Blue Water Economy in India – Is there a need for a revolution?

Blue Water Economy

Concerning economics, a blue economy means the preservation of marine resources in a country. It involves those economic activities that are engaged with the various mechanisms of the oceans. As the world is made up of more than 70% of water bodies and oceans, it’s not a surprising fact that the state actors, the big corporations, and policy think-tankers will seize the opportunity of the blue economy. The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) point out that the blue economy contributes to the overall economic development of the country with the sustainable development of the environment. It includes the optimum utilization of the resources such as fisheries, aquaculture, marine tourism, etc. The blue economy has developed livelihood security for the local people as well as the protection of the environment under one domain in India.

This article talks about the blue economy in India, its meaning, and its effect on the lives of the people. This article also discusses the scope and challenges of the blue economy in India in socio-legal contexts.    

Meaning and definitions of Blue Economy

The definition or conceptualization of the blue economy is multi-sectoral as well as multi-dimensional. There is no rigid or written definition of the term blue economy. It differs from country to country and even from scholar to scholar.    

The meaning of the blue economy as discussed earlier is the preservation of marine resources in a country. The word ‘marine resources’ includes things like the occupation of people such as fisheries, marine tourism, aquaculture, marine transport, etc. 

There are various definitions of the blue economy derived from different organizations such as

  • World BankThe blue economy means sustainable development and protection of healthy oceans and coastal ecosystems which are crucial for economic growth, food production, and improving livelihood.
  •  Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry – The blue Economy incorporates a varied range of economic activities for the sustainable development of resources and assets in the oceans, coastal regions, or water bodies.
  • Commonwealth of NationsThe blue economy is an emerging concept that encourages better monitoring of our ocean or water bodies. 

Definition of Blue Economy in India’s Context

Blue Water Economy
Image Courtesy – BoldBusiness

The definition of the blue economy in the Indian context encompasses different aspects such as off-shore sovereignty, on-shore infrastructure, economically viable resources in water bodies and water beds, national as well as international marine routes, and technological development in seas, and oceans. It also includes other things like fisheries, tourism, governance over water bodies, maritime security, international treaties, etc. All these things come within the ambit of the blue economy. 

Blue Economy has a huge potential in it to boost the economy of the world. Many nations have proposed the idea and also implemented them in the Indian Ocean as well as the Bay of Bengal. Bangladesh was the first country to host an international conference in 2014 on proposing the partnership between the Bay of Bengal and the blue economy. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also stated that the blue economy can be used as a tool for India’s Development emphasizing the protection of shared marines for Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR).

Scope of the Blue Economy in India

The blue economy in India has affected not only the economic development of the country but also the lives of the people of India. The blue economy helped in increasing the use of renewable energy resources. Renewable energy resources play a vital role in the socioeconomic development of the country. The blue economy also includes one of the most important activities in India i.e., fisheries. India stands at the third position all over the world in Fisheries production. The government of India made the National Fisheries Policy for promoting a blue economy in India. Fisheries contribute more than 1.07% of the total GDP of the country. India also stands at the second most position in the whole world in aquaculture. The fisheries have contributed to employment also as it employs over 11 million people in it.  

The blue economy has also increased the usage of water transport in India. More than 85% of goods that are exported or imported or moved within the country are done through domestic and international waterways. The blue economy includes those activities which help in pertaining to and sustaining the waterways. It also helped in raising the living standards as well as the employment level of the country as the lives of many depend on it. It is estimated that the trade done through waterways will rise exponentially in the upcoming years and decades. The other effect of the blue economy is on tourism or marine tourism in the country. Marine tourism acts as a main source of revenue for many states in India like Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, etc. It has given jobs to millions of people and also contributes to the GDP of the country. 

India also undertook various initiatives to expand the scope of the blue economy, such as

  • Sagarmala Project -This project was made with the objective to develop inland waterways and coastal shipping as well as help the people sustain ocean resources. This project was the strategic initiative for port-led development through advanced technological means. 
  • O-SmartThe Ocean Services Technology Observations Resources Modelling and Science (O-Smart). It was an umbrella scheme that was developed by the government to regulate the use of oceans and marine resources. It includes a total of 16 sub-projects under it.      

Challenges in India

  A blue economy has the major potential to boon the economy of any country. Not surprisingly many people all around the world whether they are big financial corporates or the government itself have started to misuse marine bodies for their benefit. As time passes by and as the need for people raises the challenge for the blue economy will increase. Now, the challenges that are faced and will be faced by the blue economy in India are:

  •  Over/Unsustainable Fishing Practices As fisheries are the major employment-generating occupation in coastal areas the need for regulation is very necessary. A pre-British era law was made in India in 1897 for the regulation of the fisheries which served as the basic foundation of fisheries law in today’s context. The Marine Fishing Regulation Act 1979 and the Water Prevention and Control of Pollution Act (1974) are such laws that regulate the fisheries in India. [3] Even though these laws have been made and strict guidelines are given to adhere to, still there has been an overfishing practice in India. The fishermen are in the practice of black marketing the fish to earn more money. This thing is severely jeopardizing the food chain as well as the natural balance of nature. Due to the excessive killing of fish many fishes have gone extinct. 
  • Pollution Pollution is one of the major challenges that is being faced by the whole earth. Water pollution, air pollution from machines and industries also accidents the cargo ships carrying oils, and bursting of oil pipes are some major reasons for pollution. Even though various laws have been passed such as the Water Prevention and Control of Pollution Act of 1974, and The Water Prevention and Control of Pollution Cess Act of 2003 but the pollution level in India is still at alarming levels.
  • Geopolitical issuesGeopolitical issues are also a major hindrance or challenge against a blue economy. Diplomatic tensions over a particular land, or territorial disputes overseas and oceans are some examples of geopolitical issues. The countries waste their resources in capturing or showing their dominance over a particular land and fighting wars for the same.     


  The blue economy gives varied opportunities for booming the economy of the country. It can be a major source of help to those states or countries whose main source of income depends on marine bodies. India has a vast coastal region surrounding it from the southern side or the southwestern side of the country. Whether it is the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea, or the Indian Ocean itself, India has ample opportunities in developing a blue economy. The Blue Economy can lend substantial contributions towards the eradication of poverty, contribution towards food and nutritional security of the country, the elimination of climate change, and the promotion of sustainable and comprehensive livelihoods.

The development of the desired blue economy would require an extensive amount of work and cooperation amongst the private corporations, the government, the local communities of the coastal areas, and some non-governmental corporations also. It would be the utmost priority of these bodies to work in harmony to achieve the desired objective. It would also be valuable for us to learn the compliance mechanism and the legislative models of other states or communities such as Pacific communities and Caribbean communities. Adaptation of the best methods would lead the country towards a stronger foundation of provincialism upon which the new approaches towards fisheries, food security, and sustainable development of the Nation could be achieved.