The blue bioeconomy has climbed up the global, regional and national agendas in recent years, and there are increasing expectations as to its growth potential. Despite the generally positive outlook, investors need reliable information in order to evaluate the new investment opportunities in this fast-growing field, and so there should be a comprehensive way to approach the blue bioeconomy and facilitate decision-making. That is why a recent European Commission study carried out by EUMOFA has looked into the opportunities and challenges associated with the use of aquatic biomass to create products, such as novel foods and food additives, animal feeds, nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, materials (e.g. clothes and construction materials) and energy.
The study has been structured into 5 sections:
1. Mapping non-food uses of fisheries and aquaculture biomass
More than 50% of any finfish product does not directly enter the human food chain. White fish such as cod may generate almost 60% waste, ocean fish such as tuna as much as 70%. For shellfish such as scallops, wastes are as high as 88% of catches and harvests. Among main uses, the following could be mentioned: novel foods and food additives, animal feeds, nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, materials (e.g. clothes and construction materials) and energy.
2. The size of demand
Associated with the expected growth in aquaculture, the demand for fishmeal and fish oil is expected to increase. As concerns high-end uses, the outlook of the segment is bright, in view of an ever-increasing share of the population placing value on a healthy lifestyle.
3. Top products and uses
Seaweeds are primarily used for producing products for agriculture (fertiliser, animal feed) and are used also for the commercial production of additives (alginate) for food and non-food applications. New uses are in development especially from cultivated algae.
4. Investment trends
Blue Biotech is being gradually perceived as a potential good high-return investment. Furthermore, some governments are launching positive signs for supporting the sector e.g. through tax incentives and the creation of favourable regulative framework. Among top products attracting major investments, seaweed, microalgae and sea cucumbers play a key role, but also others are evolving rapidly.
5. National strategies to support the blue bioeconomy
Several European countries have adopted overarching science strategies, plans and policies. Most of them are not specific to the blue bioeconomy but include this sector to some extent. No global pan-European plan, strategy or policy specifically dedicated to marine biotechnology exists at present.