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What is the ‘Blue Economy’ and how it relates to Aquaculture & Seaweed Farming

sea weed

The Blue Economy is the concept that utilises all of the ocean’s resources for the benefit of
humans, including fish and other seafood, seaweed and kelp. Seaweed is one of those resources
that has been largely ignored until now because it just wasn’t seen as having much value.
However, new research has shown that seaweeds are capable of absorbing carbon dioxide from
the atmosphere at a rate on par with trees! This means that if we were to plant vast areas of kelp
forests in our oceans they would help to remove carbon dioxide from our air and reduce
greenhouse gas emissions by up to 50%.


What is the Blue Economy?

The blue economy is a framework for balancing economic growth with environmental
stewardship. It’s a way of creating jobs and revenue while protecting our shared resources. And
it’s not just about water, but also the ocean, land and air.
The blue economy can help us find ways to protect our shared resources while also generating
jobs, revenue and other social benefits at the same time. But we need new policies to make this
happen in practice—and those policies need to be global in scope.
Article: The United Nations Definition of the Blue Economy.

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The term ‘Blue Economy’ was first coined by Gunter Pauli in his book by the same name “The
Blue Economy”. The idea behind this concept is to create a new economy that will be centred
around ocean industries and activities such as aquaculture, seaweed farming, and marine mining.
In contrast, the traditional “red economy” is based on the unsustainable harvesting of ocean
resources or uses such as a dumping ground for waste, industrial run off and carbon emissions.
The concept has been popularised by various organisations including the World Economic Forum
(WEF) and Pew Trust’s Ocean Based Climate Solutions Team that has sponsored research into
solutions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from oceans.
The Ellen MacArthur Foundation defines the Blue Economy as the circular economy as a
regenerative system in which resource input and waste, emission and energy leakage are
minimised by slowing, closing and narrowing energy and material loops. This can be achieved

through long-lasting design, maintenance, repair, reuse, remanufacturing, refurbishing and
This approach has been adopted in many countries around the world such as Japan, France and
Chile with the aim to make it more popular world wide.

Using Seaweed To Capture Carbon

Seaweeds are known to be carbon sinks, meaning they absorb carbon dioxide from the
atmosphere and store it as harmless organic matter.
The lifetime of carbon in seaweeds is longer than that of land plants, so their ability to sequester
atmospheric CO2 is much higher than that of terrestrial plants.

Seaweed Farming Within the Blue Economy

Seaweed farming can be utilised within the blue economy in a number of ways. One growing
example of which is the introduction of Carbon offset credits that aquaculture producers will be
able to sell carbon credits against their seaweed farms as a way of adding extra value to their

Aquaculture & Carbon Offsets

Carbon credits are created when carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere. This can
happen naturally through photosynthesis or through industrial processes, e.g., burning fossil fuels.
The resulting credits may be traded as a commodity and used to offset carbon emissions in other
industries, e.g., the energy sector.
The Blue Economy initiative offers an opportunity for aquaculture producers to sell carbon credits
against their seaweed farms as a way of adding extra value to their operation and creating
additional income streams at no cost to them on site or offshore facilities that will help offset
some of the costs associated with operating a seaweed farm!

Management Strategy

With proper management strategies in place, there is no reason why aquaculture must adversely
impact its ecosystem or contribute negatively towards climate change and ocean acidification.
The Blue Economy contains a series of environmental benefits that could be realised if
appropriately managed. Aquaculture can be a sustainable industry that uses farmed fish to reduce

pressure on wild stocks of fish and shellfish and thus will help protect the environment from over-
fishing, which is one of the greatest threats facing our oceans today. By producing more protein

from fewer animals it reduces the carbon footprint of the food industry by reducing the amount of
land needed for agriculture production (i.e., soy beans) as well as decreasing deforestation rates
caused by increasing demand for animal feed crops such as corn and soybeans (which are used
to feed livestock)


The Blue Economy is not just limited to Aquaculture, There are nine key economic sectors that the
blue economy encompasses including:

  • Fisheries
  • Fisheries, aquaculture, and seafood processing
  • Maritime renewable energy
  • Marine transportation
  • Blue tourism
  • Blue energy and Blue chemicals
  • Blue Minerals
  • Blue Real Estate and infrastructure
  • Blue finance

The Future of the Blue Economy

The Ocean economy is said to contribute over $8 trillion to global GDP but the future of the blue
economy is uncertain, and it is important to be aware of the potential benefits and risks. The blue
economy is a new concept and will take time to develop. It is unlikely that in its current state, it
will lead us toward a sustainable food system for all on our planet. However, we can use this idea
as a way of thinking about how we want our future oceans to look like and work towards that end
goal by making changes today. With that in mind a 2013 study estimated that fish farming could
account for 70 percent of total world fish consumption by 2030. Along with thoughts and plans to
make Ocean-based renewable energy sources generating up to 16 percent of the world’s
electricity by 2050. A 2013 World Bank report estimated that the ocean economy could create an
additional 2.5 million jobs globally by 2030. This sets out a vision that the oceans can be a driver
of prosperity and a solution to some of the world’s biggest problems.
A United Nations report proposes that humanity can quadruple ocean economic growth by 2030,
creating up to $1 trillion in new value for society, supporting the creation of up to 280 million
decent jobs, and contributing significantly to poverty reduction and sustainable development.
The report is based on five years’ research involving more than 120 experts from diverse
disciplines and regions.


The blue economy is a sustainable approach to economic development that takes into account
environmental, social and economic factors. The economy is based on the Ocean as a source of
food, energy, minerals and other valuable resources; sustainable ocean-based economic activity;

and the blue economy and sustainable development. If we can all work together within this
economy we an make sure that large corporations use due diligence when making decisions that
involve them leaving a large carbon footprint. The fact that we can create an industry from these
potential decisions, creating jobs particularly in low income areas. Along with this we have the
ability to have a positive effect in the fight against climate change makes working within the Blue
Economy a win win for the everyone on the Planet!

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