Jamaica missing the boat on blue economy
JAMAICA IS nowhere near ready to exploit the many new and emerging economic opportunities on offer from the blue economy, the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) disclosed during the recent International Workshop on Sustainable Blue Economies in...
JAMAICA IS nowhere near ready to exploit the many new and emerging economic opportunities on offer from the blue economy, the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) disclosed during the recent International Workshop on Sustainable Blue Economies in Jamaica and the Caribbean. The workshop was held at the Faculty of Medical Sciences at The University of the West Indies, Mona.
Following a number of presentations which showed how Japan and other islands had learned from disasters and were aligning their coastal communities to survive and thrive in light of the many new avenues for earning, the audience was stunned to learn that Jamaica is lagging in so many areas.
Patrine Cole of the Sustainable Development and Regional Planning Division of the PIOJ, explained that things were so bad that ignorance about the term blue economy was rampant, even among people who are employed in the fisheries sector.
“We have to build awareness about the blue economy among our Jamaican citizens. During the baseline assessment, it was found that a lot of Jamaicans, even those working in the blue economy, did not know the term blue economy. They just know that they work in fisheries or they work in tourism but they had never heard the term blue economy. So we have to build awareness to ensure that all Jamaicans are able to participate in the blue economy and we have to ensure that gender mainstreaming and social equity are fully integrated in the development of the local blue economy,” Cole charged.
The blue economy has been defined as an economic system or sector that seeks to conserve marine and freshwater environments while using them in a sustainable way to develop economic growth and produce resources such as energy and food. Some of the emerging sectors include marine renewable energy, marine biotechnology and bioprospecting, which has potential for creating new products, including pharmaceuticals and biofuels.
However, effective management of these new growth areas requires a robust institutional and regulatory framework, which Jamaica sorely lacks, according to the PIOJ executive.
“One of the challenges and gaps that was identified under the Jamaica Blue Economy Framework Project was that, although we have a number of players in the blue economy – a number of institutions, a number of legislations, the institutional framework was deemed to be ineffective. Some of our policies were either outdated or they have not been implemented. So they have been developed but shelved, and, for Jamaica to fully leverage the blue economy potential, we need a unifying framework. But all of this, again, requires human capacity.”
Cole underscored the importance of getting the community integrally involved for any of the projects or initiatives to have any chance of success.
“That is also a critical part of the human resource development, to include our local communities to ensure that, when we are diversifying our tourism product, the local community is included in a community-based tourism project … also to ensure that our fisherfolk are aware of our sustainable fisheries practices when we come up with them. So, the importance of public awareness and advocacy and community engagement to the blue economy cannot be overstated.”