Blue economy.... Hearth?Letter to readers from Nanie Ratsifandrihamanana- Express de Madagascar , September 26 , 2018
A Zimbabwean political analyst said that "democracy is a prostitute, it's everyone's mistress, and anyone can take her home," referring to the misuse of the term by politicians of his own country in the elections of 2013. Some terms are so used to all the sauces that we lose the real meaning.
Recently, the "green economy" (and blue in its marine form) has begun to gain in popularity.
For proof, this article appeared in the national and regional media, mentioning the signature on September 5, of an agreement between Madagascar and China, "for the development of the blue economy". The agreement provides for an investment of $ 2.7 billion over the next ten years for six projects in the areas of fisheries, aquaculture, and the fight against illegal fishing, shipyards and watercraft centers, recreation, as well as a training center. But what is missing is the announcement of this first three-year phase, which should start before the end of the year, with the creation, among others, of a first company of "coastal fishing with a fleet of 330 vessels "...
I can’t help wondering how and in what way 330 vessels in our coastal zone could contribute to a blue economy? Because not everything that happens in the ocean is “blue”.No, a blue economy has clear criteria and principles, and is recognized by a growing number of governments, companies, investors, and non-governmental organizations around the world.
A blue economy generates long-term social, economic and environmental benefits. The sea and its ecosystems provide us with several essential services: food, leisure, income through activities such as fishing or tourism, transport route, but also production of the oxygen we breathe, absorption of carbon dioxide that causes global warming, coastal protection through coral reefs and mangroves, genetic resources, etc. A truly "blue" economy pays special attention to maintaining, preserving and restoring the fundamental ecological functions of the ocean so that we can enjoy these services in perpetuity. For this reason, the blue economy is by definition based on a solid scientific knowledge of the state of marine resources and their dynamics in order to avoid any misuse. It should also first be based on an open and transparent consultation of all economic actors whose activity is based on marine resources - small and large fishermen, hoteliers, maritime carriers, marine biologists, extractive sectors, decentralized territorial communities and simple inhabitants. coastal areas, to name a few - on the shared use of marine space. A truly blue economy must be inclusive and equitable at the grassroots level and will necessarily involve making choices and compromises on both sides.
So back to this agreement and its 330 "inshore" vessels - which will be the result of the «first company», supposed to be followed by «several companies representing a first investment of 700 million USD»? Madagascar is fortunate to host, among other things, one of the largest, most diverse and rich coral reef systems in the world, and one of the largest mangrove swamps in the western Indian Ocean. These ecosystems are essential to coastal fisheries, but we know that they are threatened by poor fishing practices, the misuse of mangrove forests, and most importantly they are among the most sensitive to the effects of climate change - for example Coral bleaching due to the rise in ocean temperature is a well-observed phenomenon in our waters.
In Madagascar, moreover, the coastal zone supports more than 500,000 people through small-scale fishing - that is by non-motorized boat and practiced in an area 10 km or less from the coast. - Which represents almost 75% of the country's total fishing activity . These “small-scale fishermen” are mostly members of coastal communities and fishing is their main means of subsistence. Since this is an informal activity, often family-based, and the administrative monitoring and management capacities being what they are, very little reliable information is available today on the evolution of catches and the stock status of the various species targeted by this fishing activity.
Where exactly will these "330 inshore fishing boats" go fishing and risk competing with vulnerable fishermen with no other livelihood? Will the capacity of marine ecosystems, coral reefs, mangroves and others support the intensity of such activity? Have there been (prior to the signing of the agreement) any consultation with these communities and are they only aware of this project which will have significant impacts on their future? These are some of the questions that the agreement should answer, if we really talk about the blue economy. And if these issues have not been addressed, then no, do not talk about blue economy.
In this period of pre-election campaign, keep the critical mind and do not let ourselves be misled by all these words in fashion that we will be proposed, often with nothing or little behind.