A Call for Exploit on the Blue Economy in Nigeria and the Legal Framework

INTRODUCTION

The oceans’ value in relation to international trade has progressed through vendors and customers. The ocean occupies a good percentage of the earth’s surface. It cannot be denied that oceans and seas are important for tenable development, and issues relating to the ocean are significant to a huge section of economic development. Oceans supply a decent segment of the global population with food and livelihoods and serve as a means of transportation for 80% of global trade[1]. This essentially means that the ocean is valuable to not just mankind but the economy of every state or country.

WHAT IS BLUE ECONOMY?

According to World Bank (2016), the Blue economy is the valid use of ocean resources for the growth of the economy and the improvement of livelihoods and jobs, thereby protecting the health of the ocean scheme[2]. On the other hand, the European Commission defines the Blue economy as all economic schemes/businesses in line with the oceans, seas and coasts, which encompasses a vast range of intertwined, established and emerging sectors.[3]

The Blue economy incorporates an advanced perspective on the economic exploitation of the resources of oceans, lakes, rivers and different bodies of water. The notion seeks to demand economic growth, social inclusion, and protection or development of livelihoods while assuring environmental sustainability. Ultimately, the blue economy has to do with oceans, seas, coasts, everything in it and everything done on it, and using these things found in the ocean/sea for a sustainable economy.

EXAMPLES OF BLUE ECONOMY ACTIVITIES

There are several activities that occur in the ocean/sea. The major ones include;

  • Fisheries and Aquaculture: This aspect of the Blue economy activity deals mostly with fish of different categories. Thus, the more fishers go fetching for fish, the more they sell and purchasers of such items go home happy. Globally, the number of jobs connected to marine fisheries sums up to 350 million, with 90% of fishers existing in advanced countries. The worth of fish traded by advanced countries is estimated at $25 billion amounting to it being the largest single trade item.

Global catch increased from 4 million tons in 1900 to 16.7 million tons in 1950, 62 million tons in 1980 to 86.7 million tons in 2000 but has become static subsequently[4]. Furthermore, cultivating of abalones; growing of oysters; culturing of mussels; growing of prawns; farming with marine fin-fish as well as ornamental marine species are some of the recent marine aquaculture activities engaged in.

  • Maritime Transport Business: This is a very important sector in the globalized market. It is most visible in the form of container-ships or oil and gas tankers. It is the means of providing shipping services.
  • Coastal Tourism: In terms of employment, Tourism, is rapidly becoming the biggest global business and engages 1 out of every 11 persons globally.[5] According to the World Travel and Tourism Council[6], Travel and tourism’s contribution to world GDP increased for the sixth consecutive year in 2015, rising to a total of 9.8 per cent (US$7.2 trillion). Coastal tourism such as diving, windsurfing and boating, excursions, etc., seems to be the largest of the sectors engaged.
  • Exploration and Exploitation of Natural Resources: Resources like gemstones, gold oil and gas are explored under the ocean or sea, around the world.

WHY SHOULD NIGERIA EXPLOIT THE BLUE ECONOMY?

Small Island Development States (SIDS) are the discoverers of the Blue Economy which has now become a growing world enterprise, crucial to all coastal states and countries with an interest in waters beyond national jurisdiction. SIDS are known to depend greatly on the seas for their well-being; but the Blue Economy, whilst covering the concept of ocean-based economies, go way past that.

The Blue Economy foresees the ocean as a space for development; where spatial planning integrates preservation, sustainable use, oil and mineral wealth extraction, sustainable energy production and marine transport. Also, it breaks the mode of the business development model, where the oceans have been recognized as a mode of free resource extraction and waste dumping; with costs externalized from economic calculations.

The Blue Economy will include ocean values and services into economic modelling and decision-making processes, which creates a sustainable development framework for developing countries, addressing equity in access to development and the allocation of benefits from marine resources; offering scope for re-investment in human development, as well as the improvement of crippling national debt burdens.

As stated earlier, some activities go on in the ocean that can be used to generate funds for the improvement of a country. With this in mind, averting the minds of Nigerians to some of the lapses being experienced in the country, it is safe to say that as soon as Nigeria taps into the Blue economy, Nigeria will get to enjoy more of what is being enjoyed and those not explored yet. Some of which will be:

  • Sustainable energy.
  • Tourism.
  • Innovative industries.
  • Ecosystem conservation.
  • Job Creation.

CHALLENGES OF THE NIGERIAN BLUE ECONOMY

In light of the foregoing, as much as the exploitation of the Blue economy will be advantageous to Nigeria, it will be imperative to outline some of the challenges Nigeria could have. This will enable effective and efficient planning towards actualizing such exploitation. They include:

  • Greening menace of illegal fishing which has resulted in a massive loss of valuable fisheries.
  • Climate change could reduce the aqua systems and food production.
  • Dumping of toxic waste as well as indiscriminate discarding of single used plastics, which would worsen pollution and economic losses to the Nigerian coastline.

When considering tapping into the Blue economy, it would be beneficial if Nigeria mapped out its sea/ocean locations, and possibly liaise with other African countries for efficiency.

WHAT SHOULD THE LEGAL FRAMEWORK BE LIKE?

The legal framework of the Blue economy means legislative enactments for its establishment. Nigeria presently has maritime laws and Institutional Agencies guiding the shipping and fishing activities of the sea which include; Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigeria Shippers Council (NSC), Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) and Federal Department of Fisheries (FDF), amongst others.

The existence of some of these institutions and laws under different ministries that operate independently of the others, does not give room for suitable organization of the blue economy activities, and proper accountability for its worth to the nation.  Also, such arrangements have a tendency to put stress on the national budget through different budgeting arrangements. Invariably, it means that either there is a creation of an Act for Blue economy, or the already existent laws work hand in hand to implement and regulate activities of the ocean for a smooth economic boost.

Some of the fisheries and shipping laws of Nigeria have produced aspects of operational clash and repetition of statutory functions while others simply require amendment. Thus, for Nigeria to emplace a Blue economy regime, there is the need to readjust some of the legislation to adapt to present-day ocean sustainability realities.

CONCLUSION

The oceans’ potential to meet sustainable development needs is enormous; but only if they can be maintained or restored to a healthy, and productive state. The significance of oceans for sustainable development has been recognized from the beginning. Unsurprisingly, the Blue Economy wave is getting bigger for Africa, as it was unanimously declared “Africa’s future” as it took center position within Agenda 2063.[7]

Nigeria has what it takes to tap into and operate the Blue economy as well as make it work for enhanced economic growth. Thus, it is evident that a lot of intentional and strategic planning, alongside strict implementation of the available laws, might be a good way to start.

REFERENCE

  1. United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (2012) Review of Maritime Transport 2012.
  2. World Bank and 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, Washington DC. (World Bank Document (production-new-commonwealth-files.s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws.com) <accessed 10th May, 2022>
  3. European Commission [The 2018 Economic Report on EU Blue Economy]
  4. GOC (2008). Policy Brief on Fisheries and Aquaculture. Global Oceans Conference
  5. Supra (World Bank Document (production-new-commonwealth-files.s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws.com) <accessed 10th May, 2022>
  6. WTTC (World Travel and Tourism Council). 2016. Travel and Tourism Economic Impact Summary 2016.
  7. African Development Bank. “Africa’s blue economies vital for development,” [online], Available: http://www.afdb.org/en/news-andevents/article/africas-blue-economies-vital-for-development- 13105/, 2014 [2015 January 6]. <accessed 10th May, 2022>

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