Shailendra Naik, minister of Earth Sciences said new ocean research vessel is being acquired to replace ageing Sagar Sampada, which is on its 334th cruise in the Andamans.
Speaking on the sidelines of the World Ocean Science Congress being held in Kochi, the minister said an expert panel will frame the guidelines to acquire the new research vessel. The need for a new research vessel is imminent in view of China exploring deep sea in the southern Indian Ocean for sulphides.
In fact, India is far behind China in exploring and harnessing the ocean wealth and resources, especially to meet India’s growing demand for energy. The ministry of earth sciences is developing and is also planning to acquire high-end equipment to exploit the deposits of gas hydrates in Indian Ocean.
The gas hydrate – or crystalline form of methane and water, existing in shallow sediments of outer continental margins – deposits will be a sustained source of energy for the whole country, he said.
The Sagar Sampada, oceanography fisheries vessel, was built in 1984 and is on marine research expeditions in the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and Antarctica, under the Centre for Marine Living Resource and Ecology, Kochi. Another vessel, Sagar Kanya, is also ageing, the ministry officials said.
“The Earth System Science Organization is testing the equipment and analysing data collected through swath bathymetry, deep tow side scan, heat flow measurements. Also, efforts are on to harness resources such as polymetalic nodules and hydrothermal sulphides from deep ocean,” he added.
Nayak also said a global collaboration was needed for discussing and evolving a comprehensive policy framework for governance, research and management of international waters.
“A comprehensive ocean policy is required to address ocean governance, research and management as well as sustainable use of resources for social benefit,” he said and stressed the need for a co-ordinated plan to improve weather forecast, climate and hazard-related phenomena for both economic and environmental benefits by exploring the ocean resources.
He also revealed that medicinal resources will be harnessed to produce drugs from such resources, the phase I clinical trials for an anti-diabetic compound has already been launched.
He said an International Training Centre for Operational Oceanography is being set up under the Indian Ocean Global Ocean Observing System for boosting ocean research programmes.