Unveiling the Blue Economy: A Path to Sustainability

Vania Jocelyn and Gautham Prasad

Discover the untapped potential of the blue economy—an innovative approach to harnessing the riches of our oceans for sustainable development. From renewable energy to marine tourism, the blue economy offers a promising solution to pressing environmental challenges. With threats like climate change and pollution looming large, now is the time to embrace the transformative power of the ocean. Join us as we delve into the depths of the blue economy and explore its role in shaping a more sustainable future for generations to come.

How do the oceans help with efforts towards Net Zero?

Temperature regulation:

- Oceans balance the global climate and regulate temperatures on land.

- The world could have warmed by 36°C if this heat had gone into the lower 10km of the atmosphere instead.

Carbon sequestration

- Oceans capture up to 70 percent of anthropogenic CO2 circulating in the global carbon cycle. Captured carbon is stored in biomass and sediments from mangroves, salt marshes, sea grasses and algae. These coastal and oceanic ecosystems are 200 times more efficient than their terrestrial counterparts and capable of sequestering up to 5x the amount of carbon absorbed by tropical forests.

- The biological sequestration process of the oceans is complex. For example, each great whale sequesters 33t of CO2 during their lifetime whereas a trees absorbs only up to 22kg of CO2/year. At a minimum, even a 1% increase in phytoplankton productivity due to whale activity would capture the equivalent to 2 billion mature trees per year. This then compounds over the 60-year life span of a great whale.

- Scientists estimate that just the 200-mile economic zone of the US coastline is capable of storing thousands of years of current US CO2 emissions.


Enter blue economy! Navigating through the cleantech sector, this untapped collaboration is looked into to make the blue economy more climate ready.


What is Blue Economy?

As a climate agent, the blue economy describes economic activities that involve the sustainable use of natural resources from the oceans and seas. Extending from marine tourism, energy and food production, to transportation, the Australian blue economy industries act as a nature-based climate solution. As an evolution from the green economy, the blue economy is set to eliminate environmental footprint by utilizing the ocean resources (1).

Source: Worldbank, 2017

Why is the blue economy important?

  1. Oceans holds 97% of the Earth’s water, produce 50-80% of oxygen, capture 30-70% of global CO2 produced by humans and absorb 90% of excess heat generated.
  2. Globally, 3 billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods, 80% of international trade in goods carried by sea and 'blue' assets are have an estimated value of $24 trillion.
  3. Small island states, relative to their land mass, have vast ocean resources at their disposal – presenting a huge opportunity to boost their economic growth and tackle unemployment, food insecurity and poverty.


Australian Blue Economy

Australia’s marine industry had a total output of $118.5 billion and supported 462,000 full time equivalent jobs (direct and indirect employment) in FY 2020-21. With the sixth largest coastline and third largest marine area in the world, the Australian coast and marine environment is intimately linked to the national economy, industry, arts, social lifestyle and cultural identity (with more than 85% of Australians live within 50 kilometres of the sea). The AIMS (Australian Institute of Maritime Sciences) index of marine industry 2020 estimates that the economic output of 14 marine industries was $81.2 billion in 2017–18. In addition, the coast and oceans provide an estimated $25 billion worth of ecosystem services, such as carbon dioxide absorption, nutrient cycling, and coastal protection. Other values cannot be easily measured in economic terms: for example, the intrinsic recreational value of the coast and ocean, and the cultural importance of Sea Country to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Moreover, Australia is considered a global ‘blue carbon hotspot’, with 12% of the world’s blue carbon ecosystems holding 5–11% of global carbon stocks. The Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 (OPGGS Act) is the predominant framework regulating offshore oil and gas and greenhouse gas storage activities. Oil and gas titles cover 392,278 $km^2$ of the Commonwealth offshore area, predominantly to the north-west of WA and in Bass Strait. The Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (DISER) releases new areas for exploration each year, with provision for public consultation. In 2021, the department also released areas for potential greenhouse gas storage opportunities, consistent with the government’s support for carbon capture and storage (CCS).


Threats to the Blue Economy

The National Marine Science Plan 2015­–2025 identified challenges facing our marine estate and the blue economy. Related stakeholders, including the Australian marine Conservation Society, have expressed their concern regarding the lack of strong policy implementations to address key threats. These threats to the blue economy’s foundation have increased as our coastal population and reliance on marine resources have risen. They include accelerating climate change, pollution, demographic change, loss of biodiversity and habitat, ageing marine and coastal infrastructure, and biosecurity threats. Ultimately, the Australian blue economy neglects its responsibility as the home to biodiverse and iconic ecosystems, underserving an integral part in fighting the climate battle.

To cope with these threats, the Australian Government has also joined forces with 13 other countries on a High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy who have now committed to having an Ocean Action Plan to sustainably manage 100 per cent of their national estates by 2025.


Blue Economy Projects and Startups



Major Operations and Projects

Blue Economy CRC

Newnham, Tasmania

  1. Modelling and operation of a hydrogen microgrid with 700kW electrolyser 
  2. Hydrodynamic energy attenuation by seaweed aquaculture
  3. Data Infrastructure Design for the Blue Economy
  4. Modelling of scalable offshore seaweed mariculture platforms

Sargassum Eco Lumber

Florida, USA

  1. Production of lumber by repurposing sargassum seaweed and recycled medium-density polyethene (MDPE) plastic waste
  2. It primarily serves the construction, furniture, and packaging industries with its innovative synthetic wood sheets


Oxford, United Kingdom

  1. Advanced environmental monitoring through AI and satellite technology
  2. Specialises in tracking marine health, particularly focusing on plastic pollution and biodiversity in the oceans, supporting governments, businesses, and NGOs in achieving their sustainability objectives

Amlaan RiverCorp

Nagpur, India

  1. Marine environment protection and facilitating waste management in rivers in India
  2. Their tool Cataclean 2.0 is awaiting launch


Torino, Italy

SEAform enables the construction of different types of settlements on water through innovative proprietary technologies, with the aim of making them self-sufficient and environmentally friendly and integrated with the marine ecosystem.

Coral Bioworks

Puerto Varas, Chile

  1. Coral Bioworks converts sustainably sourced, endemic seaweeds from Chile’s coast into a wide range of ready-to-use, natural raw materials
  2. They use zero-waste, low-energy biorefinery approach for the transformation
  3. These raw materials are then used to manufacture everyday products like paper, food or packaging.


Role of Cleantech in the Blue Economy

As it approaches a tipping point in climate change, clean technology helps push sustainability in the right direction. Clean technology is a term used to describe economic practices (products, services, and processes) adopted to minimise negative environmental footprints. With rapid deployment, the technological sector is set to cut Australia’s emissions by 81% by 2030. Australia is regarded as having some of the best wind resources in the world, providing significant opportunities as a bulk source of clean energy. The Blue Economy CRC estimates the technical offshore wind resource as 2,233 gigawatts (GW) – significantly more than Australia’s current and projected electricity demand. A partnership with Carnergie Clean Energy was launched to harness MoorPower technology to discover wave energy investment. The technology along with harnessed wind energy can be used to to reduce reliance on diesel generators in offshore operations, decreasing carbon emission and energy costs. Australian wave energy experts and industry partners were brought together through this collaboration, aiming for an investable, adoptable wave energy for offshore aquaculture. Investing in clean energy is integral to blue economy as it reduces global GHG emissions, and subsequently increased decarbonisation through ocean resources.



Great attention should be paid by businesses to the promising future the cleantech holds in the blue economy.

Having a heart of an entrepreneur is not enough— additional commitment to environmental, social, and corporate governance is imperative. Not only does this tap into financial performance and company portfolio, but this also draw green investors and other key stakeholders’ interests as they are being urged to respond to climate threats by making firm investment. In light of hope for a more climate-resilient future, the aforementioned projects and start-ups provide a good start for industry partners to look into— diving deep into the ocean for a cleaner energy future.



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