BLUE ECONOMY IN THE CARIBBEAN
The valorization of the oceans, seas and coasts and the sustainable use of its resources underpin the principles of the so-called Blue Economy, which includes diverse economic segments related to the sea, such as fishing, food production, maritime biotechnology, production energy, reuse of waste, tourism, environmental protection, trade, shipping, maritime security, among others.
In the Caribbean, the economic potential of the majority of the countries’ maritime exclusive economic zone is significantly larger. The Caribbean’s maritime area is almost 4.5 times the size of its land acreage, resulting in more than 70% of the Region’s population settling along the coast and depending on the sea for subsistence and income. The Caribbean’s Oceans Economy, which consists of traditional sectors such as shipping, tourism, oil and gas, fisheries and aquaculture, was estimated to contribute around 18% of GDP (2012).
Tourism in the Caribbean has largely opened its doors to international tourism over the last three decades. The significant growth in tourism is essential to the economies of the Caribbean islands. The regional cruise industry was up to 11 million arrivals in 2019. Tourism expenditure represents somewhere between 3% and 4% of the overall regional GDP, although the ratio is significantly different between countries, going from 55% in The Bahamas and 45% in Barbados to around 8% in Trinidad and Tobago, 6% in Guyana and 3% in Suriname.
SHIPPING AND SHIPBUILDING
Maritime transportation is important because of the Region’s role in transshipment within the global shipping industry, given its position at the centre of shipping corridor between the Panama Canal and Freeport, The Bahamas. Maritime trade and shipping provide benefits through intra and extra-regional trade. The geographic make-up of the Caribbean economies necessitates either sea or air transportation for international trade, with the former accounting for almost 90% of all merchandise trade.
FISHERIES AND AQUACULTURE
The importance of fisheries for coastal communities and livelihoods in the Caribbean is of much importance. This is particularly the case for ‘coastal fisheries’, including subsistence, traditional and advanced artisanal varieties. Although the Caribbean has limited resources in terms of developing a large-scale fishing industry, the value of fish and sea products as a source of food has long been recognized.
ENERGY AND SUSTAINABILITY
Several countries in the Caribbean are seeking to exploit the ocean’s energy potential in the form of Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC). The region also has potential for renewable energy options, including marine renewable energy. Heightening interest in offshore energy projects has raised concerns about potential conflicts between the desire to exploit the natural resources and the need to protect delicate ocean eco-systems and preserve tourism assets.
This tool has been produced in the frame of the IADB initiative Economic Valuation Tool for the Blue Economy in The Bahamas, Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago, Guyana and Suriname, developed by MCRIT (www.mcrit.com) between May and October 2020.