Marine ecosystems are exceptionally important to the economic well-being of the Indo-Pacific region. Indeed, coastal populations and Pacific Islanders heavily rely on the oceans for food, storm protection, as well as a variety of recreational activities. Furthermore, these ecosystems are vital because of their economic benefits as they support tourism and fisheries. Despite that, they are continuously threatened by construction development, climate shifts, pollution, overfishing, and many other challenges. As a result, the Indo-Pacific region suffers greatly from the loss of mangroves and the destruction and degradation of coral reefs. Marine ecosystems are in danger of disappearing due to the high rates of globalization, urbanization, overpopulation, as well as industrialization.
Despite the obstacles the region has to face, the answer might be simple: ensure that economic prosperity and nature conservation are not in conflict. Instead, it is crucial for key decision-makers, organizations, and policymakers to support initiatives, which take the health of coastal and marine ecosystems into consideration. Over the recent years, Blue Economy has become a popular concept in conversations and research related to marine governance. As a field of study focused solely on economics of using resources provided by the sea, Blue Economy has led to a mini-revolution in the domain of coastal management. This essay aims to examine the importance of Blue Economy on battling the challenges the Indo-Pacific region faces in regard to ocean governance.
The importance of implementing Blue Economy has been acknowledged for a while now. The World Bank (2017, para. 1) defines the concept as the “sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs, and ocean ecosystem health.” Some of the sectors include fisheries, renewable energy sources, marine biotechnology, tourism, extractive practices in the sea, as well as maritime transportation. The primary idea behind the notion of Blue Economy is that a healthy ocean does not only not intervene with economic growth but supports economic productivity. It is the task of policymakers to ensure that marine economics are not in opposition to sustainability and innovation. Singh (2021, p. 2) notes that the main proposition of Blue Economy is that “the ecological well-being of marine and coastal ecosystems can be increased by shifting to a more sustainable economic model, spurring a range of developmental activity.” Practices of environmental conservation can essentially even help the economy by attracting investments in renewable energy and ecotourism.
Thus, it is evident that financial profitability can be aligned with marine conservation initiatives through biodiversity conservation policies and programs. Therefore, industry leaders are key players who have to be engaged more in the exploring the options for conservation practices. After all, conservation activities can result in economic value. For instance, according to UN Environment (2017, p. 1), “conservation action to restore fish stocks could produce an economic gain of USD 50 billion per year.” Oceans should not be considered only the sources of profit. They present numerous potential economic values tied to a variety of products as well as services. Compensating the loss of marine ecosystems is much more expensive and essentially highly implausible than preservation activities. Marine bioprospecting and the focus on long-term sustainability is an advantageous solution for those who profit off the oceans as well as locals who depend on them to survive.
Main Challenges to Blue Economy
There are numerous challenges facing the implementation of Blue Economy in the Indo-Pacific region. Singh (2021) claims that the primary ones include overfishing and marine pollution. Nowadays, South Asia and the Western Pacific suffer greatly from the exploitation initiated by fishing corporations. As it is, there is no actual regulation of resource utilization, which has led to a rise in unlicensed fishing, bottom trawling, and other destructive fishing activities (Crispino, 2020). Another issue is pollution originating from industrialization, shipping practices, and the lack of efficient waste management. According to Singh (2021), the COVID-19 pandemic has only made matters worse by increasing the amount of medical waste being disposed of in the sea. Dharmaraj et al. (2021) argue that face masks are particularly damaging to marine flairs and fauna once mindlessly dumped in the oceans. Unfortunately, countries in the Indo-Pacific region are too dependent on the economic profits marine ecosystems provide short-term and have been slow to consider partnerships with international organizations for environmental conservation.
Furthermore, it is crucial to recognize ocean governance as another challenge to Blue Economy. It is important to acknowledge the fact that with the global rise in population, the number of people living in coastal communities grows as well. As they depend upon the local resources, policymakers are tasked with managing marine resources, while simultaneously supporting a comprehensive strategy for economic sustainability. However, despite the obvious need for it, ocean governance is not a priority for officials in the Indo-Pacific region. Many countries are focused on immediate problems such as epidemics, military conflict, or natural disasters, which is why they lack the capacity to put environmental conservation on their agendas. For instance, India’s Sagarmala project may serve as an example of neglect as “the centerpiece of New Delhi’s BE [Blue Economy] Initiative, prioritizes port building and infrastructure construction over sustainable development” (Singh, 2017, p. 7). Therefore, it is apparent governments are unable to recognize what the priority should be and invest in the attainment short-term economic profits instead of initiating projects focused on marine sustainability.
In conclusion, the implementation of Blue Economy can be expected to produce positive outcomes, both economical and environmental. It is a concept, which prioritizes marine conservation while acknowledging the importance of economic profitability on the global and local scales. Adopting Blue Economy in a comprehensive way leads to the creation of a long-term, integrated strategy for marine restoration and sustainability through harvesting innovation. Yet, the primary purpose of Blue Economy should be the integration of oceans into a complex existing system of economics. Blue Economy practices are targeted towards redistributing common goods in order to ensure diversity and sustainability. The Indo-Pacific region has a long way to go in terms of harnessing a balanced interrelation between economic growth and marine conservation.
Crispino, M. (2020) It’s time to stop funding overfishing. Web.
Dharmaraj, S. et al. (2021) ‘The COVID-19 pandemic face mask waste: A blooming threat to the marine environment’, Chemosphere, 272.
Singh, A. (2017) Blue Economy in the Indo-Pacific: Navigating between growth and conservation. Web.
The World Bank. (2017) What is the Blue Economy. Web.
UN Environment. (2017) Valuing the ocean: Pacific Blue Economy. Web.