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Bangladesh - April 16, 2022

Potentials of Blue Economy in Bangladesh

Ocean renewable energy

Greening coastal belt/delta planning: This will help reduce wind pressure of cyclones and also solidification of new lands. Mangrove in the Sunderbans comprising of 577,040 hectares provide livelihood to about 7.5 million people, timber, wood, boat building materials, rafts and garan for tanning nets, honey, wax etc including acting as spawning/breeding ground for many species. Mangrove afforestation in newly accreted intertidal areas has been going on for decades now. Bangladesh is already working for delta planning and in the long run it will help sustain agriculture, river course and intrusion saline waters etc. Human resource, maritime surveillance and spatial planning Human resource-Well-trained, skilled and educated human resources are the driving force of the development of an economy, who can participate in the globalization of business and the accompanying technological revolution.

Dynamic and sustainable development is not possible without skilled work force. Having assessed the need of world market and local industry, appropriate courses on marine science/oceanography, ocean and coastal engineering, maritime education and trade are essential to introduce at tertiary education system. A large eligible population places Bangladesh in a suitable position to produce skilled human resources in almost any sector imaginable.

A thrust in blue economic growth may come from a large army of skilled coastal and offshore engineers, navigators, merchant mariners, fisheries technologists, biotechnologists, etc. and in a variety of other professions. There are reportedly shortage of marine officers and rating worldwide and shortage escalating about 20% every year.

Philippines, China and India are supplying providing most of the officers to all the merchant ships around the globes. Even Myanmar and Sri Lanka are ranked ahead of India in terms of providing ratings. Bangladesh has enormous potential for seafaring job opportunities from its 18 private and public marine academies provided it can arrange on board practical training facilities for its would-be seafarer and also can remain in the white list following STCW 95.

Recently the National Oceanographic Research Institute (NORI) has been established for coastal and oceanic research. Maritime surveillance-aims to improve the situational awareness of all activities at sea impacting on maritime safety and security, the marine environment, fisheries control, trade and economic interests as well as general law enforcement and defence.

Maritime safety including Search and Rescue is understood as the combination of preventive measures intended to protect shipping and port facilities against threats of intentional unlawful attacks and prevention of pollution caused by ships. There is a growing demand for all of these functions due to the increasing number of (legal and illegal) activities at sea.

The last decade has seen an increase in threats, including piracy, illicit human and drug trafficking as well as terrorism. Maritime spatial planning (MSP) – is a mechanism for the integrated management of maritime areas in which a central vision for the future of the area, in conjunction with knowledge of activity interactions and impacts, guides the location, timing, intensity and future development of all activities in the maritime space. It recognizes that seas and oceans are drivers for the economy with great potential for innovation and growth.

A comprehensive understanding of the maritime environment is crucial for successful MSP, as is a thorough understanding of how maritime activities impact each other and the environment. In conclusion it can be said that the future development potential of a blue economy strategy for Bangladesh strongly depends on the ability of the economic actors to find a business model which fits the developmental stage and the national and global developments.

However, once confidence of the future potential is established, new players can easily enter the business, invest, upscale and grow the business. Once risks subside, large industrial players (e.g. from pharmaceutical, chemical and cosmetics, but also energy, utility and mining companies) are expected to become interested in the opportunities of Blue economy.

Access to finance is therefore amongst the most important barriers for the maritime economic activities in the not so developed maritime economic functions. Clearly, investment risks are substantial in this phase, but so can be the rewards.

Apart from funding of activities in the development phase, access to finance can block the realization of investment plans and new business initiatives. In light of this, it is essential that Bangladesh recognizes the true potential of its marine resources and develops an integrated maritime policy that acknowledges the interlinkages that exist between the different domains and functions of its seas, oceans and coastal areas.

The Blue Economy strategy builds on policy initiatives to recognize the potential of these marine resources and thus aids in realizing a future strategy towards smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. Our ability to compete and achieve future success in maritime economic activities, such as deep-sea fishing, aquaculture, international/coastal shipping, port infrastructure, coastal and cruise tourism, offshore drilling, renewable energy, biotechnology, coastal protection, salt production, human resource for maritime activities and development of existing islands and chars will have important knock-on effects for both upstream and downstream suppliers.

Successfully rolling out tomorrow’s maritime economic activities will, therefore, have a positive impact on an entire portfolio of other maritime economic activities, namely those of a cross-cutting nature such as shipbuilding, blue biotechnology, drilling in the Bay and port infrastructure, human resource and maritime monitoring and surveillance. (End)

Rear Admiral M. Khurshed Alam, Secretary, MAU, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh

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