Karachi: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah has said that the maritime sector is both financially and techno intensive and needed significant capital for building, operating, and making it economically profitable.
He said this while speaking at the 3rd Steering Committee Meeting of the Pakistan International Maritime Exhibition and Conference (PIMEC) 2023 here at the CM House. The conference was attended by provincial Ministers, Syed Sardar Shah, Jam Ikram, Dr. Azra Fazal Pechuho, Sharjeel Memon, Chief Secretary Sohail Rajput, Deputy Chief of Naval Staff (operation Rear Admiral Muhammad Faisal Abbasi, COMCOAST Rear Admiral Raja Rab Nawaz, COMKAR Rear Admiral Mian Zakir Ullah Jan, provincial secretaries, IG Police Ghulam Nabi Memon, senior officers of Pak Navy and provincial bureaucracy.
The term Blue Economy relates to traditional ocean-related economic activities such as fisheries, tourism, and maritime transport as well as new emerging opportunities like off-shore renewable energy, aquaculture, and sea-bed extraction activities. It further aims at developing sea-bed natural resources for sustainable use as well as socio-economic uplift.
Mr. Shah said that the maritime sector was both financially and techno intensive and needed significant capital for building, operating, and making it economically profitable. “Once that investment has been made and setup is in place, it also requires highly skilled manpower, which regretfully we just do not have in sufficient numbers at this point in time,” he said and added it would not be out of context to say that Pakistan was suffering from “sea blindness” and that’s why the motto of PIMEC has been very aptly kept as ‘Sea the Future’.
Murad Ali Shah said that PIMEC should provide a foundation to bring together stakeholders from diverse maritime industries such as Aquaculture was just like farming in water and it was an environmentally responsible source of food and commercial products. He added that a large chunk of the coastal population was associated with fisheries; however, this sector has a lot of export potential yet to be exploited.
Mr. Shah said that Pakistani fishing boats lacked modern equipment and techniques for fishing and storage. “PIMEC can be a platform for boat construction and associated industries to modernize fishing boats,” he said and added that Pakistan was blessed with a large shipbreaking yard called GADANI and if utilized to its full potential, it has the capacity to generate millions of dollars each year. The CM said that coastal tourism was almost a neglected field and was required to be tapped because tourists were attracted by the climate, biodiversity as well as long sandy beaches of South Asia.
Shipping is the cheapest mode of transport, which carries 80 percent of global merchandised trade in volume, the CM said and added that considering the landlocked geography of many regional countries, Gwadar has the potential to be developed into a full-fledged regional hub and a trans-shipment port in the future. Mr. Shah said that although Gwadar port’s development was in progress but same was required to be coupled with the maritime industries to accrue maximum benefits and these gaps could be bridged through an effective platform like PIMEC.
Murad Shah said that we should not forget that there is economics at play behind the optimism that supports the development of the maritime economy in Pakistan. “Being a developing country with untapped marine economic resources, Pakistan has a huge economical edge,” he said and added that this was because there would not be any diminishing marginal returns here till the capital accumulation reached its optimum point, therefore an initiative of the Pakistan Navy like PIMEC was highly praiseworthy.
Thus, by coming together as researchers, politicians, stakeholders, and business owners, Pakistan’s maritime economy can be made to stand firmly on its feet in a matter of years, the chief minister said and hoped academic sessions of the International Maritime Conference (IMC) would encompass discussions on these issues and much more; particularly, in what way could the Blue Economy help reinforce the revival of our national economy?
The CM said that keeping in view the prime importance of the maritime sector, he would personally oversee all administrative arrangements for the successful conduct of PIMEC. The CM directed the Karachi police and concerned deputy commissioners and civic agencies to ensure necessary arrangements for the exhibition and conference scheduled to be held from February 10-12, 2023.