The seas have always been one of mankind's biggest and most significant natural resources. In the past, primarily for food, shipbuilding, transport, and naval defences; more recently for oil and gas, and tourism; and now, increasingly, for 'blue' biotechnology, robotics, seabed mining, and renewable energy. It's no surprise, then, that coastal nations see their seas as vital national assets, and are putting an ever greater emphasis on protecting them. More countries are applying to the UN to extend their continental platform, and more companies are competing for the opportunity to explore and exploit them. The potential is as vast as the sea itself: over 70% of the planet is covered by water, and yet even now, only 5% of the seabed has been mapped and photographed.
But the more industries the seas support, the more potential there is for conflict - conflict between industries, conflict between human exploitation and marine conservation, and even conflict between nations. In many cases, these tensions can arise because of the different ways the seas are used – some industries operate on the surface (like shipping, fishing, and cruise ships), others on the seabed (like oil and gas), and others use the winds above the water. The interests of those working within each of the dimensions are often in direct opposition, and in many cases the three dimensions sit uneasily together. For example, sometimes tourist marinas co exist uneasily with fishing ports – they often compete for the same locations and have different objectives. But a more integrated approach could find ways to make these activities more mutually supportive, and the skills more transferable. Likewise ports and fish farming have previously been mutually exclusive, but it could be possible to find ways to share space and resources to their mutual benefit.
In summary, the sustainable growth and development of the economy of the sea need an integrated approach.
Only such an integrated approach to the seas can ensure they are used responsibly, effectively, and equitably. International bodies like the EU are starting to recommend such an approach, and individual countries are also looking at ways to integrate their own maritime industries. For example, by understanding how reductions in a nation's fishing fleet affect the port economy, shipbuilding, and employment opportunities in coastal communities.
PwC Portugal has been assessing the usage of the seas for 10 years, as part of the international HELM project. It's a unique barometer of the health of the various industries that depend on the oceans, and captures the new and emerging trends affecting them. In this report we look in particular at the challenges and advantages of taking an integrated approach to the oceans: the issues that arise, the practicalities that need to be addressed, and the size of the prize if this can be achieved. We also provide a snapshot of the state of play in the maritime industries, and between the maritime nations.
Senior Manager, Marketing & Communications , PwC Greece
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Assurance Partner, Transportation and Logistics Industry Leader
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Assurance Partner, Global Shipping & Ports Leader
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