Standing at the edge of the land at Sadah, in the eastern part of Dhofar, one could see how strong the sea could turn out to be when it interacts with a storm. The storm we were experiencing was the Luban. This was after the high tide, so one can imagine how dramatic the water must have been.
There was fresh plankton thrown all around in colours of brownish green, bottle green, bright green and even peach.
Unfortunately, there were other materials too that the sea had thrown back — plastic bottles. While standing at the Mugsayil beach capturing the waves at play against strong winds, there was something else that was fast approaching the water from land: a blue plastic bag.
If it were to join the water, the plastic bag would have been yet another threat to marine life. The wind had brought it in; it is not as if someone had left it on the shore.
But it brings into focus how important it is to dispose of plastic or other waste in the right way because pollution knows no directions or boundaries.
Oman’s maritime history is well known. It gives an insight into the trade routes of those eras when the nations around the region stayed connected because of the oceans.
That historical asset is gaining back prominence with the world talking more about the Blue Economy. Oceans are back in focus. Oman’s long coastline of more than 3,100 km could be an ideal environment. Sea has always been a partner whether it was for fisheries or exploring trade opportunities.
According to the World Bank, Blue Economy is the sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihood and jobs, and ocean ecosystem health.
The World Bank has listed activities in the areas of renewable energy, tourism, climate change, fisheries, maritime transport and waste management. Sounds ideal for Duqm as well as other areas of Oman’s coasts.
The Blue Economy will also bring in aquaculture, which is considered the fastest-growing food sector, and provides 50 per cent of fish for human consumption, states thecommonwealth.org
According to Oman’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries Wealth, Oman’s coasts boast of having the ideal temperature conditions allowing for two shrimp cycles per year, in addition to enjoying rich biodiversity with more than 1,000 species of fish and marine invertebrates.
Oman’s popular catch consists of sardines, bluefish, mackerel, tuna, lobsters, oysters and abalone. Some of these species have an established market across the globe.
On the other hand, strict regulations, whether it is trawling or fishing during banned seasons applied for certain species, are in place as part of the sustainability measures. So can Blue Economy be an answer to diversification of economy?
If so, all the more reason for us, as individuals, to pay personal attention to marine environment not just for commercial reasons, but as a moral duty as well, towards marine life.
However, the harsh truth is that the marine environment needs all the attention today and it could be the answer for tomorrow’s food security.
This is what the Commonwealth has to say about the wealth of the Blue Economy — the worldwide ocean economy is valued at around $1.5 trillion per year, while 80 per cent of global trade by volume is carried by sea and 350 million jobs worldwide are linked to fisheries. By 2025, it is estimated that 34 per cent of crude production will come from offshore fields.
If we were to think ahead, then we could also look at the potential professions that could rise from Blue Economy and thus secure more job opportunities.
So maybe it is time to say and think ‘blue’ not just by policymakers and economists, but the spectrum as a whole.