Blue economy

Published February 9, 2023

ALTHOUGH the concept of ‘blue economy’ emerged a while earlier, it gained global spotlight during the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) in Brazil, and has since remained a key area of interest globally.

According to the World Bank, blue economy is referred to the sustainable utilisation of seas, oceans and marine resources for preserving livelihoods, creating more job opportunities and strengthening economic growth.

Owing to the potential of $25 trillion in the world blue resources, the countries around the world are transforming their economic interests from land resources to water resources. Pakistan has also a vast potential of blue resources in the shape of seaports, virgin beaches, minerals and tuna, a fish which is consumed in large quantity in European countries. The country is trying to explore and manipulate such worthy resources, but due to certain challenges it is lagging behind in this struggle.

We have been ignoring the potential and opportunities of the sea, because our think tanks do not know how to explore and optimise the resources efficiently. We spill millions of tonnes of untreated sewage into the Arabian Sea on a daily basis which results in pollution and destruction of our blue resources.

Furthermore, Pakistan clearly lags behind in terms of marine technology, research and education. Our fishing and cargo companies use obsolete methods for fishing and shipping, and, therefore, some of them are banned by various international organisations.

Similarly, excessive and unregulated fishing, use of illegal nets and lack of fish processing techniques are elements that are adding to our burden. We need some robust measures to promote and strengthen our blue resources.

The government should explore and develop its beaches in Balochistan to promote the tourism industry. It should also encourage marine education, technology and industry in order to preserve the resources for a long time.

Although Gwadar seaport has the capacity to offload cargo of 7,000 million tonnes annually, the world is not attracted to the facility owing to the absence of modern technology. For that reason, rapid sustainable development of the port should be made possible through effective policy making to make Gwadar port a centre of attraction for the global shipping industry.

Besides, we need to incorporate the concept of blue economy into maritime policy of the country to exploit the untapped ocean resources. As the country suffers from current account deficit, fiscal deficit, poor taxation, informal economy and circular debt, our blue resources can play an effective role not only in strengthening our vulnerable economy, but to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Muhammad Shahbaz
Dera Ghazi Khan

Published in Dawn, February 9th, 2023

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