€566 billion and growing: the EU blue economy is thriving

€566 billion and growing: the EU blue economy is thriving
The EU blue economy has a turnover of €566bn, with the sector generating €174bn of added value and creating jobs for around 3.5 million people.

The EU blue economy – all economic activities related to oceans, seas and coastal areas – is growing steadily according to the European Union’s first annual report on the subject.

The EU blue economy has a turnover of €566bn, with the sector generating €174bn of added value and creating jobs for around 3.5 million people.

European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, said: “The EU’s blue economy is consistently growing over the last decade and the potential for the future is promising. With investments in innovation and through responsible ocean management, integrating environmental, economic and social aspects, we can double the sector in a sustainable way by 2030.”

The blue economy covers established sectors such as:

  • Fisheries;
  • Shipbuilding and Tourism; and
  • Emerging industries, including biotechnology and ocean energy.

What does the report show?

According to the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the report presents the current status and recent trends in the six established blue economy sectors in different EU member states, to gain insight into where new opportunities and sustainable competitive advantage may be found.

Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, responsible for the JRC, said: “Thanks to the scientific input provided by the Joint Research Centre we are able to track what drives the blue economy and how it is developing. This report will support policymakers and stakeholders in creating new business opportunities and managing the resources of oceans, seas and coastal resources in a sustainable manner.”

The biggest blue economies

The UK, Spain, Italy, France and Greece have Europe’s biggest blue economies.

Spain accounts for one fifth of total employment, followed by Italy, the UK and Greece. Combined, these member states account for more than half of the total blue economy-related jobs.

Among the different sectors, that of the ‘living resources’ (i.e. fisheries, aquaculture and processing) has grown by 22% between 2009-2016. Increased sustainability plays an important role in this development.

Also, emerging sectors are successful. The biotechnology sector marks double-digit growth in member states such as Ireland, and employment in the offshore wind industry has jumped from 23,700 in 2009 to 160,000 in 2016, outnumbering employment of the EU fishing sector.

About the EU blue economy

  • Turnover: €566bn;
  • Gross value added blue economy: €174.2bn;
  • Gross profit: €95.1bn;
  • Gross profit margin: 16.8%;
  • Employment: 3.48 million;
  • 1.6% of EU’s total employment;
  • Net investment: €22.2bn;
  • Net investment to GVA: 29%;
  • Average annual salaries: €28.3000; and
  • The blue economy represents 1.3% of total EU GDP (2016).

By tracking the development of the blue economy subsectors, and examining the drivers behind, the Annual Report on the EU Blue Economy can help identify investment opportunities and provide direction for future policies, including ocean governance.

As such, this report – the latest in a series already covering the EU fishing fleet, the EU aquaculture sector and the EU fish processing sector – is a must read for any blue economy professional.

The report was prepared jointly by the JRC and the European Commission Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE).

Full report here.



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