‘Blue economy key to fortune’

Blue Economy is to be regarded as economic frontier, source of industrialisation and key to fortune, experts said in the blue economy conference in Dhaka on Thursday. They observed that the oceans, in one hand, are still the channel for 80% of global trade and on the other hand, accounts for sequestration of 30% of carbon dioxide emission created in the process of expanding this global trade and industries. 

The 3rd IORA Ministerial Conference on Blue Economy was held on Thursday aiming to promote smart, sustainable and inclusive growth and employment opportunities in the Blue Economy activities along the Indian Ocean belt.  The Ministerial segment of the Conference was inaugurated by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at Hotel InterContinental Dhaka.  Experts opine that as per estimate, fishing and aquaculture, shipping, tourism, and other ocean activities collectively generate 2.5 trillion US dollar each year. 

While addressing, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said the core challenges to exploiting ocean resources and services for sustainable development lie in the inherent structure of our economy. The size of our individual economy limit our capability to fully exploit the economy of scale and sophisticated technologies.  Foreign Minister further said for development of sustainable Blue Economy, nearly 41 years ago the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had a vision prior to UNCLOS 1982 effective implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea is the key.  Referring to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization he said, 85% of global fish stocks are “overexploited, depleted, or recovering from depletion”. 

He suggested IORA is to assume the central role to combat the scourge of maritime piracy, armed robbery, human trafficking by sea, illegal arms trafficking etc.  He also urged the IORA member states and dialogue partners to formulate and implement projects for economic co-operation relating to trade facilitation and liberalization, promotion of foreign investment, scientific and technological exchanges, marine tourism and adopting the Dhaka Declaration in order to provide maximum opportunities to developing shared interests, wider networks and reaping mutually beneficial results. The theme of Dhaka IORA Conference is,  “Promoting Sustainable Blue Economy-making the best use of opportunities from the Indian Ocean”.

Earlier, a total of four working Sessions were held on Wednesday, the opening day of the conference, discussion on mapping and securing inclusive development of the marine resources in the Indian Ocean region.  The Working Sessions include ‘sustainable fisheries and aquaculture’, ‘harvesting sustainably blue opportunities and ocean governance’, ‘exploiting untapped potential resources of blue economy in the Indian Ocean Rim’, ‘connecting to the gateway of blue economy’ and ‘turning to the ocean for value’.

Ministers and state ministers of more than 10 IORA (Indian Ocean Rim Association) member states participated in the ministerial level meeting. Australia, Iran, Sri Lanka, Seychelles, and Comoros foreign ministers, Kenyan minister for agriculture and fisheries, Mauritius minister for ocean economy, Madagascar minister for agriculture and livestock, Maldives minister for marine resources, Somalian state minister for foreign affairs, Thai deputy minister for foreign affairs, South African deputy minister for environment and forest and other foreign dignitaries attended the conference.

The ministerial conference has adopted the Dhaka Declaration illustrating the commitment of IORA Member States to further strengthen and deepen cooperation on Blue Economy priority areas. IORA note says that this is the time to further nurture various areas of Blue Economy such as aquaculture, marine tourism, private sector’s involvement in infrastructure, port network and financial inclusion.

This year's IORA rationales find that one of the biggest challenges of the 21st Century is to ensure food and nutrition security of over nine billion people across the globe by 2050, where many countries are likely to face perils of climate change, economic and financial uncertainty and the growing tension among countries for natural resources. 

The note also said that the oceans and seas, being sources of vast living and non-living  resources, can help to respond the challenges of sustaining lives and livelihoods and food security for billions of people  Foreign Ministry sources said Bangladesh will take over the charge of Vice Chair from 2019 and subsequently Chair of IORA from 2021 for two years. IORA Secretary General briefed on the progress of 1st and 2nd IORA Ministerial Conferences on Blue Economy held in Mauritius and Indonesia in 2015 and 2017 respectively.