According to international organisations, the blue economy concept aims to effectively manage water resources, especially seas and oceans, to preserve them as significant natural resources for current and future generations. It includes all the economic activities that directly correlate with the oceans, such as fishing, shipbuilding, maritime transport, coastal tourism, etc. After the resolution of maritime boundary with India (2014) and Myanmar (2012), the discussion on blue economy came forward in Bangladesh. Bangladesh achieved sovereign right to 118,813 sq. Km of waters extending up to 12 nautical miles of territorial sea and a further Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 200 nautical miles into the sea and Continental Shelf extending up to 354 nm from the Chattogram coast (Mofaz, 2014b). This is really a vast area for environmental sectors as well as economic sectors.
The opportunities of blue economy include activities of marine fisheries, oil, gas, minerals mining, marine tourism, maritime trade, marine biotechnology, renewable energy, sea salt production, ship building and recycling, marine renewable energy, maritime resources and related fields. Bangladesh marine resources are blessed with rich coastal and marine ecosystems, hosting a wide range of biodiversity, such as fishes, shrimps, crabs, mammals, seaweeds, etc. Activities related to fisheries and aquaculture contribute significantly to food security and livelihoods of millions of people. There are about 475 species of fish found in EEZ. At present 50%-60% global hilsa fishing take place at coastal and marine waters of Bangladesh. A total of over 245,117 mt shrimp cultured inland and caught from Bay of Bengal. Most of these fishes are directly exported to the USA, the EU and Japan. Besides, a considerable amount of fishes is salted and dried for the human consumption. The amount of dried fish is gradually increasing because of different reasons. Marine aquatic products like algae aquatic plants could be considered as a profitable venture of cultivation and many people in rural areas depend on these aquatic resources. Sea salt has been produced traditionally in Cox’s Bazar. But our salt farmers use manually occupied local equipment. As a result, some 22 million tons was produced in Bangladesh where the smut Sakhon of Thiland produces 43 million tons salt annually. Need to provide more privilege and modern facilities to farmers to improve salt production. Coastal truism plays a significant role in economic growth. It is one of the important sources of foreign exchange. Besides, there are more than 300 shipyards and workshops in Bangladesh that are contributing to our economy a lot. Bangladesh ship recycling industries provides 70%-75% scrap steel as a raw material for steel industry and saving a lot of foreign currency. These industries not only met the growing needs but also employment opportunities. But ship recycling industries must be turned into modern eco-friendly industries.
The writer is a student, Environmental Science and Engineering Department, Jatiya Kabi Kazi Nazrul Islam University, Trishal, Mymensingh