Opening Ceremony of Ministerial Workshop on Marine Management and Blue Economic Development for BRI Countries

Image preview


(31st October, 2019, Xiamen)

Oration in the Opening Ceremony of Ministerial
Workshop on Marine Management and Blue Economic
Development for BRI Countries
Athill Dean Jonas, Minister, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and
Barbuda Affairs of Antigua and Barbuda

Hon. Mr. Zhang Yigong, Vice Mayer, Xiamen Municipal Government,
P.R. China,
Hon. Mr. Alvin Martin Da Breo, Minister, Ministry of Climate
Resilience, the Environment, Forestry, Fisheries, Disaster Management
and Information of Grenada with responsibility for Forestry and
Officials, ladies and gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to join with you all to discuss the very
important and timely issue of Marine Management and Blue Economic
Development in the context of the Belt and Road Initiative which was
conceptualized and is now being implemented by the Government and
People of China. The other members of my delegation from the
Caribbean island of Antigua and Barbuda, halfway across the globe,
were also delighted to accept the invitation to participate in the
workshop which is being opened today! Our two countries have had
friendly diplomatic relations since 1983 or over thirty-six years ago. We
have shared our experiences, exchanged ideas, participated in cultural
exchanges and learned from each other over the past three decades.
Antigua and Barbuda continues to value this relationship and the
significant investment that the Government and People of China have
made in our nation’s development. We are therefore confident that we
can also explore mutually beneficial avenues of cooperation as we seek
to develop a sustainable marine management system and blue economic
model that will stand the test of time and assist in preserving our most
important resources, our people.
The oceans are central to sustainable development globally, and
particularly for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and coastal least
developed countries (LDCs). An ocean-based blue economy can include
diverse components, from established ocean industries, such as
fisheries, tourism and maritime transport, to emerging and new
activities, such as offshore renewable energy, aquaculture, deep seabed
extractive activities (where sustainable), and marine biotechnology. The
mix of activities will depend on each country’s unique national
circumstances but will go beyond business as usual by providing social
and economic benefits for current and future generations.
The ocean economy in the Caribbean is estimated to generate gross
revenues of US$407 billion which is equivalent to over 15% of the
estimated value of the global ocean economy (World Bank, 2016). This
is particularly significant as the Caribbean Sea covers less than one
percent of the area of the global ocean. Some of the important steps into
transitioning to a blue economy are an increased reliance on
evidence-based decision making and innovative financing to direct
investments into economic activities that can enhance ocean health. This
is particularly important in the Caribbean where the impacts of natural
disasters and climate change are some of the challenges facing a blue
economy. The 2017 hurricane season is a good example of this, with
damages in our sister island of Barbuda, that accounted for losses of
15% of GDP in Antigua and Barbuda. The uninsured loss to the region
from Hurricane Irma alone are estimated at approximately $15 billion
and insured loss of $40 billion. From Hurricane Maria loss estimates are
between $27 and $48 billion.
The reality is for small island developing states like ours in the
Caribbean, the marine environment is a valuable resource and leaders
must develop a sustainable Blue Economy so that the region can
become resilient to climate change and extreme events. In this context,
Antigua and Barbuda will be hosting a conference in 2020 which is
designed to bring together Ministers, policymakers and technicians
responsible for oceans, fisheries and shipping from Caribbean countries
to explore opportunities for collaboration to pursue sustainable
This blue economy seminar in China which opens here today is
therefore a timely one and will provide important input into the planning
processes for our regional conference in Antigua and Barbuda in March
2020. We look forward to support from China to facilitate this
I express our profound thanks to the Government and People of
China for hosting this seminar in Fujian Province. It is my hope that our
deliberations during the comprehensive program we have before us will
be productive and the friendships formed will be long lasting.
Thank you all very much.