The maritime sector is technology-intensive and needs capital investment for building and operations so that it is economically profitable.
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said this on Thursday while chairing a meeting of the steering committee for the Pakistan International Maritime Exhibition and Conference (PIMEC) 2023 at the CM House.
The meeting was attended by provincial ministers Syed Sardar Shah, Jam Ikram, Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho and Sharjeel Memon along with Chief Secretary Sohail Rajput, Deputy Chief of Naval Staff (operation) Rear Admiral Muhammad Faisal Abbasi, COMCOAST Rear Admiral Raja Rab Nawaz, COMKAR Rear Admiral Mian Zakir Ullah Jan, Sindh Inspector General of Police Ghulam Nabi Memon and senior officers of the Pakistan Navy and provincial bureaucracy.
The meeting was told that the term blue economy related to traditional ocean-related economic activities such as fisheries, tourism and maritime transport as well as new emerging opportunities like off-shore renewable energy, aquaculture and sea-bed extraction activities. It aimed at developing sea-bed natural resources for sustainable use as well as socio-economic uplift.
Shah said the maritime sector needed significant capital for building, operating and making it economically profitable. “Once that investment has been made, and setup is in place, it also requires highly skilled manpower, which regretfully we just do not have in sufficient numbers at this point in time,” he said and added it would not be out of context to say that Pakistan was suffering from ‘sea blindness’ and that’s why the motto of PIMEC had been very aptly kept as ‘Sea the Future’.
The CM said the PIMEC should provide a foundation to bring together stakeholders from diverse maritime industries. He said aquaculture was like farming in water and it is an environmentally responsible source of food and commercial products.
He added that a large chunk of the coastal population was associated with fisheries and this sector had a lot of export potential that was yet to be exploited.
The CM said Pakistani fishing boats lacked modern equipment and techniques for fishing and storage. “PIMEC can be a platform for boat construction and associated industries to modernise fishing boats,” he said and added that Pakistan was blessed with a large shipbreaking yard called Gadani and if utilised to its full potential, it had the capacity to generate millions of dollars each year.
He said that coastal tourism was almost a neglected field and was required to be tapped because tourists were attracted by climate, biodiversity as well as long sandy beaches of South Asia.
Shipping is the cheapest mode of transport, which carries 80 per cent of global merchandised trade in volume, the CM said and added that considering the landlocked geography of many regional countries, Gwadar had the potential to be developed into a fully-fledged regional hub and a trans-shipment port in the future.
The CM said that although Gwadar port’s development was in progress but the same was required to be coupled with the maritime industries to accrue maximum benefits and these gaps could be bridged through an effective platform like the PIMEC.
“Being a developing country with untapped marine economic resources, Pakistan has a huge economical edge,” he said and added that this was because there would not be any diminishing marginal returns here till the capital accumulation reached its optimum point, therefore an initiative of the Pakistan Navy like PIMEC was highly praiseworthy.
“Thus, by coming together as researchers, politicians, stakeholders, and business owners, Pakistan’s maritime economy can be made to stand firmly on its feet in a matter of years,” the CM said as he hoped that academic sessions of the International Maritime Conference (IMC) would have discussions on these issues. He said that keeping in view the prime importance of the maritime sector, he would personally oversee the administrative arrangements for the PIMEC.
The CM directed the Karachi police and concerned deputy commissioners and civic agencies to ensure necessary arrangements for the exhibition and conference that will be held from February 10 till 12, 2023.
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