Bangladesh is a country with great potential in the field of blue economy, which stands for the sustainable use of marine resources. The prospect of this sector lies not only in Bangladesh's geographic proximity to water bodies but also in its abundant seafood and fishery products which provide plenty of opportunities for export. This article will discuss how Bangladesh can leverage its natural resource endowment by building up an efficient blue economy that creates jobs, generates revenue, and supports poverty alleviation.
What is the Blue Economy?
The blue economy is a term used to describe the sustainable use of marine resources. It covers economic activities such as fishing, aquaculture, and tourism that depend on healthy oceans and seas but also includes new industries like biotechnology and maritime transport. The blue economy concept was introduced by Gunter Pauli in 1994.
However, according to the World Bank, the modern definition of Blue Economy indicates the use of all the resources of the oceans and the resources at their bottom for sustainable development. The word "economy" here refers not only to business but also maritime issues such as conservation and sustainable use of marine living resources.
Read Bangladesh, Kenya explore cooperation in blue economy
Prospects of Blue Economy in Bangladesh
In 2014, we conquered the sea from Myanmar. As a result, our maritime boundary has increased to 1.4 times that of another part of the whole of Bangladesh. The present sea area of Bangladesh is 2,07,000 square kilometers. Since our sea area has increased significantly, it is time to use the ocean resources for the advancement of Bangladesh. However, the Bangladesh government has already taken steps to use the resources.
Nevertheless, our government does not want to rely too much on foreign aid. Hence, the government wants to move forward through self-reliance. A university named "Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Maritime University Bangladesh was established in 2013 with the aim to build skills related to blue Economics and its development. The oceanography department has been introduced in different universities, including Dhaka University. In this way, we hope that one-day skilled manpower will be formed in our country. So, what are the prospects of a blue economy in Bangladesh? Let's find them out.
Read Focus on blue economy: PM to IORA states
Bangladesh has adopted Delta Plan-2100 in 2020, in which the maritime economy has been given priority. The plan adopts five strategies to harness the potential of the blue economy, one of which is the speedy completion of a multidimensional survey of marine resources. Through this, the government has taken up the first and foremost task of utilizing the maritime economy.
Prospect in Economy
If activities are carried out in at least four areas in the territory that Bangladesh has acquired as a result of the conquest of the sea, it is possible to earn about 2.5 trillion US dollars every year by 2030. The four sectors are oil and gas extraction, fisheries extraction, port expansion, and tourism. 145 crore people live on the shores of Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, and Thailand, where Bangladesh is in the center. As a result, there are good opportunities to enrich the economy of Bangladesh due to the huge economic potential here.
Fisheries and Aquaculture
At present, Bangladeshi trawlers catch fish within 35-40 nautical miles from the coast. But our economic zone is 200 nautical miles. There is a special opportunity to strengthen the country's maritime economy by working in a wider range. According to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Bangladesh is the first of the four countries among Thailand, India, and China in the world to achieve huge success in fisheries by 2022. Then Thailand, India, and China. Fish production has increased by 53% in the last 10 years. And fish exports have increased by more than 20%. Hence, proper utilization of the marine area will surely increase the fish industry.
Read Madagascar keen to work with Bangladesh on blue economy, ICT
Apart from fishery resources, the Bay of Bengal is also rich in marine animals, marine weeds, and shrubs. There is a huge number of marine weeds in the Bay of Bengal. These weeds can be processed to make medicines for various diseases. Spirulina is the most valuable of these weeds. People eat them as food in China, Japan, and different countries of Europe. So, there is a huge prospect in exporting these stuff.
Natural Resources and Energy
The amount of Bangladesh's natural resources above the water and under the water are the same. Moreover, The mineral resources at the bottom of the Bay of Bengal are thought to be unmatched by any other sea or bay in the world. The mineral resources at the bottom of this sea include about 17 types of mineral sand. Most of these are zircon, rutile, sillimanite, ilmenite, magnetite, garnet, kyanite, monazite, lycoxine, etc. All of these substances are valuable, but monazite is thought to be a treasure. This radioactive material is used to make atomic bombs and to generate energy in nuclear reactors.