Indian Ocean Conference in Male
Posted on August 28th, 2019

Dr Sarath Obeysekera

When I noted the news item today about the participation of the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka in a Conference in Male. I thought of making the Prime Minister Aware that the ROAD MAP to develop BLUE ECONOMY should be one of the subjects to he should talk about at the event 

Details below may be useful to the consultants to prepare a speech for the Prone Minister to highlight the necessity to develop BLUE ECONOMY in the Indian Ocean with active participation by India, Pakistan, Maldives and Seychelles  Government  (including the aspirants to become the President of Sri Lanka)  is only talking about National Security, housing, agriculture and developing livestock, inland aquaculture, etc. 

Does it seem that the concept of BLUE ECONOMY based on harnessing vast resources in the ocean surrounding our country is neglected?

As an example, emerging concept of the Blue Economy has been embraced by the Government of Seychelles and some other Caribbean Islands as a mechanism to realize sustainable economic development based, around an ocean-based economy.

 The intention of these islands supported by Commonwealth is to implement the Blue Economy- concept at the national level as a framework to foster an integrated approach for sustainable development programmes.

This is predominately so, as information that does exist focuses primarily on land-based economic development or has a strong focus on conservation rather than on the sustainable use of the investment in an ocean-based economy for national benefit.

This roadmap will necessarily require the definition of short, medium and long-term actions across a broad range of sectors and will also require fundamental changes to the traditional institutional arrangements that exist to support the management of marine sectors and resources in Sri Lanka  

A coordinated  Government – approach will be a necessary condition for the successful implementation of the Blue Economy.

Sri Lankan Government in collaboration with other neighbouring countries should establish a dedicated agency to oversee completion and implementation for the Blue Economy Roadmap. 

However, while Sri Lanka and the Maldives have the existing capacity for some key sectors of the Blue Economy (e.g. fisheries and Nautical Tourism), it lacks the overarching policy and strategic expertise required to make this transition effectively.

As such, the Governments of Sri Lanka and the Maldives should seek the assistance of the Commonwealth Secretariat and the World Bank or ADB  with the provision of a long-term in-country technical expert to assist the Governments to complete this transition effectively. In addition, up to two additional technical experts may be required on a short-term basis (6 months) to undertake specific technical activities that are expected to arise as the project progresses.

Goal

The project aims to assist the Government of Sri Lanka in developing and implementing a National Blue Economy Roadmap, the purpose being to establish a broad direction for future investment in and development of a sustainable ocean-based economy in our country.

The purpose of the specific request for long-term (and shorter-term) technical adviser(s), is to assist the Government of  Sri Lanka to review, validate and implement the Roadmap and more importantly, to support Sri Lanka in its transition to a more integrated ocean-based economy.  

Question is whether newly appointed Technocrats have any idea about the Blue Economy?

As an example a recent visit by Japanese Delegation initiated by the Prime Ministry’s office consisting of private companies has expressed willingness, to develop Fishery Industry.

Unfortunately, some advisors in the PM’s office are only promoting the implementation of   Ice making Plants on Land to conserve fish caught in the deep ocean.

What our so-called experts have failed to understand is that 70% of the fish brought onshore is rotten because Sri Lanka has not developed a Mother Vessel Concept to collect fish as soon as they are caught, preserve them until they reach the shore.

Fishermen using Multiday fishing Vessels go to Ocean carrying few tons of Ice blocks to preserve fish. By the time they return after almost three weeks, ice is melted and fish is not even good for making Dry Fish!

Almost all big fish you find in the market is not good for Human Consumption

When this delegation was taken to Dikovita Harbour (a grandiose western-style harbour facility built with foreign funding) during wee hours of the day by my team, they were aghast and disgusted to note that the fish unloaded in the morning by fishermen is not suitable for Human Consumption!

One polite young Japanese Lady murmured to us and asked: Is this fish for dogs or for making chicken feed?”

I took the liberty of calling PMs’ office and explained that the installation of Hybrid Ice Making plants of Japanese Technology on land is not what we need at this stage 

We need MOTHER VESSELS to be anchored in the Ocean with Seawater Ice making Plants to collect the fish  rather than waiting for three weeks

Mother vessels are Stationery Self sustained ISLANDS in the ocean which cannot only provide Ice but Fuel and. Emergency Assistance  to multi-day fishing vessels of 40 to 55 feet which hardly have Ice Making Plants on Board  ( They do not even have generators on board but use batteries for night lights !) Impact

The successful and sustainable implementation of the Blue Economy Strategic Roadmap will ultimately deliver the following outcomes: 

·         Ocean ecosystems and biodiversity recovered and protected. 

·         Increased investment in existing ocean-based economic sectors including Nautical Tourism 

·         New data and knowledge on the Sri Lankan ocean space available.

·         marine-based aquaculture sector and marine biotechnology products and processes developed and implemented.

·         Protective measures and greater use of surveillance and enforcement tools provide greater protection.

·         Fisheries and aquaculture management improved through equitable, non-subsidized and sustainable practices.

·         Utilization of renewable energy from the ocean, ( i,e Harnessing Wave energy )

·         Surveillance of offshore waters strengthened through enhanced maritime domain awareness and law enforcement. (The above is expected to contribute to the goals of the Government of Sri Lanka

·         Capacity built and new research/data sectors developed.)

·         Streamlined implementation with an overarching system in place.

.

A broad range of relevant stakeholders and citizens will ultimately benefit from this intervention, including existing marine industry sectors, marine user groups, and local communities.

Outputs

 Implementation of the accelerated blue economy program (like Mahaweli for Farmers)

·         Comprehensive and strategic advice provided to the Minister and relevant stakeholders including the private Sector responsible for the Blue Economy.

·         Relevant documentation e.g. policy papers, project management documents, project status, and evaluation documents prepared and submitted.

·         Review of the current Roadmap ( if any)  including additional improvement/amendments in the content leading to the validation of the Road Map.

·         Stakeholder engagement and consultation facilitated as required, including the establishment of stakeholder bodies.

·         Strategies, focus areas, and projects for implementation of the Blue Economy Roadmap identified, approved and implemented.

·         Resources (financial, human capacity and technical) necessary to execute projects for implementation of the Blue Economy Roadmap, identify, solicited and secured.

·         Strategic partnerships between Sri Lanka and our neighbours such as the Maldives. India and Seychelles and relevant partners including, but not limited to: development agencies, private sector organizations, and marine research institutes, established and maintained.

·         Consistent implementation of the Roadmap across government and its respective agencies, in particular, working closely with the Sri Lankan Ministry of Fisheries, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Power and Energy and Ministry of Finance.

 Blue Economy roadmap and policy for Sri |Lanka should be promoted domestically, regionally and internationally.

Dr. Sarath Obeysekera

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