Key Information:

Ministry in charge:



India is one of the oldest civilizations in the world with a variety and rich cultural heritage. As of July 2021, India's population was about 1.393 billion, inhabiting in 28 states and 8 Union Territories of the country. As the 7th largest country in the world, India stands apart from the rest of Asia, marked off as it is by mountains and the sea, which give the country a distinct geographical entity. Bounded by the Great Himalayas in the north, it stretches southwards and at the Tropic of Cancer, tapers off into the Indian Ocean between the Andaman Sea on the east and the Arabian Sea on the west. Lying entirely in the northern hemisphere, India extends between latitudes 6° 4' and 37° 6' North, longitudes 68° 7' and 97° 25' east and measures about 3,463 km from north to south between the extreme latitudes and about 2,933 km from east to west between the extreme longitudes. It has a land frontier of about 15,200 km.

The total length of the coastline of the mainland, Lakshadweep Islands and Andaman & Nicobar Islands is 8118 Km. The Exclusive Economic Zone of India has an area of 2.02 million sq. km within a limit of 200 Nautical Miles (NM) from the coastline. The coastline is relatively stable with certain marked progradation near river mouths. There are two groups of islands, Lakshadweep in the Arabian Sea and Andaman & Nicobar in Bay of Bengal Islands which differ significantly in origin and physical characteristics.

India has rich biodiversity of terrestrial and marine organisms. India’s marine ecosystem is home to the richest and most diverse faunal and floral communities and Indian coastal waters are extremely diverse attributing to the geomorphologic and climatic variations along the coast. The coastal and marine habitat includes near shore gulf waters, creeks, tidal flats, mud flats, coastal dunes, deltaic plains, estuaries, lagoons, marshes, wetlands, mangroves, seaweed and sea grass beds and coral reefs. However, similar to other areas of world oceans, biodiversity of marine habitats is under threat in Indian seas, mainly as a result of habitat loss, introduced species, pollution and global climate change.


India is third largest fish producing country in the world and contributes about 8 % to the total global fish production. The total fish production of India during 2021-22 is estimated at 16.24 million metric tonnes with a contribution of 12.12 MMT from the Inland sector and 4.12 MMT from marine sector. India is also a major producer of fish through aquaculture and ranks second in the world. Fisheries contribute 1.29 percent to India’s economy. India has also become a major global player in fish trade, with total seafood exports amounting to over 1.73 million tonnes, valued at over US$ 8.09 billion during 2022-23.

Fisheries and aquaculture had always played an important role in the food and nutritional security, livelihoods and economic prosperity of India. Further, fisheries are a major source of employment and livelihoods for millions of fishermen and households, who also generate further multiplier employment in the ancillary activities like fish processing and marketing. Government of India had been keen on the sustainable harvest for perpetuity of fisheries resources.

India’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) covering 2.02 million contains diverse fish stocks, exploited by various gears. However, 80% of the fisheries resources are concentrated in the coastal areas (<100m depth). The registered marine fishing fleet structure is mainly comprised of motorised (143594 nos.), mechanised (64578 nos.) and non-motorised (48710 nos.) fishing crafts operating from 1,457 landing centres in the 9 coastal States, 2 Union Territories (UTs) and the 2 Island groups. Updated information on fisheries fleet can be collected from the RealCraft (Registration and Licensing of Fishing Craft) database of the Department of Fisheries, Government of India. Real Craft (

Ports in India:

There are 12 major ports and 200 non-major ports (minor ports) in India. While the major ports are under the administrative control of Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, Government of India, the non-major ports are under the jurisdiction of respective State Maritime Boards/ State Government. Major port trusts in the Country are governed by the Major Port Trusts Act, 1963 and all the 12 Major ports are functional. Out of the 200 non-major ports, around 65 ports are handling cargo and the others are “Port Limits” where no cargo is handled and these are used by fishing vessels and by small ferries to carry passengers across the creeks etc. All the non-major ports (minor ports) are governed under the Indian Ports Act, 1908 which consists of 69 sections and two schedules and regulates the berths, stations, anchoring, fastening, mooring and unmooring of vessels. Besides, it fixes the rates to be paid in a ports other than major port for use of such mooring belonging to the Government. It also regulates catamarans plying or hire and deals with regulating the use of fires and light within any such port (

Sea-Based Marine Plastic Litter Regulations:

India is a signatory to International Convention for Prevention of Pollution from Ships. Government of India through Department of Fisheries (DoF), Ministry of Fisheries, Animal Husbandry & Dairying is participating in the IMO-FAO GloLitter Partnership (GLP) Project as a Lead Partnering Country (LPC) with the aim of prevention and reduction of Marine Plastic Litter and in particular, sea-based marine plastic litter to reverse the negative environmental impacts of plastic discard and loss.

In order to facilitate the partnership with GloLitter and to achieve the goal to advance the implementation of the international regulatory framework and best practices for significant reduction of SBMPL at the national level, the DoF, GoI constituted a National Task Force with the Joint Secretary (Marine Fisheries), DoF and GLP National Focal Point as the Chairperson and the Fishery Survey of India is the Lead Agency for implementation of the said project in the country.

The key principles being followed by India for combating marine plastic debris are

  1. Prevention of items becoming debris in the first place
  2. Polluter pays principle
  3. Ecosystem approach
  4. Public and private participation
  5. Sustainable consumption and production
  6. Best available knowledge and practices

The following acts, rules and notifications of the country are enacted to achieve the goal of prevention of items becoming debris in the first place.

1) Under the Shipping sector, Merchant Shipping Act, 1958 and its amendments contain several provisions for Prevention and Containment of Pollution of the seas from ship-generated pollution sources and enables ports to provide reception facilities at ports in order to receive ship generated wastes.

2) Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974 and its amendments including that of 2011: These acts have provisions for the prevention and control of water pollution, and for the maintaining or restoring of wholesomeness of water (fresh as well as sea water).

3) Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change has notified various Rules pertaining to Plastic Waste Management as detailed below.

i. Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016
ii. Standard Guidelines for Single-Use Plastic, 2019
iii. Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules, 2021
iv. Plastic Waste Management (Amendment) Rules, 2022
v. Nation-wide Ban on identified Single Use Plastic Items from 1st July 2022

4) The Environment (Protection) Act was enacted in 1986 with the objective of providing for the protection and improvement of the environment. It empowers the Central Government to establish authorities charged with the mandate of preventing environmental pollution in all its forms and to tackle specific environmental problems that are peculiar to different parts of the country.

5) The National Environment Policy 2006 is intended to be a guide to action: in regulatory reform, programmes and projects for environmental conservation; and review and enactment of legislation, by agencies of the Central, State, and Local Governments. The dominant theme of this policy is that while conservation of environmental resources is necessary to secure livelihoods and well-being of all, the most secure basis for conservation is to ensure that people dependent on particular resources obtain better livelihoods from the fact of conservation, than from degradation of the resources.

6) The National Policy on Marine Fisheries, 2017 is a nation-wide sectoral document aiming at ensuring the health and ecological integrity of the marine living resources of India’s Exclusive Economic Zone through sustainable harvests for the benefit of present and future generations of the nation. It is based on seven pillars, namely (i) sustainable development; (ii) socio-economic enrichment of fishers; (iii) principle of subsidiarity; (iv) partnership; (v) inter-generational equity; (vi) gender justice; and (vii) precautionary approach. These seven pillars will guide the actions of various stakeholders in meeting the Vision and Mission set for the marine fisheries sector of the country. In addition, the Policy underlines 11 areas of intervention considered fundamental for the sustainable development of the sector including regulatory mechanisms to control pollutants to ensure that land and sea-based pollution are effectively controlled and the ecosystems monitored.

7) Plastic Waste Management Rules, 2016, and its amendments, prohibit manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of carry bags and plastic sheets less than 50 microns in thickness in the country. There is complete ban on sachets using plastic material used for storing, packing or selling gutkha, tobacco and pan masala.

8) Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change had also issued “Standard Guidelines for Single-Use Plastic” on 21st January 2019 to all States/UTs and Ministries. Further, the Government of India has initiated several programmes such as “Swachh Bharat Abhiyan”, National Mission for Clean Ganga and Smart Cities Mission” in order to develop clean and sustainable environment which contribute towards the Marine Litter Policy.

9) Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2021, also prohibit manufacture, import, stocking, distribution, sale and use of plastic carry bags having thickness less than 75 microns with effect from 30th September, 2021, and having thickness less than 120 microns with effect from the 31st December, 2022.

10) Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change has also notified the Guidelines on Extended Producers Responsibility on plastic packaging as Plastic Waste Management Amendment Rules, 2022. As per the regulations, EPR, the responsibility for the environmentally sound management of the product until the end of its life lies with the producer. The Guidelines provide framework to strengthen circular economy of plastic packaging waste, promote development of new alternatives to plastic packaging and provide next steps for moving towards sustainable plastic packaging by businesses.

IMO & FAO Regulations:

India has ratified the Annex V of the International Convention for Prevention of Pollution from Ships regarding Prevention of Pollution by Garbage from Ships on 11 June 2003. International Convention for Prevention of Pollution from Ships Annex V generally prohibits the discharge of all garbage into the sea, except as provided otherwise in regulations 4, 5, and 6. Garbage includes items such as plastics, fishing gear, etc., among others. As per Annexure V, Governments are obliged to ensure adequate reception facilities at ports and terminals for the reception of garbage.