate change.
- India has discussed this idea in the budget to increase the use of ocean resources and to give strength to the blue economy, but the laws, regulations and rules related to this area of the country are years old. At present, this type of legal framework is not effective in tackling the use and related challenges of the possibilities present in this sector and in strengthening the blue economy in the country. There is a need for an integrated legal framework to give impetus to the blue economy. It is also worth noting that the ocean is important in various fields such as trade, tourism, pharmaceutical manufacturing, fisheries production etc. Therefore, the laws related to these areas also need to be changed.
- The ocean has been useful for humans in various fields since ancient times and in future also the oceans have the potential to contribute significantly to the economies of different countries, for this only words like blue economy have been emphasized. However, due to non-exploitation of these resources with proper quantity and technology, the biodiversity of oceans is facing a crisis.
- The global community is facing climate change due to carbon emissions and other factors. The oceans are not even untouched by this, due to the rise in global temperature, the temperature of the oceans is also increasing. Due to this, the water level of the oceans is increasing. The biggest crisis is expected to be posed to SIDS countries due to rising water level. Also, there are some coastal areas of India that can be affected by this. The rise in temperature is also expected to change in the monsoon. It is important to note that India’s cultivation is still mainly dependent on the monsoon. Another problem has arisen in front of coral reefs. A certain temperature is required for the life of corals and a crisis has also arisen due to the rise in temperature. The food of the fish is mainly coral, so if there is a decrease in the availability of corals, the life of the fish may also be in danger. It has a direct impact on the sea food chain. Such a situation will not only affect the food and nutrition of the people but it will also cause economic loss.
- Pollution and contamination are increasing rapidly in the oceans. Pollution of the oceans is primarily plastic based. The life cycle of plastic is very long, if it is not reduced, it can be included in the marine food chain, which will have an impact on all marine biodiversity. In addition, the oil spills from the ships also affect ocean biodiversity.
Oceans are a storehouse of tremendous wealth for humans, which humans have been using since ancient times. Even today, various countries are using ocean resources to strengthen their economy. India is also emphasizing on the concept of blue economy so that ocean resources can be properly utilized. The location of India plays a complementary role in this view. But the challenges of this field are also not less. From climate change to improper exploitation of ocean resources and lack of regulatory framework remain major challenges. If India is able to make sustainable use of ocean resources by developing efficient infrastructure, then this region can contribute to accelerate the economy of India.
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