POST TIME: 24 June, 2021 06:53:17 PM
Blue economy: Road to economic prosperity in Bangladesh
Maritime researchers says that, 13 areas of this newly claimed sea area of Bangladesh has valuable sand, uranium, thorium and other mineral resources which, if properly extracted, will bring a revolutionary change to her economy.
Hasan Shahriar

Blue economy: Road to economic prosperity in Bangladesh

The end of the longstanding maritime boundary dispute of Bangladesh with India and Myanmar has opened up immense potentialities for us regarding blue economy. Proper development in the maritime economic sector will give us the opportunity for swift economic expansion.

Mainly, blue economy discusses a country’s development in her marine resource and its proper usage. Almost 70% of our earth surface is covered with water, which includes a vast amount of aquatic species. Besides these, there are also natural resources, oils, minerals and different types of aquatic plants. According to the information provided by Food and Agriculture Organization, every year, almost 1 to 2.5 trillion tons of fish is collected from marine bodies which accounts for fulfilling 15% protein requirement of at least 430 crores of people of the world. Besides this, different types of natural gas, minerals extracted for the sea surface fulfills various daily necessities of people. Researchers predict that by the time 2050, world’s population will reach almost 900 crore. And to fulfill various economic needs of this vast amount of people, blue economy will play a significant role.

Among the sustainable development goals (SDGs), SDG-14 focuses on sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. Bangladesh has adopted steps to ensure sustainable use the oceans, seas and marine resources attaining inclusive development and goal related to SDG-14.

In near future, blue economy will greatly influence our country. With that concern, in 1974, the Government of Bangladesh under the leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, enacted the “the territorial waters and maritime-1974” act. But the maritime dispute with India and Myanmar was the main barrier against the implementation of this law. After resolving the dispute with Myanmar in Hamburg International maritime court in 2012, Bangladesh established her sovereign authority over 1 lakh 18 thousand square kilometers of sea area. By this, Bangladesh established her economic authority over 200 nautical miles of sea area. After resolving the dispute with India in 2014, Bangladesh gained the authority of more 19 thousand square kilometers of sea area. As a result, a maritime area almost equal to the total land area of Bangladesh came under her authority.

A huge portion of Bangladesh’s economy depends on her fish resource. Fishes collected from sea meets the protein demand of her people. Besides, every year, huge amount of foreign currency is obtained by exporting fishes. According to the research of “Sustainable coastal and marine fisheries project” Bangladesh’s marine bodies contain 430 species of fishes and 17 species of shrimp. Few years back, Bangladesh could collect only 6 lakh tons of fish from the sea. But at present, after expanding the maritime boundary, the amount of fish collected measures up to 80 lakh tons. If this newly claimed maritime area is properly utilized, then it is possible to gain crores of foreign currency every year from this fisheries sector. Maritime researchers says that, 13 areas of this newly claimed sea area of Bangladesh has valuable sand, uranium, thorium and other mineral resources which if properly extracted, will bring a revolutionary change in her economy.

At the shore of the Bay of Bengal, there is sea beach extending up to 120 kilometers around Cox’s Bazar. The country’s tourism industry evolved centering this sea beach. Every year, almost 80 to 90 lakhs of people from around the country visits this beach. Besides, the number of foreign tourists is almost 2 to 3 lakhs. Proper maintenance and accurate steps, if taken, will turn this sector into the country’s one of the most important economic drivers. According to a report of “Save our sea” a lot of important ingredients of medicine, such as, bromine, chloride and various other chemicals are collected from marine source. It is also possible for the country to develop the medicine sector by utilizing her marine resource. Also if different factories for ship building and reformation is established centering the coastal areas, then the country’s shipping industry will also thrive.

But the main barrier of Bangladesh regarding the implementation of blue economy is the lack of knowledge and information of our people in this area. Due to lack of proper knowledge and information, many investors get discouraged for investing in this area. So after 9 years of solving the dispute, we are still not able to reach our desired goal in blue economy. At present, a proper master plan of the national level is necessary to drive blue economy in our country. Last year, at the “Blue Economic Ministerial Conference” held at Hotel Intercontinental, Dhaka, ministers of many countries participated. There, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina talked about developing our blue economy which resulted in coordination among 17 ministries and directories for the purpose of searching and extracting marine resources. Until now, the government has identified 26 different initiatives for developing the marine economic sectors that include shipping, coastal shipping, sea port, internal river transportation, ship building, ship recycling industry, oil and gas, sea salt production, blue energy, mineral resource, marine genetic resource, coastal tourism, artificial island, marine security and surveillance and many more.

We can expect that, if things go in this pace, then by the next few years, our country will transform into a marine resource based economy. If we can fully utilize the potentials of blue economy in our country, then very soon we will be able to set a distinct image to the world in terms of economic power. 

The writer is a student, department of marketing, Jahangirnagar University.