As the word itself suggests, Blue Economy highlights the significance of blue resources for the growth of any country. To understand the concept of Blue Economy is to essentially fathom the ways in which oceans, coasts, and seas contribute to the sustainability of our environment. The oceans cover more than 70% of the surface of our earth which -in return- indicates that it also plays a part in regulating our Earth’s climate. Likewise, oceans serve as a channel for approximately 80% of the world’s global trade. According to the director of UNCTAD‘s Division on International Trade on Goods and Services and Commodities, ‘The total ocean’s economy per year is estimated to be approximately US$3-6 trillion and over 350 a million jobs are connected to ocean economy’. This stat proposes that more than half of the world’s population’s income comes from the ocean economy.
In the words of the Center for the Blue Economy (CBE), ‘Blue Economy is not only about highlighting the contribution of oceans to economies but also the need to address the environmental and ecological permanence of the oceans for the well-being of the people.’ The world often muddles up Blue Economy with the traditional Ocean economy making the former term somewhat erroneous because- unlike Ocean Economy which focuses mainly on the economic system- the Blue economy encompasses both ecological and economic aspects of the oceans. The question does not only revolve around how we can use the blue resources for the world’s economic growth or livelihood but how we can safeguard these oceans at the same time because the changes in the oceans directly affect our health and well-being. Regrettably, today the strength of the oceans is constantly being threatened by human activities. More than 80% of oceanic pollution results from anthropogenic activities, as mentioned in a National Geographic report. Thus, there is a need to highpoint the concept of ‘blue economy’ as it aims to guard and support economic development and ocean health equally.
Blue Economy incorporates industries like shipping, fisheries, tourism, ports, and maritime transport. Other sectors such as aquaculture, renewable energy, seawater utilization, and marine Biomedicine have joined in with time. If sustained and taken care of properly, these sectors can act as a source of innumerable opportunities and wealth for any coastal region. Pakistan’s blue economy is one of the most intact potentials of the country that needs attention plus development. Pakistan as a country is truly blessed with the utmost blue resources that can help it in dealing with the economic glitches and other problems such as security, management, and sovereignty. The country is blessed with 1,046 km long coastline along the Arabian Sea and primarily consists of 290,000 sq. km of Sea Zone. This amazing geographical location of the country provides it with access straight into the sea and its assets. The coastline is rich in natural potentials and marine life biodiversity. But, tragically, it has badly been impacted by pollution, oil tumbles, and other wastes like plastics, heavy metals, and other toxic wastes. The abysmal condition of the coast serves as a challenge to Pakistan’s blue economy. Correspondingly, due to the government’s negligence, shallow policies, unawareness, and insubstantial investments in the blue economy sectors, the country has failed to get the best out of these existing sectors.
Our society profoundly relies on oceans for energy. Coal, petroleum, and natural gas are the traditional fossil fuel energies that are leaving adverse impacts on the environment and human health. The energies coming from these resources are sufficient enough to provide energy to the whole human race. However, as the climate crisis lingers, the world’s attention towards renewable energy sources is growing. By addressing the challenges posed by traditional energy sources, by drawing other sources of renewable energy, and enabling new marine technologies, countries can promote economic growth and power their Blue Economy. Fostering Blue Economy indirectly means nurturing ocean energy technologies.
The fishing industry, on the other hand, is one of the most prominent yet desolate sectors of the Blue Economy. The plight of the fishing industry has hardly changed over time in Pakistan. Worldwide, millions of people rely on fishing as it serves as the greatest source of protein. But, in Pakistan, the fishery is not only about protein consumption but a beneficial economic activity as the fisheries sector can make a large handout to the national economy. Pakistan’s fishing area encompasses roughly 300,270sq kilometers which are exceptionally opulent in marine life. All the species come with great commercial values, especially crabs and shrimps that hold the potential of generating more than the US $2billion per annum. However, due to a lack of focus in this sector, the country has not managed to acquire potential earning. One major problem in the fishery sector has been the overexploitation of a few species and under-exploitation of others. The imbalance in the exploitation of marine resources, along with other factors like archaic fishing methods, poor bay conditions, and the presence of unskilled fisherman in the sector, has harmed the export potential of the industry. The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Country Representative in Pakistan, Mina Dowlatchahi, has highlighted the need for increased investment in the fisheries and aquaculture sector of the country.