World Maritime Day 2021 is being observed today (Thursday) with the theme ‘Seafarers at the core of Shipping’s Future’. World Maritime Day focuses on various themes related to maritime and ocean-related affairs.
The global communities recognise the importance of oceans because more than three billion people around the globe benefit from marine for their livelihood (directly or indirectly). It also generates employment for more than 200 million.
Blue economy is an emerging popular concept which revolves around safeguarding the world’s oceans and efficiently using of water resources for sustainable growth and development.
What is Blue economy?
Blue economy refers to promote usage of ocean resources for economic growth, social inclusion, and the preservation of livelihoods while at the same time ensuring environmental sustainability of the oceans and coastal areas.
It encompasses many activities including renewable energy, fisheries, maritime transport, coastal tourism, waste management, and climate change risk management.
Why Blue economy is gaining importance?
The development of the blue economy is gaining importance because seven out of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are directly linked with the ocean ecosystem.
In addition, various emerging new sectors including marine chemistry, ocean engineering, ocean power and biomedicine have taken their place in the blue economy which no doubts in return creates enormous employment opportunities and wealth creation for any coastal state.
World economists have estimated an asset value of $24 trillion to the ocean economy and as of now it’s delivering something between $4-500 billion each year in terms of the dividend to humanity.
How Pakistan can benefit?
Being an important maritime state in the Indian Ocean region (IOR), Pakistan is progressively apprehending the marvels of the Blue Economy. The country is blessed with over 1000 km long coastline and the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) covering about 240,000 Sq. Km.
Pakistan’s coastal areas are rich in bio-productivity and bio-diversity as they provide huge breeding grounds for commercially important fisheries including carbs and shrimps with a potential resource worth of more than $2 billion annually.
Despite vast fish export potential, Pakistan’s fishing sector only contributes 0.4% percent to country’s GDP however, this year this sector has witnessed a growth of 0.6%. This again signifies how little we are growing despite having immense potential.
However, an important challenge of the Blue Economy is to comprehend and better manage the many aspects of oceanic sustainability, ranging from fisheries to ecosystem health to pollution.
For this purpose, the government needs to design short-term and long-term policies related to maritime affairs with a collaboration of relevant stakeholders.