The ocean is essential to the livelihoods and food security of billions of people around the globe. Shipping, tourism, transport, fisheries, oil and gas, renewable energy all depend on the sea. 

Two years ago, economists put a dollar value on what our oceans are worth and came up with $24 trillion. If it were a country, the sea would be the seventh-largest economy on the planet.

"When you look at the blue economy, it has an asset value of $24 trillion and that's delivering something between $4-500bn each year in terms of the dividend to humanity," says Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, director of the Global Change Institute. 

"Marine resources are being degraded by human activity throughout the world - that comes down to things like pollution, plastics, degradation of coastal mangroves, climate change, etc.

"But even with the amount of degradation that's going on, we're still deriving great benefits. The real interesting issue is that if we can reverse the tide of degradation, then we should be able to build the $24 trillion asset."

In Indonesia, 70 percent of the population lives along its coastline and depends upon the ocean. But Indonesia is also the second largest plastic waste producer after China

Al Jazeera's Step Vaessen reports on how ocean waste is making its way into our food. Also exploring the blue economy, Jacob Ward reports on how commercial fishermen are dealing with the effects of overfishing.

Also on this episode of Counting the Cost:

Brazil coffee: A fight is brewing in Brazil's coffee industry. Severe drought has hit the country's robusta harvest. Brazil's instant coffee roasters use this grade of bean and they've lobbied the government to allow imports for the first time in its history. The government, however, is faced with strong opposition from coffee farmers who don't want lower prices for their product.

Robot tax: It's something you may hear more about in the future and Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates is all for it. The thinking is as follows: Greater automation is cutting human jobs, so a tax can even the score. Gates may have to convince the Europeans though. The EU parliament says it's preparing a Robot Law. But it won't be dealing with tax, instead what kind of rights to give robots.

Uber sexism: Taxi app company Uber is battling allegations of a sexist work culture. This is the world's most valuable, private company. And that $70b valuation is based on people wanting to use its services in the future, and on its public image, something CEO Travis Kalanick is acutely aware of. He's apologised for the toxic culture at the company after a blog post from a former female employee went viral.

Mobile money market: In Africa, using your phone to send cash is nothing new. Mobile money is something that has helped people who don't have access to a traditional bank account. M-Pesa, which launched in Kenya a decade ago, was one of the pioneers in this space. Last year, it processed about $6bn in transactions. It is now used in 10 countries including Afghanistan, India and Romania. Vodafone director of mobile money Michael Joseph, the former CEO of telecommunications organisation Safaricom, joins us from Johannesburg.

Tesla cars: Tesla's annual report was released this week and it failed to deliver an annual profit. But this company is all about the future. In 2017, it plans to transform into a volume car manufacturer with the hopes of rolling out the Model 3 electric car off the production line in September. Tesla also plans to send a driverless car on a road trip across the US by the end of the year. Tesla CEO Elon Musk also heads SpaceX, which aims to colonise Mars. Musk is also on US President Donald Trump's business advisory council.

Mega mergers: Plenty of ambition was evidenced when the owner of Heinz Tomato Ketchup attempted to buy the owner of Helman's Mayonnaise. US food multinational Kraft Heinz's was willing to pay $143bn for Anglo-Dutch consumer giant Unilever. The takeover would have been the third-biggest in history. But the 17 percent fall in Sterling, since the UK's decision to leave the EU, played a part in the deal's spectacular collapse. Unilever said $143bn wasn't enough. Kraft would be getting some of the world's most recognisable brands on the cheap. Political resistance over UK jobs also meant Heinz was ultimately forced to walk away.

Source: Al Jazeera