Growth in the blue bio-economy

Nordiska ministerrådet och Färöarnas konferens om tillväxt i den "blå bio-ekonomin".

Ett stort antal deltagare från fiskeindustrin, kommissionen med flera deltog. Här nedan kan ni läsa vad jag sa:

Minister Vestergaard, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for inviting me here today in my capacity of Vice Chair of the EP´s Fisheries Committee.I am looking forward to the presentations and in particular the discussion on this increasingly important subject: Growth in a Blue Bio-economy, or rather from my standpoint, sustainable growth and the Blue bio-economy as essential for human survival.

With each new treaty, the powers of the Parliament have expanded. Today, when it comes to fisheries and marine policies, I dare say that the Parliament no longer is a lame duck but stands on equal footing with the Commission and the Council in the Union's legislative procedures. 
The Committee of Fisheries has increasingly used this power - to the dismay of some, and intends to do so also on the topic we are here to discuss today. I am sure this audience is familiar with the content of the Commissions latest Communication on a Blue Bio-Economy, so given the limited time I will get on with what I came here to say...

My starting point is that the potential of a Blue Bio-Economy is indeed tremendous and rather amazing. Just to mention one great example; the International Energy Agency has estimated that by 2050, on a global scale, ocean energy could generate 748 GW - this equals the total amount of power capacity we have installed in the EU today.

The Commissions communication has a clear focus on growth and jobs. It gives several examples of how many new jobs we can create, for instance 1.5 million new jobs in the area of coastal and maritime tourism. And it talks about all the added value we can create, like in the field of maritime transport where a figure of 66.000 million Euro is mentioned.

The communication claims to have "a horizontal approach" for addressing the different aspects and sectors linked to our Seas. But, in practice it has a narrow and limited focus on specific actions... 
Let me explain what I mean.It presents a list of concrete measures such as "delivering a digital map of the entire seabed of European waters", but it doesn´t clearly define the key objective and the approach for these actions. Why, how and   who should do the job.

Let me start with the why. It is here we should pause, and ask.what is the long-term sustainability of this enormous "potential to be harnessed from our oceans"? We need to think and think well before we act. We need to make sure that we protect our maritime ecosystems for generations to come, and we need to ensure that the jobs in the respective sectors are green jobs that also respect the social dimension of sustainable development.

This means that we must also think about the how... We can´t afford lose track of the principles that should underpin any strategy which aims to further exploit our seas:

the key principle should be the preservation of good environmental status - as defined by the Maritime Strategy Framework Directive and supported by the precautionary principle which is at the core of the EU treaty

and the concept of maritime spatial planning, must also include integrated coastal management and environmental impact assessment

Therefor we should start by first defining a set of qualitative indicators to help us map the status of our marine ecosystems, with the objective to ensure their protection. 

The data we lack to do this is not just limited to the need of a seabed map. We also lack data and research for all fields proposed under the Blue Growth communication. We simply don´t have enough information on how marine ecosystems react to:

climate change and acidification, 
plastic and other pollutions 
or for the matter consequences of human activity, such as increasing tourism in coastal areas and in particular, seabed mining 

And this is when we arrive to the who. Another problem with data is that we also must decide on who is responsible for compiling and monitoring data. As it stands now The European Environmental Agency is involved in collecting some data, the European Maritime Agency also has some monitoring possibilities, Member States have their own programmes and observatories. So, a first step would ideally be if we managed to agree on this...

In conclusion, my main point is that the key driver for the Blue Bio-Economy should not be to use marine information only to boost economic growth. A blue bio-economy must be able to meet the needs of current and future generations... 

This means that we should use information to first secure the survival of our seas... and then, ensure a sustainable approach to harvesting what the sea can give us... 

Thank you,