Growing up near the coast enabled me to become somewhat familiar with the sea from a very early age. I would wake up every weekend with an eager determination to convince my mother to go to the beach –which was only minutes away from my home. Having reach the beach I would rush into the shallow water, refusing to come out until it was very late, by then my mother would be well passed angry with me, due to my refusal to exit the water. Eventually when I gave to go home it was because I was tricked when I was often told that sharks come out at night to eat little children who stayed out late near the shore. (How gullible I was!). Back then the ocean used to represent only a playground -it meant nothing more.
Though as I grew slightly older I started taking notice of other ocean- based activities taking place a little away from the shore. I saw fishermen coming from out at sea proud of their catch, I saw yacht passing by full of tourist, I saw visitors eager and anxious to feel the crashing wave on their feet for their first time, I saw big, medium and small sized fish (cause back then I did not know their names-except for sharks of course) swimming all around searching for food.
And it was around those time that it hit me: the ocean has a life of its own and even more fascinating- it even sustain life.
It is often wrongly perceived that the sea can be used only for swimming and fishing. Too bad, some use it as a dumping site or worse many do not even stop to consider beyond it being a large blue carpet covering 70% of our planet. And what about the vast potential that the ocean do possess?
In my view, the ocean represents resources, a sport, and leisure and transportation facility given to us by Mother Nature, a habitat, a source for food security, a provider of employment amongst other thousands of uses. Due to these vast potential being acknowledge more and more as time goes by , this caused the emergence of a rather intriguing and what somewhat confusing term /concept known as the Blue Economy.
So what do I think the Blue Economy is: For me the Blue economy is just a formal term for referring to all the thousandth of modern and traditional economic activities that relates to the ocean such as fishing for sport, food and swimming? It is also used to cover other newly innovating economic ideas/plans that will be link to the ocean and its resources in the near and further future.
The term does not simply mean using the ocean for the sake of using it- it involves using it in a sustainable manner so that we as current generation can benefit from it and at the same time we have a duty to protect it for all future generation to benefit from the ocean as well.
To be able to develop the Blue Economy at its fullest also requires security. Through this two week internship I was placed at the two biggest wing of SPDF (Seychelles Coastguard and Seychelles Air Force) two major bodies entrusted to keep our EEZ safe. They do patrols, keep a guard on illegal practices such as trafficking amongst many other activities. They also partner with several other bodies such as EU Cap Nestor to combat threat such as piracy. (Which I am sure many of us remember). Moreover, as accident can never be predicted…the need for a reliable and efficient rescue system at sea cannot be question- currently this is also a task that the SAF and SCG are responsible for.
There is also a need to change people’s mindset. We need to start thinking beyond the mountains and land, and even beyond having access to only the inner islands/ocean and to consider also the outer islands/outer EEZ- after all the whole of Seychelles is made of 115 island and the water surrounding it and not only 10 or so islands! We must think beyond the norm -be innovative, think beyond traditional practice- and think modern! We must also never forget that the ocean is our heritage thus the need for all range of persons from young to old, rich and poor to become more involve/inclusive in its development and preservation.
Written by Shantana Barbe