Explore untapped fields of blue economy

Marine experts and academics on Thursday attached highest importance on maritime development, saying country will see a ‘breakthrough’ in the field of blue economy immediately by increasing its research works. They came up with this observation at an international seminar on “An outlook for Sustainable Maritime Development and Governance Challenges and Way Ahead” held at Hotel Intercontinental in the city. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Maritime University (BSMRMU) organised the programme.

Cabinet members and academics and marine experts at home and abroad took part in the seminar. “BSMRMU will play a vital role to conduct research in the implementation of blue economy policy to ensure sustainable development,” Planning Minister MA Mannan said.

The experts said that there is no alternative to maritime education in order to mitigate crises in the maritime field by creating skilled manpower and urged to emphasize various maritime sectors by utilizing country’s vast sea area for socio-economic development of the country. Ocean-based industries such as shipping, fisheries, energy and minerals, seaports, tourism and marine biotechnology are contributing as key driving forces to the flourishing global economy, the experts said.

They urged all to work together for ensuing development and proliferation of the Blue Economy in many dimensions. They said blue economy is a new area to explore and it takes time to get benefits from any new sector. In this regard Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has established the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Maritime University (BSMRMU) and marine institutes.

Although Bangladesh has vast resources in the ocean, very little of those are being exploited for lack of resources and capacity, they added The scientific community also needs to come forward along with the government to explore the benefits of blue economy, they observed.

They said there are great opportunities to accelerate the sustainable development process of the respective countries of the region through Blue Economy approach making best use of the unused or untapped resources of the sea. Admiral Aurangzeb Chowdhury, Chief of the Naval Staff mentioned the establishment of BSMRMU in 2013 as a visionary initiative by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

He highlighted various current and future activities of the university for creating educated and skilled manpower and thanked maritime professionals, academicians, researchers, policy makers and stakeholders for attending the seminar. A good number of maritime experts and academicians from India, Australia, Netherlands, France, Singapore, Philippines, England, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Malaysia and the host Bangladesh presented their papers at the seminar.

Representatives from various ministries, UGC, civil and military offices, different universities, diplomats and maritime organizations were also present. The faculty members, students and various officials of BSMRMU also attended the seminar. Professor Chris Bellamy from University of Greenwich, UK and advisor of Global Maritime Security and Defense, presented the keynote paper on Prospects of Blue-Economy and the future potentials of the Bay of Bengal.

Professor Andrew Serdy of UK’s Southampton University focused on the success of Bangladesh in resolving maritime boundary disputes with neighboring countries through the proper utilization of maritime law. Professor of Portsmouth University, UK, Dr. Pierre Failler presented a paper where he mentioned blue governance as an emerging concept based on the blue economy and blue growth which can be ensured through public-private partnerships and institutional cooperation.

Professor Dr. Badrul Imam of Department of Geology from University of Dhaka presented his paper on energy scenario in the Bay of Bengal and its future prospects. Professor Lailufar Yasmin of International Relations of University of Dhaka highlighted the steps required to be taken in order to ensure a sound regional maritime connectivity and security across the Bay of Bengal.

Professor Dr. Savita S. Kerkar of Goa University, India delivered her paper on Prospects of Marine Natural resources in Developing Health Care products. Speakers of the seminar marked various potentials of country's maritime future in line with socio-economic and sustainable development of Bangladesh.

There were total three sessions in the seminar entitled- Regional Maritime Connectivity and Security, Ocean Health and Governance and Maritime Technology and Harnessing Ocean Resources. Rear Admiral M Khurshed Alam (Retd), Secretary, Maritime Affairs Unit, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Professor Dr. Imtiaz Ahmed, Department of International Relations University of Dhaka and Professor Dr. Aftab Alam Khan of BSMRMU were the session chairs of the seminar.