According to the world bank, Blue Economy is the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth. It involves improving the livelihoods while preserving the health of the ocean ecosystem.
It covers a wide range of interlinked established and emerging sectors like fisheries, material goods (hydrocarbons, minerals, and sand and gravel), services (shipping, ports, shipbuilding, tourism), and renewable energy (wind, wave, tidal, thermal and biomass).
Importance for India :
The Indian Ocean Region is abundant with resources. It is particularly rich in areas of fisheries, aquaculture, ocean energy, sea-bed mining, and minerals. It provides tremendous economic opportunities to develop marine tourism and shipping activities. Among these, fisheries and minerals activities are growing fast.
It is necessary for India to tap the enormous potential of the ocean-based Blue Economy. As per a Niti Aayog report, it has acted as a catalyst for the development of the number of industries, both on land and at sea. And, it can serve as a growth catalyst in realizing the vision to become a $10 trillion economy by 2032.
Growing emphasis on fisheries :
India is emerging as a global player in the fisheries sector. It shipped 12,89,651 MT of seafood worth USD 6.68 billion during 2019-20. The industry managed to grow despite the covid impact. In 2018-19, India had exported 13, 92,559 MT of seafood worth USD 6,728.50 million.
Frozen shrimp remained the major export item in terms of quantity and value followed by frozen fish. The USA and China have emerged as the major importers of India's seafood.
This sector has demonstrated an impressive annual growth of 10.87% since 2014-15. It reached a record fish production of 142 lakh tons in FY 2019-20. And, provides livelihood to over 2.8 crore people in India.
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Budgetary provisions :
Recognizing the potential of fisheries, the Indian government has been constantly increasing its focus on this sector. In line with this, the finance minister has allocated an amount of Rs 1220.84 crore in FY 21-22 for the fisheries department. It is the highest ever annual budgetary support for the Department, 34% increase over the previous budget.
The Finance Minister also announced a substantial investment to develop modern fishing harbors. To start with, 5 major fishing harbors – Kochi, Chennai, Visakhapatnam, Paradip, and Petuaghat – will be developed as hubs of economic activity. These centers will be upgraded and modernized with state-of-the-art infrastructure and amenities. Substantial investment to be made in the end-to-end supply chain, seamless cold chain, and hygienic handling. It will enhance the quality of fish and export competitiveness.
Further, there is also a plan of developing inland fishing harbors along the banks of rivers and waterways. This is a welcome announcement as fishing harbors are central to the growth of the Blue Economy. They are also closely linked to the social-economic development of fishermen and coastal communities.
Beyond fisheries :
Finance Minister has further announced to set up a multipurpose seaweed Park in Tamil Nadu with an investment of Rs 100 crore. It provides enormous scope for developing indigenous seaweed-based industries like value-added products, nutraceuticals, biofuels, bioplastics, etc.
Moreover, this has the potential to provide livelihood to at least 1.5 crore people. Coastal fisherwomen have been engaged in seaweed collection for the past few decades. Growing focus on this segment will be beneficial to them.