Blue Growth

Blue Growth is currently one of the hot topics in the economy at the moment. This is due to the fact that the seas are constantly being polluted and overfished, and therefore a solution needs to be found. Various entities such as the EU have started initiatives due to the fact that a large percentage of European populations live close to the sea, so there is a huge opportunity missed. Because of this, a number of objectives and targets have been set to improve the situation. A number of benefits which blue growth may have includes improvements of coastal economies, improving the quality of life of the people involved which ranges benefits from the business owners to ordinary working class families, and also a boost of the local economy due to eco-tourism and tourism in general. There are also a number of concerns when It comes to the blue economy. Climate change for instance is a huge problem, since its effects may range from the deep sea, to the coastal regions. It is also known that climate change may effect sea temperature, which may in turn effect certain commercially important species. Growing populations and overfishing are also very concerning factors which need to be addressed if blue growth is to flourish. It Is concluded therefore that blue growth is worthy of 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 to be economic expansion, including developments based on the potential of coasts, seas and oceans. This includes the creation of new infrastructure and jobs which are coexisting successfully with components of the marine environment. This involves the implementation of a long-term framework in order to invest in marine projects with the aims to convert these investments into monetary and socioeconomic yields. Blue growth boosts initiatives which have to do with the growth of marine sectors as the sea is seen to be as “engines of the global economy”. It is estimated that that the blue economy strategy alone creates around 5.4 million job opportunities and in the European zones alone, it generates an astonishing 500 billion euro gross. In the U.S, the blue initiative contributed to around 350 million U.S dollars to the annual GDP and has supported around 3.1 million jobs to citizens. This has possibly helped a significant number of people in coming out of poverty due to new job opportunities created by the Blue Growth. The European Union therefore currently considers the seas in having great potential in order to boost countries’ economies. It is in fact considered to be a long term strategy. It is safe to say therefore that the Blue Growth is showing to be a very significant strategy and initiative to a number of stakeholders across the globe.

The stakeholders which are involved in blue growth include:

  • Business owners and entrepreneurs
  • Scientists
  • Policy makers
  • Society as a whole

By time, there has been an increase in awareness due to studies and also articles published regarding the blue economy. Undoubtedly, blue growth has faced a number of challenges but also a lot of positives have resulted from the initiatives.

Challenges and Concerns of Blue Growth

Blue Growth initiatives and activities have been growing in popularity, especially in certain countries in the EU. However, Blue Growth has faced a number of challenges and drawbacks throughout the years. One particular challenge is that there needs to be a common infrastructure of institutions for multiple countries. If countries work together in this case, there would be more efficient profits while also safeguarding fish stocks and marine ecosystems for future generations. One of the main limitations in the management of blue growth initiatives is the fact that there might be a lack of data and it is known to be very problematic when it comes to planning of blue growth strategies. It is known that, the more complex the system which needs to be managed is, the more data needs to be available. It is also important to consider that to obtain new data, it is extremely expensive, and so, it is vital to learn new ways on how this existing data can be better analysed to obtain more efficient measures on how blue growth can be exploited. Due to recent advances in data sciences, it has been evident that a significant amount of data could literally be “squeezed out” from the already present and existing data.

Threatened Species, Overfishing and ever-growing populations.

Another main challenge which has effected blue growth initiatives is the presence of threatened and endangered species. These species may be threatened primarily due to certain fishing activities, which catch these species as bycatch. Bycatch is the capture of an organism which has not been intended to catch. It is important to mention that a healthy and thriving ecosystem can ensure fish stocks for the coming years, which will put in place a positive cascade effect, especially in the blue growth economy. Improved economy, besides improving the quality of life of the population working in the blue growth sector may also influence future policy makers to invest more in this prospective area. It is therefore important to work on the challenge of safeguarding stocks of endangered and threatened species.


New methods of fishing are proving to be very destructive to the natural ecosystems. In fact, due to overfishing activities, for instance, over one third of rays and shark species are being pushed towards extinction and it has been due to the fact that us humans, we are facing a shortage of food due to ever-growing populations. It is said that overfishing indeed has a cascading effect on marine systems, and it goes far beyond such as damages to the stocks of fish. Besides the fact that yearly subsidies (around $150 million per year) are given to trawlers (which are constantly damaging deep sea ecosystems and biota), large subsidies are given to these trawlers for fuel, which is usually diesel. Illegal catches are also proving to be problematic. Unfortunately, when fishing vessels are around 200 miles out at sea, it is very difficult for law enforcement to intervene. More-over, unsustainable fishing may cause the loss of billions due to the fact that there would be a shortage of fish stocks.

Climate Change

Climate change is another issue which blue growth initiatives are having to face currently. Changing water and atmospheric temperatures have lead to certain commercially important species to migrate in different times of the year, when compared to previously thought yearly migration patterns. Changing water temperatures may serve as cues in order for marine organisms such as pelagic species to pass from certain areas. In Malta for instance, Coryphaena hippurus, known locally as lampuki has a particular time in which it comes to the vicinity of the islands. This fish is very much sought after commercially and the profits from catches may effect the livelihoods of fishermen, who rely on the yearly migrations of these fish to make money. If these fish do not pass during this time of the season, which happens to start on the 15th of August yearly, the families of these fishermen may struggle financially due to lack of catches. If few of the fish stock would be present, this would drastically inflate the prices, which would create a drastic cascade effect on the population of consumers or of the fishermen as well. For instance, according to the Maltese newspaper “MaltaToday”, it was stated that in the end of September, when prices are usually €4 per kilo, consumers were charged up to a staggering €11.50 per kilo!

Advantages of Blue Growth

  • Due to the stabilisation of the blue economy, many sectors can be affected positively. A blue economy contributes to global climate change mitigation measures. This is due to the fact that more renewable energy sources which are found offshore, such as offshore wind turbines are built, in the hopes of reducing fossil fuel usage. This measure also aims to reduce emmissions of ships and other maritime vessels. A more sustainable blue economy also entails the recycling of equipment and also materials which go into ship building.
  • Due to blue growth initiatives, conservation of economically important marine species has been very important. Sea side economies may sometimes only thrive from fishing activities. If certain stocks of certain fish species are not, local and global economies may suffer. Increasing the numbers of economically important marine species ensures food security for many future generations. This is widely needed due to the fact that the global population is not decreasing and therefore there needs to be a large food supply to feed the populations.

Conclusion

It can be concluded that Blue Growth is a new and exciting sector which is worthy of investment, planning and initiation. In addition to the added benefits which it provides, it adds more reasons on why we should preserve the natural environment and also more reasons why we should try to reduce climate change. This is due to the fact that mitigation of climate change ensures reduced changes to sea temperatures, which may improve the chances of more ‘regular’ fish stocks. The benefits and limitations which are mentioned all have proposed cascade effects, if not in the short run, in the long run.



The views expressed in this article are those of the author and are not reflective of ‘A Bird’s Eye View’ as a whole.


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