Holistic approach needed to harness marine resources for national growth: Government

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on February 17, 2021 Published on February 17, 2021

Government unveils a draft blue economy policy

Setting up a mariculture authority of India, a national placer mission to mine minerals found on the seabed and marine clusters for ports-centered development and inclusion of various untapped activities associated with blue economy in the 2008 National Industrial Classification are some of the suggestions put forward by a draft National Policy for India’s Blue Economy 2020, unveiled by the Ministry of Earth Sciences on Wednesday.

The draft policy, which would be placed in the public domain for comments and suggestions till February 27, is aimed at significantly enhancing contribution of the blue economy to India’s GDP in the next five years, improving lives of coastal communities, preserving India’s marine biodiversity and maintaining the security of our marine areas and resources.

The draft policy called for constitution of an apex body — National Blue Economy Council— involving all relevant stakeholders. The council can have ministers of several relevant ministries including earth sciences, defence, external affairs, commerce and shipping, Chief Ministers of coastal States, NITI and Aayog Vice-Chairman as members and MoES Secretary as Member Secretary. Similarly, presidents of CII, FICCI and Assocham can be invitees in the council, it said.

The government’s vision for New India by 2030, first articulated in February 2019, identified blue economy as one of the 10 core dimensions of economic growth. This is probably for the first time the need for having a coherent policy for the blue economy is emphasised by the government.

Proper measurement

The draft policy called for a framework for proper measurement of blue economy activities and their contributions to the national income, scientific assessment and planning of ocean resources and their sustainable use, investment and human resource development to harness the potential of marine resources, ensuring welfare, safety and livelihood of fishermen, among other things.

Stressing that the fisheries sector registered the highest growth with the agriculture and allied sector, the policy suggested an ecosystem approach for fisheries management which includes promotion of aquaculture, cage culture, seaweed and algae harvesting as well as sustainable marine capture.

To harness the potential of marine biotechnology, particularly in non-food sector of fishery resources, it suggested setting up a national level institute for marine biotechnology. It also called for a national mission for placer (an accumulation of valuable minerals formed by gravity separation) to explore workable deposits and to evolve a roadmap for their extraction. It said India should take lead in exploring cobalt-rich Sea Mount Ferro Manganese Crust in the Indian Ocean.

It called for promoting and modernising the ship building industry with a 30-year plan with a thrust on Make in India and also for a launch of a multi-modal network and digital grid to reduce the logistics costs. The draft note emphasised the need for having a holistic approach to enhance logistics and connectivity and also improving the ease of doing business and efficiency including harmonisation of tax regimes.

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Published on February 17, 2021
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