Blue Economy for Revitalization of Oceans

Oceans are custodian of life on planet Earth and have shaped human civilization since millennia. Enveloping over 70% of planet’s surface, oceans regulate weather and climate patterns. More than 70% of earth oxygen generation is undertaken by algae in oceans. Humanity has depended on oceans for sustenance, progression, and survival. The rapid growth in human population and subsequent increment of human economic foot print is straining our continental resources. The menace of pollution is damaging our planet, putting the human well-being and even existence in danger. This has necessitated restructuring the way we interact with our planet in general and oceans in particular. As humanity’s relationship with the ocean is getting increasingly demanding, therefore, new concepts are needed for revitalization of oceans in the way which is sustainable, progressive, and secure.

Blue Economy provides the framework for synchronization of economic prosperity with the sustainability of nature. First coined by Gunter Pauli, the lynchpin of Blue Economy is sustainability. It deals with sustainable use of oceans for improved livelihood and economic growth without compromising the ocean health. Blue Economic model has direct compatibility with five Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) crafted by United Nations. These five SDGs include eradication of poverty (SDG-01), ensuring of good health and well-being (SDG-03), emphasis on innovation and infrastructure development (SDG-09), undertaking climate action (SDG-13) and safeguarding of life below water (SDG-14).

The potential of the Blue Economy is enormous. In 2010, the Global Oceanic Economy was valued at approximately 1.5 trillion USD, and by 2030, it is expected to surpass the 3 trillion USD mark. The net worth of Oceanic assets is estimated to be 24 trillion USD. Oceanic resources are vast but not unlimited. Therefore, sustenance of resources is essential. Blue Economy offers more reliable and credible alternative to traditional ocean based economic model. It deals with maritime economic professions like fisheries, resource extraction, marine transportation, and tourism, but within the bindings of ecofriendly regulations. Plus, it incorporates practices, like aquaculture/mariculture, blue biotech, and renewable energy production from oceans, for improving productivity while retaining minimum impact on marine ecosystem.

One of the fundamental pillars of the Blue Economy is the promotion of sustainable fisheries. In 2022, global sea food market was valued more than 257 Billion USD. It’s projected to reach 350 Billion by 2027. Overfishing is rapidly depleting fish stocks and is disrupting marine ecosystems. To address the growing demand for seafood and alleviate pressure on wild fish stocks, the Blue Economy encourages the development of sustainable aquaculture and mariculture practices. These modern fish farming practises involve raising fish stocks and other marine lives like aquatic plants in controlled environment. By adopting these practises on global scale, we can reduce our reliance on wild fisheries while ensuring a consistent supply of seafood. In parallel, aquaculture and mariculture have the potential of generating more financial revenue than traditional fish catching practises. Currently Global aquaculture market is valued approximately USD 289.6 Billion and is expected to reach USD 421.2 Billion by end of 2030.

The Blue Economy recognizes the vast potential of oceans as a renewable energy source. Offshore wind farming, tidal, and wave energy offer a sustainable alternative to carbon-based energy sources. In practise, offshore wind turbines are more efficient than onshore wind turbines. Horsea Wind Farm, located roughly 89 kms off the coast of Yorkshire, UK, is currently the largest wind farm in world. It can produce 1.3 GW of clean energy. By middle of this century, European Union is targeting to achieve 300GW energy generation from offshore wind farming. Similarly, it is estimated that 120-400 GW energy can be made available to mankind through tidal waves alone. The International Energy Agency’s calculations suggest that ocean waves are capable of producing 8,000 – 80,000 TW yearly. Clean ocean energy technologies may have high capital cost, but by harnessing enormous power of oceans we will not only foster a clean energy transition but also fulfil our immense energy requirements for generations.

The Blue Economy encourages sustainable tourism practices that balance economic benefits with environmental conservation. The net contribution of global tourism and travel industry is approximately USD 5.8 trillion. Coastal and marine tourism constitute roughly half (50%) of net global tourism. These statistics proves that tourism is a major contributor to global economy, but its unregulated expansion can harm ecosystems. By promoting eco-friendly tourism, and marine conservation initiatives, we can create a positive feedback loop. Thriving ecosystems attract visitors, who, in turn, contribute to conservation efforts and generate revenue for local communities.

The Blue Economy also promotes marine biotechnology – a new technological sector. Marine ecosystem is predominately unexplored and has rich biodiversity. Marine organisms contain natural compounds which can be used for developing new products like biomaterials, biofuels, biomedicines, and other innovations etc. Many such bio products are already in use in the fields of health care, livestock, industrial manufacturing, and transportation. Moreover, this technology is now being used to enhance the productivity of aquaculture and mariculture. For entire marine biotechnology sector, it’s difficult to gauge its precise economic worth as it encompasses vast range of activities. Investing in research and development of marine biotechnology will not only drive economic growth but also contribute to the well-being of humanity and the conservation of marine ecosystems.

Since humanity is intrinsically tied to the oceans, it is in the individual’s best interest to act collectively to benefit from global commons. Such planning requires collaboration among local communities, industries, governments, and global organizations. Blue Economy has the potential to resolve our problems associated with economic growth and climate change. To protect and better utilize oceans in a sustainable manner, we must establish equilibrium – one rooted in true understanding of oceans and its relation with humanity. For that we have to periodically adopt sustainable fisheries, promote aquaculture, unlock renewable oceanic energy resources, harness marine biotechnology, practice responsible tourism, and implement effective governance. By bringing together our knowledge and efforts related to Blue Economy, we will be able revitalize our oceans and thus secure a better future. (1007)

Ahmad Ibrahim
Ahmad Ibrahim
The author is an Independent Researcher and holds M.Phil Degree in Strategic Studies from National Defence University.