Blue Economy

  • According to the World Bank, the blue economy is defined as the sustainable development of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of the ocean ecosystem.
  • It emphasizes the integration of the development of the ocean economy with social inclusion and environmental sustainability, combined with innovative business models.
  • Around 3-5% of global GDP is derived from oceans and it has great potential for boosting economic growth by providing opportunities for income generation, jobs, etc.
  • Over 80% of international goods are transported by sea.
  • The UN has declared the period 2021-2030 as the ‘UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development’.

India’s Scenario

  • India has a coastline of more than 7500 km and an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of more than 2.2 million sq km.
  • 9 of India’s states have access to the coastline.
  • India comprises 200 ports, of which 12 are major ports that handled 541.76 million tonnes in FY21, the highest being Mormugao Port, located in Goa.
  • India is the second-largest fish-producing nation in the world and has a fleet of 2,50,000 fishing boats.
  • India’s blue economy accounts for roughly 4% of the GDP and is estimated to increase over the period.

Activities in Blue Economy

The blue economy encompasses a diverse range of activities that are critical for sustainable development. Some are listed below:
1. Renewable Energy: Sustainable marine energy such as offshore wind and wave energy promotes sustainable development and helps in reducing reliance on nonrenewable energy sources.
2. Fisheries: Sustainable fisheries management ensures more revenue, and a continuous supply of fish, and contributes to the restoration of fish stocks, thus supporting both economic and environmental goals.
3. Maritime Transport: It is a cornerstone of the global economy, connecting nations and facilitating trade.
4. Tourism: Ocean and coastal tourism offer recreational opportunities, and contribute to job creation and economic growth, making it a key component of the blue economy.
5. Climate Change: Oceans act as crucial carbon sinks, absorbing and storing carbon dioxide, a phenomenon known as ‘blue carbon’.
6. Waste Management: Proper waste disposal practices prevent pollution, marine debris, and environmental degradation, fostering ocean recovery.

Importance of the Blue Economy for India

  • Ocean and Resources

The ocean and its EEZ offer great economic opportunities, having both living and non-living resources.


  • Fisheries can be categorized as marine fisheries and inland fisheries.
  • Fisheries have contributed Rs. 46,663 crores to the economy through exports in 2019-20.
  • In 1950-51, fish production amounted to 0.75 MMT (million metric tonnes), and in 2019- 20, it was 14.2 MMT.
  • Out of 14.2 MMT production, marine fish production was 3.7 MMT, and inland fish production was 10.4 MMT (Annual Report of the Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, 2021).


  • The continental margins of India have an extensive variety of terrigenous, biogenous, and homogenous mineral deposits.
  • Heavy minerals like ilmenite, magnetite, monazite, zircon, and rutile were reported from the beaches of Indian coastal states.


  • The sea beds are the major source of hydrocarbons. India has 26 sedimentary basins, spread across a total area of 3.4 million square kilometres.
  • India has about 34 MMT of oil and 33 BCM of gas production.
  • The current annual oil and natural gas consumption is about 1.3 billion barrels and 65 billion cubic meters, which is not met with internal resources, raising dependence on imports.

Renewable Energy

  • It includes energy from natural phenomena like sunlight, Onshore wind, Offshore wind, hydroelectric, tides, waves, etc.
  • Technologies like tidal lagoons, tidal reefs, tidal fences, and tidal barrages are used for tidal energy generation.
  • Renewable energy in offshore regions has tremendous potential in the form of offshore wind, waves, ocean currents, including tidal currents, and thermal energy.
  • Out of all the different renewable energies generated from oceans, the offshore wind energy industry is the most developed.
  • Ports, Shipping, and Marine Tourism.
  • India has a network of 12 major ports and 187 non-major ports.
  • Approximately 95% of the country’s trade by volume and 68% by value is moved through maritime transport.
  • India has one of the largest merchant shipping fleets among the developing countries and ranks 17″ in the world, the shipping sector is also one of the key livelihoods providers in the blue economy.
  • Marine tourism is the fastest growing globally, and in India, coastal tourism has contributed largely to both the state economies and livelihood creation.
  • Ocean Science and Services
  • Observations, data, and information services: Ocean and coastal observations, data, and information services are of paramount importance for all Blue Economy stakeholders. Operational services such as Marine Fishery Advisories, Ocean State Forecasts, Tsunami and Storm Surge Early Warnings, Sea Level Rise, Oil Spill Trajectories, Marine Search and Rescue Information, Water Quality Forecasts, Coral Bleaching Alerts, Harmful Algal Blooms, Coastal Vulnerability, etc. are key to enhancing the safety of lives and livelihoods of coastal communities, and the efficiency of maritime.
  • Impact of climate change and disasters on the blue economy: The ocean holds vast natural capital (Ocean Asset Value), estimated at USD 24 trillion. However, ocean warming, sea-level rise, ocean acidification, and marine pollution are damaging marine ecosystems, productivity, and the lives and livelihoods of those dependent.
  • Marine Biodiversity: Its Conservation and sustainable use of marine and coastal biodiversity is essential to ensure that the world’s oceans, seas, and marine living resources remain vital for current and future generations.
  • Healthy Oceans: The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG 14), Life Below Water, of the UN call for the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and marine resources. The growing menace of marine pollution, especially from plastics and microplastics, has to be addressed by a robust Plastic Elimination and National Marine Litter policy involving multiple stakeholders.
  • Research Gap: The blue economy is a new topic that has gained importance in the 21st century. There are many studies on the blue economy at the national and international levels in marine biology, marine technology, marine chemistry, geology, shipping, oceanography, etc.

Niche areas

  • Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning: It is a science-based approach that can be used to analyze and allocate coastal and marine uses over space and time to address specific ocean management challenges and advance goals for economic development and conservation.

Source of Employment in the Blue Economy

  • Fishing and Aquaculture: Traditional sectors like fishing, aquaculture, and fish processing have been significant sources of employment in the blue economy for many decades.
  • Marine Tourism: activities like cruise travel, boating, scuba diving, and more, contribute to employment and economic growth in coastal regions.
  • Shipping and Ports: The growth in the logistics sector, driven by industrial demand, emphasizes the increasing role of ports in future employment.
  • Shipbuilding: It holds significant potential and employs individuals with diverse skills.
  • Offshore Wind and Marine Biology: Emerging sectors like offshore wind and marine biology provide new employment opportunities.
  • Skill Development Initiatives: The blue economy has the potential to engage a large workforce and has been doing so for the past many decades.


  • From traditional fishing practices to innovative sectors like offshore wind and marine biology, the blue economy is evolving. Skill development initiatives, youth involvement, and the preservation of traditional knowledge are integral to harnessing the full potential of the blue economy and ensuring prosperity for all.