The ocean post – Editorial Apr-Jun 2021
Portugal’s recovery and resilience plan (PRR) approved last June “will transform the Portuguese economy,” said Ursula von der Leyen during the protocol ceremony. The reforms and investment foreseen for 2021-2026 are an unprecedented EU response to the COVID-19 crisis and will allow Portugal to emerge stronger, more resilient and better prepared for the future. We have an opportunity ahead that, if used well, can have a positive impact on gross domestic product (1.4- 2.4%) and allow the recovery of 50 thousand lost jobs. According to the EU President “implementing the ambitious program will be a challenge”, but it will be up to us to responsibly apply such funds in highly innovative projects, generating products and services able to catapult our companies to increasing competitiveness in international markets. Portugal approved a Collaborative Laboratory dedicated to the blue bioeconomy (B2E CoLAB) that supports two of the sectors with the highest growth potential: biotechnology and aquaculture. Previous efforts over the last decades failed to boost these sectors that still lag behind. Portugal’s PRR may be a one-time opportunity to develop knowledge-based solutions to shape a new blue bio-economy bootstrapped by 4.0 automation and data exchange technologies.
Overall human protein consumption is predicted to double by 2050, with marine-based proteins gaining a growing market share. Aquaculture has the potential to address this protein challenge by producing nutritious and safe diets, whilst biotechnology can produce high valued biomass (algae, yeasts, bacteria) or bioactive compounds either for feed, food or other high-end applications. Portugal needs to boost these sectors, profiting from emerging technologies and artificial intelligence, by promoting a vertical integration involving all value chain to sustainable produce healthy valued-added products, associated with consumption ethics, strengthening economic and social resilience.
The next event of European Aquaculture Society will be in Portugal (Funchal, October 4-7) and you are all invited to participate, join the B2E CoLAB booth, and above all promote knowledge exchange!
Luísa Valente is Associate Professor at ICBAS – University of Porto, Member of the Directive Board of CIIMAR, Member of the Directive Board of B2E CoLAB and Member of the Directive Board of the European Aquaculture Society.