Expectations High for First Global Blue Economy Conference

Ready for a day’s work at sea, a small fleet of boats hugs the
shoreline of a fishing village in the district of Kilifi. Fishing
is important to the local economy. Experts experts insist that
there is still a lot more to be done towards developing a strong
blue economy action plan for Kenya. Credit: UN Photo/Milton
Grant

By Miriam Gathigah and Robert Kibet
NAIROBI, Nov 22 2018 (IPS)

In a matter of days the world’s blue economy actors and
experts will converge in Nairobi, Kenya for the first ever global
conference on sustainable blue economy.

From Nov. 26 to 28, participants from around the globe will meet
in Kenya’s capital to discuss how to develop a sustainable blue
economy that is inclusive of all.

Professor Micheni Ntiba, the Principal Secretary for Kenya’s
Department of Fisheries, Aquaculture and the Blue Economy, says
partnership linkages with development agencies such as the United
Nations Development Programme are key to progress, but synergies
need to be directed towards integrating policy and strategy for
implementation.

“This will be a conference like no other, with a research and
scientific symposium. It requires knowledge and hence there is the
need to integrate policy and strategy for implementation as
well,” Ntiba told IPS in an interview.

Wilfred Subbo, an expert in natural resources and an associate
professor at the University of Nairobi, told IPS that the Sustainable Blue Economy
Conference
will significantly jumpstart the country’s blue
economy by setting the agenda on the need to prioritise the
exploitation of water-based natural resources.

He said that the stage is set for governments and private sector
actors to transform the country into a robust commercially-oriented
blue economy.

Just this week, on Nov. 19, President Uhuru Kenyatta launched
the country’s newly-formed Kenya Coast Guard Service in Mombasa,
Coastal region.

With the Kenya Coast Guard Act 2018 already in place, the
mandate of the new coast guard includes controlling illegal and
unregulated fishing, border disputes, and piracy as well as the
degradation of the marine ecosystem.

Also on the same day, Kenyatta launched the ‘Eat More Fish’
campaign, which has Ali Ahmed is elated. Ahmed is a Malindi-based
fisherman whose main target markets are in Malindi, Mombasa and
Nairobi.

Government statistics shows that the current per capita fish
consumption is at 4.6 kilograms, and that the president’s
campaign will drive consumption to rival Africa’s average of 10
kilograms, and later attain the global average of 20 kilograms.
This is part of an agenda to encourage ordinary Kenyans to both
invest and reap from the blue economy based on the untapped
potential in fisheries.

“Kenyans have turned to other foods like traditional
vegetables and ignored fish. They say it is too expensive but this
is not true. Most of the fishermen are in the business to put food
on the table and nothing else,” he tells IPS.

Nonetheless, experts insist that there is still a lot more to be
done towards developing a strong blue economy action plan, just as
countries in the Western Indian Ocean such as Mauritius,
Seychelles, Madagascar and the Union of Comoros have done.

Professor Peter Anyang Nyong’o, the Governor for Kisumu County
where Lake Victoria is located, told IPS in a telephone
conversation that despite huge funding towards solving
environmental problems in Lake Victoria, the impact has been
negligent.

The Lake Region Block is planning to host a conference early
next year that seeks to discuss pollution in Lake Victoria, mainly
caused by the hyacinth, the invasive plant that has paralysed
commercial fishing and marine transport.

“Hyacinth has heavily affected fish life in the lake as it
impedes oxygen level. We are going to discuss scientific research
that seeks to bring a better solution to the hyacinth in the
lake,” says Nyong’o.

And as counties from the Lake Region plan to attend the Sustainable Blue Economy
Conference
, Nyong’o says his county is currently working on a
plan to revive the fibreglass boat-making project to curb accidents
and deaths caused by the use of soft wood in making boats, which he
says causes roughly 5400 deaths a year.

Experts such as Nairobi-based economist Jason Rosario Braganza
told IPS that the conference offers the public and private sector
an opportunity “to reinforce the narrative on the importance of a
holistic approach to sustainable development through the
diversification of the economy.”

Braganza says that the high-level meeting will draw attention to
the responsibility that citizens have in the ethical consumption
and responsible use of natural resources.

According to the
Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis

(Kippra), the estimated annual economic value of goods and services
in the marine and coastal ecosystem in the Blue Economy in the
Western Indian Ocean is currently slightly over 22 billion dollars.
Kenya’s share is approximately 4.4 billion dollars, with the
tourism sector accounting for about 4.1 billion dollars.

Dickson Khainga, from the Productive Sector Division, says that
Kenya’s blue world is more than just tourism and includes “the
extraction of non-living resources such as seabed mining, marine
biotechnology and the generation of new resources such as energy
and fresh water.”

The research and policy analyst says that despite the country
having a maritime territory of 230,000 square kilometres and a
distance of 200 nautical miles offshore, equivalent to 31 of the 47
counties, Kenya has only explored tourism and fisheries.

According to Kippra, fisheries are by far not its most
productive sector,
accounting for a paltry 0.5 percent of the country’s Gross
Domestic Product
(GDP).

Against this backdrop, Braganza emphasises that in pursuit of
the blue economy the country will need to seal its policy
loopholes.

He says that the “exploitative nature of big corporations of
natural resources is a threat to sustainable development.”
Braganza cautions that governments “will need to be more robust
and decisive in the development of institutions, and legislation to
police the exploitation of natural resources.”

With shipping said to be responsible for about 2.5 percent of
global greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants, an agreement
reached to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from global shipping
when nations met at the International Maritime Organisation
(IMO)
in April this year marked a big milestone.

Feeding the globe’s projected 9.6 billion people by 2050,
invigorating aquaculture estimated to supply 58 percent of fish to
the global market has the potential to contribute to food security
as well socioeconomic inclusion of some of the world’s
poorest.

Ntoba says Africa is still blind to the rich diversity of water
body resources, and that its nations should now seize the
opportunity by using the upcoming global conference as a wake-up
call to foment greater African partnership.

Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya, who chairs the Lake Region
Economic Block, told IPS the region will seek to push for a focus
to have more funding directed towards improving commercial fish
farming in the counties.

So far, the government has already set aside some Ksh 10 billion
to improve marine fishing in the coastal region and another Ksh 14
billion to harness commercial aquaculture in 14 counties.

“Water has been mainly used in conventional irrigation
agriculture which has contributed to greenhouse gas emissions but
there has to be a shift. Sustainable water use will help spur the
economy and at the same time curb greenhouse gas emissions,”
Oparanya told IPS.

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Expectations High for First Global Blue Economy Conference

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Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
Expectations High for First Global Blue Economy Conference