Exploring potential of blue economy

Bangladesh needs to leverage conservation and utilisation of marine and coastal eco-systems in an efficient manner

Published : 07 Nov 2020 06:28 PM | Updated : 08 Nov 2020 01:05 AM

Neither the ‘holy grail of shipwreck’ nor the hidden treasure of Captain Kidd, it is the ocean itself which can serve us with a plenty of resources that can help the country eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable economic growth. Bangladesh is geographically blessed as the country is located on the Bay of Bengal. The Bay of Bengal has long been contributing to Bangladesh’s economic growth. The bay is not only a means for making money, but also it is a limited and vulnerable asset which requires careful management to get the most out of it. Ocean selflessly offers its bounty to us but we have not been able to exploit the abundance of treasures beneath it.

Data shows that Bangladesh has 1, 18,813 square kilometers of maritime area and more than 30 million people directly depend on oceanic economic activities like fisheries and commercial transportation. But still Bangladesh is lagging behind in exploiting its blue economy potential due to lack of technology and efficient manpower. As in Bangladesh, we do not even have adequate survey to learn about and identify maritime resources and so the country has not been able to harness the full potential of its resources.

However, of late, the government has framed new strategies to harness the potential of blue economy addressing how and in what way the ocean-based industries such as shipping, fisheries, energy and minerals, seaports, tourism, and marine biotechnology can contribute to the country’s economic growth.

General Economics Division (GED) has determined 10 strategies and identified five challenges to explore the potentials of blue economy in an efficient way.  Reportedly, the challenges identified in the plan include lack of investment and inadequate role of the private sector, and lack of knowledge and determination of marine resources, maritime and coastal development structures, and related human resources.

Prudent extraction of ocean resources can help

 the country eradicate poverty, ensure

 food security and generate 

sustainable as well as 

inclusive employments

There is an abundance of resources under the blue ocean which can serve us for generations. It needs no mentioning that safe and environmentally sustainable extraction of sea resources will make a remarkable contribution to the wellbeing of our future generation and sustainable economic growth. Also successful extraction of ocean resources can help the country eradicate poverty, ensure food security and generate sustainable as well as inclusive employments. In this regard, Bangladesh needs to leverage conservation and utilisation of marine and coastal eco-systems in an efficient manner.

It is discomforting to note that some 800 million metric tonnes of fishes are caught in the Bay of Bengal every year but most of them are caught by India and Myanmar. In this regard, formulating and incorporating a “National Blue Ocean Economy Development Policy” has become a demand of time for Bangladesh. We have a large deposit of marine resources under the blue ocean. There is enormous possibility of exploring economic benefit out of the Bay of Bengal like deep sea fishing, tourism, port, marine transportation, and oil and gas exploration. Experts are of the opinion that though Blue Economy provides significant contribution towards eradicating poverty and ensures food security, it needs a balanced approach between conservation and utilization of marine and coastal eco-systems.

Bangladesh has successfully resolved delimitation of its maritime boundary. The country is now also financially and technically capable of exploiting its huge maritime resources. The window of opportunities blue economy has opened up for us was beyond our imagination only 10 years back. Therefore, going towards the blue economy is the demand of the time. The scope of blue economy covers an array of things like fishing, oil and gas, minerals, maritime trade and shipping etc. Reportedly, about 5 years ago, Blue Economic Cell decided to conduct multi-client seismic surveys to verify the probability of acquisition of oil and gas in the larger area of the Bay of Bengal, unfortunately yet its progress has been insignificant. In this regard, an immediate need for developing an integrated coastal management system in order to explore new offshore gas reserves emerges.

We must nurture what we have and in order to do that we need to learn and identify the amount of resources available in the sea. To this end, new technology and support of adequate and quality research are pertinent. Also for harnessing the full potential of Blue Economy, stepping up by the private sector has become more than a necessity. It is envisaged that private sector can play a crucial role in improving country’s maritime research and surveys. We hope the government and its departments concerned will look forward to involving private sector in government’s coastal development and management plan. Last but not least, Bangladesh needs to leverage conservation and utilisation of marine and coastal eco-systems in an efficient manner.

Sayeed  Hossain Shuvro is  Editorial Assistant, Bangladesh Post