The recent development in marine technology has resulted in tremendous economic growth. However, it has also brought about marine habitat degradation. The blue economy which is the main engine behind this economic growth consists of the shipping industry, oil and gas industry, deep-sea mining, and other marine activities. This research paper highlights that there is a lack of a powerful framework in the IOR which has accounted for the need for a marine strategic framework for the protection of the marine environment in the IOR.
This research note also discusses details on the various regulatory organizations in the IOR such as IORA and BIMSTEC. It also mentions the gap in the present regulatory framework. This research paper further states that the major task of the framework would be to form a policy that would be adopted to achieve set targets. It further states that any such policy formation would have to consider the political background, socio-economics, geopolitics, and technology parameters of the region.
- The Marine Strategic Framework Directive (MSFD) is one of the foremost regulatory frameworks to counter acoustic habitat degradation. Its strategy consists of the initial assessment and monitoring followed by a set of targets and then further monitoring of the program.
- There is a lack of a proper framework in the IOR concerning underwater noise, accounting for the need for a marine strategic framework for the protection of the marine environment in the IOR.
- The World Bank defines the Blue Economy as the “sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem.”
- It consists of various sectors with Offshore oil and gas, shipping, offshore wind power, and maritime transport being a few. But the blue economy has not been sustainable, with a lack of regulation for the sole purpose of economic prosperity. Besides
- Anthropogenic noise can induce major behavioral changes in marine mammals including stranding on beaches, change in vocalization, and displacement from the area.
- Underwater noise has also been observed to have caused physiological and behavioral changes in the fish that marine mammals feed on.
Key Challenges & Opportunities
- A gap in the present regulatory framework: Though disaster risk management addresses anthropogenic hazards, it mostly considers cases of oil spills and leakage of poisonous substances.
- Coordination among state and non-government entities to adhere to the framework: The MSFD is a regulatory framework adopted by the European Commission, and EU Member states adhere to it. There are several inter-government agencies in the Indian Ocean Region that can bring about the formation and implementation of a strategic framework but they lack the adhesivity of the European Union.
- A framework should address the tropical littoral nature of the Indian Ocean Region: A crucial task in the assessment of underwater noise is acoustic monitoring. SOFAR depth indicates the depth at which acoustic signal undergoes the least disturbance.
- Policy formation to counter Acoustic Habitat Degradation: The major task of the framework would be the policy adopted to achieve the set targets. Any such policy formation would have to consider the political background, socioeconomics, geopolitics, and technological parameters of the region.
- There is a need for Impact-assessment of underwater noise in the IOR- The foremost prospect in a strategic plan would be to assess the current situation of underwater noise in the IOR.
- There is a need to set targets for environmental levels- After the initial assessment, the level of noise reduction to be achieved can be decided.
- There is a need to establish monitoring programs and implement programs of measures- This refers to drawing up appropriate monitory programs so that the progress towards achieving set targets could be monitored.
“There are a few inter-government agencies in the Indian Ocean Region that can bring about formation and implementation of a strategic framework but they lack the adhesivity of the European Union. Another concern is regarding the non-government stakeholders that would have to adhere to the framework. The compliance of non-government entities holds just as much importance for the execution of the framework.”
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