We are the sea,
we are the ocean –
we must wake up
to this ancient truth.
If the ocean was a state of its own, it would be the seventh largest economy in the world – with a “gross marine product” of at least US$ 2.5 trillion per year. This Blue Economy is underpinned by di-verse ecosystems that provide valuable services to the world, be it fishing, tourism or shipping.
On the one hand, the ocean is undoubtedly an important part of the world economy. On the other hand, its asset base, that is to say its capital, is steadily declining. This is because the sea is a commons. A large number of countries and stakeholders have a share in the Blue Economy and bene-fit from the dividend. But without sustainable management, the “capital stock” is sooner or later exhausted.
To address this, there are a multitude of policies and regulations governing the different uses of the ocean. How-ever, at present these are mostly limited to certain sectors, such as fishing, tourism or shipping. This one-dimensional approach often leads to conflicts between the different uses, sectors and stakeholders. The bottom line is that everyone is losing – and the marine capital is shrinking. The answer to this is holistic, integrated ocean governance. The vision of a Blue Economy can only be successfully implemented and managed with cross-sectoral, trans-boundary and participatory approach-es. Uses, conflicts and management can only be harmonized using new complementary tools and strategies.
A core tool for this is Marine Spatial Planning. As part of this effort, global commitments such as the Aichi Biodiversity Objectives and the Sustainable Development Goals need to be integrated into regional and national approaches. For the South Pacific this means translating strategies such as the Pacific Oceanscape Framework and regional ocean policies into national approach-es, which in turn holistically encompass not just coastal regions but also the exclusive economic zones of each Pacific Island nation. This way, the “blue capital” can be preserved and in-creased for future generations, maximizing the profit and benefit from the Blue Economy for all Pacific Islanders.