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by Kelly Secrest June 24, 2020 14 min read 1 Comment

You may have never heard of the Blue Economy, but it is an important emerging concept that is increasing in popularity. Some people associate this term with the “Green Economy,” which aims to minimize the risks and use of ecological scarcities in energy, transportation, agriculture and other land activities to stop the degradation of the environment, animals and plant life. Related but different, the Blue Economy is defined as the “sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of the ocean ecosystem.” Essentially, protecting the biodiversity of the ecosystems of all oceans, seas, and how coastal activities interact with that marine economy. The Blue Economy includes the global water crisis, climate change, renewable energy, and marine industry expansion. The Blue Economy provides a framework for the global community to actively participate in the conservation of our water’s necessary natural resources and to help develop and implement more sustainable economic habits to protect our oceans. This term is linked to Blue Growth, a long-term strategy for promoting sustainable growth of marine and maritime activities in a planned, sustainable way.

Photography Credit: Bluebird Marine Systems

If you do not already, you need to start viewing the ocean as more than just a means for economic growth.  Many of the controversies about this issue revolve around people who want to economically profit from the sea through activities, such as industrial development, but don’t want to take environmental sustainability and needs of the aquatic communities into consideration.  Businesses exploit our oceans’ resources through maritime transports, commercial fishing and energy mining industries.  The marine industrial revolution was driven by deep-sea oil drilling, and many important industries were created using international ocean trade.  These activities all have a very real effect and jeopardize marine wildlife and biodiversity, which affect the future health of ocean ecosystems. Stanford scientist, Steve Palumbi’s study shows that “the industrialization of the oceans mirrors the early stages of activities that have triggered mass extinctions on land.”

Photography Credit: WorldBank Blogs
It is essential to clarify what is included in the Blue Economy.  It includes many activities, such as maritime transport, fisheries, renewable energy, tourism, climate change, and waste management.  Currently, more than 80 percent of foreign goods are transported by sea, and this number is projected to double by 2030 and quadruple by 2050.  These statistics show that transporting goods by sea is an activity that will continue, so finding more sustainable solutions is a necessity.  Because fisheries are a significant contributor to GDP, methods such as creating and protecting marine protected areas will help to rejuvenate the fisheries and increase revenue. Renewable energy plays a vital role in the world’s social and economic development. The ocean can generate two forms of renewable energy; heat from the light, and mechanical energy from waves and tides. Oceans cover over 70% of the Earth’s surface; therefore, they are the world’s largest solar collectors. Maritime tourism creates many jobs and fuels economic growth.  This tourism accounts for approximately 72% of the ocean economy’s total employment and relies on the natural part of our Earth, such as maintaining coral reefs, mangroves, and seagrass meadows.  Mangrove recreational fishing contributes one billion per year to Florida’s economy and is a great economic example.

It is predicted that the maritime tourism industry will add the largest value to the ocean economy by 2030, so it is essential to take action now.  Our oceans are being destroyed by climate change as sea levels are rising, coasts are eroding, ocean patterns are shifting, and ecosystems are being destroyed.  Another important activity is waste management, as 80% of litter found in our ocean comes from land sources. This activity includes marine pollution, which comes from plastics, wastewater, sewage, runoff, and chemicals.  If we can improve our efficiency and effectiveness in disposing of these wastes, our oceans will be significantly cleaner, and the ecosystems will have an opportunity to recover. Despite decades of efforts to reduce marine debris, discarded plastic and unwanted fishing nets are still an increasing problem for the world’s oceans and marine life. Addressing the broad range of economic sectors, joining forces, and instilling policies are essential ways to understand this vast marine ecosystem and many aspects of oceanic sustainability. 

Photography Credit: WorldBank Blogs

So, why is it important?

Developing our Blue Economy should matter because its results will affect every person on our planet, now and into the future.  Why?  Because the oceans are a crucial element in sustaining our current lifestyles.  The oceans provide more than half of the oxygen we breathe and consist of an ecosystem that inhabits millions of species.  They provide jobs for many families and economies, and the fish and organisms contribute to a significant portion of most people’s diets.   At least one-sixth of animal protein is provided by the oceans.  On a global level, this Blue Economy represents 5.4 million jobs, generates trillions per year, and over three billion people depend on oceans for their livelihoods.
The sustainability of the oceans worldwide is of vital interest to all humankind. This economy helps to protect and develop carbon sequestration and coastal resilience.  The Blue Economy is beneficial to the fight on climate change as sustainable actions keep our planet cool, and according to the World Bank, oceans “absorb about 30% of global CO2 emissions.”  There is a major push toward fighting climate change, and changing global policies with the Blue Economy framework will help this vital mission.  As many companies turn toward the oceans to find resources once they have depleted the terrestrial areas, it is crucial to make them aware of this framework.  To clarify, the Blue Economy model does not support companies turning to land resources as opposed to ocean resources, but it encourages people to take better care of the oceans and resources by acting in sustainable ways.  It aims for the improvement of human wellbeing and social equity while reducing environmental risks.

Interesting Ocean Facts:

-80 percent of all life is found in the oceans 
-⅔rds of ocean species haven’t been discovered
-More people have flown to the moon than have dived the deepest trenches of the ocean

Photography Credit: Euractiv Network

Successful Actions Taken Under the Blue Economy Framework

Before you get discouraged with this vast undertaking, you must know that there has already been a lot of success with the Blue Economy!  And there is lots of potential under the Blue Economy framework to improve our sustainable actions if we all continue to make efforts to educate and act on sustainability.  Many countries have joined in the undertaking of supporting the Blue Economy concept.
In 2012, the European Union proposed a “Blue Growth” strategy with three main aspects to make Blue Growth the primary concern of marine policies.  This strategy specified essential development areas and laid out clear measures for the future.  Many initiatives were created to increase the sustainability of the coastlines and seas as well as bring together maritime business authorities and public authorities with common sustainability goals.  The first of the three sectors of this framework is to promote sustainable job and growth sectors.  The second area that is stressed is providing knowledge and legal certainty between countries.  The third component of this strategy is related to sea basins and ensures that there would be cooperation globally.  The discussed sea basins include the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, the Arctic Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, and the North Sea.

Photography Credit: Euractiv Network

Indonesia has also drafted principles to develop sustainable fishing industries and marine environments.  They have set goals to improve their policies and set up demonstration zones to explore and best optimize the Blue Economy model associated with seaside tourism, maritime economy layout, bay development, and marine fishing.  These zones function to attract maritime industries and coordinate land and sea companies to innovate marine management systems.  They play an important role in marine energy and commercial projects.
China has taken a unique approach to the development of its Blue Economy by focusing on scientific innovations.  They want to use science and technology to focus on the marine economy and the creation of  20 demonstration zones.  They plan to open a world-leading modern education center of marine science.  China has succeeded in many areas already as they have created a basic system of the modern marine industry, improved their innovative capabilities, and have met several marine requirements that lead them to create a prosperous marine society.
Many countries have taken direct action and have seen results.  Each of these countries’ success should be a motivator for each of us to do our part! Whether educating ourselves or those around us about the problems our oceans face or participating directly in sustaining actions, we can help save our Blue Economy, the oceans, and Earth at the same time! Make sure to practice sustainability at home!

Photography Credit: Euractiv Network


The Blue Economy: At a Glance

72% surface of our planet covers by oceans. It is home to more than 95% of creatures. Regardless of what we do for its safety, the Ocean consistently supports all lives by producing oxygen, engrossing carbon dioxide, reusing nutrients, and controlling the worldwide atmosphere and temperature. It provides foods and income to a significant portion of the global population and is the big source for transportation for 80% of universal trade. The coastal areas have a remarkable advantage to the tourism sector, giving all components to the tourism sector advancement of the famous idea of sun, sand, and Ocean and expanding nature-based tourism. (Michael, V.B, 2012) By enabling international trade through linking sellers and buyers, oceans are rapidly gaining importance. The behavior examples of such connecting enablers on the seas are gaining more consideration from an economic and regulatory perspective as the connection among land and Ocean develops in its role and significance. The concept of "Blue Economy" discovers its roots against this background. (S. Smith-Godfrey, 2016)

The idea of "Blue Economy" is recently begun from the UN conference on Sustainable Development held in the Capital city of Brazil in 2012. (UNCTAD, 2014) The UN provided a common definition in a concept paper of the "Blue Economic" as a marine economy that plans at "the progress of human welfare and social justice," significantly reducing ecological scarcities and environmental threats. This concept's core purpose is to separate socio-economic growth from the degradation of the environment, which is how it has usually been found as a universal practice. (S. Smith-Godfrey, 2016) In recent times, the World Bank defined "Blue Economy" as "the sustainable use of marine resources for economic growth. Improved source of revenue and work opportunities while protecting the ocean ecosystem (World Bank 2017) This idea is linked with commerce and economic activities. It appears from a desire to merge protection and sustainability in the management of the maritime sector. It has expanded to incorporate the oceanic environment. The aspect of sustainability creates provision for including such activities and examples of utilization and refilling while extracting less or no greenhouse gas emissions necessary to carry out the activities. This sustainability feature is also considered for the Ocean's sustainability because they provide food for humans and animals. The blue economy is a famous rising idea concerned with protecting the world's oceans and using water resources efficiently for sustainable growth and development. The idea at its heart alludes to the advanced use of marine assets for economic development, social incorporation, and the protection of income sources while simultaneously guaranteeing the Ocean and coastal zones' natural sustainability. It includes numerous activities, i.e., coastal tourism, renewable energy, maritime transport, waste management, fisheries, and climate change risk management. Furthermore, many newly developing sectors like biomedicine, marine chemistry, ocean power, and ocean engineering have created their place in the blue economy, making tremendous wealth creation and job opportunities for any coastal country. According to economists, marine assets value is $24 trillion, and it's providing approximately $400-500 billion profit to humanity annually. The Blue Economy's significant challenge is to understand and better deal with the numerous parts of ocean sustainability, aquaculture, and environmental protection from pollution. (Basit, M. &Alam, A, M, 2020)

Potential of Blue Economy

Aquaculture and Fisheries. The world's population is estimated to increase to 9.6 billion by 2050, making a massive food requirement. Today, fish and fish products provide a large intake of portions in many developing countries. According to (FAO 2016), aquaculture supplies 58 percent of fish to world markets. It can also help decrease the need for fish imports and enhance work opportunities at the local level. Marine fisheries provide more than US$270 billion per year to world GDP (World Bank, 2012). Marine fisheries are a vital source of economic and food security; it provides living income for the 300 million people engage in the industry. This sector plays a crucial role in providing protein and a social safety net to the world's most impoverished communities. The majority of women earn by working in marine fisheries and marine aquacultures, like fish processing and marketing. (FAO, 2016)

Coastal and Maritime Tourism. Tourism is an important foreign revenue-generating tool for many countries. Tourism is becoming the major global trade that employs 1 out of every 11 persons universally. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council 2016, travel and tourism's share of world GDP rose for the 6th consecutive year in 2015, which increased to 9.8 percent. Coastal and maritime-related tourism are critical sources of livelihood in many SIDS countries. The number of international tourists visiting SIDS (small island developing states) increased as it was 28 million in 2000 and reached 41 million in 2013. While in the same period, tourism exports raised from $26 billion to $53 billion (UNWTO 2014). 

Maritime Transport, Ports, Ships, and Ship Building. Maritime transport provides essential support to many coastal, less developed countries. Over 80% of the volume of international trade and commodities is shipped by sea and manage by ports, and this distribution is higher for most developing countries. Despite world economic crises, employment by sea increased to 8.7 billion tons in 2011 (UNCTAD 2016).

Energy. Worldwide crude oil and gas production from sea accounted for 32% in 2009, and this is expected to reach 34% in 2025. The Ocean provides vast potential for renewable energy production that is biomass, tidal, wave, wind, and salinity gradients. In the Ocean based energy sources, the offshore wind energy sector is the most advanced. In 2012 its installed capacity was only 6 GW, which was expected to increase to 175 GW by 2035. (IEA 2012)

Blue Bioeconomy/Biotechnology. The products and practices of marine biotechnology are currently estimated at the US $ 4.8 billion globally and projected to grow to around $ 6.4 billion by 2025. It has the strength to tackle a group of global issues such as sustainable human health, food supplies, energy, security, and environmental changes (UNESCO, 2011)

Submarine Mining. Besides oil and gas, potential mineral resources yet to be explored from oceans. The world is accelerating for the searching and exploitation of mineral resources from deep-sea mining. Due to increasing goods prices, industries changing their priority to the potential resources of cobalt crusts, polymetallic nodules, and massive sulfide deposits, the final a source of precious earth elements, like terbium, dysprosium, and yttrium, which are essential in new ICT hardware and renewable energy technologies. The commercial concern is incredibly deep in polymetallic nodules and massive seafloor sulfides. If these assets are handled properly, this natural wealth could be transformed into work opportunities, infrastructure, improvement of living conditions, and growth. (Alam M, 2014)


Challenges to Blue Economy

           A chain of challenges restricts the possibility of developing the blue economy. Human history, oceans, lakes, and rivers have been seen and treated as boundless assets and treasures of waste. These assets are not limitless, and we are observing the effects of this wrong approach. The thin beach front interface is overpopulated by lots of sectors and severely affected by environmental change. Rising interest, inadequate financial incentives, weak governance institutions, technological development, and insufficient management tools have resulted in wastefully directed or unregulated rivalry among clients. As a result, it turned to unnecessary use, and in some cases, un-repairable change of valuable aquatic assets and coastal regions. In this growingly competitive space, the income source of those most reliant and helpless is frequently underestimated. (World Bank, 2017)

Unsustainable extraction from marine resources. The last three decades have observed a rapid growth in aquaculture activities, which are alarming for ecological damage and sustainable development models due to technological advancements coupled with an inadequately managed approach to fish stocks and increasing demand. According to FAO 2016, estimates about 57 % of fish stocks are wholly exploited, and the overexploited rate is 30%. Unreported, unregulated, and illegal fishing is another cause of fish stock exploitation, which is accountable for approximately 11–26 million tons of fish catch per annum equal to about US$10–22 billion in illegal income.

Unplanned development in coastal areas. Coastal tourism is vital for SIDS countries, but it created issues. Unregulated and arbitrary development activities increased greenhouse emissions, sewage, water consumption, waste creation, and degradation of coastal habitats. Moreover, mostly coastal development, mining activities, and deforestation also destroyed the marine and coastal environment. (World Bank, 2017)

 Marine pollution. Eighty percent of oceanic pollution comes from land. The rising human population, fast urbanization on coastal areas, and agriculture strengthening are all main reasons behind higher levels of pollution in our oceans. With the increase of maritime shipping, continuous mineral exploration, and extraction, marine debris is harmful to aquatic life. (UNESCO 2011) 

Impact of Climate Change. Sea level rise and change due to changing temperature. Variations in marine temperature, acidity, main oceanic currents, etc. already pressurized sea life, habitats, and the communities that depend on them. (World Bank,2017)

Unsustainable Use of Biodiversity. The natural resource of many marine and coastal areas has been ruined, which impacting on the livelihoods. Around 20 percent of the coral reefs have vanished, and another 20 percent degraded. Mangroves have been a lesson to 30 to 50 percent of their cover, and it is roughly calculated that 29% of sea-grass habitats have vanished since the late 18th century. (Wilkinson, C.2008). (Nellemann, C. et al., 2009).

The Way Forward

Oceanic and coastal sectoral planning is needed to confer authorities and information to understand better what's going on in this remarkable space. Computerized planning of marine and coastal areas and natural resources can help cross-sector analysis and planning to avoid clashes and affect other parties. Moreover, the data-limited stock assessment science can provide important information regarding improved fisheries management. For example, some countries like Indonesia and South Africa are testing mobile technology to collect previously unavailable data about fish stock health and fishery landing.

Incorporated coastal zone management can upgrade coastal conservation and close to shore assets while expanding their uses' effectiveness. Incorporated coastal zone management deals with organizing various policies influencing the coastal zone and naval activities.

The correct assessment of marine resources is essential for the growth of the Blue Economy. In addition to that, neither marine living assets were never measured properly nor valued adequately.

 The latest data and correct information can also influence decision-makers. The goods and services generated from oceans with will management can share a more generous contribution to eradicating poverty, stimulating strong economies, raising healthy communities, and providing food to more than 9 billion population by 2050.

Putting resources into improved governance will make a channel of investable possibilities to develop the blue economy that benefits local and national economies while preserving future development resources. Improved control is a fundamental condition to advance sustainable management of marine assets and climate and guarantee biodiversity and biological system flexibility, contributing to creating community strength against different shocks, including environmental change.

Approaches based on the best scientific information must be utilized in fisheries. Careful and safety methods may be applied for aquaculture. Subsidies that promote overfishing should be eliminated.

The use of technology, science, and data is necessary to support governance reforms and shape administration decisions. It is challenging to plan successful and faultless fisheries protection without accurate information about fisheries' resources. In the same way, for aquaculture sustainability, its ecological impacts must be understood and estimated. It is impossible to perceive the effect of any management changes without accurate data. This necessary information about the status and potential for recovery of a fishery or the sustainable development of aquaculture is critical for decision-making and encouraging private investment.

Sources ( Blue Economy Development Framework by World Bank)


  Interesting facts about oceans

o More than 95% of the planet's oceans have never been explored

o The world's most extended mountain range, "Mid Ocean Ridge System," is under-ocean.

o Oceans have more historical artifacts than all of the world's museums.

o Ocean provides over 70% of the planet's oxygen.

o There are even underwater lakes and rivers.

O 99% of all universal data transfer under the floor of oceans.

o Ocean is enriched by 20 million tons of untouchable gold.

o There is an ice sheet which is bigger than the continental US

o One iceberg can provide drinking water to 1 million people for five years.

 Source: (



  1. Michael V B (2012): Marine Technologies- an Ocean of Opportunities, 2012
  2. S. Smith-Godfrey (2016): Defining the Blue Economy, Maritime Affairs: Journal of the National Maritime Foundation of India.
  3. UNCTAD (2014): Small Island Developing States:

Challenges in Transport and Trade Logistics. Background

note to the third session of Multi-Year Expert Meeting on

Transport, Trade Logistics, and Trade Facilitation. Geneva,

24–26 November

  1. World Bank (2017): The Potential of the Blue Economy: Increasing Long-term Benefits of the Sustainable Use of Marine Resources for Small Island Developing States and Coastal Least Developed Countries.

Basid, A. Alam, A.M (2020): Blue Economy: Pakistan's Untapped Potentials, Daily The News

  1. FAO (2016): The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2016. Contributing to Food

Security and Nutrition for All

  1. World Bank (2012): The Global Contribution of Capture Fisheries. Report No. 66469-GLB. Washington, DC.

7.UNWTO (2014): Tourism in Small Island Developing States (SIDS):

Building a More Sustainable Future for the People of


  1. UNCTAD (2016): Review of Maritime Transport 2016. United

Nations, Geneva

9.IEA (2012): World Energy Outlook 2012

10.UNESCO(2011): A Blueprint for Ocean Sustainability, Paris.

  1. Alam, M K, (2014): Ocean/Blue Economy for Bangladesh, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of the peoples’ republic of Bangladesh.
  2. Nellemann, C. et al (2009): Blue Carbon. A Rapid Response Assessment. UNEP, GRID-Arendal, ISBN:
  3. Wilkinson, C. (2008): Status of Coastal reefs of the world 2008. GCMRN.


1 Response


December 21, 2020

Very informative and engaging article.

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