Two of the largest littoral powers in the Indian Ocean, India and Australia play significant geopolitical roles in the region’s security and stability (IOR).
The growing geopolitical and financial importance of the IOR and global influence, although their interest in the region has become skewed in the past, create the potential for collaboration between the countries as the safety, economic and environmental threats to the IOR nations converge. Closing the Blue Economy (BE) initiatives in the IOR with India and Australia could prove successful as a tool to combat these imminent threats.
IOR — Importance and concerns
In terms of economic growth, natural resources, as well as important maritime communications, the IOR will be of great importance in the future world. However, the economic geography of the International Operating Organization (IOO) is not only expanding but also shaping and destabilizing it, as India’s neighbouring country exerts through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) through Critical Sea trade and debt diplomacy dominance.
Security and stability in the IOR are crucial for India and Australia. Every geo-economic challenge will have an important effect on India, being geographically and financially central to the IOR. With India already faced territorial threats by the neighbouring territory, its dominance of the region severely limits India’s growth and power. There is an emerging recognition of the importance of stability in Australia’s IOR, particularly given the neighbouring country’s influence, as trade between Australia and the IOR continues to grow.
In addition to the risk of climate change, the IOR also faces diverse increasing environmental risks— which pose a major concern and risk to the lives and livelihoods of millions of individuals in India and Australia. The risk of climate change is rising. The geo- economic and environmental implications for both IOR countries are therefore far too great to ignore and create substantial overlaps for collaboration.
The Blue Economy is a unique opportunity for India-Australia co-operation to tackle growing concerns in the area. Blue efforts will also stabilize the sea area while re-establishing the Regulatory Order and creating a considerable impact while addressing environmental threats and economic growth, as well. While BE’s benefit is well known.
BE is best seen in the Indian Ocean Rim Association IORA increasing focus on strengthening the Blue Economy on its agenda in pursuit of sustained economic, political, and security development in the IOR. In addition, both India and Australia understand BE’s ability to address the major IOR problems, as well as their efforts to strengthen their blue pursuit.
While India and Australia have many opportunities for collaboration, we focus here on two key cooperation areas.
The aquaculture industry in India and Australia has shown exceptional growth, and the potential for growth remains immense. The growth of aquaculture in both countries depends on the cultivation of non-cropped aquatic species that create demand for products of the other country on its domestic market. In the National Aquaculture Strategy 2017, Australia has always stressed and continues to stress stringent environmental and food safety directives, yet, in its National Draft Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy 2019, India ultimately seeks to achieve greater sustainable practices in aquaculture. Thus, the two countries share sustainable aquaculture practices.
To allow the flow of more goods and safe infrastructure for trade between two countries, India must ensure minimum deviations from Australian standards. While both countries are part of the Network of Asia-Pacific Aquaculture Centers (NACA) that enables multilateral cooperation concerning aquaculture issues, there is a need for better bilateral cooperation between these two countries, notably in terms of capacity building and training on mitigation actions.
Illegal, non-reported, unlawful fishing
Australia has undertaken appropriate national antitrust plans (INAPs), including monitoring, control, and surveillance (MCSs) and fisheries management, to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IOUs), so proof that it is extremely active against IUU fisheries within the IOR. On the other hand, India also has a lot of regulations in place for the management of fishing and fishing vessels, including satellite-based vessel imaging, both domestically and abroad.
Extensive knowledge of the two countries on the subject of mitigation measures could lead to mutual learning and better fighting strategies, particularly through the establishment of a knowledge-sharing center and capacity-building programs, via joint fishing partnerships.
Moreover, as the IOR remains deeply ineffective in mitigating IUU fishing, India and Australia could be involved in developing marine protected areas and enhancing the IOR MCS mechanism with others in the region.
Therefore, not just combining geo-economic, geostrategic and geo-environmental motivations of Indian and Australia, the Blue Economic Initiative also obliges both countries to recognise untapped growth and potential for power which may be fully realised in this arena with collaboration and mutual learning. In addition, New Delhi and Canberra must
remain in blue so that rivals like the neighbouring country cannot lose the ‘blue race’ in the IOR. Therefore, for both nations the best way forward is together.