The World Bank defines “Blue Economy” as the sustainable utilization of ocean resources to foster economic growth, improve livelihoods, and generate employment opportunities, all while ensuring the well-being of the marine ecosystem.
This covers a broad spectrum of resources found in the ocean that can be tapped into for the creation of goods and services. In essence, the Blue Economy aims to promote economic development, environmental sustainability, and national security.
For coastal nations like India, this concept represents a significant socioeconomic opportunity, as it allows them to exploit ocean resources for the betterment of society responsibly. The increasing demand for ocean-related products, such as seafood and energy production, has contributed to the global expansion of the Blue Economy, with estimated annual revenues falling within the range of US$ 3-6 trillion.
Diverse Opportunities in India’s Expansive Blue Economy
The Indian blue economy is multifaceted and plays a pivotal role in the nation’s economic advancement due to its extensive maritime interests.
India has a vast coastline of approximately 7500 km, and its exclusive economic zones (EEZ) extend over 2.2 million square km. This means India has much potential for a healthy blue economy.
The blue economy covers fishing, aquaculture, ports, and shipping industries.
Fishing and Aquaculture
India is ranking second globally in aquaculture and third in fish production, and is reshaping its fishing and aquaculture sectors with the Indian Blue Revolution. Notably, in FY 2022-23, the export of fisheries and their products hit a historic high at 1.73 million metric tons, valued at $8.09 billion.
The country has 12 major ports and 187 non-major ports, handling about 1400 million tons of cargo every year, as 95% of India’s trade by volume transits by sea. The coastal economy supports over 4 million fisher folk and coastal communities.
Other industries that fall under the Blue Economy umbrella include renewable energy, ocean-based tourism, and deep-sea mining, all of which can contribute to economic growth.
India’s government has introduced many measures to promote the Blue Economy. Let’s explore these initiatives:
Fisheries industries are primarily concerned with the cultivation, harvesting, processing, and distribution of fish and other aquatic products.
Efforts have been undertaken to maximize the potential of India’s fisheries sector. The following initiatives are focused on fisheries development:
- The Blue Revolution (Integrated Development and Management of Fisheries CSS)
Launched in 2015-16 with a five-year budget of ₹ 3,000 crores (US$ 384.3 million), a centrally sponsored scheme aims to boost the fisheries sector.
- Fisheries and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development Fund (FIDF):
Established in 2018-19 with a fund size of ₹ 7,522.48 crores (US$ 963.5 million), FIDF provides concessional credit to state/UT governments, their entities, and the private sector to bridge gaps in fisheries infrastructure.
- Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY)
Launched in May 2020, PMMSY represents the most substantial investment of ₹ 20,050 crore (US$ 2.5 billion) to promote sustainable and responsible growth in India’s fisheries sector.
Maritime industries broadly cover activities related to the sea, including shipping, shipbuilding, port operations, and marine trade and services.
In the maritime sector, India has introduced several initiatives to promote port-led development and maritime trade:
- Sagarmala Program
Launched by the Ministry of Shipping, this flagship initiative aims to stimulate port-led development.
By capitalizing on India’s extensive coastline of 7,500 km, 14,500 km of navigable waterways, and its strategic location on international trade routes, the program seeks to reduce logistics costs for both EXIM and domestic trade.
- National Perspective Plan
Developed by the Ministry of Shipping and released in April 2016, this plan outlines 500 identified projects with an estimated infrastructure investment of ₹ 3.55 Lac Crore.
These projects are categorized into four themes: Port Modernization, Connectivity Enhancement, Port-Led Industrialization, and Coastal Community Development.
As of 2023, 143 projects (worth Rs. 0.88 Lac Crore) have been completed, 190 projects (worth ₹ 2.12 Lac Crore) are in various stages of implementation, and 167 projects are under development, with an expected completion date of 2035.
- Incentives for Waterways
To unlock the potential of waterways, the Ministry of Shipping has introduced measures such as licensing relaxation for foreign-flagged vessels and incentives for coastal shipping.
Major ports offer a 40% discount on vessel and cargo-related charges to coastal vessels, and there is support for creating infrastructure under the coastal berth scheme.
The National Waterways Act, of 2016, has declared 111 National Waterways (NWs), with feasibility studies identifying 20 new NWs for development.
- Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP)
Implemented to enhance navigational capacity on NW-1 (the Ganga River), JMVP includes the construction of multimodal terminals and navigation infrastructure. Several other waterways have been developed and are operational, facilitating cargo and vessel movement.
Listed Companies in the Fisheries Industry
Below are a few listed companies in the fisheries industry:
Apex Frozen Foods Limited
Apex Frozen Food Ltd, a leading producer and exporter of seafood, offers brands like Bay Fresh, Bay Harvest, and Bay Premium. They provide ready-to-cook products to diverse customers, including food companies, retail chains, restaurants, club stores, and distributors in the US, UK, and Europe.
Avanti Feeds Limited
Avanti Feeds Ltd is a seafood company. They make shrimp feed for farmers in aquaculture. They buy shrimp from farmers, process it, and export it to various countries. Their products include raw and cooked shrimp, plus value-added options like marinated, breaded, skewers, and shrimp rings. They sell these products in markets like Europe, Japan, Korea, China, Russia, Canada, and the Middle East.
Waterbase Ltd produces shrimp feed and processes shrimp from their farms. They provide a variety of aqua feeds, including popular brands like Bay White, Ultra XL, Tigerbay XL, and Magnum. They export primarily to Japan, Europe, and the United States.
Coastal Corporation Limited
Coastal Corporation Limited processes and exports a variety of shrimps globally, including the USA, Europe, Canada, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Hong Kong, Korea, and China. Their shrimps, offered in various forms, are sold under brand names like Coastal, Coastal Premium, Coastal Gold, Jewel, and President.
Uniroyal Marine Exports Limited
Uniroyal Marine Exports Limited manufactures marine products, involved in purchasing, processing, curing, canning, freezing, selling, exporting, and dealing in Shrimps, Squids, Cuttlefish, Octopus, and Seafood Mix. Their plants can produce around 13,100 tons of individually quick-frozen (IQF) and 4,000 tons of block-frozen seafood.
In conclusion, the Blue Economy, guided by the World Bank, offers a wide ocean of opportunities, and India’s vast coastline and exclusive economic zones are at the forefront.
The Blue Economy strives for economic progress while safeguarding marine ecosystems. Sectors like fishing, maritime trade, and renewable energy hold promise.
Government initiatives like the Blue Revolution and the Sagarmala Program demonstrate a commitment to sustainability.
(Disclaimer: For general educational purposes only and should not be construed as advice)
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Indian government’s initiatives and policies can significantly impact investments. They aim to boost the Blue Economy through projects like Sagarmala and enhance the ease of doing business in the maritime sector.
Fisheries and coastal tourism revenue are highly influenced by weather conditions. Adverse weather disrupts fishing and slows tourism, while favourable conditions promote fishery and tourism activities, ultimately boosting income.
Risks include disease outbreaks in aquaculture, changing consumer preferences, and international trade restrictions.