The European Commission has proposed a new approach to a sustainable blue economy in the EU for industries and sectors related to the oceans, seas and coasts. A sustainable blue economy is crucial to achieving the objectives of the European Green Deal and to ensuring a green and inclusive recovery from the pandemic.
All sectors of the blue economy, including fisheries, aquaculture, coastal tourism, maritime transport, port activities and shipbuilding, will have to reduce their environmental and climate impact. Addressing the climate crisis and the biodiversity crisis requires healthy seas and sustainable use of their resources in order to create alternatives to fossil fuels and traditional food production.
The transition to a sustainable blue economy requires investment in innovative technologies: wave and tidal energy, algae production, the development of innovative fishing gear or the restoration of marine ecosystems will contribute to the creation of new jobs and green businesses in the blue economy.
The notice sets out a detailed programme for the blue economy:
- To achieve the objectives of climate neutrality and zero pollution, in particular through the development of offshore renewable energy, the decarbonisation of maritime transport and the greening of ports. A sustainable ocean energy mix that includes floating wind energy, thermal energy, wave and tidal energy could generate a quarter of EU electricity in 2050. Ports are essential for the connectivity and economy of the regions and countries of Europe and could be used as energy poles;
- To move to a circular economy and reduce pollution - including through renewed rules on the design of fishing gear, ship recycling and dismantling of offshore platforms and measures to reduce the dispersion of plastics and microplastics;
- To preserve biodiversity and investing in nature - 30 % protection of the surface of EU seas will reverse biodiversity loss, increase fish stocks, will contribute to climate change mitigation and resilience and generate significant financial and social benefits. The environmental impacts of fishing on marine habitats will be further reduced;
- To support climate change adaptation and coastal zone resilience - adaptation activities such as the development of green infrastructure in coastal areas and the protection of coastlines against the risk of erosion and flooding will help to preserve biodiversity and landscapes, while benefiting tourism and the coastal economy;
- To ensure sustainable food production - sustainable production of fish products and new rules for their marketing, use of algae and marine plants, tighter control of fishing, In addition to cell-based research and innovation in fish products, they will help preserve European seas. With the adoption of the EU strategic guidelines for sustainable aquaculture, the Commission has also committed itself to developing sustainable aquaculture in the EU;
- To improve the management of maritime space that will stimulate a cooperative exchange for the sustainable use of the marine environment (the new Blue Forum for Sea Users which was created for the purpose of coordinating the dialogue between offshore operators, stakeholders and scientists engaged in areas such as fisheries, aquaculture, maritime transport, tourism, renewable energy and other activities). A report on the implementation of the EU Maritime Spatial Planning Directive will be published in 2022, following the adoption of national maritime spatial plans in March 2021.
The Commission will also continue to create the conditions for an internationally sustainable blue economy following the agenda of international ocean governance.