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Steering Bangladesh on ocean-based economic road map

Published : Monday, 10 June, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 599

Steering Bangladesh on ocean-based economic road map

Steering Bangladesh on ocean-based economic road map

Each year, World Oceans Day stands as a reminder of the profound influence our oceans have on our beloved planet. Celebrated globally on June 8th, this annual event encourages individuals, communities, and governments to contemplate the immense significance of these expansive bodies of water that envelop nearly three-quarters of Earths surface. Serving as the bedrock of our existence, oceans are responsible for producing most of the oxygen we breathe, regulating worldwide weather patterns, and sustaining billions through their diverse marine ecosystems. Acting as vital conduits for international commerce, they facilitate the transportation of goods across continents while also serving as breathtaking realms teeming with a plethora of captivating species that have fascinated humanity throughout history.

During the 1992 Earth Summit - UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the idea of World Oceans Day was born, championed by Canadas International Centre for Ocean Development (ICOD) and the Ocean Institute of Canada (OIC). This global initiative aimed to honor our interconnected ocean and highlight its crucial role in our lives. The first World Oceans Day took place on June 8, 1992, with a clear mission: to elevate the oceans importance from the sidelines to the forefront of international discussions and policies. In 2002, a collaborative effort between The Ocean Project and the World Ocean Network marked the beginning of coordinated worldwide actions.

Through organizing events and launching, individuals across the globe were empowered to participate in ocean conservation efforts. By 2008, "World Oceans Day" received official recognition from the United Nations as it aligned with Sustainable Development Goals. Today, every UN member state acknowledges this pivotal day dedicated to our oceans. This years theme "Awaken New Depth" aims to inspire action towards safeguarding both our oceans and climate for future generations.

Our oceans remain largely unexplored and mysterious, with 95% of them yet to be explored. From the deep ocean floors, reaching as far as 11km deep, to the vibrant coral reefs, countless undiscovered secrets await to be uncovered. Ocean exploration is about more than just satisfying curiosity; it allows us to discover new species, uncover ancient histories, and find potential cures from marine life. Mapping the ocean floor helps us understand plate tectonics, underwater volcanoes, and the currents that influence our climate.

Steering Bangladesh on ocean-based economic road map

Steering Bangladesh on ocean-based economic road map

Oceanographers use advanced technology to explore the ocean depths, revealing mountain ranges that can stretch over 56,000 kilometers, canyons, and ecosystems we never knew existed. Their work expands our knowledge and guides conservation efforts. Understanding how the ocean absorbs excess heat and regulates global temperatures is key to addressing climate change. Studying tiny oxygen-producing algae, which produces 70% of the oxygen we breathe, helps maintain the delicate ocean balance. By learning about ocean currents and their effects on weather and farming, we can better protect the interconnected ecosystems that support diverse life, from massive whales to tiny plankton. This knowledge enables sustainable fishing, endangered species protection, and preservation of the intricate marine food web.

However, our oceans face serious threats. Marinepollution poses a threat to marine life; such as plastic pollution, overfishing leads to the decline of fish populations, and rising water temperatures harm coral reefs. Ocean acidification puts shell-bearing creatures at risk, disrupting entire food chains. It is crucial to safeguard marine biodiversity and ecological balance by implementing preventative measures against pollution, overfishing, and habitat degradation. Prioritizing the preservation of sea-based plants and species can be achieved through creating marine protected areas, regulating fishing practices, and enhancing conservation efforts.

Furthermore, protecting coastal habitats and promoting eco-friendly infrastructures is essential by conserving wetlands, mangroves, and coral reefs while adopting sustainable coastal development strategies. World Oceans Day serves as a reminder that we are stewards of the oceans; simply admiring their beauty is insufficient - action must be taken. Every effort counts whether it involves cleaning beaches, choosing sustainable seafood options or raising awareness in our communities. It is our collective responsibility to explore, comprehend, and safeguard the vast oceans that sustain life on Earth.

Bangladesh stands at a pivotal point where economic opportunities intersect with environmental protection. On World Oceans Day, this nation in South Asia reflects on its commitment to utilizing oceanic resources sustainably. Recognizing that its maritime assets go beyond just waves and tides, Bangladesh values the significant contributions of fisheries, aquaculture, and maritime trade to its economy.

Through investments in modern fishing techniques, promotion of sustainable aquaculture methods, and enhancement of port facilities, Bangladesh strives to uplift coastal communities by enhancing their livelihoods and strengthening the countrys economic fabric. The concept of the blue economy resonates deeply with Bangladeshs aspirations as it emphasizes responsible use of marine resources while maintaining ecological balance.

To realize this vision, Bangladesh has set up a Blue Economy Cell dedicated to formulating policies that integrate various sectors such as fisheries, shipbuilding, tourism, and offshore energy. By aligning economic progress with environmental preservation efforts, Bangladesh charts a path towards prosperity without compromising the well-being of our planet. Despite facing challenges like overfishing, plastic pollution issues, and climate change impacts head-on; Bangladesh remains steadfast in its commitment to sustainable development practices. By striking a balance between economic gains and ecological resilience, Bangladesh strives for a prosperous blue future, where the oceans resourcessustain generations to come.

Following successful maritime boundary delineations, Bangladesh established Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Maritime University (BSMRMU), the nations first, to cultivate ocean literacy, sustainable practices, and Bangladeshs maritime potential. The university spearheads the development of a flourishing blue economy through comprehensive curricula encompassing disciplines like oceanography, fisheries, naval architecture, offshore engineering, port operations, logistics, and maritime jurisprudence.

Its graduates depart not merely as skilled professionals but as fervent advocates for oceanic conservation. At the vanguard of oceanic research, the university collaborates with industry titans, governmental bodies, and international organizations to transform findings into tangible solutions, driving sustainable economic growth within Bangladeshs blue economy sector. Integrating blue economy tenets into its academic offerings, BSMRMU also equips students for careers in aquaculture, marine renewable energy generation, and eco-tourism-industries pivotal to a thriving ocean-based economic paradigm. Extending its influence globally, BSMRMU recently convened the "Sustainable Ocean Economy: Advancing Bangladeshs Blue Growth", and "Evaluating Matarbari Deep Sea Ports Sustainability Roadmap: ATriple Bottom Line Approach" seminar, assembling worldwide experts to foster a global exchange of best practices.

Moreover, through Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with global institutions, the university facilitates knowledge dissemination, joint research ventures, and capacity-building initiatives. Domestically, BSMRMU engages the public through workshops, beach cleanup drives, and awareness campaigns, cultivating a culture of ocean stewardship in Bangladesh. By actively involving students and communities, the institution ensures the next generation remains steadfastly committed to sustainability principles.

As Bangladesh moves towards a sustainable blue future, BSMRMU leads the way with its diverse approach, acting as a beacon in guiding the nation towards a sustainable blue economy where economic prosperity and environmental preservation go hand in hand. BSMRMU has emerged as a hub of maritime excellence, offering educational opportunities, research avenues, and knowledge sharing for both academia and professionals in the maritime industry. Through fostering collaboration and facilitating knowledge exchange, BSMRMU will play a crucial role in advancing the Blue Economy roadmap and ocean-based economy from a broader perspective.

The writer is Vice-Chancellor of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Maritime University, Bangladesh (BSMRMU)

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