Blue growth | S-cube
Written by Isaac Grixti
Blue growth is currently one of the hot topics in the economy right now. This is due to the fact that the seas are constantly polluted and overexploited, and therefore a solution must be found. Various entities such as the EU have launched initiatives due to the fact that a large percentage of Europeans
people live near the sea, so there is a huge missed opportunity. Therefore, a number of
goals and targets have been set to improve the situation. A number of benefits that blue growth can have include improving coastal economies, improving the quality of life for those involved, which ranges from benefits for business owners to ordinary working class families, as well stimulation of the local economy through ecotourism. and tourism in general. There are also a number of concerns about the blue economy. Climate change, for example, is a huge problem, as its effects can extend from the deep sea to coastal regions. It is also known that climate change can affect sea temperature, which in turn can affect some commercially important species. Population growth and overfishing are also very worrying factors that need to be addressed if blue growth is to thrive. It is therefore concluded that blue growth is worth investing in. Although there are multiple challenges, in this review it is seen that it has multiple benefits, now and also for future generations.
So… what is blue growth?
It is considered as an economic expansion that includes the developments made according to the potential of the coasts, seas and oceans. This includes the creation of new infrastructure and jobs that coexist successfully with components of the marine environment. This involves setting up a long-term framework to invest in marine projects with the aim of converting these investments into monetary and socio-economic returns. Blue growth boosts initiatives related to the growth of marine sectors because the sea is perceived as “the engine of the world economy”. It is estimated that the blue economy strategy alone creates around 5.4 million job opportunities and in European areas alone it generates an astonishing gross amount of 500 billion euros. In the United States, the Blue Initiative has contributed approximately US$350 million to annual GDP and supported approximately 3.1 million jobs for citizens. This may have helped lift a significant number of people out of poverty through the new employment opportunities created by blue growth. The European Union therefore currently sees the seas as having great potential to boost countries’ economies. This is actually a long term strategy. It is therefore safe to say that blue growth is proving to be a very important strategy and initiative for a number of stakeholders around the world.
Stakeholders involved in blue growth include:
- Business owners and entrepreneurs
- Policy Makers
- Society as a whole
Over time, there has been an increase in awareness through studies and also published articles regarding the blue economy. Undoubtedly, blue growth has faced a number of challenges, but also a lot of positives have resulted from the initiatives.
Blue growth challenges and concerns
Blue growth initiatives and activities are gaining popularity, especially in some countries in the
EU. However, blue growth has faced a number of challenges and drawbacks over the years. A
a particular challenge is that there must be a common infrastructure of institutions for several countries. If countries work together in this case, there would be more efficient profits while preserving fish stocks and marine ecosystems for future generations. One of the main limitations of managing blue growth initiatives is the fact that there can be a lack of data and it is known to be very problematic when it comes to planning blue growth strategies . We know that the more complex the system to be managed, the more data we need. It is also important to consider that obtaining new data is extremely expensive and therefore it is essential to learn new ways to better analyze this existing data in order to obtain more effective measures on how blue growth can be exploited. Due to recent advancements in data science, it has become apparent that a significant amount of data could literally be “mined” from data already present and existing.
Endangered species, overfishing and ever-growing populations.
Another major challenge that has affected blue growth initiatives is the presence of threatened populations and
the threatened species. These species may be threatened mainly due to certain fishing activities, which capture these species as bycatch. Bycatch is the capture of an organism that is not intended to be captured. It is important to mention that a healthy and thriving ecosystem can secure fish stocks for years to come, which will set up a positive cascading effect, especially in the blue growth economy. Improving the economy, apart from improving the quality of life of the population working in the blue growth sector, can also influence future policy makers to invest more in this forward-looking field. It is therefore important to work on the challenge of safeguarding stocks of endangered and threatened species.
New fishing methods are proving very destructive to natural ecosystems. In fact, due to
overfishing activities, for example, more than a third of the species of rays and sharks are pushed towards
extinction and this is due to the fact that we humans are facing a shortage of food due to ever-increasing populations. It is said that overfishing indeed has a cascading effect on marine systems, and that it goes far beyond damage to fish stocks. In addition to the fact that annual subsidies (about $150 million per year) are given to trawlers (which constantly damage deep-sea ecosystems and biota), there are large subsidies given to these trawlers for fuel, which is usually diesel. Illegal catches are also problematic. Unfortunately, when fishing vessels are about 200 miles out to sea, it is very difficult for law enforcement to intervene. Additionally, unsustainable fishing can result in the loss of billions of dollars due to lack of fish stocks.
Climate change is another issue currently facing blue growth initiatives. Change the water
and atmospheric temperatures have caused some commercially important species to migrate at different times of the year, compared to previously thought annual migration patterns. Changes in water temperature can serve as cues for marine organisms such as pelagic species to leave certain areas. In Malta for example, Coryphaena hippurus, known locally as lampuki, has a particular time when it approaches the islands. This fish is highly sought after commercially and the profits from the catch can affect the livelihoods of fishermen, who depend on the annual migrations of these fish to earn money. If these fish do not pass during this time of the season, which begins on August 15 each year, the families of these fishermen could face financial hardship due to the lack of catches. If few stocks of fish were present, it would significantly inflate the prices, which would create a drastic cascading effect on the population of consumers or fishers as well. For example, according to the Maltese newspaper ‘maltatoday’, it was stated that at the end of September, when prices are usually €4 per kilo, consumers had to pay up to €11.50 per kilo !
Benefits of Blue Growth
- Due to the stabilization of the blue economy, many sectors can be positively affected. A blue economy contributes to global climate change mitigation measures. This is because more renewable energy sources found offshore, such as offshore wind turbines, are being built, in hopes of reducing the use of fossil fuels. This measure also aims to reduce emissions from ships and other maritime vessels. A more sustainable blue economy also involves recycling equipment and materials that go into shipbuilding.
- Due to blue growth initiatives, the conservation of economically important marine species has been very important. Coastal economies can sometimes only thrive through fishing activities. If certain stocks of certain fish species are not, local and global economies could suffer. The increase in the number of economically important marine species ensures food security for many future generations. This is largely necessary due to the fact that the world’s population is not decreasing and therefore there must be a large food supply to feed the people.
It can be concluded that blue growth is a new and exciting sector worth investing in, planning
and initiation. Along with the extra benefits it provides, it adds more reasons why we should
preserve the natural environment and also more reasons why we should try to reduce climate change. This is because climate change mitigation ensures reduced changes in sea temperatures, which can improve the chances of more ‘regular’ fish stocks. The advantages and limitations that are mentioned have all proposed cascading effects, if not short-term, then long-term.