NO: DELENG / 2017 / 70663
official media partner of national maritime foundation
Dr. Malini V Shankar, Vice Chancellor, Indian Maritime University & Dr.Sheeja Janardhanan, Associate
By Sea and Coast | 04/02/2022


Rapid industrialization leading to over production and consumption culminated in the degradation of our coastlines and oceans.  The pollution of the marine environment poses a threat to the very existence of life on this earth no matter whether it is micro-organisms or human colonies. While the blue economy model of a developing nation aims at human well-being through opportunities for economic growth and tackling unemployment, food security and poverty, the degradation of marine environment can do no good in realizing these aims. For reaping the fruits of the blue economy, we need to sow the seeds of healthy and safe marine environment and resilient coastlines.

The Effect ofpollution on coastal communities

Pollution has a socio-economic impact on the living of coastal populace. About 3 billion people (40% of world’s population) live within 100 km from the coastline. Long-term exposure to the pollutants causes deprivation of sound health, degradation of heritage, destruction of cultural sites, loss of aesthetics and change in values of coastal communities.Statistics of various sources of marine pollution is shown in Fig.1.

Fig.1 Main sources of marine pollution[source-Liu et-al, 2019]

Maritime transport accounts for the transport of more than 80% of the international trade and has been the backbone in the growth of global economy. The sea-borne trade has doubled between 1990 and 2020 and is estimated to triple by 2050. There are about 55,000 merchant ships operating in the seas as of 2021 contributinga significant share (12%)to the overall pollution of the marine environment.

The major types of pollution arising from shipping and its effect on coastal communities are addressed in Table 1.

Table 1Shippingpollution and its effect on the coastal communities

Source of pollution


Effect on coastal communities


Oceanic debris

Health hazards, reduced catch and damage to fishing boats, propellers and fishing gears due to entanglement


Coastalwaterscontaminated with traces of oil

Chronic diseases, loss of biodiversity and access to beaches, destruction of environment and loss of livelihood due to poor- and low-quality catches

Ballast Water

Growth of invasive non-native species and microbes that migrate to coastal regions

Kills the native species and a threat to coastal industries depending on the infested waters.





Release of gases and particulate matter into the marine environment

Acute respiratory diseases and contribution to global warming


The emissions from ships are a major component of air pollution in coastal areas. About 70% of ship emissions occur within 500 km from land and are believed to contribute significantly to marine pollution. Studies reveal that CO2emissions from fishing boats reported in 2016 has quadrupled since 1950s. Maritime transport emits around 940 million tonnes of CO2 annually and is responsible for about 2.5% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and is estimated to increase by an average of 150% by 2050- an alarming situation that needs swift action.The Global Climatic Change is expected to manifest as grave repercussions on the planet and the posterities. The damage fossil fuels have done to our planet demands a major paradigm shift to renewable resources of energy.

COP26 and its role for swift action.

The 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) held in Glasgow during November 2021 on global climate change organized by the UN had the following three key outcomes envisaged to be in action by 2023.


  1. Adaptation
  • Moving away from fossil fuels
  • Strengthening the Santiago Network
  1. Finance
  • At least double the finance for adaptation
  • USD 100 billion from developed to developing countries
  1. Mitigation
  • Align with Paris Agreement (COP21)
  • Rise in average temperatures limited to 1.50C
  • Unified tables and formats for documenting emissions
  • Enhanced Transparency Framework

World Bank in 2021 reported that theprospects of zero-carbon bunker fuels for decarbonising shipping, thereby commending ammonia and hydrogen as future fuels only ifproduced using renewable electricity. It has also been stated that LNG is unlikely to play a significant role in decarbonising maritime transport.

Decarbonisation and renewable resources in the energy sector seem to be a promising way ahead as a remedy to marine pollution due to emissions and the subsequent global climatic change. Nevertheless, a practical insight unveils the immense scope of renewable sources of energy in the near future. Few countries have already implemented renewable energy in their maritime operations such as Milford Haven seaport; Singapore harbour; port and fishing harbour of Seattle, Croatian solar ferry, Botswana’s solar boats, Kochi’s solar taxi ferries to name a few.

Renewable Energy for Fishing Sector in India

Fishing is a major industry in India employing 14.5 million people, exporting 1 million tonnes a year and earning a foreign exchange of INR 300 billion. However, the Handbook of Fisheries Statistics published by the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, GoI, in 2019 shows a steady decline in Gross Value Added (GVA) to the economy from fisheries from 11.36% in 2016-17 to 6.69% in 2017-18 to a nominal margin of 1.83% in 2018-19 even during the pre-CoViD-19 period and the decline can be attributed to the following reasons

  1. Low catch owing to pollution of coastal and deep-sea waters
  2. High fuel cost forbidding the fishermen to use mechanized crafts

The inadequate size of the catch doesn’t justify the high operational costs of the boat for 4 million fishermen engaged in short distance fishing in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, West Bengal and Kerala. Solar power seems to be a clean energy option for them according to Shri.SandithThandasherry, CEO, Navalt Solar and Electric Boats who revolutionized electrification of marine transport.Moreover, the total CO2 emissions from about 0.25 million fishing boats in India per year is prohibitively massive.

Recalling the key outcomes of COP26 it is clear that adaptation requires finance. The economics of solar electric fishing boats in its present state doesn’t seem to be feasible for Indian fishermen as 61% of thepopulation is below poverty line. It costs INR 1 million per solar electric boat as against INR 0.3 million for a conventional boat. Fishermen or the boat owners have to bear aninitial onus of INR 0.7 million forbuyingsolar electric boats.

The Government of India (GoI) has been supporting the fishermen through a centrally sponsored scheme on “Development of Marine Fisheries, Infrastructure and Post-Harvest Operation”which offers subsidies for fishermen but not limited to the following

  1. Intermediate craft of improved design

This scheme provides a back ended subsidy up to INR 0.4 million for improving the design of an existing craft of length range 18m.

  1. Motorization of traditional crafts

Under this scheme a total subsidy of INR 20,000 per unit of outboard motors of 8-10 HP will be provided. The centre and state governments shall have equal shares in the subsidy.

  1. Fishermen development rebate on HSD oil

A subsidy of INR 1.5 per litre is provided for fuel

  1. Resource specific deep sea fishing vessels

A subsidy up to INR 1.5 million for converting trawlers into resource specific vessels.

The total subsidy is estimated to INR 2 million per craft with a budget allocation of INR 4.5 billion for the entire scheme. There are schemes introduced by stategovernments too. Recently Tamil Nadu government has offered a flat subsidy of INR 3 million per craft fornew builds.

A solution for abridging the gap of INR 0.7 million per solar boatwould be to request GoIto extend the scheme to electrification of crafts.This calls for immediate policy reforms for making the fishing marine transport clean and green in India.

Other Opportunities in Indiafor Cleaner Coastlines

The coastal communities in the pursuit of clean and safe living can avail the following opportunities

  1. An estimated USD 1+ trillion funds for developing countries for decarbonising shipping as well as setting up land-based infrastructure such a renewable energy and fuel synthesis plants.
  2. India has the world’s fifth-largest installed solar power capacity with 38 GW in 2019 and production of 54 TW of electricity.
  3. Pradhan Mantri MatsyaSampada Yojana (PMMSY) with an allocation of INR 1000 crores.
  4. USD 100 billion from developed to developing countries according to COP26.


Implementation of renewable energy in the marine transport sector, fishing crafts to start with can be considered as a step towards combatting global climatic change that demands colossal support both socially and technologically.Universities and educational institutionsplay a lead role in bridging the gaps existing todayby spreading awareness and providing technological solutions.

The root cause for the present problems lies in the way we look at our oceans-the source of life on earth. It is now time for rethinking and redevising the way we consumed everything possible on earth anddumped thetrash into oceans. Oceans are the mirrors reflecting our inner selves. Let’s keep them clean for a better living on this planet.