We live on a blue planet. More than two-thirds is covered by water: oceans, seas, rivers and lakes. From our earliest beginnings, communities have grown and prospered by settling close to water, feeding off its riches and sailing ever further afield to seek out new wealth. But Earth’s natural resources are fast-depleting as we overpopulate and pollute the planet. Our habitat is becoming increasingly fragile. For our blue economy to grow sustainably, it must be protected, modernized and regulated. That’s the challenge facing our governments today.    

Although shipping and fisheries are at the heart of the blue economy, the industry is much broader. Ships need deep-water ports with modern cargo-handling facilities to ensure rapid turnaround. Shipbuilding and repair, while providing employment for many around the world, requires regulation. Ships must be safe for mariners and passengers and designed so that the pollution of our oceans is minimized. Fisheries, which is badly in need of modernization in much of the developing world, also needs regulation; not just of fishing grounds, species and catches, but also to ensure that fishing nets do not destroy the seabed.

Communities vulnerable to a rise in sea-levels because of climate change need to be protected. Some will need to be relocated. Rivers are lifelines between communities. Locks serve to regulate water levels and the flow of traffic along their course. But the infrastructure must be continuously maintained. Tourism has leapfrogged in importance as disposable incomes have increased in much of the world. But we must be careful that tourist legions, by their very numbers, do not overwhelm local communities and that the natural and man-made wonders of the world that that they flock to see are preserved for future generations.

A busy agenda for our political leaders.

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