Blue is the new green: How business can protect the ocean

The well-being of our planet and our economy is based on the health of the ocean. Companies need to protect it from overfishing, pollution, habitat loss and climate change. In recent years, organizations including the World Bank, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the United Nations and the United States Economic Development Administration have explored the development of sustainable business opportunities that support the blue economy in industries such as shipping, fisheries, aquaculture, tourism and energy production. Most importantly, these initiatives focus on the renewable use of ocean resources and the protection of the health of marine and coastal ecosystems.

Humanity will be in a difficult position if we cannot find a way to manage this basic natural resource responsibly.

Companies need to recognize the importance of the blue economy, recognize the dangers of exploiting the ocean, and recognize that it is our duty to protect it at all costs. We are interconnected by blue oceans and not separated by political boundaries. Our efforts must be multi-jurisdictional. They must cross sectors and international borders, drawing on deep knowledge in government, academia, science and the business community.

The U.S. Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Agency recently announced funding for research projects with the potential to make a big difference, including technologies that turn spontaneous ocean movement into energy, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution announced its Vision 2030 promise of advances in ocean science. for the global good.

Meanwhile, thanks to a grant from the US Department of Energy, Hull is working with Aegis Technology Inc. to develop a tidal turbine system that can supply energy to charging stations for electric vehicles and boats. Researchers at Resolute Marine Energy are focused on using wave energy as a fuel for autonomous underwater vehicles and desalination systems. New Bedford’s Littoral Power Systems uses water currents and a catch system to collect plastic waste in rivers before they enter the oceans.

And recently, UMass Amherst released the results of its Phase 1 study of the blue economy of the North Coast and a vision for the next decade, including sustainable fishing, offshore wind farms and expanding a network that brings together life sciences, marine science and technology leaders. to provide training and research and development for innovative opportunities. The New England Aquarium is working with partners around the world to protect this fragile ecosystem, and its scientists are advising some of the country’s largest seafood companies on ways to improve the sustainability of commercial fishing.

We can make a difference by working together to invest in our largest global asset, setting standards and policies that protect the blue economy and tackling climate change.

While many investment efforts today are focused on green initiatives, business leaders need to look at the economy and opportunities through a new lens. Take an active role in strengthening the blue economy by rethinking global supply chains that aim to protect this valuable resource, in consultation with local authorities to take a stand on pollution, illegal fishing and other unavoidable issues, such as e.g. identifying marine protected areas and minimizing ocean noise, while investing in programs and coalitions that support marine conservation.

The ocean is huge, but so is our strength to make a difference.

Jane Steinmetz is managing director of the Ernst & Young LLP office in Boston.

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