The Blue Economy – a very Scottish affair

The importance of the blue economy has never been in sharper focus and Scotland is out in front, with the leading pack.

The Highlands and Islands, in particular, has a unique marine environment. We have over two thirds of the UK coastline and coastal waters - and importantly, those waters are pristine. The country is renowned for premium produce, be that fish, shellfish or seaweed, and so can attract premium prices.

But why is the blue economy so important? That’s easy - it is pivotal to the things that matter to us, food, energy, and health. It is part of the solution to food security for the world’s growing population; it is a source of clean, renewable energy; and we have only scratched the surface of the potential of seaweed and seaweed derivatives.

  • We lead the world in wave and tidal energy innovation and by harnessing the undoubted potential in our waters, Scotland can confirm its place at the forefront of this untapped clean energy industry.
  •  Marine biotechnology is a nascent sector with incredible potential. It has a huge range of applications for example in food and food production, medicine, biofuels, cosmetics, packaging, and animal feed. These tend to be high value industries that play straight in to the circular economy agenda.
  • Aquaculture faces some well documented challenges but the industry and the research community have grasped these. Considerable resource has been committed to tackling issues such as fish welfare and environmental impacts. Despite the issues, it is irrefutable that aquaculture is the only way that the burgeoning global appetite for food protein in the form of fish and shellfish can be sated. It is therefore critical that the industry grows, but grows sustainably.

With its rich base of science, innovation and workforce capabilities, combined with its natural assets, Scotland is unrivalled as a place to carry out research, develop new ideas and capitalise on the opportunities in the blue economy. What will be key to optimising these advantages is that we take a planned, strategic approach to catalysing new ideas, developing solutions and commercialising research outputs. There must of course be the infrastructure, support and workforce to back this up and so deliver the benefits to Scotland and the UK. ekosgen has a keen interest in the sector and has been doing a lot of work in this developing area including a recent commission in Maine in the USA.