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Blue Economy: Sectors generating employments
By Amit Kumar | 04/09/2021

India is a vast country with a 7500 kilometers long coastline spread across 9 different states and four union territories.

Apart from the mainland, India has two island union territories. With 12 major and 200 minor ports handling the international trade for the country, we can call India, an ocean dependent economy. The ocean alone handles the country’s 95% of international trade through transportation and contributes a massive 4% to the country’s GDP.

Being the second-largest aquaculture fish producing country, India relies on the Blue Economy for employment of the massive population, and also to grow its economy and stature. for the past many decades. The sectors of Blue Economy like fishing, aquaculture, tourism, Shipping, port activities and seafood processing with the advent of technology and awareness in the maritime industry got new additions to the Blue Economy like Offshore Industry and shipbuilding which have also generated many opportunities for employment in the country. India holds the second largest ship-breaking yard in Alang, Gujrat, which helps 1000s of Youth in India to meet their financial needs.

India is a fishing major country, with about 16 million people finding their employment in the industry at the primary level and almost 32 million people involved in the value chain. The industry not only provides the money to meet their needs but also the sector possesses the key potential to feed the country.

The merchant fleet of the country standing at the 17th rank in the world is one of the largest in Asia and the World. The shipping industry has over 2 lakh seafarers involved in Indian and foreign-flagged ships, traversing the globe.

One of the most important Blue Economy assets is the seaports. 12 major ports handle economic activities at the international level for many decades. The 200 minor ports have also contributed in the last 4 years. The employment opportunities in the smaller ports grew to 19,102 vacancies in 2017 which was only 1933 in 2003. This shows a 10x growth in the smaller ports. Minor ports have also increased the cargo handling facilities multi-fold. The central reasons for this massive change at the ports as the Blue Economy working group suggests are better infrastructure and strategic location of the ports.

The blue economy doesn’t only include major occupations like fishing and shipping. It also includes the fastest growing sector of Marine Tourism. Having a coastline full of lagoons and beaches, India holds a sea of opportunities in coastal tourism. In 2016, researchers reported a 22 per cent inclusion of Marine tourism in the total employment of the state of Karnataka. Being one of the worst-hit sectors in the COVID scenario, Marine tourism is expected to see new horizons after the vaccination of the world. To increase tourism various campaigns are being launched and coastal tourism is expected to see a good rse in numbers.

Blue Economy in India: Employment Opportunities

The blue economy is expanding in unprecedented ways, including emerging industries such as various types of power generation, ocean thermal energy conservation (OTEC), biotechnology, and marine biology. The industry concerned with offshore wind energy is the most developed industry out of all the renewable energies outsourced from the oceans. Lack of skills and training, investment, and technical support are important factors leading to the slow growth of the other industries. To encourage its development in India, the Minister of State for Energy, New and Renewable Energy and Skills Development and Entrepreneurship, in 2019, approved and announced ocean energy as renewable energy; however, this sector still has to go a long way in terms of maximising its yield while creating more job opportunities, at the same time.

The blue economy is not just a market opportunity; it also protects and promotes intangible blue resources, such as traditional lifestyles, carbon sequestration, and coastal resilience, to help the most affected countries mitigate the destructive effects of climate change.With the growing influence of climate change on marine ecosystems, marine biologists' involvement in resolving many of these issues has grown in importance.

Their work includes assisting offshore oil and gas companies in mitigating the negative effects of their offshore operations and being committed to creating specific marine protected areas and artificial reefs/wrecks to aid marine wildlife.

Another rising subject is marine biotechnology, which is concerned with researching and creating technical applications for live marine creatures, their derivatives, and bioprocesses. The Marine Biotechnology Programme was established in 1988-89 to fund research and development and demonstration projects aimed at developing valuable products and processes from marine resources. However, just 180 people have been trained as a result of the initiative till date. At the national level, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) created a Task Force on Aquaculture and Marine Biotechnology in 1998, which has subsequently overseen individual research initiatives as well as network collaborations with national and international partners. At the state level, states such as Gujarat have developed a marine biotechnology strategy. As a result, this industry is in the process of developing, and it, like many other new and rising industries, requires both financial and technological pushes, followed by talent development to fulfil future demands.

Because the present blue economy structure consists mostly of job possibilities in traditional sectors such as fishing, marine tourism, shipping, and offshore exploration, the majority of these sectors, particularly fishing and marine tourism, rely on pre-existing skill sets.

However, because of different climatic and environmental changes in the marine ecology, these skill sets will not be able to fulfil the rising demand for fish. Furthermore, fishing as a sector is increasingly transitioning from subsistence farming to commercial through agricultural methods such as aquaculture, which need technical capabilities at all levels of the value chain. The Agriculture Skill Council of India (ASCI) has defined the different employment positions in the aquaculture industry in cooperation with industry and institutions, but creating skilling programmes in line with these jobs is still a work in progress.

Similarly, shipping and ports require specialised labour, but meeting the sector's expanding and changing demands will necessitate re-skilling and upskilling in the future. Recently, the Ministry of Shipping signed an agreement with the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) to profit from the huge job possibilities in the marine industry while also certifying the sector's skill sets.

The shipbuilding sector has a tremendous potential in India, and it employs individuals with a variety of talents, with the possibility for more in the future if skill development continues. These industries are also working toward sustainability by employing recyclable or biodegradable materials in ship construction, guaranteeing energy efficiency, and even resource efficiency. Initiatives such as the 'Green Initiatives Programme' and the 'Green Ports Project' are targeted at attaining sustainability and have a significant potential for job creation along the value chain. Furthermore, encouraging indigenisation and self-sufficiency in the industry may result in more job possibilities. Given the development trajectory of the Indian logistics sector, which has been boosted by industrial demand, ports will play an even larger role in the future. Currently, the industry is made up of semi-skilled or minimally-educated individuals, but as the business evolves and matures, specific managerial skills as well as strong interpersonal and analytical abilities will be required.

Offshore locations offer great potential in the form of offshore ocean currents, waves, wind, including thermal energy, and tidal currents, which may help meet the growing need for renewable energy. However, development of offshore wind energy in India remains in its early stages, owing largely to technological limitations and a scarcity of qualified labour. Regional-level skill development programmes can accomplish both deployment and skilled workforce for operations and maintenance.

A way forward

India as everybody does know has one of the most unique positions in the globe. The long coastline of 7517 km is home to nearly 9 coastal states and more than 1350 islands. According to the latest data, there are 12 major ports and 187 non-major ports registered under the shipping government of India. In 2019, all the ports in total looked over about 633.87 million tons of cargo. Approximately 95% of the total import and export is done through waterways in the subcontinent. This Indian exclusive financial zone across two million square kilometres is enriched with both living and non-living resources and entitles certain recoverable resources of crude oil and natural gas. It has immense potential to boost the creation of values in coastal construction and services, logistics, trade, deep ocean minerals, aquaculture and pisciculture, and marine technology.

As a result, India's huge marine interests are inextricably linked to the country's economic prosperity and national security. The subcontinent's Blue Economy is a subset of the country's entire financial situation that comprises the complete system of sea resources and human-made revenue infrastructure in ocean-related elements, maritime, and coastal zones settled onshore. Within the legal authority of India, which helps in the creation of products and services and has obvious links to economic growth, environmental sustainability, and national security.

In 1994, the theoretical economic approach of Blue Economy was designed by Professor Gunter Pauli of the United Nations University (UNU). This was done to highlight the needs of future development and prosperity, as well as the hazards posed by continuous increase in global warming. The Blue Economy attracted notoriety during the Rio- Third Earth Summit Conference in 2012. The symposium aimed to broaden the notion of the Green Economy to include the Blue Economy.

The Sustainable Development Goal 14 of the United Nations aims to “conserve and sustainably utilise the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development.” As a guiding concept for world governance and the utilisation of ocean resources. Several member nations have established their own Blue Economy definitions and ideas.

Various national and global projects are being conducted all over the world to harness the Blue Economy.

Countries such as Australia, Brazil, the United Kingdom, the United States, Russia, and Norway have created dedicated national ocean policies with quantifiable objectives and funding allocations. Countries such as Canada and Australia have adopted legislation and built hierarchical structures at the federal and state levels to guarantee Blue Economy objectives are met.

In 1981, India was one of the first countries in the world to establish a Department of Ocean Development. Depending on more than three decades of experience, India has gone a long way with the introduction of newly established programmes such as the "Deep Ocean Mission," "Oceanography from Space," and "Launching of Data Buoys" across the total coastline of India. The successor Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) has collaborated with the United Nations on the “Clean Seas Programme” to create methods for measuring and decreasing marine litter/plastic in the oceans, which is also a component of SDG-14. India also has absolute rights to explore for polymetallic nodules and polymetallic sulphides in the Indian Ocean's international waters in 75000 square kilometres and 10000 square kilometres, respectively.

The Blue Economy was emphasised as one of the ten fundamental aspects of economic growth in the Government of India's Vision of New India by 2030, which was announced in February 2019.

The Blue Economy was stated as the sixth dimension of this Vision, emphasising the importance of consistent policies. The Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) began an earlier Draft Policy on the Blue Economy in 2015, however it was never finished. Several concepts from the policy document have been included into this policy framework.

About other 

Amit Kumar, an ex Merchant Mariner is founder and CEO of Sea and Coast Maritime Magazine. 

Following the career at sea, he went on to become a maritime journalist and aced it. He has acted as a liaison between stakeholders, dignitaries, navy veterans, shipping professionals and maritime fraternity through his popular exclusive columns in monthly publication of the magazine.  
He presides the content, marketing and distribution team of the magazine which exclusively covers maritime affairs and has strived continuously for maintaining apex standard in educating world of complex and rapid changing shipping industry and global supply chain.

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