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Sharing maritime space to unlock growth in the blue economy


From mussel farming to wind farms, the EU-funded MARIBE project showed how various marine projects could cut costs and benefit from each other by linking up. Optimising the use of our oceans and seas would also stimulate growth in the blue economy.

Covering 71 % of the Earth’s surface, our oceans and seas are home to considerable resources that are of interest to a number of sectors. Renewable energy production, aquaculture and marine biotechnology are just some of the areas that make use of these resources, and which could drive substantial growth in the offshore, or the ‘blue’, economy.

As maritime activity grows, ocean and sea space is at a premium. The EU-funded MARIBE project explored innovative ways to boost the offshore economy in the Atlantic, Baltic, North Sea and Caribbean basins. It identified sectors where shared activities could offer economic and environmental benefits, and proposed match-ups for projects further offshore.

Combining marine energy production and aquaculture, for example, could save on costs and pave the way for facilities to be moved further offshore, where they would benefit from added protection and the flexibility that comes with being alongside energy production.

An offshore wind farm, for instance, could pave the way for the establishment of a nearby mussel farm. Likewise, a wave farm could provide protection for cages used in aquaculture farms further offshore.

The project also explored the potential hurdles to sharing, collaborating and investing within and between sectors, and developed tools to help stakeholders develop business plans, financial projections and improve their investment pitches.

MARIBE’s recommendations include the development of a common EU regulatory framework for marine spatial planning and increased funding to promote multi-use projects and platforms, as well as to boost investor confidence in this nascent sector.


Project details

  • Project acronym: MARIBE
  • Participants: Ireland (Coordinator), Belgium, Natherlands, UK, Spain, Malta, Italy
  • Project N°: 652629
  • Total costs: € 1 977 951
  • EU contribution: € 1 977 951
  • Duration: March 2015 – August 2018