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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

MoES plans first coastal spatial mapping initiative for sustainable ocean activities

In the first phase of this pilot project, MSP is planned for Puducherry and Lakshadweep.

Written by Anjali Marar | Pune |
Updated: March 5, 2021 7:10:45 pm
India has initiated the process to improve its usage of ocean and marine resources through its proposed Blue Economy Policy 2020 to be developed by the MoES. (Express photo/Representational)

Indian and Norwegian ocean scientists will soon embark on a first-of-its-kind coastal mapping initiative to assess the scope of developing sustainable activities supporting industry, fisheries, tourism and similar ocean-centric activities.

The five-year programme, Marine Spatial Planning (MSP), is one of many initiatives planned between the two countries. Last year, the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) had inked an MoU with their Norwegian counterparts for the Indo-Norway Integrated Ocean Initiative.

In the first phase of this pilot project, MSP is planned for Puducherry and Lakshadweep. Leading the project are experts from Chennai-based National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR), who have started initial sampling work at Puducherry. Since these sites are on either coast and have diverse requirements, the scientific teams are exploring all possibilities for multiple sectors.

India has a vast coastline measuring over 7,517 km. Nine coastal states and 1,382 islands are dependent for their livelihoods on the Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean, and 95 per cent of India’s trade is handled via these seas.

India has initiated the process to improve its usage of ocean and marine resources through its proposed Blue Economy Policy 2020 to be developed by the MoES.

“MSP is an important component of India’s Blue Economy and it is common for countries with such a policy to undertake MSP. In this project, experts will perform high resolution mapping of coastal locations and territorial water. The assessment will help understand the scope of industries and activities which can be proposed here alongside protecting marine life and biodiversity in the region,” M Rajeevan, Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences, told The Indian Express.

Blue Economic policy will steer and enhance ocean-centric activities, including tourism, fisheries and fish processing and other industries, along both the coast and territorial waters, experts said.

In the absence of such an economic policy, ocean resources could be exploited due to unplanned and unscientific developmental works, the MoES Secretary added.

Once the mapping is complete, expected within three years from commencement, the scientific teams shall present a report proposing suitable and sustainable activities for these two sites. NCCR had previously studied the coasts of Chennai, Goa and Kutch and suggested coastal management plans.

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India will spend an estimated Rs 8-10 crore per year for the present MSP whereas the Norwegian team will extend technical knowledge, offer guidance and share human resources required for the mapping and planning. The United Nations Development Programme and the World Bank, too, have expressed their keenness to partner with the MoES in this initiative.

Ministries of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Trade, Industry and Fisheries, Tourism, Shipping, Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying along with state governments of Tamil Nadu and Lakshadweep UT are involved in this inter-ministerial project.

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