This in addition to another policy on the Arctic region is expected to put India at the forefront in exploring resources of strategic importance through maritime cooperation.
A draft of the Blue Economy policy document, outlining vision and strategy that can be adopted by the government to utilise a range of living and non-living oceanic resources, proposes setting up an overarching national authority called the National Blue Economy Council (NBEC) to bring all the existing expertise and schemes under one oversight agency for holistic planning and implementation.
The draft, prepared by the economic advisory council to the Prime Minister, has been put out in public domain for stakeholders’ comments till February 27.
The policy will be finalised after taking into view comments and suggestions.
“We have put out two draft policy documents – one on Blue Economy and the other on Arctic region – for stakeholders’ comments. The ministry of earth sciences (MoES) has contributed to both the drafts.
In fact, the Deep Ocean Mission, announced by the ministry, will be a big boost for the Blue Economy initiatives which the government is taking up,” said Madhavan Rajeevan, secretary, MoES.
India’s draft policy on the Arctic region, unveiled last month, focuses on the country’s plan to expand climate research, tourism, maritime cooperation and energy security through an exploration of mineral gas and oil in a sustainable manner.
The draft policy on Blue Economy, on the other hand, focuses on coastal marine spatial planning, island tourism, marine fisheries through deep-sea mining, aquaculture, shipping, fish processing and offshore energy. Security and strategic dimensions through international engagement are also one of its key components.
It also suggests exploring the deployment of a dedicated satellite system for management and regulation of fisheries and allied activities. The proposed policy aims to enhance the contribution of the blue economy to India’s GDP, improve lives of coastal communities, preserve marine biodiversity, and maintain the national security of marine areas and resources.
With a coastline of nearly 7,516 kilometres, India has a unique maritime position. Nine of its 28 states are coastal, and the nation’s geography includes 1,382 islands. There are nearly 199 ports, including 12 major ports that handle approximately 1,400 million tons of cargo each year. Moreover, India’s Exclusive Economic Zone of over 2 million square kilometres has a bounty of living and non-living resources with significant recoverable resources such as crude oil and natural gas. The country’s coastal economy sustains over 4 million fisherfolk and coastal communities.
Referring to the SSS axis, the draft says, “It was felt that India should carefully identify international partners with common interests, proven capabilities and know-how in the Blue Economy for technology sharing, adaptation and transfer which will have long-lasting benefits. In this context, India should recognize an important emerging economic and strategic axis.”
The draft policy also underlines the importance of having a legal and regulatory framework in due course to pursue India’s commitments under global obligation such as the aim to increase the marine conservation areas to 10% by 2030 under the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG).
The policy document notes that world-over different national and global initiatives are being undertaken to harness the Blue Economy. Countries like the United States, Australia, Brazil, UK, Russia and Norway have developed dedicated national ocean policies with measurable outcomes and budgetary provisions. Canada and Australia have, in fact, enacted legislation and established hierarchical institutions at federal and state levels to ensure progress and monitoring of Blue Economy targets.