Oceans of the world belong to the global commons and are the collective heritage of mankind. Throughout human history, oceans have always been a significant aspect of state power. Previously being used for connectivity across unattached landmasses only, the relevance and importance of oceans to mankind have risen exponentially in the last few centuries. With the boom of globalisation and hydrocarbons becoming the backbone of economies, over 90 per cent of the world’s trade is in seaborne. The need for sustainable development amidst an ever-expanding global population and diminishing resources on land has engendered a worldwide shift from the green/brown economy to the blue economy.
Regardless of being blessed with a coastline extending up to more than 1,000 km, Pakistan has not been able to fully capitalise on its maritime potential and use the sea and its resources to their full extent. However, the general lack of awareness regarding the potential of the blue economy and maritime sector of Pakistan is the greatest peril the country is facing at the moment.
Pakistan Navy, being a major stakeholder in creating awareness and avenues for future development and investments for the exploitations of the untapped potential of our blue economy is making untiring efforts.
In this regard, Pakistan Navy is going to organise its very first ‘Pakistan International Maritime Expo and Conference’ (PIMEC) from 10 to 12 February 2023, at Karachi Expo Centre.
The launching ceremony of this flagship event of the Pakistan Navy under the patronage of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs (MoMA) was held in July this year. PIMEC is planned to be held biennially coinciding with Pakistan Navy’s Aman Exercise for demonstrating the latest technology of the national and international maritime industry.
Being the 5th most populous economy globally with a population growth rate of nearly 2 percent, Pakistan might face acute food security challenges in the future. The extreme vulnerability to climate change needs new forms of decision-making, such as investing more in the blue economy because Pakistan might face food security problems related to the limited land and water resources. The recent floods in Pakistan and the acute shortage of food in the flood-affected areas is a proof that if other avenues for food security and sufficiency are not explored there will be much more at stake in the coming future.
The blue economy is a promising concept of economic progress and development. It offers multifaceted avenues for maritime industrial development such as fisheries, coastal tourism, maritime transport, oil and gas, salt manufacturing, chemical, electric power, shipbuilding, marine engineering, aquaculture, marine biotechnology/biomedicine, scientific research, deep sea-bed mining, resource extraction, oceanic renewable energy, and maritime tourism. It has the potential for creating job opportunities for the people of Pakistan.
Oceans contribute nearly US$1.5 trillion annually to the world’s economy. According to an estimate, the blue economy has the potential to contribute approximately $24 trillion to the world’s economy, but it is only contributing $500-600 billion each year. Around 350 million people across the globe are dependent upon oceans for earning their livelihood through fisheries and other jobs. It is prognosticated that by 2025, the world’s 34% of crude oil production will come from oceans.
Pakistan has an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and continental shelf of around 290,000 sq km. Despite having a potential of more than 100 billion dollars, the blue economy of Pakistan is currently limited to generating annual revenue of just $450 million. Pakistan’s seafood industry has worth more than $1 billion. Fishing in Pakistan accounts for around 1% of the GDP, but it still plays a crucial role in developing the economy by providing employment opportunities to a significant number of people.
Moreover, it can be a profitable profession and a promising means to earn precious foreign exchange for the country. Currently, the fish and seafood exports of Pakistan are limited. According to the statistics released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics Pakistan’s seafood exports from July-December 2021 were around $201.581 million (Rs34.593 billion). However, the sector has the potential to contribute up to $2-2.5 billion to the national GDP if it has a proper deep-sea fishing policy. In terms of revenue, in the year 2018 Pakistan National Shipping Corporation generated about 10,070 million rupees
Pakistan has immense Maritime tourism potential with a coastline that is blessed with diversified natural, religious, and cultural tourism resources. This sector is vital for economic growth, employment generation, and food supply. Tourism generates around 5% of the national GDP. There are many beautiful places in Pakistan having vast biodiversity and attractive beaches that can attract tourist attention from around the world. If these spots are developed properly, they can provide revenue of more than $4 billion. Economic experts believe that if used properly, the blue resources can help create more than one million jobs in Pakistan. In addition, Pakistan can also reap great benefits from its mangrove forests which are spread over more than 160,000 hectares.
To optimally benefit from this natural endowment, the foremost thing to do is to create and increase awareness and knowledge among the decision-makers as well as the general public regarding Pakistan’s maritime potential. Pakistan Navy has been doing utmost efforts to create public awareness and to highlight the importance of the blue economy for Pakistan. Being a major stakeholder in the political and strategic environment of the Indian Ocean Region, PN has maintained a firm stance to promote Pakistan’s maritime potential. Pakistan Navy is playing a vital role in the exploration of marine resources and creating avenues for foreign direct investments.
PIMEC will provide ample opportunities for private-public partnerships and will explore new avenues of cooperation and investments for Pakistan with the international maritime industry. Stakeholders from hydrocarbon industries, coastal development, shipping, port infrastructure, fisheries, marine tourism, offshore renewable energy, aquaculture, seabed mining, and marine services will exhibit their potential under one roof. This three-day event will provide a perfect platform for B2B interaction, joint ventures, and cooperation amongst the participants both from home and abroad. The exhibition will serve as one of the international gatherings of entrepreneurs, R&D specialists, financial experts, and top-level policymakers to boost cooperation, share knowledge, and support ventures in the maritime field. It is hoped that PIMEC will become a successful model for Pakistan’s maritime exposure and potential. It will enhance our national economy and will help raise our international stature as a progressive country that is willing and determined to do its part for the growth and development of the maritime sector. PIMEC will serve as a platform for the exploration of joint ventures and investment opportunities for Pakistan and will help policymakers and stakeholders to reach a workable solution to achieve maximum benefits.
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