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Blue economy: high time to invest and explore wealth of opportunities for Pakistan

Nationwide Campaign of Bahria University Karachi (Dept of H&SS) to spread awareness about Blue Economy

The idea of Blue Economy recognizes the sustainable use of ocean and coastal resources for economic growth, improved livelihood and jobs, and ocean ecosystem health. The Blue Economy emerges when economic activity is in balance with the long term capacity of ocean and coastal ecosystems to support this activity and remain resilient and healthy which includes many components:

  • Maritime Transport: Over 80 percent of international goods traded are transported by sea and the volume of seaborne trade is expected to double till 2030 and quadruple till 2015.
  • Fisheries: Marine fisheries contribute more than US$210 billion annually to global GDP. More sustainable fisheries can generate more revenue and more fish can restore fish stocks.
  • Renewable Energy: Sustainable marine energy can play a vital role in social and economic development.
  • Tourism: Ocean and coastal tourism can bring jobs and economic growth. Coastal least developed countries and Small Island Developing states receive more than 41 million visitors per year.
  • Climate Change: Effects of it on sea rising ocean levels, coastal disintegration, changing ocean momentum examples and fermentation are staggering. In the meantime seas are a critical carbon sinks and help alleviate environmental change.
  • Waste Management: Up to 80 percent of litter in our oceans is from land-based sources. Better waste management can help the oceans recover.

 

Potential and prospects

Pakistan is an important maritime state in the Indian Ocean naturally endowed with approximately 1,050 km long coastline and the Exclusive Economic Zone covering about 240,000 sq. km. Pakistan may confront a number of challenges while building upon its Blue Economy potential. However, Pakistan should embark upon boosting its economy while focusing on maritime infrastructure, technology for offshore resource development, a strong fisheries and marine leisure sector (tourism), environment issues etc. All the required financial and technological support should be geared up for building, operating, and making economically profitable industries. These are compelling reasons for Pakistan to endorse and internalize the concept of a Blue Economy in policy, bilateral relations as well as international transactions. Institutions like Bahria University should be established to work on blue economy that may guide Pakistan to harness the potential and engage itself in the sustainable development of living and non-living resources of the seas to advance economic growth and enhance human security.

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The efficiency of Pakistani ports should be enhanced by improving the network of rail and road infrastructure both of which is being catered widely by the mega China and Pakistan Economic Corridor’ project (Popularly recognized as CPEC) but policy should be adopted for the sustainable coastal management, a large segment of the Blue Economy revolves around waste management and effort to lessen climate degradation. A large part of the problem could be catered by simply initiating the plantation of trees, primarily mangrove trees, along the coastal lines of Pakistan. Mangrove trees are the prime example of trees, which remain steadfast in all qualities of water (swamp waters, salty sea waters and fresh river waters). Its roots grow deep down in the soil, proving to be a natural anchor against natural disasters such as tsunamis and floods. Preserving coastal areas and mangroves is vital to people that live in coastal areas, providing them with fish and other seafood. Many commercially important fish and crustaceans spend part or all of their lives in mangroves, which also provide a home of many terrestrial animals, which promotes fisheries and generates huge revenues many potential tourist grounds can emerge on the ports of Pakistan of which the most suitable would be the Gwadar Port of Balochistan due to its emerging popularity in terms of aesthetics as well as industrialization. Prospects could include floating restaurants, underwater aquarium and beach resorts, which are gaining popularity worldwide. To add more elements of attraction, the projects could include water sports and activities such as snorkeling and water-skiing. These steps are bound to attract international adventure driven tourists, hence ushering the tourist industry of Pakistan with a renewed energy once again.

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Bahria University Karachi aims to generate thoughts and actions towards investigating various opportunities, ways of cashing the benefits as well as identifying challenges and ways of overcoming by raising voice for the awareness of neglected sector related to blue economy to improve GDP like our neighboring countries.

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Figure: Comparison of Aquaculture and Fishing in South Asian countries ( Source: World Bank)

 

These are some compelling reasons for Pakistan to endorse and internalize the concept of a Blue Economy in policy, bilateral relations as well as international transactions. Institutions like Bahria University should be established to work on Blue Economy that may guide Pakistan to harness the potential and engage itself in the sustainable development of living and non-living resources of the seas to advance economic growth and enhance human security. This can be supplemented by a successful regional seas program for ocean governance, management and awareness programs regarding the subject. Bahria University Karachi runs a nationwide campaign to create awareness about Blue Economy and not only try to explore but also highlight the potential of this sector a various platforms and strives hard for the sustainable and prosperous Pakistan through Blue Economy.

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Written by: Ms Urooj Aijaz (Faculty Bahria University Karachi; Department of H&SS) Feedback at: uroojjaijaz@gmail.com

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