28 March 2023
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The blue economy refers to a sustainable economic model based on the resources and services that the ocean and coastal ecosystems can provide. It focuses on innovation and technological development, leading to wind and wave energy, aquaculture, marine biotechnology and mineral exploitation, among others.

The blue economy primarily aims to obtain economic benefits without harming the environment, while promoting the conservation of marine resources. This model also seeks to promote collaboration and knowledge-sharing among different sectors and communities to create innovative solutions that can benefit all stakeholders.

According to the European Commission, the EU’s blue economy generates 4.5 million jobs and a gross value added (GVA) of more than €750 billion per year. It also plays an important role in meeting the environmental and climate objectives of the European Green Deal. However, it is currently facing some major challenges, such as overexploitation of marine resources and ocean pollution.

To address these, the EU has adopted a blue economy strategy, which aims to promote sustainable growth in the sector and includes measures to reduce pollution, promote the circular economy in fisheries and the aquaculture sector, and support research and innovation on marine technologies.

Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP)

In recent years, the importance of the blue economy has been increasingly recognised, but to ensure its sustainability, proper management of its resources is essential. Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) is a key tool to achieve this goal by providing an integrated framework for managing and planning the use of maritime space through objectives and measures targeted at a given country or region.

One of the main benefits of MSP is that it provides an integrated and coordinated framework for decision-making. This involves the active participation of different stakeholders, such as fishermen, tourists, renewable energy operators, port authorities and scientists. In addition, it also promotes collaboration among different countries and regions to ensure coordinated management of shared resources.

Available grants for the blue economy

European funding programmes

One of the main EU funding programmes for the blue economy is the European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF). It provides funding for projects in areas such as fisheries, aquaculture, protection of the marine environment and promotion of economic diversification in coastal areas. It also aims to improve training and capacity building in the sector.

Another important EU funding mechanism is the Horizon Europe programme, which grants research and innovation projects in a wide range of areas, from marine renewable energy technology to marine and coastal biodiversity management.

Recently, the European Union announced €816.5 million worth of commitments for the year 2023 to ensure a secure, clean, and sustainably managed ocean. Some of the 39 new commitments for action were dedicated to sustainable blue economies, as well as to Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), marine pollution, climate change, sustainable fisheries, and maritime security.

Further grant sources for the blue economy

In addition to these European programmes, many countries also offer State grants and subsidies for projects related to the blue economy. These can range from funding research and development projects to supporting business start-ups and promoting innovation.

Finally, grants can also be provided by non-governmental organisations (ONGs) and associations which work to promote environmental sustainability and the blue economy.

In conclusion, the blue economy offers great opportunities for economic growth and sustainable development, but its proper management requires tools such as Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP). It is important that governments and maritime space authorities work closely and effectively with the different sectors involved, ensuring long-term sustainability.

FI Group has 20 years of experience and wants to accompany you on the new NextGenerationEU path. Our experts are at your disposal to analyse how your project fits into the NextGenerationEU European recovery fund and to take the next steps together with you. Contact us.

Marina Marcos

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