European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Karmenu Vella: “The blue economy can become one of the powerhouses for the EU economy in general. Surrounded by the ocean and amidst a wealth of natural assets, the outermost regions could be first in line to take advantage of this trend. The European Commission strongly supports this transition.”
The blue economy covers all economic activity at, near or from our ocean, seas or coasts. It includes fisheries, tourism and aquaculture but also emerging industries such as ocean energy, biotechnology or desalination. However, much of the focus in outermost regions has traditionally been on fisheries and tourism. A recent study indicates the potential to expand also in the other areas of blue growth, such as algae-based biotechnology.
Before that can happen, several hurdles and bottlenecks need to be resolved – hence the idea to bring the experts from our outermost regions together. A first concern is the current lack of long-term research on their marine resources, including fishing stocks. Without a solid understanding of local ecosystems, it is impossible to manage marine resources and activities sustainably. Other bottlenecks are the insufficient access to financial resources, lack of specialised expertise and the absence of structural coordination.
The EU has several policies in place to support these needs, including the European Fund for Strategic Investments (the ‘Juncker Fund’), Horizon 2020, the Youth Employment Initiative or indeed the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund. In many cases, outermost regions already enjoy favourable conditions to benefit from these schemes. Together with regional experts, the Commission is now looking at how to improve their uptake even further.
About the Outermost Regions Forum on Maritime Affairs and Fisheries
Over fifty experts and authorities from the outermost regions (Canary Islands, Azores, Madeira, Réunion, Mayotte, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint-Martin and French Guiana) have been selected to attend this first meeting of the Outermost Regions Forum on Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.
You can follow the proceedings live on Tuesday 26 June 2018 from 9:30 to 18:30
Engage in the discussion on Twitter: @EU_MARE