Sustainable growth from the blue bioeconomy

The blue bioeconomy is the sustainable use of marine resources and the business based upon such use. At its best, the blue bioeconomy even improves the state of the sea. Although Finland's blue resources in the Baltic Sea are extensive, they are still underused.

The bioeconomy refers to the economic growth realised through renewable raw materials. Adding “blue” in front of the term shifts the bioeconomy to water-based industries.

The blue bioeconomy refers to the sustainable use of renewable aquatic resources and the business operations related to this expertise. The blue bioeconomy includes aquaculture, fishing, the production of marine energy, and tourism. The blue bioeconomy also includes the technology and knowledge related to marine natural resources.

Finland has vast blue resources. Thus far, rivers, lakes, and the Baltic Sea are under-exploited resources. There is potential for, among other things, food and energy production, tourism, and recreation.

Today, untapped groups of organisms and material side streams offer possibilities for the development of various added-value products, such as nutritional supplements or cosmetics. Examples of beneficial species are algae. Material side streams, for example, include fish offal.

The good status of the sea is the basis of the blue bioeconomy

Achieving and maintaining a good water status will support the development and marketing of blue bioeconomy products and services. In the Baltic Sea, this means in practice that the development of the blue bioeconomy must be compatible with improving the state of the sea.

At best, the actions of the blue bioeconomy also contribute to improving the status of the Baltic Sea. For example, excess nutrients are removed from the water due to fishing. This, in turn, helps to reduce eutrophication in coastal waters.

 The wind turbine park at Tahkoluoto, off the city of Pori.
Offshore wind power provides opportunities for the production of renewable energy.

The blue bioeconomy has great potential for growth

The blue bioeconomy has enormous growth potential. Fisheries are still the cornerstone of the blue bioeconomy. In 2017, fisheries employed about 2,500 man-years in Finland (Fisheries Sector Review 2019).

The combined revenues of the fisheries companies were approximately EUR 960 million in 2017. Further growth is expected from added-value products based on aquatic biomass, and water-related wellbeing services.

 Fish on ice.
Commercial fishing is a central part of the blue bioeconomy.

New solutions to improve the state of the Baltic Sea

Commercial fish catches remove phosphorus and nitrogen from the water. So far, fishing is the most significant nutrient remover in the Baltic Sea. 

In addition, eutrophication emissions from fish farming have been significantly reduced compared to the 1990s. Indeed, instead of shallow shoreline fish farms, new plants are being planned for offshore locations or will be located on land as ecologically sustainable fully enclosed units, with water-circulating facilities.

Technological developments in the blue bioeconomy are expected to provide new solutions, for example, to the problem of blue-green algae or the removal of nutrients from bottom sediments.