The European Commission is launching a new maritime strategy for growth in Atlantic

The strategy identifies challenges and opportunities in the region and takes stock of existing initiatives that can support growth and job creation. The strategy will be implemented through an Action Plan in 2013. The Commission calls on stakeholders to help design concrete projects which would be able to benefit from EU funding. The Commission will facilitate the development of this Action Plan through a series of workshops and discussion groups that will be open to a wide array of participants - the ‘Atlantic Forum’. The new strategy is developed under the EU’s Integrated Maritime Policy and follows similar strategies for the Baltic, the Arctic and the Mediterranean areas. Commissioner Damanaki will present the strategy at the high-level Lisbon Atlantic Conference and Stakeholder Day, on 28-29 November, where a first discussion will take place.

The Commission invites all stakeholders - national, regional and local authorities, the industry, civil society, and think tanks – to contribute their expertise and ideas to the Action Plan through the ‘Atlantic Forum’. It will comprise a set of workshops focused on the challenges and opportunities outlined in the strategy, and an online discussion forum. The Forum will be launched in 2012 and dissolved in 2013, after it will have contributed to the Action Plan. The strategy does not foresee additional funding for its implementation: actions will be supported from existing and future EU funds.

Great potential for blue growth
The Atlantic Ocean has high potential for wind, wave and tidal energy. It is estimated that by 2020 around 20% of Europe’s offshore wind capacity could be located in the Atlantic region. Sea-bed mining could help meet some of the EU’s demand for raw materials. Offshore aquaculture is a promising sector, and one third of all the fish caught by the EU’s fishing fleet is landed in the Atlantic ports.

But most of these opportunities are still in their infancy and need to be nurtured to grow into self-sustained industries. That is where the public authorities and other stakeholders in the region step in; and the EU can help ensure synergies on a transnational level. Much is already being done, but these actions need to be streamlined and reinforced through efficient use of existing and future EU funds.

For example, maritime spatial planning can boost aquaculture, as it gives investors greater legal certainty and prevents conflicts for marine space. Marine knowledge and the European Marine Observation and Data Network (EMODNET) can provide marine data that are indispensable for taking informed decisions. Better integration of maritime surveillance can help respond faster to threats and emergencies, from natural disasters to piracy, making the Atlantic Ocean safer.

New industries, however, cannot develop without a skilled workforce. Clusters of academia and maritime industries should be supported and workers need assistance and re-training to help them move from declining industries, such as fisheries, to emerging ones. As regards tourism, the Atlantic region has a lot to offer to holidaymakers. Its culture, cuisine and natural beauty are assets to further exploit.

Coasts, territorial and jurisdictional waters of five EU member states (France, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom, and their overseas territories, i.e. the Azores, the Canary Islands, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Madeira, Martinique, Saint-Barthélemy and Saint-Martin), as well as international waters fall within the strategy’s scope. The strategy does not cover the North Sea or the Arctic Ocean. A separate strategy exists for the latter.

The development of the Atlantic Strategy dovetails with the Integrated Maritime Policy for the EU, which aims to coordinate all EU policies with a maritime dimension to ensure environmental sustainability and the quality of living conditions in coastal regions while promoting the growth potential of maritime industries. Strategies have already been adopted for the Baltic Sea, the Arctic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.

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