The EU Blue bioeconomy report 2022 is public

The EU Blue bioeconomy report 2022 in public

The blue bioeconomy includes any economic activity associated with the use of renewable aquatic biological resources to make products. These include novel foods and food additives, animal feeds, nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, materials (e.g. clothes and construction materials) and energy.

The Blue bioeconomy report is released every two years and aims to provide an updated overview of the European Union’s blue bioeconomy sector.

The 2022 edition of the EU blue bioeconomy report focuses on algae and seaweeds, as the algae sector has been recognised as the most notable sector of the EU blue bioeconomy. In line with the tradition of addressing cutting-edge topics in blue bioeconomy, this 2022 edition deals with (1) an overview of latest developments of micro- and macroalgae cultivation systems, (2) a focus on sargassum, (3) an analysis of seaweed as blue carbon, and (4) a dissertation on how seaweed can transform regional economies. Each topic is addressed in a separate chapter of the study. In particular:

  1. The first chapter explores the latest developments of micro- and macroalgae cultivation systems. Seaweed farming and harvesting are still very small-scale in Europe – despite 36% of entries in a global seaweed industry database being in Europe, many are start-ups not yet commercially operational.
  2. The second chapter focuses on sargassum, a genus of large brown seaweed that spends its life on the ocean’s surface and floats in large masses. Pelagic sargassum plays a crucial role in marine ecosystems, serving as hotspots for biodiversity and productivity in otherwise substrate poor, low-nutrient open-ocean waters. However, the overgrowth of floating biomass and inundation along the coasts have caused negative environmental and socio-economic effects.
  3. The third chapter addresses the topic of “seaweed as blue carbon”. Seaweed ecosystems play a crucial role in the marine carbon cycle. There is scientific consensus that seaweed acts as a net sequestrator of CO2 worldwide, potentially matching levels of sequestration from tidal marshes, mangroves and seagrass ecosystems combined.
  4. Finally, the fourth chapter provides an analysis of how seaweed can transform regional economies. The European seaweed industry is both small in scale and regionally imbalanced. There is a growing demand for seaweed products that producers cannot fulfil due to a variety of factors, such as knowledge silos, lack of data transparency, unpredictable production cycles, inefficient supply chains, complex regulatory frameworks, etc. All of these factors disincentivise risk-averse investors and businesses.

The challenges facing the European seaweed industry are not technology-driven. In fact, they seem to be more related to governance and market issues. The reversal of this trend will depend on the stable access to raw material, the development of value-added products and the transfer of expertise between regions where production is well developed and those wishing to develop the industry.

The EU blue bioeconomy report is prepared by the European Market Observatory for Fisheries and Aquaculture Products (EUMOFA). EUMOFA is a market intelligence service of the European Union developed by the European Commission. It works to increase market transparency and efficiency, analyses EU markets dynamics, and supports evidence-based policy-making.

Photo credit: Bogdan Giușcă 
Download the EU Blue Bioeconomy report, 2022 edition.