Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 29 April 2023
- Using Up Open Resources in the Seas
- The Underwater Mountains: Seamounts
Using Up Open Resources in the Seas
An audit of India’s coastline by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has uncovered some alarming facts that could have a negative effect on the blue economy.
GS Paper-3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.
What steps should be taken to guarantee the blue economy’s sustainable growth in India while also safeguarding the vulnerable coastal ecosystems? Discuss using appropriate examples. (150 words)
There are many coastal communities along India’s 7,516 km of coastline, and many of them depend on the oceans for their livelihood. However, the expansion of industries like fisheries, maritime transportation, and renewable energy has put tremendous strain on these ecosystems, and the threat of climate change and rising sea levels is making matters worse.
The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India conducted a performance audit on the conservation of Indian coastal ecosystems with a focus on the blue economy in light of these problems.
Coastal Ecosystems in India Face Difficulties
- Overfishing is one of the major problems facing India’s coastal ecosystems.
- The world’s fish stocks are currently overfished by 34%, and another 60% are being exploited to the extent that it is sustainable, which threatens coastal communities’ ability to support themselves.
- Another issue that is becoming more and more problematic is the reclamation of land from the sea for infrastructure development.
- Additionally, ocean ecosystems are threatened in many ways, including pollution, habitat destruction, and invasive species. One example is the upcoming coastal road, which is being built on land that was reclaimed from the sea; the long-term impact of this reclamation on the availability of fish stock has not been assessed.
The Blue Economy’s Contribution to Sustainability Promotion
- A wide range of industries are included in the “blue economy,” such as aquaculture, maritime transportation, and renewable energy.
- As a result, conducting audits can be challenging and confusing. But it has a great deal of value.
- Over three billion people could find work thanks to the ocean’s resources, according to a $24 trillion World Bank estimate.In order to fully realise the potential of the blue economy, it is crucial to address important issues like gender equity, the conservation of marine biodiversity, and effective coastal spatial planning.One of the most important components of fostering sustainability in the blue economy is spatial planning. Thousands of small squares, each indicating an ecologically sensitive zone, can be drawn along the coastline.The permitted activities in each grid, such as fisheries, tourism, and infrastructure projects, are specified in the management plans. For the sustainable use of coastal resources to be ensured, compliance with these plans is essential.
- The CAG of India’s performance audit looked at the degree of adherence to management plans for grids along 6,100 km of the coastline.
- The auditors were able to evaluate the extent of compliance with the plans and pinpoint areas of concern using a technology-enabled toolkit.This toolkit can be customised for use by the government to monitor adherence to coastal management plans, making it more than just an audit resource.
Conservation Needs Community Involvement
- The necessity of community involvement in conservation efforts is one of the performance audit’s most important recommendations.
- Coastal communities are among those most impacted by ecosystem changes, so it is crucial to involve them in ensuring the sustainable use of coastal resources.
- The toolkit’s use can be expanded to involve communities in conservation initiatives.
- For instance, the same tools could be combined in an app that enables local governments and communities to collaborate on conservation initiatives.
- The Worli Koliwada is included in grid number 75, so the Koli community in Mumbai can be called upon to keep an eye on things.
- In a similar vein, coastal fishing communities can work together to safeguard the waters.
- Overfishing, pollution, and habitat destruction are just a few of the problems facing India’s coastline and the ecosystems it supports.
- The blue economy has enormous economic potential, but careful planning, community involvement, and adherence to management plans are necessary for its sustainable development.
- The use of technologically enhanced toolkits, like the one used by the CAG of India, can help determine whether management plans are being followed and involve communities in conservation initiatives.In order to guarantee the sustainable use of India’s coastal resources and encourage the expansion of the blue economy, a concerted effort from all stakeholders is ultimately required.
The Underwater Mountains: Seamounts
A 2011 census had already mapped 24,000 seamounts across the world’s oceans, and scientists recently discovered 19,325 new seamounts through new high-resolution data.
GS Paper-3: Biodiversity and Environment
Describe how seamounts are formed and how they are important for understanding tectonic plate movement and mantle composition. (250 Words)
How did the find come about?
- Surveyors map seamounts in one of two ways: via satellite altimetry for gravity-field mapping or via echo sounders or multibeam sonar on ships for topographic mapping.
- Research vessels equipped with multibeam sonar mapping create high-resolution maps, but these maps are frequently lacking because blindspots occur in areas where the vessels don’t travel.
- Satellite altimetry uses radar to measure the time it takes for each pulse to bounce off the ground and return in order to determine the shape of the seafloor. Low-resolution but much more comprehensive maps are the result.
- Altimetry has advanced in two significant ways since the seamount survey from 2011.
- First, the French space agency and NASA jointly launched the Jason-1 geodetic missions, and the European Space Agency launched CryoSat-2 and Envisat. These missions contributed to increased spatial coverage.
- SARAL, an oceanographic satellite created by France and India, also made a significant contribution by lowering radar noise and allowing the seamount catalogue to be expanded.
- Using improvements in altimetry for gravity-field mapping, scientists from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Chungnam National University, and the University of Hawaii at Manoa recently reported finding over 19,000 new seamounts.
Seamounts are what?
- Seamounts are mountains that rise up from the ocean’s floor. They typically have a conical or dome shape and can reach heights of several kilometres or several hundred metres.
- Seamount formation begins with a hotspot, which is an area of volcanic activity beneath the Earth’s crust.
- The eruptions that form seamounts take place beneath the ocean’s surface.
- The hotspot’s rising magma may eventually reach the surface and erupt as lava if the tectonic plates move over it.
- The lava solidifies as it cools, creating a fresh layer of rock on top of the seafloor.The seamount may gradually rise due to repeated eruptions until it is at the ocean’s surface.Seamounts can be dormant, extinct, or active volcanoes, just like terrestrial volcanoes can.
- The Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the East Pacific Rise are the planet’s two most extensively researched mid-ocean ridges.
- Most seamounts are formed close to mid-ocean ridges, where the earth’s tectonic plates are moving apart and allowing molten rock to rise to the seafloor.Some seamounts have also been discovered close to oceanic island chains with seismic and volcanic activity known as island arcs and intraplate hotspots, which are areas of intense volcanic activity within a plate.
Seamounts come in a variety of forms, including:
- Submarine Seamounts: These seamounts are entirely submerged and do not rise above the surface of the ocean.
- Guyots are seamounts with flat tops that have been eroded by waves. They are also referred to as tablemounts. Guyots are believed to have once been volcanically active seamounts that sank to a depth where they are no longer.
- Fracture zone seamounts: At the meeting of two tectonic plates, where the crust is being torn apart, these seamounts form. Magma can travel through the resulting fractures to the surface and create a seamount.
- Hotspot seamounts: These seamounts are created when a tectonic plate shifts over an area of the Earth’s mantle that is hot. A volcano forms when the plate above a hotspot melts, releasing a plume of magma that rises to the surface.
- Volcanic chain seamounts: These seamounts are made up of a series of volcanoes that form as a tectonic plate shifts over a hotspot over time. Seamounts are formed as a result of new volcanoes that emerge as the plate shifts.
Importance of Seamounts
- Seamounts are important because of their ability to cause localised ocean upwelling, which is the process by which nutrient-rich water from deep within the ocean rises to the surface.
- Marine biodiversity hotspots, seamounts offer special habitats for a variety of species, some of which are not found anywhere else on Earth.
- Seamounts provide a variety of fish, invertebrate, and coral species with food, protection, and breeding grounds.
- Ocean circulation: Seamounts can affect ocean circulation by changing how currents and eddies move through the ocean.
- They can also produce turbulence, which mixes various water layers and nutrients to the advantage of marine life.
- Geological studies: Because seamounts are the result of volcanic activity, they can shed light on the Earth’s geology.
- Researchers can gain insight into the formation, evolution, and composition of the ocean floor by studying seamounts.
- Economic value: Seamounts have economic value because they may have valuable mineral, oil, and gas reserves; however, careful consideration must be taken when exploiting them to prevent harming the incredibly fragile ecosystems that depend on them.
- An important milestone in oceanography has been reached with the discovery of over 19,000 new seamounts. Researchers were able to find these previously undiscovered underwater mountains thanks to technological advancements, particularly in altimetry for gravity-field mapping.
- The knowledge gained from studying seamounts can help us understand how Earth’s tectonic plates have evolved as well as the make-up of the mantle.