121,110 sqm marine area to append 5pc GDP
Zahid Hossain Biplob: Experts have underscored the need for utilising the resources of blue economy with a view to bolstering country’s economy.
The prospects of sea-based economy to promote Bangladesh in a middle-income country through the sustainable use of marine resources, they said.
Considering this, the government wants more prosperity in blue economy by this year. To fulfill this target, long term investment is essential, say specialists. In the Bay of Bengal, the country has a total of 121,110 square kilometers marine area including Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). With the marking of the maritime boundary, the government is now poised to formulate policies and mobilize resources. Blue Economy is one of the important tools available for achieving sustainable development goals (SGDs) for the country. Bangladesh being a coastal as well as reverie country depends heavily on its international shipping for the purpose of foreign trade.
Experts however opined that if the sea bed is properly used then by 2030, around 5 percent of GDP will be earned from ocean economy.
At present, most of the countries are becoming very much concerned about their marine resources to resolve many of the present and future challenges of their economies. In Bangladesh, ocean is contributing a significant role to its overall socio-economic progress through rising up the economic activities across the country and especially to the coastal zone.
There is a need to mainstream the oceans economy into future Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). This effort should go beyond the previous Millennium Development Goal (MDG), they said.
The Blue Economy is visualised as the integration of ocean economy development with the principles of social inclusion, environmental sustainability and innovative, dynamic business models. The blue economy can be defined as sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs and ocean ecosystem health. Contribution of oceans and seas (as well as rivers, waterways and estuaries) in sustainable development is undeniable, they mentioned.
A large sea area with 75 islands have been added to the Bangladesh maritime border and specialists feel that these should be developed as tourist spots along with investment in other areas.
Former chairman of Bangladesh Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research, (BCSIR), Professor Dr. S M Emamul Huq, says, “Bangladesh, being a country of having more than 165 million people, can add another sector to the list if it can exploit the vast potentials of blue economy.”
Saying that several countries are eager to be associated with blue economy, he added, if expected minerals are accumulated then Bangladesh economy will reach unprecedented heights in ten years.
The delimitation of sea boundary with Myanmar and India has indeed opened up a new window of opportunities in terms of harnessing resources and enhancing existing external trade, he added.
Several reports made by the ministry of science and technology inform that there are at least 13 spots in the Bay of Bengal which contain valuable sand, Uranium and Thorium.
Bay of Bengal contributes 16 percent of the world’s fish production which can be increased by adopting necessary steps. Around 30 million people are engaged in the ocean based fish industry.
Rightly using the resources of the sea will open up possibilities of renewable energy. Economists say that the usage of ocean side wind power is rising by 40 percent and this can be explored by Bangladesh.
There is also a huge possibility in the development of ocean based fishing industry since Bangladeshi fishermen are catching large amount of Tuna and other popular varieties from the deep seas.
An official of the ministry of aviation and tourism says, “The government is devoted to the expansion of the tourism industry and has already adopted plans to beautify several archeological sites across the country.”
Oceans besides has provide a substantial portion of the global population with food and livelihoods. The marine and coastal environment also constitutes a key resource for the significant global tourism industry and expanding domain of nature-based tourism. Blue economy is a much used phrase these days internationally, he added.
Former finance and planning adviser to the caretaker government, Dr ABM Mirza Azizul Islam, said, “The concept of the oceans economy also referred to as the blue economy is one that simultaneously promotes economic growth, environmental sustainability, social inclusion and the strengthening of oceans ecosystems.”