The Mar­itime Op­por­tu­nity

Pak­istan must uti­lize its sea po­ten­tial to boost the econ­omy.

Southasia - - OPINION -

Pak­istan’s Exclusive Eco­nomic Zone (EEZ) and ex­tended con­ti­nen­tal shelf con­sti­tutes over 35% of its land and has a seafront of ap­prox. 1000 kilo­me­ters. Nearly 90% of the coun­try’s trade by vol­ume and 70% by value is car­ried out through the sea yet the mar­itime sec­tor has not been ad­e­quately ex­ploited for op­ti­mal ben­e­fits and ad­van­tages. One im­por­tant rea­son amongst many for this fail­ure is that mar­itime is­sues are not high on the list or na­tional strate­gic think­ing in Pak­istan.

The ocean is rich in liv­ing and non­liv­ing re­sources and can gen­er­ate wind, ti­dal, ther­mal and biomass en­ergy. It is also a ma­jor source of food and an av­enue for liveli­hood in fish­eries, tourism, ports, ship­ping and ship­build­ing. Pak­istan’s ex­plo­ration ef­forts in th­ese ar­eas for its eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment have been far from sat­is­fac­tory. In re­cent times, eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity in the mar­itime sec­tor has been called the Blue Econ­omy. The term was first men­tioned by Gunter Pauli, a self-styled en­tre­pre­neur of Bel­gian ori­gin, who pub­lished a book

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By Taj M Khat­tak on the sub­ject in 2010.

He jux­ta­posed the huge po­ten­tial and ben­e­fits of the Blue Econ­omy on those of the Green Econ­omy; his ideas were con­sid­ered so rev­o­lu­tion­ary at the time that he came to be known as the ‘Steve Jobs of sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment.‘ Since then there is a grow­ing uni­ver­sal trend to pay more at­ten­tion to world’s oceans and seas. Ev­ery coun­try which has ac­cess to the sea has ac­cel­er­ated its ef­forts to har­ness mar­itime op­por­tu­ni­ties within the frame­work of the Blue Econ­omy.

Although Pak­istan has ben­e­fit­ted from the ex­panded man­date of UNCLOS (United Na­tions Con­ven­tion on the Law of the Sea) and has ac­quired sovereign ju­ris­dic­tion on the seabed be­yond its EEZ, it is still lag­ging be­hind sig­nif­i­cantly in trans­lat­ing pol­icy frame­works of a Blue Econ­omy by such in­sti­tu­tions as the United Na­tions Depart­ment of Eco­nomic and So­cial Af­fairs (UNDESA), Global Ocean Com­mis­sion and the Global Part­ner­ship for Oceans. Fur­ther, in the re­gion around us, a num­ber of mul­ti­lat­eral in­sti­tu­tions like SAARC, APEC, East Asia Sum­mit and IORA (In­dian Ocean Rim As­so­ci­a­tion) are en­gaged in de­vel­op­ing co­op­er­a­tive strate­gies and ac­tion plans for sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment of marine re­sources.

All th­ese bod­ies are con­stantly pro­vid­ing a new promi­nence to the oceans and seas. Their pol­icy op­tions and pro­posed mod­els should be con­sid­ered for new ini­tia­tives to build our na­tional ca­pac­ity. China has gone even fur­ther and ini­ti­ated Five Year De­vel­op­ment Plans for the Na­tional Marine Econ­omy which mon­i­tors progress of var­i­ous marine sec­tors on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

Across the globe, the con­cept of Blue Econ­omy is res­onat­ing in a num­ber of coun­tries and na­tional agen­das for post2015 de­vel­op­ment plans for sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment of re­sources and eco­nomic ex­pan­sion are be­ing worked around it. At the core of this con­cept lies the idea of ‘op­ti­miza­tion of nat­u­ral re­sources within eco­log­i­cal lim­its’ and ‘de-hy­phen­at­ing so­cioe­co­nomic de­vel­op­ment from en­vi­ron­men­tal degra­da­tion.’

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