Blue Economy

The Blue Economy

The World Bank defines Blue Economy as “sustainable of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs, and ocean ecosystem health”. Blue economy includes various activities related to the ocean such as tourism, fisheries, aquaculture, and maritime transport. However, it is not limited to those activities only, there are more to do in the ocean, for instance marine biotechnology and bioprospecting, renewable offshore energy, maritime spatial planning, and waste disposal management.

At a worldwide scale, the ocean economy is estimated to have a value of US$1.5 trillion/year with 350 million jobs worldwide linked to fisheries. With ¾ of its territory at sea, the ocean is the central of Indonesia’s prosperity. Indonesia’s fishery sector is worth around US$27 billion, providing at least 7 million jobs. This proves that the demand for ocean resources is immense, and we will continue relying on the ocean for human development, source of food and materials.

There are many opportunities built upon our coastal and ocean richness. A study revealed that Indonesia’s coral reefs tourism revenues are estimated to bring US$3.1 billion/year through recreation. Furthermore, these coral reefs are critical for fish habitat and can bring revenue of US$2.9 billion/year. Moreover, this marine ecosystem also helps Indonesia avoiding an estimated US$0.6 billion/year for flood damages. However, these opportunities can only be realised if our ocean is striving.

With the demands that continue to grow, without proper management Indonesia’s ocean economy will be undermined. Human impacts are destructing coral reefs, putting them in poor condition. The development in coastal areas pressures the ecosystems nearby such as mangroves and coral reefs. Tourism sites are threatened by the lack of proper infrastructure. In addition, litters especially plastic debris affect the fisheries and tourism sectors.

So, why do we need blue economy? Blue economy is not about exploiting the marine resources, it is used as a sustainable ocean economy, where we can do economic activities that is in line with the ocean’s capacity to support these activities, not forgetting to keep the ocean healthy and resilient. The concept helps promote economic growth, social involvement, and the improvement of livelihoods while also making sure the sustainability of the ocean and coastal areas.

Blue economy has the ability to address the challenges found in the management of our coastal ecosystems. It involves coordination between different sectors, various stakeholders, and policymaking based on scientific data. For instance, Indonesia’s blue economy actions include:

  1. Improved fisheries management: an example in this area can be seen in the strong attitude taken to fight against foreign illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing.
  2. Development and integration of spatial plans: marine spatial planning done by central and provincial governance, together working to improve sustainable use of the oceans.
  3. Expansion of marine protected areas (MPA): expanding MPA has been a goal and improving management in these MPAs is a priority. The Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries has been enforcing a scorecard system to track MPAs effectiveness and progress.
  4. National action plan for marine debris: an example of this action is the taxes and bans on single-use plastics by governments, for instance in Jakarta and Bali.
  5. Integrated and sustainable tourism development program: to have more comprehensive approach on tourism development, this program combines planning functions, support to business, community empowerment, and environmental and cultural asset management.

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World Bank, & United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. (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.

World Bank (2021). Oceans for Prosperity: Reforms for a Blue Economy in Indonesia. The World Bank, Washington, D.C.