The “blue economy” is a term that has become increasingly prevalent over the last decade as people, governments and economists have begun to recognize the vast opportunity posed by the ocean and its resources. The World Bank defines the blue economy as the: “sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem.”
The blue economy sits at the nexus of people and the environment. Although people have lived in coastal environments and utilized ocean resources for millennia, the blue economy represents a consolidated and conscious sustainable development strategy that aims to incorporate the ocean into all levels of the economy – from local to national.
10 Countries Incorporating the Blue Economy into Their Development Strategies
- Kenya: The blue economy is a pillar of Kenya’s “Vision 2030,” the country’s development program. One of the major goals is to develop the country’s offshore tuna fishery, which domestic fishers currently underutilize. Other initiatives include seaweed farming, port developments, shipping and tourism.
- Vietnam: In Vietnam, the blue economy is a relatively new concept. However, local initiatives have already begun. For example, the Binh Thuan Fisheries Association has established a community management program to encourage sustainable fishing practices. The program resulted in the restoration of the clam fishery, the main source of income for the local community, in less than a year. The new fishing practices which the program brought resulted in the income of local fishers increasing from $15 to $25 per day.
- Samoa: Released in 2020, the Samoa Ocean Strategy is a national policy framework seeking to further develop the country’s blue economy. It includes a commitment to protect 30% of the country’s ocean by 2025 as well as support for marine spatial planning and sustainable fisheries.
- India: With a coastline of over 7,500 kilometers, the blue economy is developing into a significant industry in India. One notable initiative is recent expeditions into the deep sea to explore potential living and nonliving deep-ocean resources.
- China: China was an early and active adopter of the blue economy concept. One example of a small-scale blue economy initiative in China is the restoration of seagrass beds in the traditional fishing village of Chudao to support sea cucumber aquaculture, according to a 2020 article.
- Trinidad and Tobago: This Caribbean nation is part of a larger region-wide focus on developing a sustainable blue economy. Strategies are very new in this region, but a number of opportunities are there and the nation is emphasizing the establishment of cross-sector policies and strong institutional regulation.
- Tunisia: The Tunisian government has recently begun to develop a national strategy. The country is still in the early stages of implementation but has significant incentives considering that over 66% of its population lives on the coast and depends on marine resources for their livelihoods.
- Gambia: Gambia has recently adopted a 10-year plan to support sustainable growth and female employment in its significant mangrove oyster fishery sector. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the EU are implementing the program.
- Portugal: The Portuguese government has been actively trying to enhance its blue economy since 2015. The country has recently received €392.6 million from the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund to support further implementation of sustainable fisheries and aquaculture.
- Costa Rica: The coastal country of Costa Rica is rich in marine resources and economic opportunities, with projects involving sustainable fisheries and marine tourism emerging. The Global Environment Facility (GEF) provided funding to a number of Central American countries including Costa Rica to support the development of blue economies in these countries.
Realizing the Potential
These 10 countries provide only a tiny cross-section of the blue economy landscape emerging across the world. Countries are realizing the ocean’s potential to alleviate coastal poverty and lift overall economic performance. Strategies already in place and being developed will help pave the way to better global ocean management with benefits for both people and the environment.
– Amy McAlpine