Hello, Anna again! The title is a question posed by my sister when she first heard about the term “blue economy.” It is a term that not only confuses children but also adults. There is no best definition, but to my understanding it is the usage of the ocean and coastal areas to create economic growth, which would create improved social equity and living standards, whilst reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. Courtesy of an enlightening presentation from Rebecca Lousteau-Lalanne, Principal Secretary of the Blue Economy Department on the very subject, I’ve learnt that its wide scope covers tourism, marine conservation, shipping, oil/mineral extraction, marine renewable energy, fishing and aquaculture, coastal development, port development, maritime security and education.
Why should Seychelles adopt such an initiative and how does it benefit the people? Seychelles is an island country, and the ocean makes up most of our territory, it makes sense to make use of the ocean when its right near our door step. With the industry, Seychelles’ output would increase due to activities like aquaculture, exportation of crude oil if oil exploration is successful. Increased output would result in reduced national debt, more employment, appreciation of the Seychelles rupee, higher standards of living with lower living costs. Most importantly, this growth does not compromise the health of the marine ecosystem as well as the ecosystem in coastal areas.
How is SEYPEC part of the Blue Economy industry? Simple, SEYPEC deals with the transportation of fuel and fuel-related products through their six tankers that go to every continent in the world. As mentioned before shipping is part of the blue economy: it uses the ocean, it does contribute to the economy (SEYPEC’s re-exportation of their products contributed about 10% of the nominal GDP in 2015), and they do the maximum to reduce their impact on the environment (as required for them to obtain the international standard ISO 14001 – Environmental Management Systems (EMS)). Most importantly, SEYPEC’s domestic distribution of fuel is vital for fishing vessels, IOT factory, cruise ships and aircrafts that bring in tourists, air force and coastguard boats for maritime security, so it supports most of the blue economy industry. SEYPEC also recently “adopted” Seychelles Maritime Academy (SMA) to improve the academic program, and it itself provides training for its staff including seafarers.
During my time at SEYPEC, I met with various people who understand the blue economy better than I do and recognize the potential. The head of the Praslin Depot, Mr Marcus Pierre who also worked with SIF previously, told me that the aquaculture section is especially important given that fish stocks in the inner island regions have gone down as well as having a first-hand experience of seeing the benefits of it in India. The crew of Paradise, also whole-heartedly agree that the blue economy is beneficial, one hopes to see one day, Seychellois industrial fishing vessels dominating our seas instead of foreign vessels. Lecturers of SMA has also emphasized that the sea is “money right next to our door” and they hope the Seychellois youth would seize the opportunity to take on careers in the blue economy field. The general consensus is that the Blue Economy is a good initiative; they hope that it will be properly managed for long term benefits, but many expect some bumps in the road due to its “newness”.