A professor of Coastal Ecology at the University of Cape Coast (UCC), Prof. Denis Aheto, has called for a Blue Economy Authority to effectively coordinate activities relating to the blue economy to maximise its benefits to the country and the continent.
He noted that the multifaceted sectors of the emerging blue economy and its associated benefits now and in the future required attention in investments to ensure well structured efforts to fully reap the benefits.
Prof. Aheto, who is also the Director of the Centre for Coastal Management at the Africa Centre of Excellence in Coastal Resilience (ACECoR) of UCC, was delivering his inaugural lecture on the topic: “Our oceans: Securing our common future through transformative research”.
Prof. Aheto further observed that the oceans and their related tourism sectors raked in about $133 billion a year, and stressed that the sector deserved more attention in the country and on the continent to fully tap into its associated benefits.
He expressed worry that while the earth consisted of 70 per cent water, there was a lot of disregard for what happened to the ocean and the water bodies.
Quoting a world development report to buttress his point, Prof. Aheto stated that human resource development could lead to poverty reduction, gender equity and wealth redistribution, adding that those, according to the report, were crucial to conserving the environment and promoting sustainability and a balance between economy and ecology.
He said securing a common future in the context of the nation and the continent meant achieving the sustainable development goals in a manner that was informed by research and policy implementation involving all relevant stakeholders.
He stated that the market value of the marine and coastal resource development industry was estimated at $3 trillion a year, saying there were huge opportunities in the fast emerging sector which must be intentionally and strategically explored for economic gains.
He observed that though the oceans provided 50 per cent of oxygen it had not been given the attention it deserved, saying that humanity’s existence depended on how the ocean and its resources were treated.
He said it could provide renewable energy that could transform the continent and also help to ensure food security, tourism and recreative investment prospects.
With all the potential of the sector, he said it had not been adequately explored to optimise the gains.
Rather unfortunately, he said the sector continued to grapple with issues, including illegal unreported, unregulated practices, piracy, among others, saying it required sustained efforts to save the oceans to optimise gains from all its related fields.
Shore line lose
He said the country was losing 1.5 metres of its coastline every year, and that it was important to have structured policies and systems to mitigate the impact on threatened communities.
Prof. Aheto said the centre was fortunately training the required manpower to help resolve the increasingly worrying issues affecting the oceans for its sustainable resource use.
The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast commended Prof. Aheto and the centre for its ground breaking activities in the area of coastal management in the country and across the world.
He said the university would continue to support to ensure the centre achieved its goals in human capacity training and research.
Prof. Aheto is a distinguished German trained academic (DAAD Scholar) and expert in coastal management, with over 10 years of project management experience.
He is the authorised representative of institutional donor funded projects in coastal and fisheries management at the University of Cape Coast funded by the World Bank, USAID and DANIDA, among others, worth over $15 million.
He was instrumental in the establishment of the Centre for Coastal Management (CCM) at the University of Cape Coast in 2013.
In 2015, he was awarded the University of Cape Coast’s Award of Honour as a Distinguished Lecturer for his dexterity and outstanding contributions to the university.
At the international level, he is a member of the United Nations Pool of Experts for Global Assessment on the state of the marine environment.
He is also a member of the World Bank Interim Technical Advisory Committee (iTAC) of the West Africa Coastal Area (WACA) Programme and a member of the Advisory Board for the US Government’s Feed the Future programme of USAID.