Recently, The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) released a draft of the blue economy policy into public domain, and invited suggestions and inputs from citizens, NGOs, academia, industries and other various stakeholders. The framework of this draft was prepared keeping in mind the Government of India's Vision of New India by 2030.
It provides an outline of the various strategies that can be adopted by the government to sustainably utilise the vast amount of oceanic resources in the country. The document has been shared for consultation on many social media platforms, including the social media handles and websites of MoES and is also available to read online. Stakeholders can submit their inputs by February 27, the MoES said in a statement.
The concept of a blue economy was introduced by Gunter Pauli in his book The Blue Economy: 10 years, 100 innovations, 100 million jobs. A blue economy can be defined as the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs, and ocean ecosystem health.
The seven thematic areas recognised by the document are:
- national accounting framework for the blue economy and ocean governance
- coastal marine spatial planning and tourism
- marine fisheries, aquaculture, and fish processing
- manufacturing, emerging industries, trade, technology, services, and skill development
- logistics, infrastructure and shipping, including trans-shipments
- coastal and deep-sea mining and offshore energy and security
- strategic dimensions and international engagement.
The primary objectives of this policy, as per the document, are : enhancing the contribution of the blue economy to India's GDP, improving the lives of coastal communities, preserving marine biodiversity, and maintaining the national security of marine areas and resources.
The need for developing proper guidelines for a blue economy is emphasized by the fact that India has a coastline of nearly 7,500 kilometres. Nine of it's twenty-eight states are coastal, along with 1,382 islands. There are about 199 ports in India, with 12 major ports that handle nearly 1,400 million tonnes of cargo every year.
Furthermore, the country also has an exclusive economic zone which covers over 2 million square kilometres, with a wide variety of living and non - living resources that provide us with essential goods such as crude oil and natural gas.
There are also a large number of people contributing to the coastal economy, with nearly 40 lakh fisherfolk and coastal communities working in the sector.
The MoES added that this policy could very well make the coastal and shipping industry the next multiplier of the GDP as long as sustainability and socio- economic welfare are given centre stage. They also added that the policy is seen as a crucial framework in unlocking the country's potential for growth and economic welfare.
This article has been written by Sherwyn Fernandes for The Paradigm
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