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Healthier Oceans?

Ocean Health: Blue growth through green solutions


Several new global initiatives have been taken to address the environmental status and sustainable use of the ocean, in addition to existing agreements and ongoing processes. *Our Ocean* and Norway’s international high-level panel on sustainable ocean economy are among these efforts. How are these efforts being coordinated? What has been achieved so far?

Dear reader,

This posting is based on the Arctic Frontiers last January (2019) in Norway, Tromsö, where we had a great dialogue in a pleanry panel for healthier oceans.  You are most welcome to send your thoights and feedback on Mariadi's webpage.

Ocean based industries have enormous potential. How do we ensure that the International community works towards economic growth whilst preserving a sound ocean environment?

The UNs Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) call for innovation to improve the management of our oceans. Modern technologies and smart solutions are crucial in this picture. How can business help implement these SDGs?

There are various proposed definitions for the Ocean based industries. In this discussion we have a broad scope, where all ocean/sea activities are taken into account.

Let's look at the Ocean based industry potential, enlighten it with some practical examples and make several proposals to support economic growth and simultaneously to preserve sound ocean and coastal environment.

Let’s start with Ocean based industries potential.

According to the OECD Report about Ocean based industries from 2016, they contribute roughly 1,5 trillion USD (2,5%) to global economy. This scale is on a similar level compared to the WEF estimation on Arctic investment potential, which is 1 trillion USD. The biggest contributor is Offshore oil and gas, around 35%, whereas marine and coastal tourism contribute around 25%. Maritime equipment and port activities contribute around 25% together.

Industrial marine aquaculture and industrial capture fishing provide around 1% each whereas industrial fish processing is around 5%. However, industrial captive fisheries is the most important employer with around 1/3 of the more than 30 million jobs provided by marine industries.

The world populations growth brings around 2 billion more people to be fed by 2050. Simultaneously, urbanisation and ageing of the global population continues. Coastal areas will be more stressed due to people and activity movements towards shoreline. Various types of resource extraction and increased erosion due to climate change occur. For example, Icelandic travel industry has already more than tripled in just 10 years. International seaborne trade is expected to double by next 20 years.

Here comes the first proposal: Travel industry has to create and commit to sustainability principles and make sure that their customers follow them. The responsibility would lie by travel agencies, tour operators and accommodation service providers not forgetting the airlines. A great example of such a work is the AECO’s (Arctic Cruise Line Operators) principles for sustainable Arctic cruise industry. They provide ethical and practical advisory and guidelines for passengers visiting Arctic areas and communities.

Let us take an example of tidal energy. The Arctic areas include places like in the Canadian archipelago, where the tide might exceed 10 meters. There is a significant amount of kinetic energy absorbed into such a motion. Compared to wind or solar energy, it requires less space and does not disrupt the landscape. However, it is still expensive to install. Furthermore, clarifying environmental impacts like hydromagnetic effects require more research.

An example of a smart use of existing resources comes from Finnish maritime industry. Icebreaker Nordica assisted an energy company in their wave energy research and instalment project on the Irish Sea some years ago helping with underwater research. This is smart use of old technologies to assist in planning new environmentally sound energy production.

Decent work and economic growth and life below water are two topical UN SD goals for sustainable oceans development. “Life below water” can be considered in this context as our increasing future protein provision.

The share of aquacultural and fish related businesses is expected to double by the next 20 years. Simultaneously, migration of fish species is already very visible in the Arctic. Fish species and marine mammals are migrating into new areas due to changes in ice sheet and water temperatures. Fishing industry is important for Iceland and there has been significant changes in the species movement. The migration is very hard to predict and changes may affect the more than ten million fishing jobs. New skills and equipment are needed. Some jobs may be lost. The agreement to ban illegal fishing in the High Arctic is an important example of steps being taken to preserve the fauna.

WWF released a study “Protecting the Arctic ecosystem as new ocean, blue economy emerge” last November. It states that “The Arctic Ocean and its coastlines are home to 34 species of marine mammals, 633 species of fish and four million people including Indigenous Peoples and communities. Thus far, the vulnerable ecosystem’s largest economic sectors have included mining and oil and gas, services, fishing and resource processing but as the ice in the central Arctic Ocean shrinks, shipping and tourism are poised to become key sectors. For example, in just ten years, Iceland has seen a 400 per cent increase in tourism.”

What are the modern technologies and smart solutions to support the sustainable Ocean development, especially in the Arctic areas? One example is improving efficiency in ship and cargo management by using smart technologies.

Our second proposal here is aimed to the University of the Arctic; a network of universities working on the Arctic Research.

This would be a thorough study of the expected increase in shipping in Arctic areas using the global economy growth and ice prediction as a basis. Underwater implications of this increase have not been thoroughly studied yet. This is significant taking into account the need to use the underwater resources in a rapidly increasing manner.

To conclude, the Ocean, including the Arctic Ocean, is a fundamental protein provider for the decades to come. Let’s improve the conditions bearing this fact in mind. Otherwise we might face a severe lack of protein.

The author, Mr. Tero Vauraste, is the owner and Managing Director of Mariadi ltd. an Arctic and maritime consultancy agency. He has served as President and CEO of Arctia 2009-2018, a Finnish polar maritime services company in icebreaking, research and oil spill response operating 11 icebreakers in the Baltic Sea and the Arctic. He is Chair of the Arctic Economic Council. He is also chairing the sub-committee of Maritime Issues of the Finland-China innovation Committee.

He has a degree of MSc in Risk, Crisis and Disaster Management / Leicester University and a Naval officer’s degree from the Finnish Naval Academy being a Lieutenant-Commander (Ret).

He has served as a vessel master, special unit commander and as a SAR instructor in Finnish Coast Guard. He has a broad experience in senior executive positions within the traffic and logistics service clusters including maritime, security and safety, aviation and car rental.

He is the Chairman of Finnish Arctic Society and a member of Advisory Board of Finnish Lifeboat Institution. He has various other positions of trust.

He has provided many papers in terms of Arctic economic development and is a known speaker in the international Arctic fora.


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