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World Maritime Day: ensuring the sustainable use of the ocean to boost the blue economy

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World Maritime Day, promoted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), takes place every year on the fourth Thursday of September, highlighting the sustainable use of the ocean and the need to establish standards for safety, security and environmental performance in international shipping.

In addition, 2023 marks the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the MARPOL Convention.
MARPOL Convention
the main international treaty dedicated to preventing and minimizing pollution of the marine environment from ships, whether operational or accidental. Among other measures, it prohibits the discharge of plastic garbage into the sea and the disposal of operational waste, such as garbage and sewage.

Today, the shipping industry accounts for 80% of the world’s trade volume and contributes to the transportation of millions of people around the globe. It is therefore also one of the major drivers of the tourism sector, as almost one third of all tourism activity in Europe takes place in coastal regions.

Likewise, maritime transport is one of the fundamental pillars of the blue economy, a sector that encompasses all activities related to the sea, with the ocean as the main engine of growth and innovation to achieve sustainable economic development.

The blue economy generates $2.5 trillion a year in global wealth, which, in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), is equivalent to the seventh largest economy on the planet. Activities such as sustainable fishing and aquaculture employ more than 350 million people globally and, in Europe alone, create some 4.5 million jobs.

Spain provides an ideal scenario for the development of the blue economy with almost 8,000 square kilometers of coastline. It accounts for 5% of employment in our country and is capable of generating 945,000 jobs. In addition, it accounts for 3% of gross value added (GVA), amounting to 32.7 billion euros per year. This makes it the leader in this economic sector in Europe, ahead of other neighboring countries such as France (1.4% of employment and 1% of GVA), Italy (2.3% and 1.5%, respectively) and the United Kingdom (3.2% and 1%).

However, considering that more than 3 billion people around the world depend on the marine and coastal biodiversity for their own livelihoods, the profitability of these activities makes it necessary to highlight the need for an ocean that enjoys a good health to ensure its future.