Lots of industries under what’s being called the “blue economy” umbrella aren’t new. But they’re banding together with new technologies to confront some major hurdles to the work they want to do in the oceans.
The phrase encompasses ancient industries like maritime travel, defense, fishing, boat-building, shipping and cartography. But it also includes innovative “blue tech” endeavors like underwater robots, submarines, aquaculture, wind energy and desalination.
Their combined footprint in San Diego is big. More than 1,400 companies in the blue economy generate more than $14 billion in sales, according to a 2012 report produced by the San Diego Workforce Partnership, the Regional Economic Development Corporation and the Maritime Alliance, an interest group organized in 2007 to promote the blue economy.
But despite the sector’s size, and the importance of San Diego’s waterfront perch to its culture and bottom line, little thoughtful planning has been done to facilitate the future growth of the industries in the blue economy, experts say.