Tapping Into Our Blue Economy

2019-04-01T11:26:41+00:00 April 1, 2019|
(Credit: NOAA NMFS)

(Credit: NOAA NMFS)

From: Ocean News Weekly/ By: Ocean Leadership Staff 

What It Was

The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee held a hearing titled: “Our Blue Economy: Successes and Opportunities.”

Why It Matters

Sustainable use of our nation’s resources for economic growth and development underpin the concept of the blue economy. Projections show growth in the ocean economy doubling its contribution to global value from $1.5 trillion in 2010 to $3 trillion in 2030. Increased ocean observations and data expand knowledge that ensures healthy oceans; informs decision-making of the ocean’s resources; and facilitates success in fisheries, recreation, and tourism – all key components of the blue economy. Stakeholders who interact with our ocean and coasts rely on shared ocean observations to improve the safety and prosperity of our blue economy.

Key Points

The growth of the blue economy is dependent on sound ocean science and data from ocean observations, but as Chairman Roger Wicker (MS) stated, “our oceans are woefully under observed.” All witnesses noted the critical roles data collected from the ocean — such as temperature, salinity, and pH — play in ensuring safety and generating jobs in coastal communities. The Honorable Phil Bryant (Governor, State of Mississippi) testified to the importance of ocean data for hurricane forecasting and modeling, in both improving modeling and providing foresight into hurricane intensity. He also spoke of the need for universities to work together with government and the private sector to create a more comprehensive view of current ocean conditions.

Mr. Michael Conathan (Executive Director, Aspen Institute, Aspen High Seas Initiative) asserted that more ocean data have been collected in the last two years than in the history of the planet. He emphasized the importance of not only continuing to gather vast amounts of data from the ocean but also of explaining and disseminating that information to the public in a comprehensible way. Data sharing and management are needed to ensure scientists are not duplicating research efforts. Improved data processing to “get the most out of the data collected” provides different sectors, including fisheries, with more science to inform decisions that could impact the blue economy.

Fisheries, both recreational and commercial, are also a prominent component of the blue economy. Mr. Scott Deal (President and Chief Executive Officer, Maverick Boats) provided a perspective from the recreational fishing and boating industry and presented ocean data’s ability to facilitate recreational fishers’ success. He spoke about the necessity for a clean environment to sustain healthy fisheries, which support millions of boaters and anglers and puts money into the tourism and recreation sector of the blue economy. Mr. Deal also spoke about cultivating a domestic aquaculture industry to not only decrease the nation’s reliance on imported seafood but to create jobs and grow the U.S. blue economy.

Signed into law in the 115th Congress, witnesses and committee members agreed that the Modern Fish Act (S. 1520; P.L. 115-405) and the Commercial Engagement Through Ocean Technology Act of 2018 (S. 2511; P.L. 115-291) were important first steps to improving the use of our nation’s ocean resources. They stressed that continuing the growth of the blue economy would include building upon this foundation.

Quotable

“The ocean represents not just a maritime industry but our culture and our heritage. The blue economy supports 69,000 jobs, and indirectly supports 191,000 jobs in the state of Washington. So, it is a very big part of our economy. It includes shipbuilding, trade, transportation, fisheries, tourism, and as I mentioned, recreation.”— Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (WA)

“On the Mississippi Gulf Coast, we have embraced the blue economy with all our energy and ingenuity. Above all other concerns, we care about our land, air and water. They are part of our heritage and community. Mississippians live, work, play and learn on the beautiful waters of the Gulf Coast. The finest seafood in the world comes from these waters. This industry provides thousands of jobs along with high quality and delicious fish, shrimp and oysters.”— The Honorable Phil Bryant (Governor, State of Mississippi)

Find Out More

Watch the full hearing

Related coverage from the Consortium for Ocean Leadership          

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