From Blessing Ibunge, Port Harcourt
An advocacy organization, Home of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) has described the blue economy as posing a great danger for Nigeria and Africa at large, against concept claims that it will only enhance the living standards and livelihoods of the people.
The organization stressed that that the continuous push for a blue economy is not what it claims to be, rather a push for deriving of economic gains from freshwater and marine ecosystems of the continent.
Speaking in Port Harcourt, at the HOMEF’s School of Ecology Session on Blue Economy Blues, Rev Nnimmo Bassey, Director of HOMEF, explained that like challenges of the green economy, the blue economy will amount to sea grabbing, thereby leading to maritime insecurity, putting the local fishers at risk.
The Director of the ecological think tank, explained “We must understand that the Blue Economy is about the exploitation of water bodies. Just like land grabbing is raging across Africa, the Blue Economy will unleash an exacerbated sea grab on the continent.
“Already, marine resources on our continental shelf are being mindlessly plundered and trashed. The Blue Economy will solidify this trend. Maritime insecurity will intensify, and our artisanal fishers will be at great risk. Deep sea mining will increase the pollution of our water bodies.
“It is speculated that marine biotechnology can bring Africa up to $5.9 billion by 2022, but in a continent with very lax biosafety regulations this will mean reckless exploitation, contamination of local species and exposure to more risks and harms.
“We conclude by iterating that the Blue Economy portends great danger for Africa. Besides the illogic of limitless aquatic resources, the economic template could open our oceans for risky geoengineering experimentations ostensibly to flight global warming”.
Bassey advised that “What we need is not cosmetic programmes that lock in the current ruinous track but a completely overhauled economic system built on the picture of a future that is truly socially inclusive, environmentally sustainable and economically just”.
He added that the saying that nothing that is limitless on a finite or limited planet is an error, stressing that “the idea of unlimited resources is what has gotten us into the current ruinous state, at national as well as global levels”.
In his presentation, Desmond De’Sa, a South African with South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, noted that the blue economy will cause more damage to the environment, and will lead to loss of marine biodiversity, loss of livelihoods and infringement of cultural and heritage of the ocean.
He added that the main beneficiaries of the blue economy will only be the global north and pockets of elite in the developing world.
He stressed that “The long-term environmental degradation, the loss of our ecosystem, the loss of livelihoods should not overweigh short-term financial gain for only a few individuals”.
Also in his presentation on ‘the State of Biodiversity in Our Aquatic Ecosystem’, Bamikole Williams, noted that many actions of humans are having various direct and indirect impacts on biodiversity and aquatic ecos.
He mentioned dredging and channelization of most of the rivers system for sand mining used for construction and improved navigation as challenge to the ecosystem.