India and Norway will work jointly in the area of marine spatial planning for the next five years, the Ministry of Earth Sciences said on Wednesday.
They have identified Lakshadweep and Puducherry as pilot sites for the project.
The first project steering committee meeting with representatives from both the countries was conducted virtually recently after which the two countries have charted out a plan to ensure that human activities at sea take place in an efficient, safe, and sustainable manner in areas such as energy, transportation, fisheries, aquaculture, tourism across multiple sectors.
This is a part of the Indo-Norway Integrated Ocean Initiative under the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the two countries in 2019.
The two countries have decided to extend support for sustainable ocean resources utilisation to advance economic and social development in coastal areas, it said.
The initiative, known as Marine Spatial Planning (MSP), will be implemented by the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) through the National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR) for India.
“In its primary phase, NCCR will develop a marine spatial planning framework for Puducherry and Lakshadweep,” the MoES said.
These sites have been chosen for the pilot project in view of their setups with unique opportunities for multiple sectors (such as industries, fisheries, and tourism) to flourish.
India”s initial investments for undertaking the studies and planning are estimated to be around Rs 8-10 crore per year.
In the future, marine spatial planning framework of these two environmentally critical areas can be replicated to other coastal regions of the country.
The World Bank and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) have expressed interest in supporting MoES in conducting MSP, a societal-beneficial initiative for India”s coastal regions, it said.
The MSP initiative will be implemented by MoES and the Norwegian Environment Agency through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway.
Earlier, NCCR had developed coastal management plans for Chennai, Goa, and Gulf of Kutch which proved very successful.
Now, the MSP initiative will aid development of multiple economic sectors and stakeholders in greater number of coastal areas of the country, it added.