Blue economy : a new vision of the sea
The concept of “blue economy” which appeared a few years ago shows the “land-dwelling” stakeholders’ and decision-makers’ growing awareness concerning the importance the sea may have in the future global economy. Mankind discovers or re-discovers what the sea can bring: new biological, mineral, and energy capital as well as new spaces – now reachable thanks to the huge improvements of the off-shore industry in the last few decades. It is now possible to develop mariculture, marine biotechnologies, material and mineral extractions, desalination, wind power, hydraulic power and thermal energy on a large scale. Capital, raw material, space as well as financial stakes and jobs related to these constitute the major issues to be considered by the blue economy.
What about coastal territories ?
The Blue Economy affects professional users of the sea, but also territories which host their activities. Nowadays, coastal territories take too few advantages from the coastal and marine activities they host and to which they supply many services (harbours, resources, space, network, training, knowledge…) with often only limited or unbalanced returns (seasonal or unskilled employments, negative or non-existent return on investment, conflicts between seasonal tenants and inhabitants…).
The maritime territorial strategies must allow territories to attract the value of the blue economy and to control its impact.
Territories can organise themselves at all scales (local, regional and national) to make better use of their maritime capital, to get more out of the value of maritime activities and to provide better protection to their heritage which can be threatened by maritime and land-based activities. The aim is to create or revive a maritime territorial dynamic.
THE MARITIME AND COASTAL CAPITAL, the heart of territorial strategies
Each territory has a more or less important maritime and coastal capital, and territories are rarely aware of its existence.
It is this capital which is used by marine and coastal activities. Territories must seize and develop this capital in order to receive the fair benefit of their use.
This capital is used by maritime and coastal activities which valorise them but can also threaten them (overexploitation, destruction, pollution…); their aim is not necessarily to create as many returns possible for the territory… Here are some examples.
- Sailing requires huge investments (often financed by territories) and coastal spaces which are scarce and filled (almost permanently) with ships built elsewhere and which sails only a few days a year;
- Full-time jobs related to fishing are becoming scarcer and scarcer. Fishing contributes to the maritime image of a territory but needs infrastructures and support while most of the added value of this activity is often caught outside the coastal territory.
- The space is (im)mobilized by holiday homes which demand oversized infrastructures (network, water treatment plants…) while not being in use most of the year. Holiday homes also have low local returns (seasonal jobs).
However this situation does not need be so. Territories can take their maritime fate into their own hands rather than letting external stakeholders doing so. This asks for a complete and objective diagnosis.
SML has been implementing this innovating approach since 2014 in a broad spectrum of cases in France and in foreign countries for public stakeholders who wish to develop their territory attractiveness or a strategic vision of their maritime and coastal development such as:
- Intercommunality (Maritime section of planning documents)
- County and region (territorial strategy, maritime section of planning documents)
- States (southern shore of the Mediterranean Sea) in the frame of the European cooperation
- Regional seas (Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea) in the frame of the European regional cooperation.
To succeed in these delicate studies, SML relies on a thorough knowledge of maritime and coastal activities, on maritime and coastal policies at all scales, on existing planning and regulating tools and on an international network of experts.