The Indian sea borne trade has been growing at a growth rate of nearly 9.5% over the last decade and is more than 720 million tonnes per annum. Approximately, 90 per cent of the country's trade by volume (70 per cent in terms of value) is moved by sea.
India has the largest merchant shipping fleet among the developing countries and ranks 15th amongst the countries with the largest cargo carrying fleet with 8.96 million GT till Dec 2008 and the average of the fleet being approximately 23 years.
Coastal shipping is an energy-efficient, environment-friendly and economical mode of transport in the Indian transport network and a crucial component for the development of domestic industry and trade. India, with her 7,517 km long coastline studded with 13 major ports and 200 non-major ports provides congenial and favorable conditions for the development of this alternate mode of transport.
India's Coastal Shipping Tonnage as on 31st December 2008 was 607 vessels with 959575 GRT and 998601 DWT. In India, coastal shipping accounts for seven percent - against 43 per cent in the EU - of domestic cargo movement.