Since 2009, the world has been observing 8 June as World Ocean Day. Ocean's Day is a great occasion to raise awareness and understanding about the largest part of our planet.
The theme of this year's World Oceans Day is' Ocean: Life and Livelihood'.
Oceans are one of the keys to the survival of humans on the earth. They are the biggest suppliers of our oxygen. 75% of the earth's surface is covered by oceans. A variety of essentials, including food and medicine, come from the ocean.
Currently, numerous crises threaten these vast bodies of water covering three-quarters of the earth's surface. Due to destructive and irresponsible activities by men, the environment of the oceans is constantly changing. Its biodiversity is being destroyed and the flora and fauna of the oceans as well as the coastal areas around the world have become endangered today.
Against this backdrop, World Ocean Day is being observed to highlight the contribution, appeal, necessity and usefulness of the sea to the world.
The SDG 14 aims to conserve "Life below Water" and improve quality of life for people through the development of a sea-based economy. It also aims to transform this potential sector into a strong economic base that can be one of the main sources of livelihood for the people.
When it comes to Bangladesh, the establishment of rights over the country's maritime borders has been one of the great achievements of Bangladesh since independence. Although our Bay of Bengal is rich in natural resources, we have not yet been able to ensure its maximum use.
Is it the time to exploit the immense potential of the blue economy hidden in this vast ocean?
It is true that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations can indeed be achieved through rapid growth, including meeting the food and nutrition needs of the people of Bangladesh through the efficient and planned use of oceanic resources.
Ocean-based industries will employ around 40 million people worldwide by 2030, a report of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development estimates. The most important share of these jobs will probably prop up the fisheries sector, followed by tourism. The economic wellbeing of maritime industries is linked to the general health of the oceans.
A lot of people can earn a livelihood If we ensure optimum use of resources of the ocean in a diversified & sustainable way.
The Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina has expressed her interest in expanding the maritime economy. She has highlighted the role of the ocean for life and livelihood in various forums. She made three proposals in the Virtual Ocean Dialogue of the 2020 World Economic Forum, urging the world community to take initiatives to formulate new policies for the effective use of the blue economy.
Her first proposal called for assisting developing countries with critically required resources, capabilities, and technologies for leveraging the full potential of marine resources.
In the second proposal, the prime minister emphasised conducting joint research on fisheries development to significantly increase regional fish production and eliminate illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.
But the ocean is not only a vital source of food and resources. The biodiversity of the ocean is also incredible and we must preserve it as well, for our own good.
Hence, it was fitting that in the third proposal, Sheikh Hasina underscored mapping and management of resource identification and critical coastal habitat and biodiversity protection.
But how can we conserve the ocean?
The ocean is home to most of the earth's biodiversity and is the main source of protein for more than a billion people around the world.
So, it's our prime responsibility to care for the ocean properly. Minor adjustments can have a big impact. There's a lot that we can do to help Conserve Ocean and here are a few of them.
-Reduce your carbon emissions
-Avoid single-use plastics
-Clean up your local beaches
-Decrease your consumption of energy & fuel
-Educate yourself on the ocean's ecologies
-Keep your water clean
-Always act sensibly on the ocean
-Stay aware of 4Rs (recycle, rethink, reduce, reuse)
-Shrink your use of chemicals and pesticides
-Avoid goods that harm the ocean's living environment
-Support your local fishing communities
-Change your eating habit towards aquatic foods
-Help to develop innovative sea-fishing products
Experts have already identified several potential sectors, derived from the country's ocean and inland aquatic sources, which could change the country's economy quickly. Among them are deep sea fishing, sea fish farming, non-conventional marine farming like green mussel, seaweeds, seafood processing, biotechnology, medicine, cosmetics production, etc.
I hope Bangladesh will ensure the optimum use of resources in the oceans to meet our food and nutrition requirements and achieve economic growth.
Md.Shohorab Hossain & Asaduzzaman Rassel, are working in the Communications Department of WorldFish Bangladesh.