WASHINGTON — In the lead up to this week’s ‘Our Ocean’ conference hosted by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington D.C., a new World Bank report released examines how the transition to a ‘blue economy’ for Caribbean countries can not only generate growth, but also help countries gain greater resilience to external shocks by better preserving the ocean.

“The Caribbean Sea represents a tremendous economic asset for the region not only in terms of high value natural resources such as fish stocks, oil and gas, but also as a global hotspot for marine diversity and tourism. Maintaining ocean health is synonymous with growing ocean wealth, and finding this balance is how we’ll be able to better invest in the Caribbean blue economy,” said Pawan Patil, World Bank Senior Economist and co-author of the report.

The report ‘Toward a Blue Economy: A Promise for Sustainable Growth in the Caribbean’ estimates that Caribbean waters generated US$407 billion in 2012, which represents more than 17 percent of Caribbean GDP, including mainland countries. This amount mainly comes from cargo shipped through Caribbean waters, tourism and oil and gas production. In recent years, revenues from aquaculture have risen, but declined for open sea capture fisheries.