The concept of sustainable economic growth is the key issue in finding the balance between conserving the environment and maintaining prosperity. Besides environmental aspects, the blue growth label has an assumption of sustainable economic growth.

Our aim is to provide economic background information of the blue growth businesses in the Gulf of Bothnia to aid decision making regarding marine spatial planning (MSP). Focused analyses increase the stakeholders’ and authorities’ understanding of the positive and negative interactions that maritime economic activities have with each other and with the marine and coastal ecosystems and ecosystem services.

The importance of the sea regions are still underestimated in the regional development. While the existing resources are getting scarcer, there is a raising interest to explore the unused potential of the seas to support economical activities of the coastal regions. The blue growth strategy is regarded by European Commission as a long term strategy to support economically sustainable growth as a  big picture. The blue growth is seen as a significant business generating innovative solutions if there are enough support for R&D activities. Furthermore, the activities in the sea areas are increasing which requires better MSP.

The economic analyses will be done for the most important blue growth fields in the area: e.g. wind power, coastal tourism, fisheries and shipping. The analysis will be first done for the present day situation to understand profoundly the main economic values of current regional and local economic development of blue sector and their interaction with other sectors. In the second phase the future estimates and trends are done by using future scenarios. The economic information will be combined with social and environmental impacts of the growth of blue economies in different future scenarios. We will produce also methodological guidelines to integrate economic, social and environmental analyses to support MSP as part of the blue growth strategy work done in SmartSea project.

Regional studies tend to deal with many different features and are often multidisciplinary. All economic activities and particular markets are located at particular places, depending on the geographical space specificity and geographical distance. Also economic performance of a particular area depends on the nature and performance of the other markets located in the area. To understand the economic growth potential of a particular area the key task of regional economic evaluation primarily strives to provide a detailed review of the current economic position of blue economics, the corresponding empirical results and future trends surrounding the macroeconomic relationships between different fields of blue growth.

The results of the economic analyses will support scenario building. Alternative future scenarios for blue growth in the Gulf of Bothnia will be developed in a set of workshops utilising participatory futures research methods. The economic potentials of the scenarios will be calculated per sector and related to each other.

Sari Repka, Katariina Ala-Rämi, Jenny Katila