Continuous investment in the blue economy is fostering the development of new and more intense uses of ocean resources that could have a noticeable impact on marine ecosystems, particularly along our coastlines.
Blue growth not only entails larger and more intense ship traffic, but also the expansion of other industries in the very near future. This increased dependence from marine-based resources will require careful spatial planning for a coordinated use of shared spaces and adequate protocols to prevent pollution that can hamper the sustainability of our oceans.
The number of marine energy floating and fixed structures is already increasing. Structures are also much larger, such as wind farm installations moving further away from shore and pushing up capacity factors, with 260 m high 12 MW turbines now being deployed. Furthermore, sustainable grid solutions will require a constant flow of energy, which suggests future integration of wave, tidal, wind and solar energy farms on sea.
Within the offshore oil and gas industry, up to 3 000 structures are likely to be decommissioned by 2040 as they reach maturity and the end of their operational lifetimes. Some of these structures are being converted to permanent artificial reefs or used for aquaculture farming activities.
The growth of offshore wind, tidal and wave also creates further potential synergies with the offshore hydrocarbons sector; integration could bring benefits in terms of reduced costs, improved environmental performance and re-utilisation of infrastructure.
This shared use of marine structures suggests that improved biofouling management will become ever more important, particularly because biofouling is one of the main pathways for the transfer of invasive aquatic species. Thus, the development of new solutions to improve biofouling management is an example of how maritime industries could benefit from working together in a cross-sectoral approach.
With this in mind, the GEF-UNDP-IMO GloFouling Partnerships presented last week at the Sustainable Ocean Summit (Paris, 18-20 November 2019) its proposal for creating a Global Industry Alliance (GIA) for Marine Biosafety. The GloFouling GIA will be a platform of leading private sector companies for cross-sectoral dialogue and interaction, with the possibility of sharing resources to identify and develop solutions that would benefit all industries. It is precisely private sector initiatives that are leading the way in the search for new technologies and practices and it can provide examples of how the blue economy can become truly sustainable and ensure the protection of marine biodiversity. SOS 2019 is an annual event organised by the World Ocean Council, to gather the Ocean Business Community dedicated to advancing private sector action on responsible use of the seas.
For more information on how to join the GloFouling GIA, contact the GloFouling Partnerships Project Coordination Unit at firstname.lastname@example.org. A concept paper explaining the GIA, it objectives and governance is also available upon request.
 Offshore Energy Outlook 2018, IEA.