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Maritime Forum

Freshly minted ‘blue bioeconomy’, Nordic style

Throughout the ages, civilisations have marked special occasions with the minting of coins. The symbolism of this is not lost on Finland which has just launched a ‘blue bioeconomy’ special edition coin. Guided by a pioneering road map and initiatives...


Recognising the growing importance of aquatic-based services and products, the Nordic Council of Ministers agreed in December 2016 a common set of objectives and strategies – laid out in the Nordic Road Map for Blue Bioeconomy – for developing business based on the sustainable and smart use of renewable aquatic natural resources.

Among the action areas, Nordic countries are boosting research and innovation to create new products and services, including smart foods and feed alternatives, cosmetics and pharmaceutical products, new waste treatment solutions and more.

Under the Nordic Cooperation (Norden) umbrella, which includes Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden as well as Greenland and the Faroe and Arland islands, they offer “diverse expertise of a high standard in the field”, according to a Finnish government statement on the eve of road map’s publication. Focusing on a market-driven approach, innovation and efficient use of resources, this places them in an “excellent position to be pioneers in the blue bioeconomy”, it adds.

NordBio initiative … fuelling minds and ships

Knowledge-sharing on vital fishing, fish processing and aquaculture activities is just part of the regional cooperation underpinned by a dedicated three-year Nordic Bioeconomy Initiative (NordBio, 2014-2016) which helped to shape the road map. The cooperation also covers expertise, technology, tourism and recreation activities based on water and the aquatic environment, as well as fast-growing applications for aquatic biomass such as algae.

Innovative projects in NordBio worked to create added value, improve efficiency, increase sustainable food production and boost the regional bioeconomy. For example, the large-scale Marina project looked to develop eco-friendly ‘blue’ fuels for marine vessels, while the education project Biophilia sought to motivate entrepreneurs and encourage youth to pursue science and innovation in this growing field.

Clearing the way forward

The regional road map has galvanised national blue bioeconomy efforts as well. For example, Finland adopted a complementary national development plan for its blue bioeconomy. They even went one step further to herald the era of the ‘blue bioeconomy’ by issuing a special edition coin as part of a series to illustrate areas where Finland’s future lies.

Healthy ecosystems in oceans, lakes and rivers are the foundations on which a blue bioeconomy is built. In practice, this involves more efficient use of natural resources. And a good example of this is the way in which Iceland’s fisheries industry has increased profits despite sharp falls in quotas in recent years.

“The Nordic countries are … clearing the way to a stronger bio-based economy, so it is important that they lead the way in this field,” according to the Icelandic Chairmanship of the Nordic Council of Ministers when it launched the three-year NordBio programme.

In May this year, the current Swedish Presidency of the Council showed its commitment to the sector by organising a dedicated event, called ‘Blue bioeconomy – realising the potential’. Among other topics covered, delegates addressed the role of research, innovation and digital technology in developing sustainable products and services – all generating valuable ‘blue growth’ opportunities for the Nordic region.

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