• Blue growth: Innovating for a sustainable use of our oceans (European Commission Press Release)

    Maria Damanaki 

    European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries

    European Maritime day

    Bremen, 19 May 2014

    Dear Ministers, Dear Mayor, Mr. Groote, ladies and gentlemen,

    Let me start by expressing my heartfelt thanks to Bremen, and the German Federal government, for hosting this event in this very maritime city – what a spectacular environment, and what a welcome you have provided for us. In fact, it would be difficult to imagine a place more appropriate than Bremen to discuss Blue Growth, maritime technologies and innovation.

    Ladies and gentlemen,

    According to the World Bank, world population will reach 8 billion in 2024 and there is no sign that we are going to consume less food or energy in the future. In fact, with another billion of us on the planet in the next 10 to 15 years the pressure on the resources is only likely to increase.

    For more food and energy alternative, innovative and sustainable solutions are urgently needed.

    This is why we are looking at the blue economy and have adopted a new strategy to help use ocean resources sustainably as well as drive growth and jobs in Europe.

    Half the planet’s sunlight falls on seas and oceans and half the organic matter is created there. The wind, the tides and waves offer energy that does not contribute to global warming. Every year a higher proportion of new wind farms are already built offshore. Fish and shellfish are the fastest growing source of animal protein worldwide. And soon the huge diversity of marine genetic material sea life will be able to deliver food and medicines for us.

    The blue economy is already there. Marine resources are being used, and new jobs in Europe are being created; starting with the development of ocean energy, of new medicines or enzymes by decoding the DNA of marine life, and ending with the design, building and operating of structures that can withstand the harsh conditions offshore.

    Today’s event is all about how we manage the innovation and technology that drives these developments. And how to do it sustainably, so that future generations can continue to benefit from the oceans’ wealth.

    Fostering innovation means knowing and managing our resources and creating a safe, clean and secure environment for our businesses to invest.

    Indeed, first and foremost, we need to know our seas and oceans. Because investing in our seas – and exploring it sustainably – is very difficult when we know less about them than we do about the surface of the moon. Let’s not repeat the same mistakes made when exploiting resources on land.

    This is why two weeks ago the Commission presented a targeted Action Plan to reinforce our work on marine data and to create a seabed map of European seas by 2020. This action plan provides the building blocks so that we exploit our waters in a sustainable way. So let me be clear: only when we have the knowledge and skills to better manage our oceans can we drive innovation in the maritime economy.

    Which brings me to my second point: we need to manage the resources in a sustainable way.

    I am very proud of the success of the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy – which brings us a very large step towards the sustainable management of European fish stocks.

    But it is clear that we will not be able to supply the growing demand for this seafood through wild catches alone: aquaculture needs to step up, and we Europeans have the best possible conditions in terms of research and environment legislation to make sure it does so sustainably.

    At the same time, EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive sets the scene for the good environmental status of our Seas. And our proposed Directive on Maritime Spatial Planning – as now approved by the European Parliament and Council – makes sure that all Member States will have planning processes in place to support the sound management of their marine areas.

    Third, we have to make sure that we set the right framework to ensure that our seas and oceans are safe and secure. We have a proposal –hopefully finalised by June Council- to develop a European Maritime Security Strategy that will enable Member States to better combat crime and pollution; that will save costs; and that will make maritime surveillance more effective and efficient.

    Finally, we can only make a difference if we work in a global context. Climate change, oceans acidification or the depletion of fish stocks are not limited to European waters. A global coordinated effort is required to tackle these challenges. Europe is also engaging in international discussions on biodiversity and resource use and combating illegal fishing internationally.

    These are the first steps and we will make all efforts to engage our international partners. What we want to achieve is a real global governance of oceans where global challenges are met with coordinated answers.

    Ladies and gentlemen,

    Maritime Day is not only about developing industry. It is about making sure that Europe’s Blue Economy has a future that is long and bright.

    The theme of this year’s EMD is Innovation and Maritime Technologies. We need the innovation, and the development of sustainable technologies to make sure that we can benefit from the oceans’ resources by using these resources in a way that allows them to thrive. And also to ensure long-term growth and competitiveness for Europe’s maritime economy.

    But we also need a dialogue between all actors so that we reach these objectives in a sustainable manner. So I welcome the initiatives I’ve seen from civil society in the last days. And the European Maritime Day is the opportunity for all stakeholders – civil society, academics, industry – to debate and interact more closely than ever before.

    I wish you all a very successful event.

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