Pakistan’s blue economy, which includes its coastal and marine resources, has the potential to drive economic growth and create employment opportunities. However, some challenges need to be addressed, such as overfishing and pollution. In this article, we will explore the opportunities and challenges facing Pakistan’s blue economy.
What is the blue economy?
Blue economy refers to sustainable financial development, better livelihoods, and increased income sources via better management and conservation of marine resources.
The blue economy is acknowledged as an important factor in both global and national economies, as it includes a wide range of economic sectors, including fishing, aquaculture, tourism, shipping, renewable energy, and biotechnology.
In recent years, the pace of work on the blue economy has increased, and there is a growing emphasis on responsible use and better policies.
Water is life
There is no alternative to water in this world, so there is a need to use the world’s vast water reserves properly
Currently, 7.837 billion people are living on the Earth, out of which 1.1 billion people lack access to clean water, and a total of 2.7 billion people face water scarcity.
The estimated value of the global marine economy is $1.5 trillion annually, which can increase to $3 trillion in the coming years. The Indian Ocean plays a critical role in the world’s maritime routes and is considered a key factor in the world’s major trade routes, with most of the world’s largest container ships passing through it.
The blue economy and Pakistan
Pakistan’s 1,046 km long coastal strip is waiting to open the doors of development as the Blue Economy
By leveraging the potential, the economy can be boosted, particularly in the underprivileged coastal areas of Pakistan.
Pakistan’s strategic location
Pakistan is strategically located at the crossroads of the Arabian Sea, this location provides the country with immense potential for the development of a blue economy.
The Indian Ocean is connected to Iran, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh in the north, to the south of the Malacca peninsula, Southeast Asia, and Africa, and the Arabian Peninsula in the west
The Indian Ocean is a vast treasure trove of resources, but using these resources requires extreme caution and discipline to avoid errors as we did with the green economy.
In the Indian Ocean, the Sustainable Development of Maritime Resources is being promoted through various initiatives, such as the
3-East Asia Summit and
4-Land-Ocean Rim Association.
These initiatives are working to develop practical guidance and action plans to promote the sustainable development of maritime resources.
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is currently the world’s largest and most central program. China has announced a five-year development plan for a national marine economy.
Pakistan has ports in Karachi, Qasim, and Gwadar, which hold a prominent position in the Indian Ocean. Pakistan provides the fastest maritime access to China, Afghanistan, and Central Asian countries.
Every day, nearly 15 million barrels of crude oil arrive in Pakistan from Gulf states via the Gulf of Persia
Potential for marine resources
Pakistan’s waters are home to a variety of marine resources, including fish, shrimp, lobster, crabs, and other marine life.
Marine ecosystems contribute up to $11.5 billion to global tourism revenue.
These resources can be exploited sustainably for the benefit of the country.
Fishing in Pakistan’s coastal areas still follows traditional methods
Pakistan’s economy has historically relied on agriculture, livestock, and fishing, but the practice of leaving jobs and neglecting the state of these sectors has now made all sectors vulnerable to decline.
To ensure effective management and conservation, appropriate research and monitoring of marine environmental systems are crucial.
To better understand Pakistan’s marine environmental system and the effects of human activities, investment is needed in scientific research and monitoring programs,
Pakistan should adopt sustainable and modern methods of fishing, such as using selected equipment, reducing by-catch, and implementing closed seasons and areas for breeding, to ensure the preservation of fish stocks and the protection of the environmental system.
Pakistan’s coastal areas have great potential for tourism development. The development of tourism infrastructure and services can create new jobs and generate revenue for the country
Marine forests, especially mangroves, work to protect our coasts from natural disasters such as storms and floods and provide habitat and support for marine life.
Contribution to the economy
The blue economy has the potential to contribute significantly to Pakistan’s economy, particularly in terms of employment, revenue generation, and foreign exchange earnings.
The Institute of Development Economics in Pakistan suggests that Pakistan has the potential for sustainable annual growth of 8%,
Pakistan is the fifth most populous economy in the world with a population growth rate of approximately 2%
According to recent estimates, Pakistan’s economy is currently generating approximately $183 million in revenue from maritime, which is lower than neighboring countries Bangladesh and India.
Studies estimates, Pakistan’s fishing industry can generate an annual turnover of $2 billion in seafood exports
Pakistan will need to pay more attention to the shipbuilding sector, particularly in naval engineering, expanding the naval fleet, and improving the basic infrastructure of ports, such as providing docking facilities for modern ships.
The shipping industry is moving towards new ways of doing things, such as the modern method of ship recycling and the development of self-propelled surface ships (MASS). Pakistan now needs to upgrade quickly
Pakistan’s ports currently lack the modern capability to handle cargo, and work is still being done through traditional methods.
Upgradation of ports will enable Pakistan to handle larger cargo ships, as is being done in some of our neighboring countries.
Govt. policy review
In 2020, while working on the blue economy, the Pakistani government designated the year as the Blue Economy Year and made reforms to the 2001 Merchant Marine Policy, attracting private investors by offering them more incentives in the new policy.
These included the right to import goods duty-free for career purposes, margin trading tax, approval of the rate of goods in Pakistani rupees instead of US dollars, and facilities for long-term loans
After careful consideration of every aspect, the need for action arises, which requires a combination of private and government initiatives to find solutions to changing global policies and technology
A new revolution is taking place all over the world in salty water. Pakistan will be affected in every aspect, economic, social, and environmental levels
Developing a blue economy requires international cooperation and collaboration. Pakistan can learn from the experiences of other countries and work with them to promote sustainable practices and share knowledge and resources
While Pakistan’s blue economy has enormous potential, some significant challenges and obstacles need to be addressed.
1- the biggest challenge is overfishing, which can lead to the depletion of fish stocks and harm the livelihoods of fishing communities.
2-Climate change is a global challenge that has a significant impact on the oceans. The development of a blue economy can help Pakistan mitigate the effects of climate change
3- Pollution is also a major issue, with plastic waste and other pollutants damaging marine ecosystems and threatening the health of marine life.
4- There are concerns about the lack of infrastructure and investment in the sector, as well as the need for better governance and regulation to ensure sustainable development.
Addressing these challenges will be crucial to unlocking the full potential of Pakistan’s blue economy.
Investment in coastal areas will provide Pakistan with employment, trade, food, and green electricity, and transform the lives of a large portion of the population
if Pakistani policymakers take the initiative at this time, adopt new methods, and develop far-reaching policies with modern lines of thinking, then this revolution has the potential to change Pakistan’s destiny.