The Ocean Post – Editorial Jul-Sep 2021
Blue Economy in Portugal represents about 4% of the national GDP (2018) and 4,1% of the total national employment (2017) (Conta Satélite do Mar, DGPM/INE, Nov 2020). The most important sectors of activity are maritime tourism, fisheries, aquaculture and fish processing, ports and shipping. There are some emerging activities such as marine biotechnologies and marine renewable energies with a marginal weight in terms of national GDP and employment.
But things are moving fast. A lot of collaborative initiatives engaging companies and R&D centres, under the dynamization of CoLAB organisations and the Portuguese Maritime Cluster, are boosting Blue Economy in Portugal. Some relevant programmes and projects are being prepared in the fields of blue biotech, seafood, and marine renewable energies. A multipurpose testbed platform in the sites of Aguçadoura and Viana do Castelo, held within the Ocean ACT Initiative, is also a relevant tool to support the development of innovative and ESG performant solutions in the fields of renewable energy, aquaculture (fish and algae), marine observation, marine ecosystems protection, among others. Blue Hubs to foster innovative blue ecosystems are spreading in the main ports all over the country. A Digital Innovation Hub (Portugal Blue Digital Hub) to boost the digitalisation of SMEs operating in the Blue Economy has been created under the leadership of Fórum Oceano (responsible for the management of the Cluster) and CoLABs, namely B2E, with the support of around 50 organisations.
All these initiatives have in consideration the global and imperative context of digitalisation, decarbonisation and circular economy, they have the potential to grow and make way for a new paradigm of a Sustainable Blue Economy.
In fact, Portugal possesses relevant natural assets such as marine bioresources, wind, waves, and ocean currents that can boost the development of economic activities in these fields. Portugal also has knowledge and technology that can support the valorisation of these resources, attract FDI, and improve high-value exports and qualified job creation. The challenge is high, the improvement of these programmes and projects are strategic for the growth of the Blue Economy in Portugal, they are aligned with the National and Regional Innovation Strategies for 2021-27 with the support of European Funds.
Strategic Adviser Fórum Oceano
Director of B2E CoLAB