Blue Economy, an occasionally misunderstood concept, is the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods and jobs and ocean ecosystem health as defined by the World Bank.
Let’s break it down to be more specific.
- Sustainable is the key word in the Blue Economy, any activities that deals with marine resources that are not sustainable such as oil extraction, unsustainable fishing practices (contributing to overfishing) are not part of the Blue Economy! It’s an economic activity linked to the ocean but certainly not the Blue Economy.
- Economic Growth– using oceanic resources to develop the country. This is especially relevant for Seychelles, a country with a only 1% of land mass and 99% EEZ, (around 1.4 million km2). Within that large area is untapped potential for Seychelles, when our terrestrial territory is too small for development.
- Improved Livelihood– inclusiveness is key for the concept, no person should be left behind from the benefits of the Blue Economy, activities should not negatively impact anyone whether future generations or coastal communities.
- Ocean Ecosystem Health – linking with sustainability concept of the Blue Economy, activities under the Blue Economy should not negatively affect marine life and oceans, hence conservation and sustainable management efforts fall under the Blue Economy, such as solutions to marine litter and oceans pollution.
Some ideas of Blue Economy in our country that has been developed or are being developed:
- Coral and coral reef restoration
- Developing fertiliser from seaweed
- Better governance framework for artisanal fishing
- Aquaculture (coming soon at the end of 2019!) if implemented considering all the lessons learned from other countries who have got it wrong.
Other interesting Blue Economy projects in other countries that could be implemented in Seychelles:
- Generating electricity from ocean currents
- Pharmaceuticals products developed from oceanic resources such as sponges
- Reusing marine litter into shoes and art
- Cosmetics using algae extracts, sea salt, sea water
- Creating carpets out of fishing nets.
Of course, these are not the only projects possible, unfortunately with my limited expertise (and probably creativity) I cannot outline all of them. Most importantly, the Blue Economy is dynamic as there are always new business ideas created from demand from the market, entrepreneurs see some resource that can be used, and the science community are always finding new gaps in knowledge. There is no limit to our creativity, and drive.
Agencies that may help turn your maybe’s into reality
Money and advice are the most important investment into any proposal. In Seychelles there are many sources of these two things.
- SeyCCAT – for grants under the Blue Grants Fund.
- Development Bank of Seychelles – for loans under the Blue Investment Fund
- Enterprise Seychelles Agencies’ (ESA) and Seychelles National Youth Council’s start-up capital.
Partnering with others often help makes your proposal more successful especially when technical expertise is required.
- Blue Economy Research Institute – technical know-how with scientists and researchers
- Various NGOs – Seychelles Island Foundation, Island Conservation Society, The Ocean Project, SYAH, etc. All have different expertise in science or social knowledge depending on your projects’ nature
- Enterprise Seychelles Agency, The Guy Morel Institute – they have the business know-how and could offer advice on preparing a business proposal, market research (all useful in applying for loans)