Tamil Nadu may soon have a Marine Spatial Plan (MSP) as the National Centre for Coastal Research (NCCR), a central government institute in Chennai, which prepared similar plans for Pondicherry and Lakshadweep on a pilot basis, has requested the Tamil Nadu government to allow it to prepare the plan. The NCCR functions under the Ministry of Earth Sciences. Speaking at an event in Chennai, in which state environment, forest and climate change secretary Supriya Sahu participated, MV Ramana Murthy, director of NCCR, explained that the MSPs for Puducherry and Lakshadweep were prepared with the assistance of Norway. The Scandinavian country had made a similar plan for the North Sea. He added that if Tamil Nadu has a Marine Spatial Plan, it would help the state economically as well as environmentally.

“The secretary has asked NCCR to write a formal letter seeking permission to prepare an MSP for the state. She will approve the proposal to the letter once it is drafted,” Ramana Murthy told DT Next on the sidelines of the event. If the draft is prepared, Tamil Nadu will become the first Indian state to have an MSP as both Puducherry and Lakshadweep are Union Territories (UTs). The pilot MSPs for the UTs were released in February 2023. Ramana Murthy explained that in the MSP, areas for various blue economic activities including fishing, tourism, and conservation will be earmarked without affecting the marine ecology. “Since areas for every activity are earmarked, development and economic activities can be done without affecting the marine environment,” he said.

In 2019, India and Norway entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to prepare the MSP to ensure sustainable utilization of ocean resources. The Ministry had handed over the responsibility of preparing MSPs for Puducherry and Lakshadweep to the NCCR as it had already prepared a coastal management plan for Chennai, Goa, and the Gulf of Kutch. Meanwhile, the NCCR has already prepared draft Shoreline Management Plans (SMP) for Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. Under the SMP, erosion and accretion spots along the Tamil Nadu coast have been identified in addition to providing recommendations to prevent erosion. Without the shoreline management plan being ready, the state government would not be able to construct any structure to prevent erosion.