Interview with Commodore Daniel Atakpa, Nigerian Navy
By Instituto Brasileiro De Direito Do Mar

The ‘Blue Economy’ is a concept that fosters better and more rational use of the world’s oceans or ‘blue’ resources. It emphasizes the close linkages between the ocean, climate change, and the well-being of the people of a given region or country. At its heart, it supports all of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG14 ‘life below water’, and recognizes that this will require ambitious, and coordinated actions to sustainably manage, protect and preserve our ocean now, for the sake of present and future generations. With that in mind, the latest interviewee of the Brazilian Institute for the Law of the Sea (BILOS), Commodore Daniel Atakpa, a senior officer of the Nigerian Navy, and expert on blue economy matters, will share with us valuable insights on that topic.

Question Excerpts by Victor Ventura (associate of the BILOS):

Q1. Victor Ventura: What separates the blue economy from the “traditional” economy? What is so innovative in that concept?

Commodore Daniel Atakpa: I guess you’d meant “traditional ocean economy”. Well, a proper understanding of the blue economy must, of necessity, start with the initial understanding of the concept and operating principles of traditional ocean economy. The traditional ocean economy is the age-old maritime commerce founded primarily on fisheries (for food), and shipping (for transportation/movement/exploration). These traditional ocean economies subsequently increased in scope with advancements in technology to include offshore oil and gas, as well as marine tourism in western climes. The snag in these ocean and ocean-related activities was the absence/non-observance of sustainability principles as espoused by the Brundtland Commission in its report “Our Common Future”, which views sustainable development as the development that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” This is viewed as the balanced intersection of the 3 factors of economy, ecology and social well-being. The traditional ocean economy never operated in the context of these important pillars of sustainability. Thus, from a practical point of view, the blue economy differs from traditional ocean economy on the basis of the infusion of sustainability in the former, and the absence of sustainability in the latter.

Q2. Victor Ventura: How is the concept of blue economy supposed to provoke changes in which the oceans are managed?

Commodore Daniel Atakpa: The concept of blue economy is expected to provoke changes in ocean management through the fundamental operating elements of ocean sustainability and marine spatial planning (MSP). The MSP would emplace and enforce compliance with the 3-dimensional sustainable development principles within designated maritime domains.

Q3. Victor Ventura: Does the blue economy relate to specific maritime spaces (such as the EEZ) or rather to all maritime spaces under national jurisdiction (TS, CZ, EEZ and CS alike)?

Commodore Daniel Atakpa: The blue economy cuts across all maritime zones as contained in UNCLOS. The reason is simple: the marine environment is composed of very fragile ecosystems, and there are no physical boundaries/borders at sea to prevent the movement of unsustainable practices in one maritime zone to the other. Thus, sewage discharges from the land into internal waters may end up in the territorial sea, and continue, if unchecked, to the CZ, EEZ and CS. Recall that Articles 207-212 of UNCLOS identified 6 sources of marine pollution namely pollutions from land-based sources, seabed activities, activities in the Area, dumping, from ships, and atmosphere. Any of these pollutions can be found in any of the maritime zones with grave environmental consequences on zones contiguous to the polluted zone. This provides a good reason for the blue economy sustainability machineries to dominate the entire maritime zones.

Q4. Victor Ventura: What does an entirely “blued” economy ideally look like? Does it mean that a particular state will have achieved full sustainable management of its maritime spaces?

Commodore Daniel Atakpa: An entirely blue economy would imply first, that the littoral state has activated strategies for the operationalization of all the sectors of the blue economy which consist of the traditional and emerging sectors. The traditional sectors are the very old sectors comprising fisheries, shipping, and offshore oil and gas; while the emerging sectors consist of marine biotechnology employing in large part marine genetic resources for variety of products ranging from cosmetics to pharmacopeia amongst others, deep sea mining, offshore renewable energies through wind, wave and thermal vents, sustainable marine leisure and tourism. I must admit that these sectors are more emerging in developing world than in the developed world.

Q5. Victor Ventura: How many avenues for public governmental and private action could the option for a blue economy open for a coastal state such as Nigeria or Brazil?

Commodore Daniel Atakpa: A lot, depending on national interests and blue economy policies or roadmaps. For instance, the Nigerian maritime environment in the resource-rich Gulf of Guinea is believed to be capable of creating 40 million direct and indirect blue economy jobs and generating N7 trillion (US$1.94 billion) annually. These translate to huge opportunities for government and private organizational engagements for job creation, enhance GDP, and overall national development.

Q6. Victor Ventura: Which social actors must engage in the road for effectively implementing a bluer economy strategy?

Commodore Daniel Atakpa: All maritime stakeholders from the ocean-based professionals such as skippers, ocean explorers, hydrographers, marine scientists, and the navies; to ocean-related professionals such as ship builders, chandlers, stevedores, maritime reporters, maritime lawyers/law of the sea experts, and ocean health workers. This list is by no means exhaustive.

Q7. Victor Ventura: How likely is it for poorer, Third World countries such as Nigeria and Brazil, to effectively implement blue economy guidelines nationally? What are, in your opinion, the main requirements for such successful implementation?

Commodore Daniel Atakpa: Very simple. The first driver is a well-informed knowledge of the blue economy from an operational point of view. I must stress that what is predominantly known of the blue economy is blue economy concepts. The operationalization of these concepts is what I believe developing world would require to effectively establish a functional blue economy. Let me also add that there is presently a dearth of the operational knowledge of the blue economy. The second is the national/political will to do the needful, where the operational knowledge has been discovered. This, I have found out, is the primary challenge to the implementation of blue economy among developing countries. When these 2 are right, every other requirement would fall in place through proper planning and implementation.

Q8. Victor Ventura: What role is reserved for national Navies in implementing a shift towards a bluer economy?

Commodore Daniel Atakpa: Ocean sustainability patrols, and the enforcement of MSP directives in accordance with step 8 of the IOC/UNESCO 10-step guide for MSP. This would mean the expansion of the scope of Ken Booth’s traditional peacetime roles of navies.

Q9. Victor Ventura: What is the role of education and technological innovation in achieving a bluer economy?

Commodore Daniel Atakpa: Education through the creation of sustainability awareness and the resourcefulness of the oceans to stem its pollution is central to achieving blue economy ocean sustainability. Innovation is also key to its development because of the dynamic nature of the maritime environment. The present blue economy awareness is largely driven by the combined effects of education and innovation. For instance, the present knowledge of the deep-sea mineral and marine genetic resources was brought about by education/innovations, which were either lacking or in their incubating stages at the time of the drafting of UNCLOS.

Q10. Victor Ventura: What could the role of an Institute such as BILOS be, in terms of promoting a bluer economy? Are there international funds for blue economy projects that you are aware of?

Commodore Daniel Atakpa: A law of the sea institute such as the BILOS could play a significant role in blue economy advocacy and training in ocean governance provisions of UNCLOS. On international blue economy funds, I’ll admit I am not aware of any particular fund specifically dedicated to the blue economy. However, I am aware there is the UNSDG Fund established after the adoption of the UNSDG in September 2015. The fund is aimed at assisting UN member States eradicate poverty in their respective countries. Perhaps the fund may be accessed through the SDG 14 implementation strategy plan – I hope so. Also, I recall there were some international bodies at the 2019 European Union Maritime Day held in Lisbon, who had indicated their willingness to financially support individuals and institutions championing the blue economy ideals, particularly in the area of marine liters prevention.

Q11. Victor Ventura: How relevant would international cooperation be, in terms of fostering blue economy initiatives between countries? Would you envisage a partnership between Nigerian and Brazil, given both countries’ oceanic features?

Commodore Daniel Atakpa: The future of the blue economy is a collaborative future on the basis of ocean global commons. Although Brazil is geographically distant from Nigeria (smiles), notwithstanding, both countries could mutually engage through diplomatic/bilateral cooperation to exchange blue economy ideas/expertise, as well as implementation strategies. One area that readily comes to mind, as a hydrographer, is in joint hydrographic training/exercises for mapping blue economy spaces. Another area, as a law of the sea expert, is through joint law of the sea conferences/seminars/workshops on blue economy. I think the opportunities for partnership are as varied as our individual and collective expertise would allow. Concluding word: I sincerely thank you Vic for the opportunity given me to share my thoughts on the blue economy. I look forward to more engagements in the future. Fair winds.


By Rear Admiral CE Okafor, President NHS

Dear Colleagues, Patrons and Friends of the Nigerian Hydrographic Society. It is with mixed feelings that I speak to you on this special day of the 2020 World Hydrographic Day (WHD) celebration. This is partly because the impact of Covid-19 pandemic could not allow us to gather as we used to do in order to rub minds on pertinent issues towards advancing our noble profession in Nigeria and partly because of the tears on our eyes due to the sudden demise of our former 2nd Vice President and former Chairman of Warri Zone; Surv Chris Ojukoko. We are surely going to miss his invaluable contributions towards the success and progress of NHS. Notwithstanding, we join his family to submit to the will of God Almighty and fervently pray God to grant them the fortitude to dear this irreparable loss.

As you all know, the purpose of the WHD is primarily to publicize the importance of hydrography and why it is still relevant to humanity. So with the current imperatives of Covid-19 protocols, the team for this year’s WHD, which is "Hydrography - Enabling Autonomous Technologies" could not have been more apt. This is because the use of Autonomous Technologies, like the Autonomous Surface Vehicles (ASV), Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUV) and even flying drones to capture high accuracy, high-resolution bathymetry data for nearshore and coastal environments clearly prevents the spread of the Corona Virus from person to person. Therefore, we must start looking at optimizing the use of these technologies now and in the coming years so that we can continue to provide marine geospatial solutions to mariners in the most acceptable standard, while staying safe in the midst of the prevailing pandemic.

The year under review has been quite challenging, but I am glad to note that we have covered a lot of grounds in our quest to develop hydrographic capacity. As you are aware, the Navy who is our greatest partner, as well as the National Charting Authority and regulator of hydrographic surveys within Nigerian waters has produced a number of marine geospatial solutions, ranging from navigational charts to tidal information among others. Recently, the Navy published Nigeria’s first Electronic Navigational Chart (ENC), NG 525010 to demonstrate the level of hydrographic development in Nigeria. With you playing your roles under the Crowd Sourced Bathymetry initiative of the International Hydrographic Organization, through timely deposition of your bathymetric data at the Nigerian Navy Hydrographic Office, as required, we are sure to be on the right path towards helping our dear Nation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 14 of the UN. I, therefore, urge you not to relent in ensuring the maintenance of the right professional ethics and standards in your survey practices so we can consolidate on the gains made so far.

As we prepare to work in the most treacherous weather and ocean, as well as economic conditions in the coming year and beyond, let us endeavor to update survey skills and equipment so as to remain relevant in the ever evolving hydrographic technologies.

Finally, I wish to inform you that the National Executives have set up a number of committees and sub-committees to ramp up the Society. It is hoped that before 2021 WHD, the works of these committees would yield positive dividends to our Society, which all of us would enjoy. On this note, I want to appreciate you all for the confidence reposed on me to lead this noble Society. My special thanks go to the 1st and 2nd VPs and other National Executives for their contributions and supports during the year under review. I also want to thank the 2020 WHD Organizing Committee, who has made tremendous arrangements for the hosting the event, which was eventually scuttled by Covid-19. Your experiences will definitely be brought to bear in 2021, by the Grace of the Almighty God.

As Stakeholders in the profession of hydrography in Nigeria, we still have a long way to go, but through joint efforts we will succeed!

Thanks and God bless you all. Long live Nigeria, Long live the NHS.

By Linus Aneke of Nigerian Pilot

The consolidation on Nigerian Navy (NN) initial breakthrough in production of locally made nautical chart for use in Nigerian Maritime environment is not only commendable, but also aligned with local content policy of the federal government. The production of the Maritime Chart may come to many as a surprise, especially in this era of global lock down aimed at curtailing the spread of Chinese plague otherwise known as COVID-19 but to the Nigerian Navy it is a dream come true. This is so because the Service has in the recent time invested in training and retraining of its Officers and ratings in the aforesaid speciality, with the overall objective of improving navigation in Nigerian waterways..

In 2018, Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas said that plans were underway for the nation to commence in-house nautical charting of her waterways. He noted then that hydrographers were already receiving needed trainings and data were being compiled for that purpose. Vice Admiral Ibas gave this insight at the opening of a five-day biennial conference and exhibition themed “Regional awareness on maritime geospatial knowledge,” organised by the International Hydrographic Organisation (IHO) and the Eastern Atlantic Hydrographic Commission (EIHC) in 2018 in Lagos. “The country had already completed the development of national charting scheme and built the right capacity for acquisition of hydrographic data both within the inshore and offshore waters of Nigeria,” he said. At the time, he said Nigeria had developed limited capacity in the building strategy, which deals with the ability to produce nautical charts. “At the moment, Nigeria has completed the development of National Charting Scheme and has commenced requisite training and compilation of data for production of nautical charts.

Currently, Nigeria produces training charts, at the Nigerian Navy Hydrographic Office which are used in many maritime institutions across the country for training purposes. I can only ask that you do more by way of providing billets in Cartography and accreditation of our Hydrographic School in Port Harcourt so as to consolidate on the gains achieved so far, and subsequently give mariners better hydrographic service delivery in West African sub-region,” he further explained. Meanwhile, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin has commended the Nigerian Navy (NN) for the production of the second locally made chart of some parts of Nigerian waters by the Nigerian Navy Hydrographic Office (NNHO). In a congratulatory message to the Chief of Naval Staff, officers and ratings of the NNHO, General Olonisakin expressed profound delight in the fact that the recent products of the NNHO, harbour and operational charts, are certified and recognized by international institutions. He averred that this achievement is coming at a time when the need to utilize indigenous resources has been underscored by recent global events.

Coordinator Defence Media Operations, Major General John Enenche in a statement said the NN recorded a significant operational milestone with the production of the second indigenous navigational chart of some parts of Nigerian waters by the Nigerian Navy Hydrographic Office (NNHO). Disclosing the specific areas that the chart covered, the statement said, “The new chart covers parts of Badagry Creek, from Ogunkobo, through Navy Town and Mile 2 to Tin-Can Island in Lagos waters. Work on the chart started in 2019, and with the completion of the chart, the NNHO has now commenced work on its electronic version which will be forwarded to the International Centre for Electronic Navigational Charts for validation and release. In the last one year, the NNHO has produced a number of nautical products which are currently used by Nigerian Navy ships and establishments. These include harbour chart of Nigerian Navy Ship Beecroft and Nigerian Naval Dockyard Limited water fronts, port guide of Lagos harbour and operations charts of the entire Eastern Naval Command”. Others, General Enenche said are maneuvering sheets for tactical navigation and a number of training charts among others. He posited that the International Hydrographic Community, particularly the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO), has acknowledged the strides made by the Nigerian Navy in chart production. He also revealed that the UKHO has accepted gradual hand over of the survey data covering Nigerian waters which are held in their archive and also to adopt NNHO’s charts rather than producing new ones, adding this is a confirmation that NNHO’s nautical products meet international (IHO) standards.

“The NNHO wishes to maintain this standard to facilitate safety of navigation within Nigerian waters and seamless takeover of the charting functions of Nigerian waters from UKHO. In line with the coordination role of the Nigerian Navy in Hydrography, the NNHO is also currently developing a harmonized Standard Operating Procedures to guide all hydrographic survey activities conducted in Nigerian waters by private survey companies and sister government agencies. This would ensure that data received from any of these survey companies/government agencies are accurate enough to be included in a chart,” the statement concluded. While going down memory lane, the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ubok-Ete Ibas said, “History has it that some years ago, Nigeria could not predict its tides neither could it produce the accompanying Tidal Prediction Tables for its ports and training charts for its Maritime Institutions; but with the steady progress made in hydrographic development, these products are now being produced in Nigeria”.

The CNS expressed hope that the 2018 biennial conference would provide an opportunity to renew contacts discuss problems and prospects of mutual interest as well as cover a wide range of important issues relating to the collection, processing and dissemination of Maritime Safety Information (MSI), Marine Spatial Data Infrastructure (MSDI) and data management among others. That hope and dream has no doubt materialized with the production of the second locally made Maritime Chart by the Nigerian Navy, a feat that had been applauded by many including the Chief of Defence Staff, General Abayomi Gabriel Olonisakin.

The Hydrographer of Nigeria Rear Admiral Chukwuemeka Okafor at the same conference highlighted the importance of hydrography in the following words: “The primary purpose of hydrography is to protect human lives at sea by facilitating safe navigation but far beyond this hydrography contributes directly to the efficiency of maritime transport by allowing voyages to be shortened”. He explained that hydrography provides primary data essential for coastal zone management and development of ports and other coastal infrastructures. “Hydrographic data are critical requirements for the selection of routes for submarine pipelines and cables, selection of sites for wind-farms and offshore oil and gas platforms, as well as, underwater constructions and developments. In today’s unending maritime boundary disputes, hydrography supports the delimitation of maritime boundaries and Blue Economy. It underpins the forecasting of the likely spread and track of oil slicks, as part of oil spill response,” Rear Admiral Okafor enumerated.

By Okodili Ndidi of The Nations

The Nigerian Navy has been lauded for the local production of the second indigenous Navigational Chart of some parts of Nigerian waters by the Nigerian Navy Hydrographic Office (NNHO).

The Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Olonisakin, in a congratulatory message to the Chief of Naval Staff, Officers and ratings, signed by the Coordinator Defence Media Operations, Major General John Enenche, noted with joy that the operational charts and other products by the NNHO are certified by international institutions.

He stressed that “this achievement is coming at a time when the need to utilize indigenous resources has been underscored by recent global events”. The message read in part, “it could be recalled that the NN recorded a significant operational milestone with the production of the second indigenous navigational chart of some parts of Nigerian waters by the Nigerian Navy Hydrographic Office (NNHO). The new chart covers parts of Badagry Creek, from Ogunkobo, through Navy Town and Mile 2 to Tin-Can Island in Lagos waters.

“Work on the chart started in 2019. With the completion of the chart, the NNHO has now commenced work on its electronic version which will be forwarded to the International Centre for Electronic Navigational Charts for validation and release”. It added further that, “in the last one year, the NNHO has produced a number of nautical products which are currently used by Nigerian Navy ships and establishments. These include harbour chart of Nigerian Navy Ship BEECROFT and Nigerian Naval Dockyard Limited water fronts, port guide of Lagos harbour and operations charts of the entire Eastern Naval Command. Others are maneuvering sheets for tactical navigation and a number of training charts among others”.

It will be recalled that the International Hydrographic Community, particularly the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO), has acknowledged the strides made by the Nigerian Navy in chart production. Consequently, the UKHO has accepted gradual hand over of the survey data covering Nigerian waters which are held in their archive and also to adopt NNHO’s charts rather than producing new ones. This is a confirmation that NNHO’s nautical products meet international (IHO) standards. The NNHO wishes to maintain this standard to facilitate safety of navigation within Nigerian waters and seamless takeover of the charting functions of Nigerian waters from UKHO.

In line with the coordination role of the NN in Hydrography, the NNHO is also currently developing a harmonized Standard Operating Procedures to guide all hydrographic survey activities conducted in Nigerian waters by private survey companies and sister government agencies. This would ensure that data received from any of these survey companies/government agencies are accurate enough to be included in a chart.

Blue Economy in a Nutshell
By Cdre Sunday Daniel Atakpa

Earth's land-based resources are fast depleting on account of rising global population and the tragedy of the commons phenomenon. The tragedy of the commons embodies the economic-cum-ecological philosophy in which shared natural resources are exploited and overexploited without due regard to resource finiteness, particularly in an unregulated environment. It imperils, deliberately or unintentionally, future generations' chances to profit from the same resources, thereby making it the predominant factor inimical to sustainability. Land-based resources have borne the brunt of this plundering over the years because man, by nature, is terrestrial and therefore a subjugator of the terra firma as a global common. This negative impact becomes significantly evident when viewed against rising global population which hit the 7 billionth mark on 31 October 2011 and estimated to peak between 9 and10 billion by 2050.

To meet the resource needs of the rising global population amidst earth’s dwindling land-based resources, the ocean, for now, (the author believes the outer space would be the next) has been singled out as the generation-next resource base. The ocean is targeted because of its resource endowment and capabilities. It is capable of providing a means of livelihood for over 3 billion people, generating over US$ 2.4 trillion per annum, as well as creating over 3 billion jobs and employment amongst others. Of these global estimates, Nigeria’s maritime economy alone is believed to have the capacity for creating and generating over 40 million jobs and N7 trillion annually. However, these enormous ocean potentials expose it to the likelihood of suffering the same tragedy that characterized land-based resource extraction. Thus, to regulate, with the intent of preventing the likely carry-over of the tragedy of the commons from land to the oceans, the blue economy was conceived as a global response to the sustainable exploitation of ocean resources.

Prof Gunter Pauli first used the term blue economy in 2010 as a wealth creation strategy through nature-inspired derivatives on the basis of environmental correctness. Pauli’s focus, at best, was on land-based resources. The term, however, evolved into its current conception as a purely ocean-based and ocean-related concept through the Rio+20 declaration of 2012. The Small Island Developing States (SIDS) at the Rio+20 conference had advocated for the sustainable use of their ocean resources against the backdrop of their peculiar challenges of limited land resources, environmental/ecological vulnerabilities through natural disasters as well geographic remoteness and isolation which does not offer them as much economic footprint as mainland nations. Their significant numerical strength of 52 out of 194 United Nations member states provided them with the requisite negotiating leverage. Thus, the blue economy first gained traction with SIDS and later with mainland coastal states.

At the core of the global blue economy concept is the concurrent pursuit of economic growth from the oceans, while at the same time maintaining, at all times, healthy oceans to service succeeding generations. Before the advent of the blue economy, national socioeconomic development had always been at the expense of environment well-being. Therefore, the blue economy seeks to de-couple socioeconomic development from environmental degradation for enhanced national development. The blue in the concept derives from the characteristic blue colour of the ocean. Although the sky possesses similar blue colour, it however does not serve as a resource medium, at least for the moment.

The economics of a blue economy includes, besides traditional fishing and shipping, innovative ocean exploitation for marine biotechnology, deep sea mining, maritime tourism and renewable ocean energy amongst others. The blue economy, as an ecological economics development strategy, is reinforced by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UNSDG) 14 which advocates the sustainable use of ocean resources. Thus, it can be rightly deduced that the blue economy strategy, as currently championed by its advocates, derives its international legitimacy from the UNSDG 14. The UNSDG is the developmental strategy successor to the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). It is a collection of 17 purposeful development goals and 169 targets to drive the goals adopted by the UN in 2015 with a 2030 fulfilment agenda. The UNSDG is universally binding on all UN member states, unlike the MDG which made distinction between developed and developing member states.

A cardinal focus of UNSDG in general and Goal 14 in particular is the principle of sustainability or sustainable development. Sustainable development, as conceived by the Brundtland Commission of 1987, is development that meets the need of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. The sustainable development of nations, particularly littoral states, from the oceans is therefore the raison d’être of blue economy. Thus, blue economy symbolizes and comprehends that form of maritime economy which employs effective regulation through ocean governance regime to achieve ocean sustainability for enhanced economic growth and improved citizenry well-being. A proper understanding of the concept begins with the understanding that all littoral states operate one form of maritime economy or the other by default. While the maritime economy exploited ocean resources under a tragedy of the commons principle, blue economy seeks to exploit ocean resources under an international sustainable development framework. Thus, the sustainability constituent of blue economy differentiates it from its age-old traditional maritime economy variant.

A balanced study of, and research on blue economy would inexorably be predicated on sustainable development theory which stands out as an appropriate theoretical framework for blue economy researches. The sustainable development theoretical framework advocates that economic development must go side-by-side environmental sustainability and social well-being in a manner as not to imperil future generations’ chances of developing therefrom. It is represented by the balanced intersection of the environment, society and economy. There have been differing views on the prioritization of the 3 components of sustainable development. Some scholars have advocated the allocation of greater weight to environment while others have advocated similar weight for society. There is, however, a general consensus on the allocation of the least weight to the economy, which has been the stimulus for the overexploitation of earth’s resources over the years with its attendant anti-sustainability outcomes.

The scientific measurement of ocean sustainability in an all-inclusive environmental, social and economic manner has been a major challenge in the assessment of the developmental impacts of blue economy since its inception. This challenge is an inherent constraint of the sustainability concept. It is for this reason that marine data (scientific ocean data comprising biological, chemical, oceanographic, meteorological and geological data) and maritime data (economic ocean data composed of blue economy investment data and percentage contribution of ocean resources to national Gross Domestic Product etc) constitute fundamental aspects of blue economy assessments. In the absence of adequate and relevant data, when and where needed, computing sustainability becomes difficult, if not impossible, and ultimately defeats the essence of the blue economy. These data which make up the blue economy statistics, are expected to provide decision makers with accurate information necessary for good planning for activities in the maritime domain consistent with ocean sustainability principles. Principal ocean sustainability principles include the establishment of Marine Protected Areas (MPA) and Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) regimes amongst others. These principles and practices give full effect to the sustainable development constituent of blue economy when effectively administered.

The MSP exemplifies the coordination of all maritime stakeholders within a given national maritime space for regulated and non-conflicting activities within the space with respect to who does what, when, where, why and how. Similarly, MPA ensures that certain maritime spaces are protected from ecosystem degradation within specified periods or ad infinitum. In essence, under MSP, the coordinator plans and administers national maritime space for the prevention of the tragedy of the commons. Thus, MSP plays a most critical role in the actualization of sustainable development under a blue economy. Consequently, littoral states seeking to emplace blue economy regimes must of necessity establish effective MSP where there is none, or strengthen existing MSP (which in reality may exist by other nomenclatures) where they are weak.

Three countries, one in Europe (Republic of Ireland) and 2 in Africa (Republics of Seychelles and South Africa) provide exemplary models for the establishment of blue economy. Ireland started her blue economy project in 2012 through an Integrated Marine Plan under the Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth (HOOW) policy. Under the Plan, Ireland established 8 blue economy enablers comprising the Clean Green Marine, maritime security and Research and Development (R&D) amongst others. Similarly, Seychelles started her blue economy project in 2015 by establishing the Blue Economy Strategy Roadmap Implementation (BESRI), Blue Economy Department (BED) under the Ministry of Finance, Blue Economy Research Institute (BERI), MSP Infrastructure and MPAs.11 Also, South Africa established her blue economy in 2014 through Operation Phakisa by establishing Ocean Economy Labs (OEL), an Ocean Act, an integrated ocean governance regime, national MSP and a Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) for the blue economy under the Presidency.

The 3 model countries provide the essential and mandatory frameworks required for the establishment and effective operationalization of the blue economy. These are credible legal and task specific institutional frameworks as well as MSP, maritime security and R&D amongst others. The net importance of these policies and frameworks are evident in their respective pre and post blue economy era Human Development Indices (HDI), which is the United Nations gold standard for the evaluation of national development. Ireland had HDI of 0.902 in 2012 and 0.923 in 2016, while Seychelles had 0.756 in 2014 And 0.782 in 2016. Meanwhile, South Africa’s blue economy project created 220 jobs and secured US$32.1 million in stakeholders’ investments in the first year of its implementation. It is also estimated to contribute US$ 1.3 billion to the GDP and create over one million jobs by 2033.Thus, the establishment of a well-articulated legal and institutional frameworks, as the blue economy first order of business, is a sine qua non. Relatedly, the emplacement of an effective maritime security, R&D and the maintenance of adequate and accessible national marine/maritime databank must of necessity follow up on the legal and institutional frameworks in order for blue economy to thrive credibly.

Blue Economy:The Nigerian Challenge
By Cdre Sunday Daniel Atakpa

Three countries considered as being in the forefront of blue economy implementation – Republics of Ireland, Seychelles and South Africa – provide would-be implementers of blue economy with useful lessons. The lessons include the need for well-articulated blue economy policy, robust legal and institutional frameworks, effective maritime security as well as adequate and accessible marine and maritime data among others. Two of these lessons, blue economy legal and institutional frameworks, would be discussed in this piece. It is important to establish from the outset that blue economy legal and institutional frameworks are intrinsically linked because the former precipitates the latter, and both are triggered by blue economy policy. blue economy policy articulates the policy direction of littoral states (although landlocked states can also emplace blue economy policies subject to the provisions of Arts 71 and 87 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) for the attainment of sustainable development from the ocean. The 2012 Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth (HOOW) policy document of the Republic of Ireland, the Blue Economy Strategy Roadmap Implementation (BESRI) of the Republic of Seychelles and the Operation Phakisa policy document of the Republic of South Africa were initiated preparatory to the establishment of blue economy regimes in the respective countries. One unique blue economy principle that featured in the three different policies is the centrality of Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) to an operative blue economy. The MSP would be discussed in detail in subsequent editions. In Nigeria, the 2 developed maritime economy sectors are the shipping and fisheries sectors. There is however currently no single comprehensive policy bridging these 2 sectors under a maritime economy regime. Nigeria’s shipping policy (considered obsolete) is a stand-alone policy. Similarly, the Agricultural Promotion Policy (2016–2020) addresses agricultural objectives to the exclusion of fisheries which the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) superintends. Meanwhile, the National Fisheries Development Committee (NFDC), which is the highest policy formulating body on fisheries matters in Nigeria, appears to operate in isolation from FMARD. Thus, there is no fusion of policies between key maritime stakeholders. This does not allow for synergized ocean economy development and accountability. More importantly, this form of arrangement betrays the essence of MSP which aims at unifying and coordinating all maritime stakeholders in the national maritime space for the attainment of ocean sustainability alongside economic development through shared and common policy direction. The shared policy objectives are in turn translated into legal and institutional frameworks necessary for driving national blue economy regimes.

Legal Framework

The blue economy legal framework connotes legislative enactments for the establishment of blue economy under a balanced 3-dimensional (economy, environment and society) development. To give effect to her blue economy policy, the Republic of South Africa established the Ocean Act and the Integrated Ocean Governance regime. The Ocean Act was necessary to give Operation Phakisa the force of law as a blue economy component of South Africa’s national development plan 2030. Operation Phakisa created 220 jobs and secured USD 32.1 million in stakeholder’s investments in the first year of its implementation. Similarly, the United States of America (USA) Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act (MSA) of 1976 was amended in 2007 to enable her achieve long-term sustainability in fisheries. The amendment instituted a fish consumption regime whereby about 85 per cent of USA fish consumption is caught, grown or processed in other countries, thus allowing her time to replenish her domestic fish stocks. Although this has its disadvantage because each fish bought from a country with less stringent sustainability standards contributes to the decline of global fisheries. Notwithstanding, the regime helped the USA to sustainably grow her ocean economy which contributed USD359 billion to her GDP and created 3 million jobs and 149,000 business establishments in 2013; up from significantly lower figures in the pre-amendment era. Thus, the enactment of sustainable maritime legislations (where there is none) and amendment of obsolete ones to accommodate sustainability principles is a prerequisite for the establishment of blue economy. Some of Nigeria’s shipping and fisheries laws have generated areas of operational conflict and duplication of statutory functions while others are simply obsolete requiring amendment. For instance, there exist marginal conflict areas between the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) operations and some other maritime agencies (inadvertently created by their establishment acts and deliberately exploited by their respective operators). This has led to inter-agency rivalries, loss of national revenue and a clog in the wheel of progress in some instances. Similarly, Nigeria’s Sea Fisheries Act 1992 does not have provision for Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (IUUF) and other evolving fisheries sustainability principles not envisaged at the time of its drafting. Thus, for Nigeria to emplace a blue economy regime, there is the need to rejig her obsolete legislations to conform to present day ocean sustainability realities.

Institutional Framework

The blue economy institutional framework covers the gamut of administrative and operational maritime entities established through legislative frameworks to actualize blue economy sustainable development objectives. The MSP is usually pivotal in blue economy institutional framework. It blends effective and judicious utilization of national maritime space by all maritime stakeholders through professional coordination. The MSP administrator is a versatile maritime expert per excellence. The Republic of Seychelles created the Blue Economy Department (BED) in 2015 to administer her blue economy project. Since its establishment, the BED (which actually matches her small economy of USD1.5 billion GDP and a population of less than 100 thousand as against Nigeria’s over USD 490 billion GDP and a population of over 180 million) has been the sole administrator of the country’s blue economy and answers to the central government on all blue economy matters. Similarly, under Operation Phakisa, a Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) domiciled in the Presidency provides the Presidency with a weekly monitoring report on the country’s blue economy. These mechanisms establish proper coordination and accountability for both countries’ blue economy regimes. Nigeria’s array of maritime institutions includes NPA, NIMASA, Nigeria Shippers Council (NSC), Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) Oron, Federal Department of Fisheries (FDF) and the Nigerian Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research (NIOMR) among others. The existence of some of these institutions under different ministries that operate independent of the other does not allow for proper coordination of the blue economy activities and proper accountability for the blue economy worth of the nation. Also, such arrangement tends to put a strain on national budget through different budgeting arrangements.

A Way Forward

Hereunder is a suggested progressive approach to the establishment of a blue economy in Nigeria. The first task is to establish a blue economy policy by constituting a team of maritime, economic and ecological experts to fashion out an all-inclusive blue economy policy. I designate this team the Blue Economy Implementation Strategy Team (BEIST). The Team is to, among other things, conduct lectures, town hall meetings, conferences and seminars and workshops on blue economy with maritime stakeholders across the country with the aim of collating their respective views on the planned blue economy regime. The Team is to articulate the different stakeholders’ positions into a policy direction for the blue economy. Stakeholders are generally composed of government and non-governmental bodies. The governmental bodies include but not limited to Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) such as the Federal Ministries of Transport, FMAD, Environment, Culture and Tourism, Nigerian Navy, NIMASA, NPA, NSC, FDF, NIOMR, National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) and MAN. The non-governmental bodies on the other hand include shipping companies under the aegis of Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), fishing companies under the aegis of Nigerian Trawler Owners Association (NITOA), the academia under the aegis of Nigerian Maritime universities and Institutes (NMUI), Maritime Writers Association of Nigeria among others. The BEIST is to draft a Blue Economy Bill (BEB) from the articulated views/comments and expert inputs of stakeholders. The Bill is to include among others, the establishment of a MSP authority. The body could be a coordinating ministry, department or agency empowered to superintend all blue economy stakeholders in the country. The blue economy coordinating ministry, department or agency is to be headed by an administrator who is a distinguished maritime expert in both professional competence and high moral rectitude whose primary focus would be selfless service to the nation. These strategies, in my humble view, would serve as the very first step in the establishment of a credible blue economy for Nigeria.