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Marine Bioresource programme and Blue Economy

The oceans cover 72% of the surface of our blue planet. However, only 5% of the ocean is explored till date. India has abundant living and non-living resources in the deep sea, which lie unexplored and un-utilised. The Blue economy is the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs, while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem. It involves programmes for sustainable harnessing of ocean resources, R&D in oceanography, assessment of stock marine resources like minerals, introduction of marine aquaculture, deep sea/long line fishing and biotechnology and development of human resources.As a part of Blue economy, it is high time to give emphasis on the assessment of total living and non-living resources and identify sustainable means to utilize the same for the benefit of mankind. United Nations agenda on sustainable development (Projected SDG Goal-14 by 2030) is on conservation, sustainability and use of oceans, seas and marine resources for increasing the economic benefits to Small Island developing states and least developed countries for sustainable use of marine resources, including sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism.

The Department of Biotechnology efforts on Marine Bioresource programme and Blue Economy:
  • The DBT is supporting a programme on “Aquaculture and Marine Biotechnology” for enhancingaquaculture production, productivity increase anddevelopment of useful products & processes frommarine resources. The broad areas emphasized are fish genomics and transcriptomics, fish and shellfishdisease, immune-stimulants and antimicrobialpeptides. Projects on development of bioactivemolecules, biomaterials, bio-surfactants, cell linesand diagnostics were also pursued through adoptionof molecular tools and techniques.
  • A Brief overview of the DBT supported programmes on Sustainable use of Marine Resources:
    • Effective bio-remediation technologies developed for tackling waste disposal.
    • Biotechnological potential for bio-prospecting of high value products & pharmaceuticals explored.
    • National facility for Marine Cyanobacteria (NFMC) in Trichy upgraded with 500 marine cyanobacterial strains.
    • 30 marine green algae collected from Indian Ocean & potential microalgae identified & characterized.
    • Bio-prospecting, inventorisation, characterization, and value addition explored for novel genes, gene products & compounds.
    • Drugs from microbes launched in a unique public private partnership under the Grand Challenge Mission programme on microbial prospecting.
    • International Depositary Authority at National Center for Cell Science established.
  • Several technologies and IPR have been generated through DBT supported programmes on Marine Resources which have been commercialized for the benefit of the marine and aquaculture industries. The details of technologies developedand Transferred through is given below:
  • S. No. Name of Technology Brand Name of the Product
    1. Detection of shrimp viruses by PCR. AMPLI-WSSV
    2. Biocontrol of luminous bacteria in shrimp. LUMI-NIL-MBL
    3. Immunostimulant for shrimp. AQUASTIM – MBL
    4. Rapid detection of luminous Vibrio No Name
    5. harveyi. Nitrifying Bioreactor
    6. Nitrifying Bioreactor Dr. Sahul’s PCR kit
    7. Detection of shrimp viruses (WSSV, MBV and HPV) by PCR. IMMUZONE
  • The DBT in collaboration with Department of Space initiated a programme on mapping of Coral Reefs towards creation of new geospatial inventory of Indian coral reefs covering 172 grids based on recent Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellite data on a GIS platform at 1:25000 scale. Field spectroscopy will be carried out for assessment of coral health and dynamics impacting the health of the coral colony. These initiatives would help in current status of the coral reefs; management efforts and their effectiveness with predictive modelling of stressor effects to generate future scenarios of the reef conditions and ecosystem service provisions.
  • As a part of the Blue Economy, the DBT has already taken initiatives to establish the state-of-art centre for ‘Marine Biology and Biotechnology’ for exploring ocean resources towards the efforts of harvesting blue economy. The main goal of proposed centre is to establish rapidly escalate India’s research capabilities in modern marine biology and biotechnology so as to capitalise on our vast marine biodiversity in a sustainable manner. The Centre will give focus on creation of facilities for off shore and deep sea collection of germplasm for new source of pharmaceuticals, enzymes, high value chemicals, nutraceuticals, marine cosmeceuticals and pursue basic and applied research to understand evolutionary and developmental biology aspects of marine organisms leading to product and process development.