Chairman, PCC, Otunba Kunle Folarin.

The Ports Consultative Council, a policy advisory body in Nigeria’s maritime industry has faulted Nigeria’s practice of importing about 60 per cent of her annual requirement; a development the group said was basically due to the non-development and harnessing of the country’s rich blue economy.

The blue economy, also known as the economy of the oceans and seas, is used to describe natural maritime endowments available to maritime nations such as vast coastlines, which promote water transportation, fisheries, aquatic life, oil and gas and other mineral deposits beneath the seabed, which are not available to land locked countries.

It is estimated that Nigeria’s fish demand is about 2.1 million metric tonnes per annum while her domestic production is estimated about 800,000 metric tonnes, representing a shortfall of about 1.3 million metric tonnes, which is over 60 per cent of her local demand, on which she spends more than N125billion annually to import.

Chairman of the council, Otunba Kunle Folarin, who spoke in an interview on the sideline of the one-day harmonised stakeholders’ interactive forum organised by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA, in Lagos with the theme: Synergy: An Instrument for Sustainable Development of the Blue Economy, said it was most unacceptable that the country imports more than 60 per cent of her fish requirement, given her rich blue economic potential.

He also observed that as a maritime nation, Nigeria has over 900 nautical miles of coastal waters, which is enough to grow any economy and being a clear leader among the nine countries that make up the Gulf of Guinea.

According to him, as part of efforts to harness these potential in the nation’s blue economy also called the marine economy, the Federal Government and its relevant agencies should build the required bridges in terms of the institutional and regulatory framework that would enhance the harnessing of such potential.

He said: “The Blue Economy is not a stand -alone economy, rather it is one that is regulated by the International agencies such as the International Maritime Organisation IMO, and the International Labour Organisation ILO, among several others, which fall under the purview of Maritime Administration”

“The Maritime Administrations is therefore the pillar for the regulation of the maritime industry in the country. It is also the custodian of international conventions, treaties, diplomatic and bilateral agreements and protocols between nation states, bodies institutions and agencies.”.

Folarin, who is also chairman of Seafarers’ Welfare Board, argued that in order to ensure a sustainable development and harnessing the vast potential of Nigeria’s blue economy, compliance enforcement and methodologies are key.

This, according to him is with a view to meeting the needs of the immediate and not endangering the future, a development that led to the September, 23, 2015 global agreement by maritime nations to adopt a set of rules that would engender the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals SDGs of the blue economy.

He argued that sustainable use of the marines and oceans in terms of water transportation, agriculture, fisheries and other areas of competitive advantage would boost the growth and development of Nigeria, as this would conserve the huge foreign exchange spent on the importation of fish and fish products.

While insisting that resources under the sea beds are far larger than those over the sea beds, insisted that the blue economy cannot survive in an endangered environment, citing countries like Philippines, which have created jobs, boosted economic growth by developing and harnessing the blue economy through water transportation and tourism.

Meanwhile, recall that the Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside had at the conference pledged that the agency would ensure adequate protection and optimal exploitation of the nation’s maritime space, which encompasses her rich blue economy.

He argued that the maritime domain if properly harnessed could provide a veritable tool that would put Nigeria’s economy on a fast track of growth and development, insisting that the agency under his watch will ensure that the maritime space is safe and optimally exploited.