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Oceans cover 72% of the surface of our blue planet and constitute more than 95% of the biosphere. Life originated from the oceans and they continue to support entire biosphere by generating oxygen, absorbing carbon dioxide, recycling nutrients and regulating global climate and temperature. Oceans provide a substantial portion of the global population with food a livelihoods and are the means of transport for 80% of global trade. The marine and coastal environment also constitutes a key resource for the important global tourism industry; supporting all aspects of the tourism development cycle from infrastructure. The seabed currently provides 32% of the global supply of hydrocarbons with exploration expanding. Advancing technologies are opening new frontiers of marine resource development from bio-prospecting to the mining of seabed mineral resources. The sea also offers vast potential for renewable 'blue energy' production from wind, wave, tidal, thermal and biomass sources. Human development activities, however, have seriously taxed the resilience of the marine and coastal resource base.
Indian Farming
August 2018
The Blue Economy
an emerging economy for coastal nations
A D Diwan 1 and S N Harke 2
Mahatma Gandhi Mission’s Institute of Biosciences and Technology, Aurangabad (Maharashtra) 431 003
Oceans cover 72% of the surface of our blue planet and constitute more than 95% of the
biosphere. Life originated from the oceans and they continue to support entire biosphere by
generating oxygen, absorbing carbon dioxide, recycling nutrients and regulating global climate
and temperature. Oceans provide a substantial portion of the global population with food a
livelihoods and are the means of transport for 80% of global trade. The marine and coastal
environment also constitutes a key resource for the important global tourism industry; supporting
all aspects of the tourism development cycle from infrastructure. The seabed currently provides
32% of the global supply of hydrocarbons with exploration expanding. Advancing technologies are
opening new frontiers of marine resource development from bio-prospecting to the mining of seabed
mineral resources. The sea also offers vast potential for renewable ‘blue energy’ production from
wind, wave, tidal, thermal and biomass sources. Human development activities, however, have
seriously taxed the resilience of the marine and coastal resource base.
Keywords: Biosphere, Blue Revolution, Coastal nations, Economy
Indian Farming 68(08): 41–48; August 2018
WE are aware of Green
Economy in the context of
sustainable development and poverty
eradication as one of the important
tools available for achieving overall
exponential growth. It is emphasised
that Green Economy should
contribute to eradicating poverty as
well as sustained economic growth,
enhancing social inclusion, improving
human welfare and creating
opportunities for employment and
work for all, while maintaining the
healthy functioning of the Earth’s
ecosystems (UNCSD 2012). The
‘Rio +20’ United Nations
Conference on Sustainable
Development, held in Rio de Janeiro,
20 to 22 June 2012, focused on the
development and refinement of the
policies and framework of the
institutional set up for sustainable
development and the advancement of
the ‘Green Economy’ concept. While
discussion, many coastal countries
also emphasized their views to
consider for the preparation of a
‘Blue Economy’ on priority basis.
Earlier efforts were made to expand
the Blue aspect of the Green
Economy as embodied in the ‘Green
Economy in a Blue World’. Coastal
and Island developing nations have
remained at the forefront in
advocating Blue Economy,
recognizing that the oceans have a
major role to play in humanity’s
future and that the blue economy
offers an approach to sustainable
development better suited to their
circumstances, and challenges. The
‘Blue Economy’ has emerged as a
term referring to a healthy ocean and
supporting higher productivity. For
centuries, marine resources have
served the essential components of
human life in many different ways by
providing food, energy, biodiversity
and recreation. Besides this, the
oceans, are the lifelines which have
the potential to absorb and
regenerate many unwanted and
wanted resources. All the costal
nations in the world are dependent
on oceans for fishing, minerals, oil
and gas, rare earth metals, renewable
energy and other living and non-
living resources for earning
livelihood, achieving holistic growth,
empowering native coastal
communities and attaining greater
social and economic activities. In that
context, the role of Blue Economy
becomes vital in utilizing optimum
and sustainable use of oceanic
resources for growth and
development. Since a large portion of
marine resources is believed to have
remained unexplored in different
maritime countries, there is a
widespread understanding that the
future source of growth is probably
dependent upon the efficient
utilization of those rich ocean
resources. Its importance is now
realized prominently by many nations
when there is unprecedented
reduction in global output and
employment opportunities affecting
the livelihoods of millions of people.
There is a major shift in the whole
Indian Farming
August 2018
development programmes of all these
nations due to realization of the
importance of ocean related economy.
Even the biggest economies of the
world such as the United States of
America and China recognized the
importance of enormous marine
resources for economic growth, social
development, restoration of
environment, and protection and
conservation of marine habitat. The
contribution of Blue Economy to the
growth of overall economy has been
impressive for a number of countries
in the recent past with signs of robust
performance in the future.
The coastal pollution in most of
the maritime states has adversely
affected the coastal resources which
in turn has created reverse impact on
the livelihood and employment
opportunities of the coastal
communities. Besides, this has also
resulted in damaging the living
resources and marine life, hazards to
human health, hindrance to marine
activities, including fishing and other
legitimate uses of the sea, impairment
of quality for use of sea water and
reduction of amenities.
A thorough Understanding on
health of the coastal waters through a
systematic pollution monitoring
programme is essential on regular
basis. Earlier number of programmes
were initiated to monitor the coastal
belt pollution particularly in the
metropolitan cities. Since then, now
the number of agencies both private
and public institutions are involved in
continuously monitoring the status of
the pollution in the coastal areas
particularly in the urban cities.
However, there are no studies on the
catastrophic effect of pollution on the
blue economy of the various
maritime states.
Small-scale entrepreneurship of the
fisheries sector
The development of the blue
economy holds immense promise for
the Indian Ocean region. In the
exclusive economic zone of the
Indian Ocean there are about 1,300
big- and small-islands. Many of these
islands are barren lands without any
habitations and no development has
taken place in the past several years.
All these islands are the great source
to add to our blue economy in terms
of developing tourist spots, in
exploiting the unique resources
specific to the islands biosphere and
ecosystems, in generating
employment opportunities for the
coastal communities and also avenue
for development of tourist allied
industries. The Indian Ocean is the
worlds’ pre-eminent seaway for trade
and commerce. It is also endowed
with a wealth of natural resources,
which are, as yet, largely untapped.
The development of the Blue
Economy in the Indian Ocean region
is expected to yield a number of
benefits, including: contributing to
sustainable development and climate
change mitigation, providing boost
to coastal and national economies,
generating new employment, skill
sets and capacities, promoting
entrepreneurship in new areas of
economic activities, facilitating inter-
connected in the regional economy,
and utilizing the vast, untapped
potential of the Indian ocean.
Indian Ocean Rim Association
(IORA), an international
organization consisting of coastal
states bordering the Indian Ocean
considered following some of the top
priority areas useful for the
development of the blue economy of
any coastal country.
1. Fisheries and Aquaculture
2. Renewable Ocean Energy
3. Sea ports and Shipping
4. Seabed Exploration and Minerals
5. Marine Biotechnology, Research
and Development
6. Tourism
7. Ocean Knowledge Clusters
The new emerging development
shift/trend of the blue economy has a
great potential for higher and faster
GDP growth scale in the Indian
Ocean Region. Blue growth focusing
on the long-term sustainability of
oceans has become a realistic policy
frame within IORA during the last
two years, since October, 2014. The
Blue Economy advocates the same
outcome as the Green Economy,
namely improved human well-being
and social equity, while significantly
reducing environmental risks and
ecological scarcities. Oceans are
essential to human life as they
provide food security and income for
millions of people and act as a
highway to global trade. This century
is known as the ‘Maritime Century’.
The upcoming new technologies are
paving the way for human interaction
with the oceans. They drive
economic growth and bring as huge
benefits to society. Approximately
350 million jobs are linked with
oceans, international trade in fish
products spans 85 Nations and
involves an estimated US $102
billion/year and about US $9 billion
is made in eco-tourism related to
coral reefs. The ecological health and
economic productivity of marine and
coastal ecosystems can be increased
by giving more emphasis on the areas
like generating renewable energy
from the seas and promoting eco-
tourism, to sustainable fisheries and
transport. At a global level the
potential economic gains from
Fig. 1 and 2. Coastal pollution due to urbanization and anthropogenic activities Fig. 3. Small -scale entrepreneurship of the
fisheries sector
Indian Farming
August 2018
reducing fishing capacity to an
optimal level and restoring fish
stocks; currently 32% of the global
stocks are estimated to be
overexploited, depleted or recovering
from depletion – is in US $50 billion/
Key issues of the blue economy
The main key issues are food
security, demand for protein,
sustainable use of biodiversity,
unsustainable fisheries, climate
change and carbon footprint, coastal
tourism, management of
urbanization in the coastal states,
emerging sea-borne international
trade, health of the seas and oceans,
governance and international
cooperation, demand for alternative
sources of energy, and marine
Conservation of the ocean
resources and their judicious
utilization on sustainable basis for the
benefit of humanity are the key
points for the well establishment of
the blue economy concept. This is
particularly true in developing
countries where economies are more
directly related to ocean resources.
The ecosystem approach must
underpin all aspects of the blue
economy incorporating inter-
relationships, knock-on effects,
externalities and the true costs and
benefits of activities in the natural
blue capital.
Food security
In the context of the blue
economy food security is closely
related to the sustainable use of
oceanic biodiversity particularly
where it pertains to the exploitation
of wild fisheries resources. More than
1 billion people in developing
countries depend on seafood for their
primary source of protein and in
India around 14 million people
whose livelihood is dependent on
coastal and inland fisheries resources.
Besides oceanic resources, aqua-
culture and sea farming activities
offer huge potential for the provision
of food and livelihoods with all social
security to coastal communities. Sea
farming and aquaculture under the
Blue Economy will definitely support
the value of the natural capital in its
development, respecting ecological
parameters throughout the cycle of
production, creating sustainable
resources, decent employment
avenues and offering high value
commodities for export. The fisheries
sector including aquaculture and
mariculture also contributes sizeable
cheap and quality proteins, fats and
calories supply which supports food
security situation in almost all coastal
countries. Besides conventional
measures of addressing food
insecurity, blue economy offers ample
opportunities to meet the growing
demand for healthy and safe food by
enhancing marine fishing. A good
number of finfish and shellfish
varieties in raw as well as processed
forms are used as seafood worldwide.
Fishing areas in the Indian Ocean
region represent a rich endowment of
fishery resources. Persistence in the
decline of catch fish was a major
concern for the world economy
including India. However, the
biological stocks of many of those
species are depleting due to
overfishing and illegal, unreported
and unregulated fishing. Since
capture fisheries is either getting
stagnated or depleting, the
dependence on sea farming/
mariculture for fish supply has grown
significantly in the recent years.
Demand for protein
Less attention was paid so far to
fish as an important agricultural
commodity or food security and
nutrition purpose in most of the
countries. Fisheries sector provides
more than 4.5 billion consumers with
at least 1% of their average per caput
intake of animal protein. Fish is a
delicious and nutritious food
containing high amount of good
quality of protein, rich in numerous
micronutrients that are often missing
in diets, particularly those of the
The presence of essential nutrients
such as iodine, vitamin B12 and D,
the long-chain fatty acids,
eicosapentaenoic and docosahexa-
enoic omega-3 fatty acids, and fish’s
very rich content in calcium (Ca),
iron (Fe), zinc (Zn) and vitamin A, is
Table 1. Classification of Blue Economy sectors and activities
Sectors Activities
Fishing Capture fishery, Aquaculture, seafood processing
Marine biotechnology Pharmaceuticals, chemicals, seaweed harvesting, seaweed
products, marine derived bio-products
Minerals Oil and gas, deep-sea mining (exploration of rare earth metals,
Marine renewable energy Offshore wind energy production, wave energy production,
tidal energy production
Marine manufacturing Boat manufacturing, sail making, net manufacturing, boat and
ship repair, marine instrumentation, aquaculture technology,
water construction, marine industrial engineering
Shipping, port and Ship building and repairing, ship owners and operators,
maritime logistics shipping agents and brokers, ship management, liner andport
agents, port companies, ship suppliers, container shipping
services, stevedores, roll-on roll-off operators,custom
clearance, freight forwarders, safety and training
Marine tourism and leisure Sea angling from boats, sea angling from the shore, sailing at
sea, boating at sea, water skiing, jet skiing, surfing, sail
boarding, sea kayaking, scuba diving, swimming in the sea,
bird watching in coastal areas, whale/dolphin watching, visiting
coastal natural reserves, trips to the beach, seaside and
Marine construction Marine construction and engineering
Marine commerce Marine financial services, marine legal services, marine
insurance, ship finance and related services, charterers,
media and publishing
Marine ICT Marine engineering consultancy, meteorological consultancy,
environmental consultancy, hydro-survey consultancy, project
management consultancy, ICT solutions, geo-informatics
services, yacht design, submarine telecom
Education and research Education and training, R&D
Compiled from Morrissey et al. (2010), EIU (2015a), Government of Ireland (2012)
and Marine Institute (2005)
Indian Farming
August 2018
already well documented in the
The capture fisheries and
aquaculture provide 3.0 billion
people with almost 20% of their
average per caput intake of animal
protein, and a further 1.3 billion
people with about 15% of their per
caput intake. This share can exceed
50% in some countries. In West
African coastal countries for example,
where fisheries have historically been
a central element in local economies,
the proportion of total dietary
protein from fish is remarkably high.
Likewise, in Asia, where fisheries are
extremely important and fish farming
has developed rapidly over the last 30
years: total dietary protein from fish
is between 50 and 60% in Cambodia,
Bangladesh, Indonesia and Sri Lanka.
Fish provides a similarly significant
proportion of protein in the human
diets in most small island states.The
sustainability of fisheries in their
environmental and natural resource
dimensions is therefore recognized to
be indispensable for food security and
Sustainable use of biodiversity
In recent past many marine and
coastal ecosystems were degraded to
a large extent due to number of
anthropogenic activities impacting
upon the provision of services and
livelihoods. There are reports that
approximately 20% of the world’s
coral reefs were lost and another 20%
degraded and on the verge of getting
eroded. Mangroves were reduced to
30 to 50% of their historical cover
and it is estimated that 29% of
seagrass habitats have disappeared
since the late eighteen hundreds.
Therefore, an ecosystem approach is
required which helps in restoration of
biodiversity and renewable resources,
and proper management of resource
extraction. In fisheries sector for
example, the contribution of the
harvest sector of the world’s marine
fisheries to the global economy is
substantially smaller than it could be.
The lost economic benefits are
estimated to be on the order of US
$50 billion/year. Over the past three
decades, this cumulative global loss of
potential economic benefits is on the
order of US $2 trillion. By improving
governance of marine fisheries, one
could capture a substantial part of
this US $50 billion annual economic
loss. The ‘sunken billions’ is a
conservative estimate of this loss. The
estimate excludes consideration of
losses to recreational fisheries and to
marine tourism and losses
attributable to illegal fishing are not
included. Through comprehensive
reform, the fisheries sector could
become a basis for economic growth
and the creation of alternative
livelihoods in many countries. The
estimate also excludes consideration
of the economic contribution of
dependent activities such as fish
processing, distribution, and
consumption. It excludes the value of
biodiversity losses and any
compromise to the ocean carbon (C)
cycle. These exclusions suggested that
the losses to the global economy
from unsustainable exploitation of
living marine resources substantially
exceed more than US $50 billion/
year. For over three decades, the
world’s marine fishstocks have come
under increasing pressure from
fishing, from loss of habitats, and
from pollution. Rising sea
temperatures and the increasing
acidity of the oceans are placing
further stress on already stressed
ecosystems. Illegal fishing and
unreported catches undermine fishery
science, while subsidies continue to
support unsustainable fishing
practices. As far as India is
concerned, though there is
considerable improvement in marine
capture fisheries production in recent
years, however, for the past number
of years the same was stagnated even
after increasing the catch efforts. The
potential estimates of marine fish
production from the capture fisheries
was predicted as 4.41 mm tonne and
at present the production showed to
the tune of 3.6 mm tonne. Due to
unscientific management of
exploitation marine fishery resources,
ill-legal fishing practices, severe
coastal pollution is in some of the
maritime states and other
anthropogenic activities, number of
Fig. 4. Some of the islands of the Indian continent
Table 2. World per caput meat and fish
food supply (kg/caput/year) 1969–
Types 1969 1979 1989 1999 2009
of meat
Pig 9.4 11.5 13.1 15.1 15.8
Meat 25.2% 27.7% 28.2% 28.1% 26.3%
Poultry 3.8 5.6 7.3 10.7 13.6
Meat 10.2% 13.5% 15.7% 19.9% 22.7%
Capture 10 10.4 11 10.5 10
Fisheries 26.8 25.1 23.7 19.6 16.7
Aqua- 0.7 1.0 2.4 5.1 8.2
culture 1.9 2.4 5.2 9,5 13.7
Capture 10.7 11.4 13.4 15.6 18.2
Fisheries 28.7 27.5 28.8 29.1 33.3
Total 37.3 41.5 46.5 53.7 60
Figures in per cent are the respective
contribution of each sector to the total figure
Source: FAO Stats
Indian Farming
August 2018
fishery resources either they are
depleting or getting vanished. This
will have severe impact on
sustainability of the fishery resources
and related biodiversity.
Unsustainable fisheries
According to the FAO report the
proportion of marine fish stocks
estimated to be underexploited or
moderately exploited declined from
40% in the mid-1970s to 15% in
2008, and the proportion of
overexploited, depleted or recovering
stocks, increased from 10% in 1974
to 32% in 2008. Globally 350
million jobs are linked to marine
fisheries, with 90% of fishers living in
developing countries. The value of
fish traded by developing countries is
estimated at US$ 25 billion making it
their largest single trade item. Global
catch rose from 4 million tonne in
1900 to 86.7 million tonne in 2000
but has stagnated subsequently. In
2009 marine capture production was
79 million tonne. Overall catch risks
decline with 75% of stocks fully
exploited or depleted. Human
activity has directly reduced ocean
productivity, additional deficits may
be due to climate change increasing
ocean stratification and reducing
nutrient mixing in the open seas. It is
estimated that US $50 billion/annum
is lost to overfishing and could be
progressively recovered through stock
restoration. The implementation of
sound management measures bring
the promise of increased sustainable
catches, lower energy utilization and
costs and thereby securing livelihoods
and enhancing food security.
Aquaculture is the fastest growing
food sector now providing 47% of
the fish for human consumption
globally. The last three decades
showed massive expansion in
aquaculture operations raising
concerns of environmental damage
and unsustainable development
models. Brackishwater aquaculture
sites have often been constructed out
of important natural coastal habitats
with rapid expansion. Aquaculture
with artificial feed, if not managed
properly, can impact biodiversity and
ecosystem functions through
excessive nutrient release, chemical
pollution and the escape of farmed
species and diseases into the natural
environment. In India huge losses
were reported in the shrimp industry
due to outbreak of viral and bacterial
diseases. There are several factors
involved in the outbreak of diseases
including not observing GMP at the
farm level, contamination of feed, use
of excess feed and antibiotics, bad
water quality etc. Therefore, it is
essential that integrated ecosystem
approaches are necessary while
exploitation of fishery resources from
the wild and also from aquaculture
system-based on the latest scientific
information and technologies.
Climate change and carbon footprint
The effects related to climate
change involving oceans, coasts and
freshwater ecosystems, are bound to
affect fisheries and habitats together
with the composition and production
of the fishery resources and will have
major impacts on aquaculture
productivity and security. Climate
change imperils the structure and
function of already stressed coastal
aquatic ecosystems. Estuaries, coral
reefs, mangroves and sea grass beds
are critical for production of wild
fish. In freshwater systems, ecosystem
health and productivity is linked to
water quality and flow, and the health
of wetlands. Small wild fish are
sensitive to changes in ocean
conditions. They are found in schools
in the ocean and are also processed
into fish-meal used to feed other fish
as well as poultry and pigs. Though
precise consequences cannot yet be
forecast, climate change is likely to
affect fisheries and aquaculture, their
dependent communities and related
economic activities. Fishers, fish
farmers and coastal inhabitants will
bear the full force of these impacts
through less stable livelihoods,
changes in the availability and quality
of fish for food, and rising risks to
their health, safety and homes. Many
fisheries-dependent communities
already live a precarious and
vulnerable existence because of
poverty, lack of social services and
essential infrastructure. The fragility
of these communities is further
undermined by overexploited fishery
resources and degraded ecosystems.
Recently it has been reported that the
Gulf of Oman turns green twice a
year, when an algal bloom the size of
Mexico spreads across the Arabian
sea all the way to India. Scientists
who study the algae say the
microscopic organisms are thriving in
new conditions brought about by
climate change, and displacing the
zooplankton that under pin the local
food chain, threatening the entire
marine ecosystem. It is well known
that algae can paralyse fish, clog their
gills, and absorb oxygen to suffocate
them. Whales, turtle, dolphins and
manatees have died, poisoned bys
algal toxins in the Atlantic and Pacific
oceans. The implications of climate
change for food security and
livelihoods in small island states and
many developing countries are
profound. Sea level rise and change in
ecosystem status due to changing
temperatures, from coral bleaching to
impacts upon migration patterns
were reported at length earlier.
Relatively new issues are now coming
up like ocean acidification and blue
Oceans are estimated to have
absorbed approximately 25% of
anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2)
since the commencement of the
industrial revolution resulting in a
26% increase in the acidity of the
ocean. The ocean acidification is
known to have a significant impact as
many organisms show adverse effects,
such as reduced ability to form and
maintain shells and skeletons, as well
as reduced survival, growth,
abundance and larval development.
Acidification will also affect carbon
accretion in coral reef building
organisms causing net decreases in
global coral reef coverage and
associated species. Projections suggest
that pH for the more vulnerable
ocean regions could reach the
aragonite tipping point within
decades changing the very chemistry
of ecosystems with potentially
disastrous effects. As ocean acidity
increases, its capacity to absorb
carbon dioxide (CO2) from the
atmosphere decreases, thereby
reducing the ocean’s capacity to
moderate climate change. At present
there is no mechanism to address this
issue at the international level.
Several important coastal habitats
Indian Farming
August 2018
such as mangroves, salt marshes and
sea grasses areas were found to fix
carbon at a higher rate per unit area
than land-based systems and be more
effective at the long-term
sequestration of carbon (C) than
terrestrial forest ecosystems. It is
reported that mangroves were
reduced from 30 to 50% of their
historical cover and 29% of seagrass
habitats are estimated to have been
lost in the last 150 years. This
reduction may be due to various
factors and human interference. This
carbon sequestration role re-
emphasizes the importance of
maintaining, and rehabilitating, such
ecosystems as an opportunity for
ecosystem climate mitigation and to
also including them in carbon trading
mechanisms. The blue economy
approach will set in place the policies,
legislation, infrastructure and
incentives to facilitate the transition
to a low carbon (C) economy
utilizing all the tools at its disposal
including the oceans’ enormous
potential for renewable energy (wind,
wave, tidal, thermal and biomass)
Coastal tourism
Many coastal communities depend
on healthy coastal ecosystems and
clean coastal waters for their survival.
Yet rapidly growing coastal
populations, increasing numbers of
visitors, and unsustainable coastal
development are degrading the water
quality and destroying the habitats
that are the main attractions of
coastal areas. Although tourism and
recreation-related development are
major factors shaping the use and
management of ocean and coastal
resources, this sector has not been
regarded as requiring policy,
management, planning, and
resources. The coastal nations and
their respective governments can help
tribes and states, which have key roles
in managing coastal tourism, achieve
their goals of protecting vital coastal
ecosystems while promoting
economic growth and economic
stability. Published data indicated that
international tourist arrivals increased
by 4% to 1.035 billion in 2012,
generating US$ 1.3 trillion in export
earnings. Tourism brings challenges
in increased greenhouse gas (GHG)
emissions, water consumption,
sewage, waste generation and loss or
degradation of coastal habitat,
biodiversity and ecosystem services.
A large portion of global tourism is
focused on the marine and coastal
environment and it is set to rise.
Trends in aging populations, rising
incomes and relatively low transport
costs will make coastal and ocean
locations even more attractive. Cruise
tourism is the fastest growing sector
in the leisure travel industry. A blue
economy approach where ecosystem
services are properly valued and
incorporated into development
planning will further advance this
transition, guiding tourism
development and promoting lower
impact activities, such as eco-tourism
and nature-based tourism, where the
natural capital is maintained as an
integral part of the process.
Urbanization of coastal states
Rapid developments in
urbanization and industrialization in
most of the coastal states all over the
world has led to severe problems in
the coastal areas particularly that of
environment concern both inshore
and off shore zones of the seas and
oceans. The catastrophic effects are
loss or depletion of marine living and
non-living resources, coastal
pollution, livelihood of the coastal
communities, loss of artisanal fishery
and day-to-day income of the
fishermen folk, reverse impact on
coastal tourism industry etc. The
demographic pressure and increase in
the density of population in the
coastal cities day-by-day is creating
severe problems of effective
management of the various issues of
the sustainability and health of the
environment in the coastal areas of
the cities. Added to that half hazard
developmental plans to meet the
demands of requirement of public is
creating a nuisance in effective
management of the urban plans. The
environmental consequences of
urbanization represent one of the
most urgent challenges for
humankind in this century. The
magnitude and time lines involved
are under-appreciated by
professionals and the public at large.
Our administrative governance often
exhibit inadequate response times to
insure solutions to rapidly developing
problems; they must develop new
approaches to coastal management
that consider both the inevitability of
urbanization and the urgency of
addressing the special environmental
challenges that high human density
represents. Novel governance
structures plus research protocols that
advance our understanding of human
dominated coastal ecosystems and
urban environments are essential.
Emerging sea borne international trade
All over the world, countries are
looking for the ways and means to
transport the essential goods and raw
Algal bloom in the Gulf of Oman due to climate change
Indian Farming
August 2018
materials through fastest routes and
cost effective means. Seas and oceans
are being used traditionally as routes
for effective transportation of the
bulk materials. Over the years till
recent past lot of improvements have
taken place in the cargo ships
transportation particularly in the
modernization of engines and
infrastructure facilities so that bulk
materials can be transported in a
faster manner and also retain the
quality. While transportation care is
also being taken to minimize
pollution in the water and maintain
the health of the oceans and seas. As
on today about 90% of world trade is
conducted through the sea and ocean
routes. Advances in shipping
technology improve defficiency of
shipping and contributed to the
sustained rise in the world seaborne
trade. There are about 50,000
merchant ships in operation which
include container ships, bulk carriers,
ferries and cruise ships engaged in
international trade. As per the latest
reported data, the size of seaborne
trade is approximately 9,600 million
tonne. Dry cargo accounts for more
than 70% of the total volume of
seaborne trade in the world. These
include trade in bulk commodities
such as iron ore, coal, grain, bauxite,
alumina, phosphate rock,
containerized trade and general
cargo. Due to rapid urbanization and
industrialization the demand for raw
materials or other products is
increasing day-by-day and in future
this quantity may go up and to meet
this demand, there will be
tremendous increase sea borne trade.
From the blue economy point of
view this aspects becomes an
important factor and therefore the
coastal nations should formulate
appropriate policy frame work in a
holistic manner to facilitate this kind
of international trade for the mutual
Health of seas and oceans
The growing human population,
anthropogenic activities and the rapid
urbanization of coastal areas are all
key land based factors causing higher
levels of pollution in our seas.
Documented marine ‘dead zones’
now number more than 400 covering
an area of over 240,000 km2
including some of the formerly most
productive areas of estuaries and
shelf. There has been an approximate
three-fold increase in the loads of
nitrogen (N) and phosphorous (P)
enrichment to the oceans since pre-
industrial times. A recent study
estimated that mangroves and coastal
wetlands annually sequester carbon at
a rate two- to four-time greater than
mature tropical forests and store
three- to five times more carbon per
equivalent area. Sea-based sources of
pollution are likely to be a growing
issue as maritime shipping increases
and submarine hydrocarbon/mineral
exploration and extraction continue
to expand. Marine debris threatens
the integrity of marine food chains.
Plastic materials and other litter are
widespread from the oceanic
collection zones and gyres, through
the glutinous mass of micro-plastics
that can now be trawled from some
waters to the debris and pellets often
found in the gastrointestinal tract of
sea and bird life. In the context of
blue economy, now the awareness is
coming among the nations about the
severe concern on the impact of
pollution on the precious resources of
the oceans.
Integrated coastal zone management
Integrated coastal zone
managementis, a process of using
coastal areas as an integrated
approach, regarding all aspects of the
coastal zone, including geographical
and political boundaries, in an
attempt to achieve sustainability. This
concept was born in 1992 during
the ‘Earth Summit o f Rio de
Janeiro’. The Integrated Coastal
Zone Management is a dynamic and
multidisciplinary process to promote
sustainable management of coastal
zones. The Integrated Coastal Zone
Management uses the informed
participation and cooperation of all
stakeholders to assess the societal
goals in a given coastal area, and to
take actions towards meeting these
objectives. The Integrated Coastal
Zone Management (ICZM) seeks,
over the long-term, to balance
environmental, economic, social,
cultural and recreational objectives,
all within the limits set by natural
dynamics. It means integration of the
terrestrial and marine components of
the target territory, in both time and
space. Number of coastal nations
were recognised the importance of
ICZM and the benefits of
implementation of this process have
started accruing wherever it has been
introduced. The guidelines of ICZM
were also framed by number
countries but no much efforts have
been made to follow or realize these.
To achieve the benefits of blue
economy coastal nations should
strictly observe the ICZM rules not
only to facilitate sustainability alone
but the sustainability-based upon
rapid development including both
urbanization and industrialization of
the coastal states.
Governance and international co-
Each sovereign country is
responsible for its own resources and
sustainable development. This
national responsibility and
importance of national polices and
development strategies should not
therefore be down played. The
principle of common but
differentiated responsibilities,
however, still applies. Indeed the
need for structured international
cooperation underpins all aspects of
the Blue Economy.
Demand for alternate source of energy
from oceans
The oceans have a tremendous
amount of energy and also resources
of energy production which are close
to many, if not most concentrated
populations. Ocean energy has the
potential of providing a substantial
amount of new renewable energy
around the world. In 2009 offshore
Cargo ship carrying bulk materials
Indian Farming
August 2018
fields accounted for 32% of world-
wide crude oil production and this is
projected to rise to 34% in coming
few years and higher subsequently, as
almost half the remaining recoverable
conventional oil is estimated to be in
offshore fields. Methane (CH4) gas, a
potentially enormous source of
hydrocarbons, are now also being
explored and tapped from the seabed.
Oil will remain the dominant energy
source for many decades to come but
the Ocean offers enormous potential
for the generation of renewable
energy – wind, wave, tidal, biomass,
thermal conversion and salinity
gradients. Of these the offshore wind
energy industry is the most developed
of the ocean based energy sources.
Marine biotechnology
Marine biotechnology has the
potential to address a suite of global
challenges such as sustainable food
supplies, human health, energy
security and environmental
remediation. Marine bacteria are a
rich source of potential drugs. In
2011 there were over 36 marine
derived drugs in clinical
development, including 15 for the
treatment of cancer. One area where
marine biotech may make a critical
contribution is the development of
new antibiotics and biomaterials. On
the energy front algal biofuels offer
promising prospects.
Contribution of blue economy to GDP
The European Science Foundation
postulated a production volume of
20-80 thousand litres of oil/ha/year
can be achieved from micro-algal
culture, with even the lower part of
this range being considerably higher
than terrestrial biofuel crops.
However, as this sector is a
knowledge intensive, public support
formarine science education and
research may be necessary to inspire
greater applications of innovations in
marine biotechnology.
With depletion of land resources,
sustainable development plan has
gained lot of importance in almost all
areas of development. At present
there is a need for a development
strategy which can promise high
growth with sustainable use of
resources for economic development.
Blue Economy has lot of potentials in
fulfilling these objectives by relying
on the ocean health and resources
generated from it. The ocean can
create ample of opportunities, but
sustainability norms need to be
adhered to access these possibilities.
About the contributions of blue
economy to the total GDP, there is a
large amount of variations in
attributing plans and speculations of
the figures from nations to nations.
For example in USA, the European
Union (EU) and China, contribution
of Blue Economy to total GDP
differs significantly whereas in small
countries like Mauritius, Iceland and
Denmark, contribution of Blue
Economy was more to total GDP.
Indonesia and Canada have witnessed
impressive contribution of Blue
Economy in their country’s total
GDP. Similar level of contribution by
Blue Economy has been done by the
countries like Japan, China, Ireland
and Iceland. The contribution of Blue
Economy to overall GDP of China,
and Mauritius is quite significant and
it is reported to be more than 10%.
Some countries reported about their
Blue Economy contributing between
20 and 25% of their GDP and some
of these countries include Malaysia,
Indonesia and Iceland. This indicated
complex nature of estimation
procedure involved in the valuation
of the Blue Economy.
Blue economy is considered as a
holistic development based upon the
optimum and efficient utilization of
oceanic resources without
compromising on the sustainability.
Coastal nations whose economic
developments depend on the marine
resources particularly the small island
countries, they should follow this
kind of approach. Even the advanced
countries like USA, Canada and
Australia consider the Blue economy
as the new source of economic
growth especially after the recession
in overall economy in recent past. By
and large, all coastal nations are of
the view that the Blue Economy is an
important sector of their economies
which should get priority in their
respective legislation and action plan
for ocean development. Many coastal
countries including India consider
the blue economy as a strategic
economic sector for achieving
substantial overall economic growth
and other developmental objectives.
Blue Economy broadly covers living
resources such as fisheries and aquatic
plants and non-living resources such
as polymetallic nodules, cobalt crust,
rare earth metals and other minerals,
oil and gas, port and shipping, coastal
tourism, marine biotechnology,
marine commerce and so on. Of
those, capture fishery, oil and gas
exploration, shipping, coastal tourism
etc. are the traditional sectors
whereas multi-species aquaculture,
fish processing, marine derived bio-
products, seaweed products, coastal
tourism and high-tech marine
products are some of those emerging
sectors of Blue economy. Besides
their current level of contribution,
there is immense potential existing in
the above mentioned sectors for
diversification and industrial
1Former ADG (Fisheries, Division of Fisheries
Science) and 2Scientist, ICAR, Corresponding
e mail:
Table 3. National estimates of Blue
Country Size of the Blue Economy %
Year Output of
(US $ billion) GDP
Australia 2004 17.00 3.6
Canada 2004 15.98 1.5
France 2006 16.69 1.4
New 2006 2.14 2.0
United 2008 84.27 4.2
United 2009 138.0 1.2
China 2010 239.09 4.0
Ireland 2007 1.9 1.0
Prospects of Blue Economy in the
Indian Ocean
by S.K. Mohanty, Priyadarshi
Dash, Aastha Gupta, Pankhuri Gaur, RIS
Research and Information System for
Developing Countries, 2015
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any references for this publication.