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Blue economy

2024 FEB 2

Mains   > Economic Development   >   Indian Economy and issues   >   Marine pollution

Syllabus: GS 3 > Economic Development   >   Indian Economy and Issues   > Blue Economy


  • In response to the growing importance of the blue economy, the Interim Budget presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman outlined several initiatives aimed at promoting environment-friendly development within this sector.


  • The Minister announced that the implementation of Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) will be stepped up to: 
    • enhance aquaculture productivity from existing 3 to 5 tons per hectare
    • double exports to  1 lakh crore
    •  generate 55 lakh employment opportunities in the near future.
  • The budget also mentions the establishment of five integrated aquaparks.
  • The minister said in her speech that to promote climate-resilient activities for Blue Economy 2.0, a scheme for restoration and adaptation measures and coastal aquaculture and mariculture with an integrated and multi-sectoral approach will be launched.
    • Blue Economy 2.0 is India's strategic plan to enhance its maritime economy, focusing on sustainable growth, environmental conservation, and climate resilience.


  • According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem."
  • The UN specifies Blue Economy as a range of economic activities related to oceans, seas and coastal areas, and whether these activities are sustainable and socially equitable.
  • Blue economy prioritizes all three pillars of sustainability: environmental, economic, and social.


  • Economic significance:
    • The value of the natural capital of the blue economy is estimated at around USD 25 trillion, with the annual value of produced goods and services estimated to be USD 2.5 trillion per year.
    • 40% of the world’s population live near coastal areas, more than three billion people access the oceans for their livelihood and 80% of world trade is through the oceans.  
    • India has a 7517 km long coastline, which is home to around 30 per cent of the population. India’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) spreads over 2.2 million square kilometers.
  • Sustainable utilization of ecosystem services:
    • Blue economy provides enables the sustainable utilization of services provided by the natural ecosystem:
  • Provisioning services: fisheries, building materials, food etc.  
  • Regulating services: carbon sink and carbon sequestration, erosion prevention, extreme event moderation
  • Cultural services: tourism, recreational, aesthetic, and spiritual benefits.
  • Supporting services: life-cycle maintenance for both fauna and local, element and nutrient cycling
  • Employment and livelihood:
    • Fishing sector in India provides livelihood support to about 2.8 crore people at the primary level and almost twice the number along the value chain (Source: the National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB)).
    • Coastal and Maritime Tourism is expected to generate job opportunities for approximately 8.5 million people by 2030.
  • Leverage India’s natural advantage:
    • India has a unique maritime position: a 7517 km long coastline, which is home to nine coastal states and 1,382 islands. This enables India to play an important role in developing globally acceptable principles and regulations on Blue Economy.
  • Enhance mineral security:  
    • It has been estimated that 380 million metric tonnes of polymetallic nodules are available at the bottom of the seas in the Central Indian Ocean. Utilizing these deposits can help supplement the depleting land-based mineral reserves of India for the next few decades.
  • Promote Industrial growth:
    • Besides fisheries, tourism and shipping, rapidly growing ocean-based industries like wind energy, offshore aquaculture, seabed mining and marine genetic biotechnology are poised to be the future growth drivers of the global south.
  • Shipping: 
    • Shipbuilding and shipping are also important aspects of the blue economy in India.
    • For instance, the modal share of coastal shipping has the potential to increase to 33% by 2035, up from roughly 6% presently. (Source: IBEF) 
    • India has 200 ports, with 12 major ports handling 541.76 million tonnes of cargo in FY21, indicating the sector's growth potential.
  • Clean energy:
    • Oceans are popular sites for renewable energy: offshore wind energy, hydropower and tidal energy. Tapping these would be crucial in reducing energy poverty and attaining the goals of Paris climate deal.
  • Combating climate change:
    • Oceans absorb almost a third of the carbon dioxide emitted annually. Phyto-planktons and sea grass play an important role in blue carbon sequestration.


  • Marine pollution:
    • Oceans are polluted due to poor waste management, oil spills, surface runoffs and ocean bed mining among others. Eg: About 11 million tonnes of plastic currently enter the ocean every year and without an effective response, it will triple in the next 20 years.
    • Acidification, pollution, ocean warming, eutrophication, formation of dead zones and fishery collapse are some of the consequences of the severe marine pollution.
  • Financial barrier:
    • While an estimated USD 174.52 billion per year is needed to fund SDG 14, barely USD 25.05 billion is spent annually.
    • Developing a Blue Economy requires a stable economy and long-term financial plans. However, high levels of external debt, obstacles due to the pandemic, limited support from global financial institutions and failure of climate financing hinders the transition to a bluer economy.
    • Extra reading: Climate financing
  • Social barriers:
    • NGO’s, fishers’ organizations, indigenous people and communities are crucial for an inclusive blue economy. However, the interests of communities dependent on the ocean are often marginalized.
    • Eg: Coastal community protests against Vizhinjam port in Kerala over land acquisition.
  • Capacity barriers:
    • Lack of capacity and technology hinders the progress of blue economy.
    • For instance, despite the potential, lack of developed port infrastructure, higher costs of installing turbines, subsea cabling, development of transmission infrastructure and coastal security etc. have been major reasons hindering the development of offshore wind energy in India.  
  • Lack of interest from private sector:
    • Recent survey by KPMG identifies the SDG 14: Life Below Water, as one of the least prioritised SDGs from the perspective of the private sector, with only 18 percent of companies prioritising it.
  • Research and development:
    • Blue Economy requires research and innovations in multiple fields within ocean science and therefore needs intersectoral expertise. However, oceanic researches in India are underdeveloped, particularly in emerging fields like blue carbon sequestration and marine biotechnology.
  • Climate Change:
    • Rising sea levels, variations in Indian Ocean dipole and other impacts of climate change can pose risks to coastal communities and also have negative impacts on the blue economy.
  • Boundary disputes:
  • Developing a Blue Economy requires countries to cooperate in elaborating inclusive policies, respectful of every parties Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) in the ocean and their economic activities. However, maritime boundary disputes are a major hinderance to this cooperation.
  • Unregulated High seas:
    • Despite accounting for almost half of the Earth’s surface, these areas are hardly regulated and also least understood or explored for its biodiversity. Only 1% of these areas are under protection.


  • Agreement with ISA: India had signed a 15-year contract with the International Seabed Authority (ISA) in 2016 for exploration of Poly-Metallic Sulphides (PMS) in the Indian Ocean. Based on this, India has ear-marked nearly 1.5 lakh square kilometres of area in the central Indian Ocean for exploration.
  • Component of ‘New India by 2030’: The Government of India's Vision of New India by 2030 enunciated in February 2019 highlighted the Blue Economy as one of the ten core dimensions of growth.
  • O-SMART: Ocean Services, Technology, Observations, Resources Modelling and Science (O-SMAT) is an umbrella scheme under the Ministry of Earth Sciences which encompasses a total of 16 sub-projects addressing ocean development activities.
  • Sagarmala project: The Sagarmala project seeks to leverage the country's coastline and inland waterways to drive industrial development.
  • ORV Sagar Nidhi: India's first ocean research vessel for deep-sea studies and exploration.
  • Draft Blue Economy Policy: Released by the Ministry of Earth Sciences, the goal of the policy document is to increase the blue economy's contribution to India's GDP, improve the lives of coastal residents, protect marine biodiversity, and ensure the national security of maritime areas and resources.
  • Deep ocean mission: It is the Government of India mission to explore deep ocean for resources and develop deep sea technologies for sustainable use of ocean resources.
  • National offshore wind energy policy: MNRE's (Ministry of New and Renewable Energy) initiative for offshore wind energy development.
  • Coastal regulation zones: Coastal Regulation Zones are notified under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, with the aim to provide comprehensive measures for the protection and conservation of our coastal environment.
  • ‘Swachh Sagar, Surakshit Sagar’: A 75-day coastal clean-up campaign ending on 'International Coastal Clean Up Day'.
  • ndia-Norway Task Force on Blue Economy for Sustainable Development.


  • SDG 14: Life Below Water
  • Decade of Ocean Science (2021-2030): UN's initiative for sustainable ocean development.
  • Treaty of the High Seas: Aims for global management of marine areas beyond national jurisdiction under UNCLOS.
  • MARPOL Convention (1973): Addresses marine pollution from ships.
  • London Convention (1972): Focuses on controlling marine pollution by regulating waste dumping.
  • UNCLOS: Coastal State responsibilities for marine environment protection.
  • Blue Flag Certification: Recognition for eco-friendly and clean beaches by FEE. 
  • Bangkok Declaration: ASEAN's commitment against marine debris.
  • Global Programme of Action: Tackles marine environment protection from land-based activities.

Top of Form


  • Research and development:
    • India must invest in research and development and promote inter-sectoral cooperation in areas like renewable ocean energy, blue carbon sequestration and marine biotechnology.
  • Financial resources:
    • Innovative ‘blue financial products’ like blue bonds and loans, and blue derivative products will have to be thought of to finance blue economy policies.
  • Foster international cooperation:
    • Developing the blue economy should be based on national and global expertise. For the same, exchange knowledge and expertise, development of a dedicated fund and creation of a knowledge hub must be encouraged.
  • Capacity building:
    • Investment in marine governance, human resource and infrastructure is needed to promote sustainable fisheries, regenerative tourism and the protection of coastal wetlands and ecosystems.


Q. Discuss the concept of Blue economy and its importance for India.( 10 marks, 150 words)