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Middle Eastern Countries Can Overcome Pressing Challenges By Developing a Blue Economy

Middle Eastern Countries Can Overcome Pressing Challenges By Developing a Blue Economy
Biodiversity, Improvement & Assist, Economy & Commerce, Editors’ Selection, Setting, Featured, Headlines, Middle East & North Africa, Pure Assets, Regional Classes, TerraViva United Nations


Aquaponics, an revolutionary apply within the fisheries and aquaculture sectors, is revolutionising the best way of conceiving meals provide in lots of MENA nations. This dated image exhibits fish swimming pools in Palestine. Credit score: Eva Bartlett/IPS.

ROME, Dec 7 2018 (IPS) – The Blue Economy is turning into an ‘El Dorado’, a new frontier for historically arid and water-stressed nations within the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), in line with Christian Averous, Vice President of Plan Bleu, one of many Regional Exercise Centres of the Mediterranean Motion Plan developed underneath the United Surroundings Regional Seas Programme.

However towards the backdrop of the big potential represented by the Blue Economy, there are quite a few challenges and important points that the area faces. Overfishing, water shortage, extremely salty waters, local weather change, excessive evaporation charges, the oil business and air pollution are simply a few of issues that place in danger the event and conservation of marine and aquatic assets within the MENA area.

As well as, speedy inhabitants progress all through the area complicates issues. Based on the U.S.-based Inhabitants Reference Bureau, “MENA experienced the highest rate of population growth of any region in the world over the past century” and is rising at a present fee of two % per yr. It’s the second-highest progress price on the earth after sub-Saharan Africa, the organisation says.

Inhabitants progress results in an elevated demand for fish as a meals supply and this, mixed with poor laws and rapacious fishing practices, finally results in an general decline in marine populations. Ultimately it compromises the survival standing of the Purple Sea coral reef, which is already extremely threatened by air pollution, unsustainable tourism and local weather change, (regardless that corals on this area proved to be immune to international warming).

The MENA area has additionally had to deal with poor administration of water assets, with agriculture utilizing 85 % of freshwater. Out there freshwater within the area is especially underground and its non-renewable shares are being depleted, warns the Meals and Agriculture Group of the United Nations (FAO). During the last 4 many years, the supply of freshwater within the MENA area has decreased by 40 % and can in all probability lower by 50 % by 2050. The results could possibly be disastrous when it comes to meals safety, rural livelihoods and economies.

The Blue Economy: a method to overcome challenges and increase improvement?

“It is very important to promote an ocean-based economy in today’s world, as governments struggle for economic growth, [particularly] in the MENA region as well as in the whole Mediterranean region and in the Gulf countries,” Averous tells IPS. 

Which means nations within the area shouldn’t solely search to protect aquatic and marine assets, however also needs to spend money on these similar assets to foster a strategy of financial improvement and progress by means of them.

Farmed Tilapia on sale in a Cairo grocery store. Native farmers from Egypt, Algeria and Oman participated in farmer-to-farmer research excursions, visited 15 built-in agri-aquaculture farms, and learnt new expertise and methods from one another. Credit score: Cam McGrath/IPS.

Fisheries and Aquaculture

However greatest practices throughout the area are demonstrating simply how a lot these nations consider within the monumental potential of the Blue Economy. One instance is aquaponics, an progressive apply within the fisheries and aquaculture sectors that’s revolutionising the meals provide in lots of MENA nations. Aquaponics is the mixture of aquaculture — the apply of fish farming and hydroponics (the cultivation of crops in water with out soil).

“While hydroponics still uses some chemical fertilisers to grow plants, with aquaponics, the fish themselves, through their excrements, fertilise the water allowing plants to grow,” Valerio Crespi, Aquaculture Officer in FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Division in Rome, tells IPS.

Egypt, Algeria and Oman lately launched into a cooperation challenge promoted by FAO, the place native farmers participated in farmer-to-farmer research excursions the place they visited 15 built-in agri-aquaculture farms and learnt new expertise and methods from one another.

“It was a good experience,” says Basem Hashim, an Egyptian farmer and advisor for the Common Authority of Fish Assets Improvement, a motion which tries to form new concepts and actions for agriculture and meals in Egypt.

Basem took half within the research excursions organised by FAO and due to that have was capable of define and perceive probably the most urgent challenges for the farming communities within the area.

“We know the importance of using water properly and of improving production [not only in terms of quantity, but] also in terms of quality,” he tells IPS. “At the same time, I think there is still not enough awareness in Egypt in terms of water scarcity, pollution and waste, even though the government is working with associations to raise awareness and transfer experiences.”

“The study tours were a clear example of successful South-South Cooperation,” says Crespi. “The ultimate goal, which is what we are working on right now, is to draft a road map to outline the best practices to best use water in these areas where water is scarce. In the three countries we have created national teams that have produced three technical reports that will be the basis of the road map.”

Aquaponics is an unimaginable innovation additionally as a result of it permits these communities to have, because of the fish which are raised in these buildings, a supply of protein that may in any other case be poorly obtainable if not nonexistent in a few of these nations.

“In addition, with the same use of resources,” says Basem, “we also have fruits and vegetables. This is what the future looks like.”

Tere are different nations within the area are recognized for his or her greatest practices within the Blue Economy, notably within the aquaculture sector:

  • Iran has long-standing expertise with rice-fish farming, which is at present estimated by specialists to be practiced in 10 % of all rice fields within the nation, on a complete space of between 50,000 to 72,000 hectares.
  • Lebanon has been training aquaculture for a lot of many years and in 2017 complete fishery manufacturing from marine seize fisheries and aquaculture have been three,608 and 1,225 tonnes, respectively.
  • Fish farmers in Israel are creating progressive applied sciences and breeding strategies that are revolutionising their business. The excellence of Israeli know-how is just not used alone in breeding within the nation however can also be appreciated and exported everywhere in the world.

Coastal and marine tourism

Based on Plan Bleu, up to now 20 years the Gross Home Product (GDP) contribution of the tourism sector has elevated by 60 % in Mediterranean nations. The Mediterranean area is the world’s main tourism vacation spot. Worldwide vacationer arrivals have grown from 58 million in 1970 to just about 324 million in 2015. It can also be among the many most frequented areas by cruise ships on the planet, with some 27 million passengers visiting the world by 2013. Subsequently tourism has been a constructive financial asset for the area. 

However as shocking as it might be, it isn’t a lot industrial air pollution that represents the best injury to the marine surroundings, however tourism that has a big destructive impression on the area.

Tourism is actually one of many essential threats to ecosystems within the space. Certainly, locals affirm that industries and cruises working, for instance, within the Purple Sea are topic to harsh laws however the primary menace to the surroundings is posed by waste disposal, particularly of plastic, and by the big water footprint that every vacationer leaves behind.

Views concerning the future

The Middle East definitely has many challenges to face when it comes to shortage of pure assets and meals safety. Because of this the financial system based mostly on maritime sectors within the Mediterranean and within the Middle East represents a essential potential for the financial improvement.

“We do not have any ‘miraculous’ innovation. We simply have some technologies that, if associated to traditional methods, can stimulate a process of sustainable development, which is a key factor for those countries struggling for finding enough natural resources,” says Crespi.

“Moreover,” he provides, “promoting a policy of implementation of Blue Economy, could reduce the rural exodus of these populations from the countryside to the cities, or even the exodus across the Mediterranean to get to Europe, risking their lives often for not finding the much desired job and economic prosperity.”

  • The primary international Sustainable Blue Economy Convention happened in Nairobi, Kenya from Nov. 26 to 28 and was co-hosted with Canada and Japan. Members from 150 nations around the globe gathered to discover ways to construct a blue financial system.


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