Online Quiz Test

Building a Blue Economy: Chinese Lessons

GS 3 Indian Economy & Related Issues Infrastructure Ports

In Context

  • India must develop its own fishing fleet and construct contemporary harbors to advance its blue economy and maritime security objectives.

What is Blue Economy?

  • According to the World Bank, the blue economy is:
  • “Sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of the ocean ecosystem.”
  • The European Union defines it as:
  • “All economic activities involving oceans, seas, and coastlines.”

Significance of India’s Blue Economy:

India’s blue economy

  • It is a subset of the national economy consisting of the entire ocean resources system and human-made economic infrastructure in the country’s marine, maritime, and onshore littoral zones.

Coastal states and islands

  • With some 7,500 kilometres, India has a unique maritime position. Nine of its 29 states are coastal, and it’s geography includes 1,382 islands.

Ports and Exclusive Economic Zone

  • Nearly 199 ports, including 12 main ports, handle approximately 1,400 million tons of cargo annually.
  • Additionally, India’s Exclusive Economic Zone, which encompasses more than 2 million square kilometers, is rich in living and nonliving resources, including significant recoverable resources such as crude oil and natural gas.

Coastal settlements

  • Over four million fishermen and coastal communities are supported by the littoral economy.

India’s fisheries sector:

  •  Fish, a cheap and nutrient-dense source of animal protein, is one of the healthiest options for mitigating starvation and malnutrition in India.

Post independence scenario

  • Since Independence, India’s marine fishery has been dominated by the “artisanal sector” — poor, small-scale fishers who can only afford small sailboats or canoes to fish for subsistence.
  • India’s artisanal fishers deliver only 2 percent of marine fish to the market, while 98 percent is caught by mechanized and motorised craft.

Current growth

  • The sector has shown consistent growth and become a significant source of foreign exchange: • India is one of the world’s leading exporters of seafood.
  • Fisheries provide a primary source of income for approximately 15 million fishers and fish producers and almost twice as many jobs along the value chain, in transportation, cold storage, and marketing.
Learnings from China:

  •  Since the lack of agriculture has compelled China to become a net importer of food grains, the fishing industry has been mobilized to meet the rising demand for protein in the Chinese diet.

Deepwater fishing

• As a result, China is now a “fishery superpower” with the world’s largest deep-water fishing (DWF) fleet, including vessels that spend months or years at sea.

• Although China consumed 38% of the world’s fish production in 2016, its DWF fleet carried home only 20% of the world’s catch.

Distant deepwater fishing

  •  To bridge this divide, China began distant deepwater fishing in 1985 and, with “protein and profit” in mind, signed contracts to fish in the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of numerous Asian and African nations.Intriguingly, China employs a portion of its fishing fleet as a “maritime militia” that aids the navy and coast guard in their missions.

Issues & challenges for India’s fisheries:

Absence of deepwater fleet

  • If India had invested in a deepwater fleet, its fisheries statistics would have been much higher.
  •  Since Indian trawlers do not venture into rich fishing grounds, the majority of fishing is conducted in coastal waters, and our fishermen must compete with those of Sri Lanka and Pakistan in restricted fishing grounds.

Drifting of vessels

  •  Fishing vessels frequently drift, accidentally or otherwise, into foreign waters, resulting in capture by navies/coast guards and lengthy imprisonment of the crew.

Unexplored EEZ

  • Additionally, the rich resources in India’s EEZ remain underexploited, and a significant portion of the catch from our fishing grounds is taken by the better-equipped fishing fleets of other Indo-Pacific nations, some of which engage in illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing.
  •  IUU fishing has serious security and environmental implications.

Lack of cold storage and exports

  • The majority of India’s fisheries exports are currently at a low degree of value addition — in frozen and chilled form — as opposed to “ready-to-eat” or “ready-to-cook” marine products.


  • As with many other maritime sectors, India must develop a long-term vision for its fisheries industry with a focus on four areas:

Mechanisation and modernisation

  •  Financing the mechanization and modernization of artisanal fishing vessels by providing communication connections and electronic fish-detection devices;

Deep-water fishing fleets

  •  Developing deep-water fishing fleets comprised of larger, ocean-going trawlers with refrigeration facilities;

“Mother ship” concept

  •  A DWF fleet must be based on the “mother ship” concept, in which a large vessel would accompany the fleet to provide petroleum, medical, and preservation/processing facilities;

Post-harvest facilities

  • Construction of modern fishing harbors with adequate berthing and post-harvest facilities, such as cool storage, preservation, and packaging of fish.

Government initiatives:

Matsaya Sampada Yojana

  • It will bring about the Blue Revolution by utilizing the potential of fisheries in a responsible, sustainable, inclusive, and equitable manner.

Sagarmala Project

  •  The Sagarmala Program’s vision is to reduce logistics costs for export-import and domestic trade with minimal infrastructure investments.

Coastal Economic Zones

  •  The government designates CEZs in the National Perspective Plan for the Sagarmala Programme.
  •  CEZs aim to promote exports by providing entrepreneurs with the infrastructure and facilities needed to establish businesses and industries near ports.

Indian Ocean Rim Association

  • India has been actively participating in the IORA to promote the blue economy in the littoral nations of the Indian Ocean.

Way ahead

  • Countries such as Australia, Brazil, the United Kingdom, the United States, Russia, and Norway have developed ocean policies with measurable outcomes and budgetary provisions.

Daily Mains Question

[Q] The blue economy occupies a vital potential position in India’s economic development. Analyse. What can India learn from China, the “fishery superpower” of today?