Elena Máñez: The Canary Islands must be at the forefront of Europe’s blue economy

By June 2, 2020 July 3rd, 2020 News

The Regional Minister for Economy, Knowledge and Employment of the Canary Islands Government, Elena Máñez, stressed that the Canary Islands must be at the forefront of Europe’s blue economy and that the Government will work towards this goal.

Elena Máñez inaugurated the virtual workshops on the Sea and the Blue Economy, organised through the public enterprise PROEXCA, a partner in the SMARTBLUE_F project, with the support of the Canary Islands Maritime Cluster, PLOCAN and CETECIMA, whose president, José Luis Guersi, is moderating the workshops.

She highlighted the great potential of the blue economy for the Canary Islands. The geostrategic location of the archipelago, together with its proven capacity in consolidated sectors and its great potential for growth in emerging areas – such as offshore wind power and blue biotechnology – make the Canary Islands the ideal springboard for the development of the blue economy.

The Government of the Canary Islands is committed to blue growth and is therefore spearheading efforts to launch the blue economy strategy. This strategy is currently being discussed with private and public agents and will provide a roadmap for turning the Canary Islands into a hub for developing an economy powered by sea-related activities.

The director of PLOCAN, José Joaquín Hernández Brito, a speaker at the event, said that the Canary Islands, in their ambition to become a European benchmark for innovation in the blue economy, must develop legislation that unlocks the potential of the blue economy beyond testbeds. Regions must adapt their legislation to the pace of scientific and technological progress or even anticipate progress by attracting investments and entrepreneurs and creating new business opportunities.

Hernández Brito gave a talk on “PLOCAN and the new emerging R&D opportunities”, in which he focused on the major opportunities offered by the European Green Deal to boost the blue economy and the EU’s pandemic recovery plan, and called for the Canary Islands to take the lead in specific legislation for R&D in the marine sector.

The European Green Deal aims to make the EU a climate-neutral bloc by 2050. Its investment plan will mobilise more than one trillion euro this decade, through various instruments such as InvestEU, Horizon Europe, the European Investment Bank, investment incentives, investments by countries and private funds; this is why “we need to prepare and put projects in place now,” he said.

Hernández Brito explained that we will have to pay close attention to the EU’s new 750-billion-euro recovery instrument, which aims to repair the economic and social damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic. It will stimulate Europe’s recovery, protect employment, and create new jobs, adding new initiatives to the blue economy.

The director of PLOCAN outlined the main initiatives with which the scientific and technical infrastructure will contribute to the blue economy: new food products based on carbon capture and the use of renewable ocean energy; new forms of coastal defence built with materials that fix CO2 and produce biomass for tourism; clean technologies for low-carbon maritime transport and shipping; diversified ports featuring new communication, manufacturing and ship repair technologies; smart ports and unmanned vessels.

Other initiatives that he mentioned included technologies for remote observation and leisure in the marine environment, creating new business opportunities in monitoring, control and recreation; and new technologies for using marine renewable energies to produce hydrogen, water, ammonium with the aim of decarbonising transport and industrial production.

The workshops will continue on 8 and 16 June and will address how to unlock the potential of the blue economy to achieve the United Nations 2030 sustainable development goals, and the business opportunities for marine renewable energy in the international arena.