The government presented its marine report, “Blue Oceans, Green Future” on World Oceans Day. The report highlights the significant role the ocean plays for Norway and for the world, as well as the many challenges and opportunities the ocean economy can offer.
“Norway’s history is a tale of the sea. The sea contributes to economic growth and creates jobs all along our coast. This report shows the impressive development we have seen in our ocean industries, and the enormous potential that the sea represents, as long as we operate sustainably,” says Prime Minister Erna Solberg (H).
The combination of preserving clean, rich oceans and using them in a sustainable way has been one of this government’s most important tasks since it took office in 2013. The aim of the government’s ocean policy is to allow for the greatest possible sustainable job creation and economic growth, as well as to allow new ocean industries to develop and grow. In the “Blue Oceans, Green Future” report, the government sets out the most important milestones of its ocean policy and of the developments in the oceanindustries.
The ocean is a global concern
The way we use the ocean is changing. Industries, both existing and new, are continuing to develop, and activity is increasing. The ocean and its well-functioning ecosystems can provide us with, among other things, more jobs, more food, and clean energy. However, the ways in which we harvest the oceans’ resources also carry with them a big responsibility.
“The ocean is a global concern, and the government wishes to increase worldwide understanding of the relationship between the economic significance of the world’s oceans, and the environmental problems they face. Therefore, in 2018, I took the initiative to the international High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, and 14 countries are currently committed to sustainable ocean management. This work will also be important in the future,” says Solberg.
Norway has a long tradition of knowledge-based ocean management. The management plans for the Norwegian sea areas are a tool for facilitating both economic growth and food security, and to maintain the environmental values of those sea areas – in line with the Ocean Panel’s conclusions. This experience is also in demand. Over time, the oceans have become more and more important to foreign and development policy.
“The Ocean Panel’s work shows that investing in sustainable ocean industries pays off, and it can make a considerably larger contribution to energy, food supply, health and climate than it does today. Through international assistance and other collaborations, we know that Norwegian experience and expertise in sustainable ocean management is highly sought after and valuable for others,” says Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide (H).
One third of all grants and loans from Innovation Norway goes to ocean businesses
Research and development of new technology is vital to ensure sustainable growth, and to make use of further economic growth in maritime industries. Therefore, the government is investing in the development of sustainable and emission-free solutions to meet the world’s climate challenges and strengthen the competitiveness of Norway’s maritime industries. As a result, a significant part of the grants from the Research Council of Norway and Innovation Norway goes to various ocean industries.
“We have allocated significant funds to allow for economic growth and create more jobs in ocean industries. For example, every third krone from Innovation Norway goes to ocean related industries,” says Minister of Trade and Industry Iselin Nybø (V).
One of the government’s priority areas is climate and environmentally friendly shipping. Today, Norwegian players are world leaders in green shipping, and international players set themselves up in Norway to take part in this development. More than 70 of the ferries in Norway are run, fully or partially, with battery powered propulsion systems. In 2022, the first hydrogen powered ferry will be launched, and the first ammonia powered vessel will be operational in the offshore sector in 2024.
“Around 30 per cent of Norwegian wealth creation comes from ocean industries, and these industries are developing at an impressive pace,” says Nybø.
New aquaculture strategy
The aquaculture industry has become a significant industry in Norway. Many suggest that it will play an even more important role in the future as a source of income for communities, a sustainable food source and as a foundation for settlement and employment along the entire coast.
“Fisheries and seafood have a central position in ocean policy. We are currently working on developing the government’s new aquaculture strategy, and our goal is to increase the economic growth of the aquaculture industry. But if this industry is to continue to grow, that growth must be sustainable,” says Minister of Fisheries Odd Emil Ingebrigtsen (H).
The strategy will address increasingly important challenges including fish health and welfare, climate and environment, access to food sources, digitalisation and sharing of data, as well as access to good and suitable areas. Using our resources in a green circular economy will be an important theme.
Setting the standard for the ocean as an energy resource
In the wake of the petroleum industry, new offshore industries are emerging, including offshore wind. Already today, Norwegian players rank among other world leaders in offshore wind, and are strongly positioned for the increased international demand for such solutions.
“On 1 January 2021, the government opened two sea areas, Sørlige Nordsjø II and Utsira Nord, up for renewable offshore energy. The wider offshore wind policy will be an important theme in the government’s white paper on long-term economic growth for Norwegian energy resources, which was presented on 11 June. We examine how development is accelerating, both in terms of technology and interest from investors,” says Minister of Petroleum and Energy Tina Bru (H).
One of the goals of the Norwegian policy for offshore wind power has been to support Norwegian export companies, allowing them to compete in a growing international market, as well as to facilitate good resource management in the long term.
What does the “Blue Oceans, Green Future” report say?
- Maritime industries receive a large share of Innovation Norway’s total grants. In the period 2013–2020, the total share was 36.3% (22.3 billion kroner) of the total (61.4 billion kroner) and at defined times has varied from 29.3% to 45.8% of the total.
- In 2016, the OECD predicted that the global ocean economy will double by 2030, compared to 2010, and will grow to 40 million jobs. This can offer great opportunities for further blue economy growth in industries where Norway has specific advantages and several world-leading players.
- Ocean industries have made great strides during this government’s time in power, and the aquaculture industry is a good example of this. Aquaculture provides more production possibilities if done further out to sea. Aquaculture industry technology is developing at a rapid pace. Development is driven both by research environments and by the industry’s need to tackle environmental challenges such as fish escape and salmon lice.
- The UN’s Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development will be an important undertaking, running from 2021 until 2030, and Norway will play an active role. There will be a global effort to increase knowledge about the oceans.
- There is growing awareness of sustainable and circular solutions. The EU is now emphasizing a green restructuring where the sustainability of both production and products must be documented. Norway participates fully in the EU’s collaborative research programme Horizon Europe, where there will be several blue investments in the period 2021–2027.
- In the wake of the petroleum industry, new offshore industries are emerging. On 1 January 2021, the government opened two sea areas, Sørlige Nordsjø II and Utsira Nord, up for renewable offshore energy. One of the goals of the Norwegian policy for offshore wind power has been to support Norwegian export companies, allowing them to compete in a growing international market, as well as to facilitate effective long-term resource management.
- CO2 management will also contribute to emission reductions and the creation of new jobs. The government’s initiative Langskip (“Longship”), which captures CO2 at Norcem’s cement factory in Brevik and potentially from Fortum Varme's waste incineration plant in Oslo before storing it under the seabed on the Norwegian shelf, is a large-scale Norwegian demonstration project that includes the capture, transport and storage of CO2.
- The government’s hydrogen strategy was launched in June 2020, and points out the direction for further investment in hydrogen. A roadmap of further hydrogen investment was launched on 11 June, in a report to the Storting (the Norwegian parliament) which discusses the long-term economic growth of Norwegian energy resources. Hydrogen is particularly relevant for shipping, as it enables voyages where batteries would not be sufficient.
- Digitalisation, technology and skill transfer allow for synergy between maritime industries. The public-private partnership Sjømat (“Seafood”) aqua culture value chain was established in August 2020 and will, among other things, be a driving force for digitalisation and data sharing in the aquaculture industry. The goal is to develop and implement digital solutions as a tool for increasing economic growth in the industry, while allowing authorities to receive data which is vital for effective, efficient management.
- In December 2020, the Ocean Panel published its conclusions and an ambitious action plan for global sustainable ocean management. The Ocean Panel’s recommendations are a central starting point for the government’s work tackling ocean related issues.