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Deepak Kumar Kundu Environmental Economics International Environment

Blue Economy: Navigating a Sustainable Path to Enhance Bangladesh’s Economic Growth

Blue Economy: Navigating a Sustainable Path to Enhance Bangladesh’s Economic Growth

Deepak Kumar Kundu
Economist & Socio-Economic Expert

The Blue Economy is a relatively new idea in Bangladesh, yet it has enormous promise. Bangladesh has the potential to become a key participant in the global Blue Economy due to its extensive coastline and abundant marine resources.

The Blue Economy is a new economic sector that focuses on the long-term utilization of ocean resources for economic growth, job creation, and higher living standards. Bangladesh may obtain a competitive advantage in the global economy by using its marine resources and improving the welfare of its coastal inhabitants.

Bangladesh has a 710-kilometer-long coastline along the Bay of Bengal. Furthermore, the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) extends up to 200 nautical miles, allowing access to diverse marine resources. The Bay of Bengal is an important maritime route for worldwide trade and is rich in fisheries, marine biodiversity, and mineral resources.

Through the research and exploitation of its blue economy, this unique geographical location has presented the country with significant economic growth and sustainable development prospects. The blue economy is a novel way to attain sustainable development that capitalizes on the potential of ocean-based resources such as fisheries, shipping, tourism, renewable energy, and other marine-related industries.

Fishing has been practiced in Bangladesh since prehistoric times. Today, the sector significantly contributes to the country’s economy, with fish and fish products accounting for over 13% of total exports in 2019-20. In 2017, the fishing industry alone contributed USD 585 million to the country’s G.D.P. in 2019-201&2.  

To maximize the full potential of Bangladesh’s blue economy, the government should prioritize infrastructure and technology investments and implement appropriate institutional frameworks and laws. Furthermore, the government should work on fostering an environment conducive to private sector investment in the blue economy. Moreover, efforts should be undertaken to improve coastal populations’ livelihoods and encourage sustainable management of the country’s marine resources.

Bangladesh has set several goals to promote the sustainable development of its blue economy. The government’s 7th Five Year Plan (2016-2020) and Vision 2041 emphasize the importance of the blue economy and its potential to drive economic growth and development in the country. These goals include promoting aquaculture, fisheries, shipping, tourism, and renewable energy development.

To ensure the sustainable use of the country’s maritime resources, the government has put in place various laws and regulations, including the Coastal Zone Policy (2005) and the Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) (2016-2021).

The CZMP aims to manage and regulate the use of the coastal zone to ensure its sustainable development and conservation. The plan includes measures such as setting limits on fishing quotas, designating protected areas, regulating development activities, and monitoring the health of marine ecosystems.

Therefore, the government of Bangladesh is taking various steps to promote sustainable development and conservation of the country’s maritime resources, as outlined in the 7th Five Year Plan, Vision 2041, the Coastal Zone Policy, and the CZMP.

Despite the progress made in recent years, much more needs to be done to realize the potential of Bangladesh’s blue economy fully. This will require increased investment in infrastructure, technology, and institutional frameworks and a concerted effort to create an enabling environment for the private sector to invest in the blue economy.

Table 1: The contribution of the fisheries sector to Bangladesh’s G.D.P.

Year G.D.P. Contribution (USD million)
2019-20 585
2018-19 595
2017-18 575
Source: Directorate of Fisheries

Prospects of Blue Economy in Bangladesh

According to various studies and reports, including the World Bank’s 2019 report ‘Towards a Blue Economy: A Promise for Sustainable Growth in Bangladesh’3 and the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies’ 2016 report4 ‘Blue Economy and Sustainable Development in Bangladesh,’ Bangladesh’s blue economy has the potential to generate significant economic value and employment opportunities.

The studies estimate that the blue economy in Bangladesh could contribute up to 4.5% of the country’s GDP, generate up to 4 million jobs, and create up to $42 billion in value-added by 2030, assuming sustainable management and development of the country’s maritime resources.

The aquaculture sector, in particular, has seen substantial expansion in recent years, with the value of fish production exceeding $1.4 billion in 2019. Seaweed farming and marine biotechnology are also generating money, with an estimated 2,500 people engaged in the seaweed business alone.

Furthermore, the Blue Economy provides an enormous opportunity for the country’s maritime sector. The Seaport at Chattagram is the largest port in Bangladesh, and the government is spending extensively on expanding other ports and marine infrastructure.

This is intended to significantly enhance the flow of goods and services, resulting in greater economic activity and job creation. Finally, the Blue Economy can play a crucial role in Bangladesh’s efforts to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals, particularly in creating jobs, reducing poverty, and protecting the environment.

Challenges of Blue Economy in Bangladesh

Despite the potential benefits of the Blue Economy, there are also significant challenges that Bangladesh must overcome.

The lack of effective governance and institutional arrangements for the sustainable management of marine resources is a significant challenge. Illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing is also a major problem that needs to be addressed.

Climate change and its impact on the marine environment, including sea-level rise and increased frequency of natural disasters, threaten the sustainable management of marine resources. Additionally, the lack of infrastructure, such as ports and storage facilities, is also a significant challenge for the development of the Blue Economy.


The Blue Economy is a promising approach to sustainable development brimming with economic growth opportunities and long-term outcomes in Bangladesh. With its vast coastline and rich marine resources, the country has enormous potential for economic growth and job creation through the sustainable use of these resources.

However, to realize the potential of the Blue Economy, Bangladesh needs effective governance and institutional arrangements for the sustainable management of marine resources.

The government must prioritize infrastructure and technological investment while establishing appropriate institutional frameworks and regulations. Furthermore, investments should be made to improve the livelihoods of coastal communities and promote sustainable management of the country’s marine resources. Additionally, addressing IUU fishing, climate change, and the lack of infrastructure are significant challenges the country must overcome.



  1. Directorate of Fisheries’ Annual Report 2020
  2. Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock. (2020). Coastal Zone Management Plan. Retrieved from https://www.mofl.gov.bd/
  3. World Bank. (2019). Towards a Blue Economy: A Promise for Sustainable Growth in Bangladesh. Retrieved from  https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/bangladesh/publication/towards-a-blue-economy-a-promise-for-sustainable-growth-in-bangladesh
  4. Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS). (2016). Blue Economy and Sustainable Development in Bangladesh. Retrieved from https://www.bcas.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Blue-Economy-and-Sustainable-Development-in-Bangladesh.pdf

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