During the last years, the Black Sea countries have increased their interest and their efforts in relation to blue economy initiatives. Although blue businesses in the region are of great potential, many steps have to be taken to effectively support blue businesses and unleash their potential to the fullest.
The project 4BIZ was launched in 2022 with the aim to provide knowledge and an operational supportive framework for the empowerment of blue businesses in the Black Sea focusing on three established blue economy sectors: fisheries and aquaculture, coastal and maritime tourism and maritime transport.
Research was extended outside the Black Sea to other EU sea-basins, i.e. Baltic Sea, Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, with the aim to identify good practices at policy and operational levels that could support the mitigation of challenges for blue businesses in the Black Sea.
A policy review of the regional and national frameworks in the selected sea-basins showed the emphasis placed on blue economy in these regions. Diversification of coastal and maritime tourism and fisheries, promotion of aquaculture as an alternative practice of breeding fish, and digitalisation of maritime transport are the most common points of regional and national action plans.
In addition, the emerging need for funding and skilled workforce in the selected sea-basins is covered by the financial and technical support of diverse funding frameworks, as well as by the catalytic role of business incubators, accelerators and innovation hubs. In spite of the fact that the majority of them are EU wide, they target both EU and non-EU Member States, focusing on a wide range of themes (e.g. education, research, digital innovation, market competitiveness, sustainable management of enterprises). Particularly, the incubators, accelerators and innovation hubs constitute meeting points where entrepreneurs communicate, cooperate, exchange ideas and elaborate on their companies.
In this respect, blue businesses across the aforementioned sea-basins are boosted, while they integrate all three pillars of sustainable development (economic, social, and environmental).
Worth noting that the ideas which have been developed the most within the following blue businesses and blue business projects are connected with: a) healthy and nutritious products in fisheries and aquaculture industry, b) pesca-tourism and the use of artisanal fishing techniques, c) yachting sector, d) ecotourism, and e) underwater tourism. Generally, the diversification of tourism is considered the key to unlock the potential for blue businesses’ growth in a sustainable way.
Following these main guidelines, the Black Sea countries could adopt and replicate the identified best examples, based on their particular needs and priorities.
Through a matchmaking process, it is observed that the identified challenges for the Black Sea blue businesses are divided into three categories, based on the timeline for their mitigation: a) Lack of financing to support SMEs and start-ups (short-term),, b) blue skills development (short-term), c) business innovation (mid-term), d) resilience to climate change (mid-term), and e) appropriate legal and regulatory framework (long-term).
As for the mitigation measures based on the good practices from the other sea-basins, apart from existing funding frameworks and incubators, accelerators, innovation hubs, networking platforms, maritime clusters, online database platforms, ocean literacy and social inclusion could provide significant support to businesses.
As an overall remark, it is worth noting that any efforts towards competitive, green, circular and socially responsible businesses require a top-down and bottom-up approach, both at national and regional levels. Coordination among all involved stakeholders and cross-border cooperation are essential components to boosting blue economy.
The present report aims to provide a review of policies at regional and national level in the selected sea-basins, as well as to highlight good practices of supporting mechanisms and blue businesses. Its results will feed the ongoing research and consultation activities and will support the development of pilot services under the 4BIZ project.