Hot Topics : Blue Economy  (GS-3 Mains : Economy ) (Arora IAS)

Blue Economy

Question: Examine the challenges faced by India in harnessing its Blue Economy potential. Discuss the environmental, economic, and security challenges hindering the sustainable development of marine resources. Suggest measures to address these challenges.

Context

  • Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) hosted an inter-ministerial workshop on Blue Economy.

  • MoES partnered with World Bank for a technical study on “India’s Blue Economy.”

What is the Blue Economy?

  • Sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and ocean ecosystem health.

India’s Blue Economy

  • 7,517 km coastline and 2 million sq km Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

  • Contributes ~4% of GDP, with potential for growth.

  • Supports over 4 million fisherfolk and coastal communities.

  • Key industries: Fishing, aquaculture, ports, and shipping.

India’s Maritime Zones

  • Territorial Waters (12 nautical miles): Full sovereignty.

  • Contiguous Zone (12 nautical miles beyond territorial waters): Enforcement of customs, fiscal, immigration, and sanitary laws.

  • Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) (200 nautical miles from baseline): Exclusive rights for exploring, exploiting, conserving, and managing resources (fisheries, hydrocarbons).

Significance of the Blue Economy

  • Economic Growth: Fisheries, aquaculture, tourism, maritime transport, renewable energy, and biotechnology.

  • Resource Utilization: Sustainable use of fish stocks, minerals, and energy sources.

  • Renewable Energy: Offshore wind, wave, and tidal energy to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

  • Tourism: Coastal and marine tourism for revenue, employment, and supporting local economies.

  • Climate Change Mitigation: Healthy oceans regulate Earth’s climate. Blue Economy promotes conservation efforts and sustainable practices to mitigate climate change impacts (preserving coastal ecosystems, reducing carbon emissions).

  • Biodiversity Conservation: Sustainable practices and responsible management contribute to marine biodiversity conservation and endangered species/habitat protection.

Challenges

  • Pollution and environmental degradation: Industrial discharge, sewage, agricultural runoff, and plastic waste harm ecosystems and livelihoods.

  • Overexploitation of marine resources: Illegal fishing depletes fish stocks and harms coastal communities.

  • Climate change impacts: Rising sea levels, ocean acidification, and temperature/current changes affect fisheries, aquaculture, infrastructure, and biodiversity.

  • Maritime security challenges: Piracy, illegal trafficking, maritime terrorism, and territorial disputes.

  • Limited institutional capacity and infrastructure: Challenges include capacity constraints, funding, bureaucratic inefficiencies, and regulatory gaps hindering effective management and sustainable development of marine resources.

Steps Taken by Government of India

  • National Policy Framework: Strategic roadmap for sustainable development and management of marine resources. Integrates fisheries, aquaculture, shipping, tourism, and renewable energy.

  • Sagarmala Programme: Modernizes ports, enhances connectivity, and promotes port-led development. Focuses on logistics efficiency, coastal shipping, and developing coastal economic zones.

  • National Marine Fisheries Action Plan (NMFAP): Improves fishery resources assessment, enhances infrastructure and technology, and promotes aquaculture development.

  • Blue Economy Cell: Coordinates research, policy formulation, and implementation of Blue Economy initiatives.

  • Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM): Promotes sustainable development and conservation of coastal ecosystems.

  • Marine Spatial Planning (MSP): Ensures efficient and sustainable use of marine space.

Way Ahead

  • Blue Economy has significant growth potential.

  • Successful execution of policies can make it the next economic multiplier.

  • It’s the sixth dimension of India’s Vision of New India by 2030, aiming for long-term economic advantages, growth, job creation, equity, and environmental protection.

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