With Covid 19 pandemic having hit the ocean economy in a drastic way, a new report commissioned by the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, has called for giving importance to five key areas towards a sustainable ocean economy.
Invest in coastal and marine ecosystem restoration and protection; invest in sewerage and wastewater infrastructure for coastal communities; invest in sustainable community-led non-fed mariculture (e.g. shellfish and seaweed); incentivise zero-emission marine transport; incentivise sustainable ocean-based renewable energy are the five key areas that the report highlights for catalysing an effective ocean economy.
The report has said that ocean economy that normally contributed 1.5 trillion in value added to the global economy, was hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic with a projected loss of 1.9 billion dollars for international shipping carriers alone. The report also notes that the coastal communities were hardest hit with an estimated loss of 7.4 billion dollars fall in GDP across Small Island Developing States.
FIVE KEY AREAS
Invest in Sewerage and Wastewater Infrastructure for Coastal Communities; this helps in short-term job creation, avoided revenue loss from beach closures, improved societal well-being, reduction in water-borne diseases, improve reef and ecosystem health and reduced greenhouse gas emissions
Invest in Coastal and Marine Ecosystem Restoration and Protection; this also results in short as well as long term job creation, improved societal well-being, improved water quality, improved reef and ecosystem health, wild fish stock recovery, increased coastal resilience and carbon sequestration
Invest in Sustainable Community-Led Non-fed Mariculture; Short- and long-term job creation, economic diversification for coastal communities, improved livelihoods (particularly for women), improved water quality, wild fish stock recovery, reduced GHG emissions and carbon sequestration
Incentivise Sustainable Ocean-based Renewable Energy; Short and long term job creation, new economic opportunities for zero emission fuel generation, improved local air quality, opportunities for water security through desalination and reduced GHG emissions
Incentivise the Transition to Zero Emission Marine Transport; Short- and long-term job creation, indirect long-term job creation in tourism and fisheries sectors, improved local air quality, resilience and reduced GHG emissions and ocean acidification
The report points out that innovative finance would be crucial to making these interventions a reality within fiscally constrained economies. It said that identifying opportunities to advance ‘blue conditionality’ through debt restructures and grants to the private sector could help for long standing reforms in fisheries management, marine conservation and disclosure of ocean data. Achieving a sustainable and equitable blue recovery will take greater cooperation and collaboration among public and private sectors, the report said. It said that the relevance of ocean for global economic and social recovery and future prosperity should become part of global discourse.
In decision making, the report points out that integrated ocean management and other related holistic and knowledge-based approaches to planning and managing the multitude of uses and users of ocean spaces should be looked into.
Coastal and marine tourism: the sector has come across significant loss in gross domestic product and employment. The report said that recovery was estimated to be slow. The most affected were the owners of small and medium enterprises, seafarers, young workers and female workers.
Marine transport: the report notes 25 per cent reduction in shipping, that has caused significant loss to the industry. The report also stated that health and safety of seafarers were at risk due to repeated contract extensions. It also reports of denial of treatment to seafarers by foreign port authorities during quarantine period.
Wild capture fisheries: fall in sales and prices for premium seafood and export oriented fisheries. The report said that there was an increased demand for non-perishable seafood compared to fresh seafood. The most affected were the small-scale fishers. Food security was also affected due to low demand and reduced market access, The report points out increased unemployment and violence risk for women
Aquaculture: the report says that there was dip in production disruption due to input and labour shortages. Trade in fresh products were affected due to flight cancellations.
Marine conservation; Reduced revenues that forced organisations to reduce costs. Locals and Indigenous communities turned to hunting and fishing for food security. Nature-based solutions received increased attention regarding their contribution to global goals