How can marine ecosystem services support the Blue Growth agenda?
The EU Blue Growth Agenda targets maritime economic activities that have the sea and the coasts as drivers. These activities are supported by marine Ecosystem Services (ES) in combination, or not, with abiotic outputs from the marine natural capital. This paper analyses Blue Growth activities with regards to the demand and supply of marine ES and Good Environmental Status (GES). The results show that marine provisioning ES support aquaculture and blue biotechnology, while blue energy is supported by marine provisioning ES and by abiotic provisioning, and abiotic provisioning supports extraction of marine mineral resources. Maritime, coastal and cruise tourism is supported by cultural marine ES and cultural settings dependent on marine abiotic structures. All these multi-sectoral economic activities depend on healthy marine and coastal ecosystems that are provided by regulating and maintenance ES combined with the abiotic regulation and maintenance by natural marine physical structures and processes. In order to balance concurrent sectoral interests and achieve sustainable use of marine resources there is the need to consider indicators for demand for ES, which are social and economically driven, and for the supply, which are dependent on ecosystems capacity to provide the required marine ES. Some of the actions foreseeing GES are already anticipated in legislation that underpin Blue Growth, whilst others could benefit from additional regulation, particularly in what concern the exploration and exploitation of marine mineral and biological resources. Blue Growth options require navigating trade-offs between economic, social and environmental aspects.
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