I very much enjoyed taking part in a stimulating panel discussion at the brilliant Smart Maritime Network’s Singapore conference yesterday afternoon. The ‘Creating value for technology users‘ panel was vibrantly led by Kris Kosmala, with Patrik Desanti-Fettkenheuer, Peter Schellenberger and Steen Lund making up the experienced and insightful cohort.

One of the fundamental questions raised was if the term ‘value’ itself was overused within the marine and maritime domain. The answer from the panel was both swift robust – if anything, the key maritime industry players thought that it was actually under-used.

The maritime sector is no different to every other industry pushing towards greater digitalisation – how do you navigate the huge amount of new product offers to pick the best? While you can obviously look positively at the exciting range of technology coming to Blue Economy and related markets, there is also an argument that there is almost too much.

Decision-makers tell us regularly that they tire a little of flashy PowerPoint presentations that focus far too prominently on the technology capabilities rather than the value it will deliver. Also – with new opportunities appearing so swiftly – there is the constant worry amongst commissioners that if they invest in one product on a multi-year contract, another – perhaps better – one will come along before the ink is dry on the deal.

Starting points

The gently circling theme in all of this related to the genesis of new products and services – do they start with the technological capability or the user need? There is a huge graveyard of dead ocean technology projects out there that came to life because they were technically feasible but not, in the end, commercially attractive as they did not manage to nail the value that they could provide.

Well-worn sales methodology tells you to understand the economic buyer, the user buyer and the technical buyer. In many ways, the economic buyer can be the easiest to satisfy, if you have the right evidence, of course. Potential bottom line return on investment is pretty black and white, though the point was made that evidence underpinning promises can be opaque.

Proper conversations with user buyers in the maritime environment can rarely be anything other than illuminating – unless you don’t want to listen to what they have to say.

I was reminded by the unfortunate case of one of the fall-outs of India’s Cyclone Ockhiincident in 2017 – where, sadly, at least 300 local fishermen lost their lives – was a powerful reminder of not overlooking the importance of satisfying the end user. Kerala’s Fisheries minister stated that her department had provided fishermen with satellite-enabled safety technology previously, in the form of emergency search and rescue beacons that tapped into Low Earth Observation satellites to broadcast their location to emergency services when activated. However, the Minister continued, it became apparent that many fishermen didn’t actually take the devices with them, preferring to rely on ‘natural warnings’ instead. To add insult to injury, it was eventually discovered that the devices were often left at home as playthings for the fishermen’s children. Not only did this mean that they were not protecting themselves when out at sea, but the trigger-happy children playing with the devices were also reported to have created a number of false alarms that wasted the time of the Navy and Coast Guard. Don’t get the users on board, the thing won’t get used.

That leaves the technical buyer, whose mind is often pulled in several directions with thoughts of integration with existing systems, potential new pressures on data management infrastructure and additional exposure to cyber security issues. And that’s before you even start to think about broader culture change issues that may need to be addressed across multi-disciplinary staff teams.

Open minds

That’s not to say that good product value can’t be developed when you start with the tech – as long as you go into development with an open mind and are willing and able to flex. Take autonomous vessels. They can offer so many things to so many people but the more you engage with industry users, the more nuanced picture of value will be developed. One major offshore manager told us, for instance, that he understood the basic capabilities of emerging autonomous data-collection platforms, but what really attracted him wasn’t necessarily what it could do once in the water, rather the potential for reducing the time spent on planning the logistics of seabed surveys (which, he said, took up 90% of his team’s associated effort). The quick launch and recovery possibilities of autonomous systems offered the most exciting value for that one particular user, despite the sales team not leading with that.

Speaking regularly and openly to those on both sides of the Blue Economy seller-customer fence, these relationships run the risk of being counter-productive if not managed sensitively. We have often heard sellers criticise their potential customer based for being too conservative, risk averse, slow to make decisions and ‘unsophisticated’ when it comes to tech: “They don’t get it”, we hear (as if that’s the customer’s fault!).

On the other side of the coin, sellers can quickly fall back on complaints of ‘hard sell’, engage potential tech providers when they haven’t really thought through their own strategy or what it is that they need (though dialogue can be useful to hone that). Perhaps most damaging is the tendency not to give honest feedback on the tech solution being offered – giving open, constructive feedback, even if it focuses on what isn’t attractive, can help drive towards better focus and articulations of value.

It’s good to talk

So yes, good product development relies on strong, open-minded dialogue. The more industry can engage in industrial research with tech partners, or support funded proofs of concept where honest feedback can be delivered, the greater the possibility for good product development that points in the right direction. On the seller side, perhaps more start-ups can build their business plans on a sounder understanding of just how long it can take to prove concepts and get customers on board. Those jaunty business plans that optimistically jump directly from product development to sales growth are the ones that most often end up in the valley of death.

Within that context, I also highlighted the importance of grant and innovation funding. Feedback from one of the excellent earlier panel sessions rightly praised the amount of innovation funding available in Singapore, but bemoaned the fact that many startups ‘didn’t have the bandwidth’ to access it. This may betray a lack of understanding of the value of such funds. It’s so easy just to look at them as a dollar sign, when in fact their greater value is in helping embed some deeper thinking of value. The better ones push you to define your market, articulate your user value and engage with industry to test and validate your ideas – all things that any successful business will do anyway, so why not flow some money into them, and utilise the funder’s industry networks to help you progress?

At NLA International we’re fortunate enough to be constantly reminded of the value of such exercises. We’re currently working, for example, on a market development project with the brilliantly innovative UK company FrontM, in a project kindly supported by Innovate UK. FrontM excel in using Edge AI to provide connectivity in remote environments and are extending their offer into the fisheries market. The project has enabled them to conduct detailed market research to help focus energies and to undertake highly collaborative user research across a range of stakeholders (regulators, fishermen, Fisheries Producer Organisations, traders and NGOs). It is hugely encouraging that each stakeholder group has been extremely generous with their time, thoughts and support. This has already helped FrontM to focus in on the most useful functionality, which will then be tested / validated in full industry workshops in the new year – which again has been welcomed by industry stakeholders in a number of countries.

More engagement equals more focus equals more value – everyone wins! From the willingness I sensed from fellow panellists, I’m sure much more of this is to come in the maritime industry and across the broader Blue Economy.

Thanks again to the amazing Cathy Hodge and her team at the Smart Maritime Network for once more providing the platform for such conversations to flourish in an industry pushing hard to find productive ways forward; and to my fellow panellists for such a stimulating session.

Andy Hamflett
Director, NLA International

PS Similar themes are explored in much more detail across several Blue Economy sectors in our book Technology and the Blue Economy, recently published by Kogan Page. Exploration of over 200 case studies and initiatives from the past 18 months illustrate the wide range of innovative technologies coming to market, and the themes that reach across all related industries.

However cheery an outlook you have on life, it can be easy to become despondent about the future of the world’s seas and oceans. The statistics come at you from all sides. Just last week, for example, it was reported that the latest draft report from the UN suggests that the continued warming of the oceans is “poised to unleash misery on a global scale”. Hundreds of millions of people living in low-elevation coastal zones are extremely susceptible to sea level rise attributed to climate change and face the prospect of their livelihoods and communities being wiped out in the coming decades.

Beyond that, we also know that:

All of these issues are real and live, but they are not insurmountable, and it is important to note that the world’s technologists are really raising their game. For several very interesting years we at NLA International have met and engaged with so many people attempting to take exciting Blue Economy ideas to market (and helping as many of them as possible!). We never fail to be amazed and inspired by the vision, creativity and resilience of the various sectors progressing this important work, and we are genuinely excited about future possibilities in a wide range of ocean sectors.

As what you might call balanced evangelists, we feel it is really important to tell as many people as possible about these emerging opportunities, which is why we are genuinely thrilled to see the launch of our new book on this very topic. Published by Kogan Page in London this week and New York on September 28th, Technology and the Blue Economytakes an in-depth look at how emerging technologies are having a significant and positive impact on Blue Economy sectors. It explores the challenges they face and identifies where companies and ideas are really beginning to break through.

Autonomous and remotely-operated system capabilities are growing rapidly within ocean settings.

Autonomous and remotely-operated system capabilities are growing rapidly within ocean settings.

In Technology and the Blue Economy, we take an in-depth look at issues as diverse as:

  • Cyber security and predictive modelling tools in the shipping industry.
  • Drones, self-docking ships and urgent emissions control systems in ports and harbours.
  • The rise and rise of offshore renewables (wind, wave and tidal energy).
  • The re-imagining of cruise ships as floating ‘smart, connected cities’ – using unprecedented levels of data to enhance the customer experience.
  • How the smallsat revolution is powering a new wave of maritime security services for nations who need to protect their ocean resource.
  • How next-level environmental monitoring, 3D imaging and predictive analytics might underpin very healthy growth projections in the aquaculture industry.
  • How autonomous systems, miniaturised sensors and satellite data streams are making it possible to map the seabed (only 10-15% of which is actually surveyed to a decent standard) in more cost-effective ways.
  • Just how bad the horrific surge of ocean plastic pollution is considered to be, and how policy and technology is starting to be deployed to turn the tide.
  • How underwater robots and innovative ‘re-seeding’ techniques are attempting to give coral reefs a fighting chance of survival against a wide range of potentially critical threats.
  • How the rise of the mobile phone is acting as a force multiplier to allow ‘citizen scientists’ around the world to help quantify and address marine biodiversity issues.
  • How satellites and wide range of innovative apps are attempting to drive greater sustainability into the world’s fisheries – so crucial to the prospect of feeding a growing global population.
  • How fleets of next-gen underwater robots are enabling unheard-of subsea monitoring endeavours to help find a wide range of artefacts of interest on the sea floor.
  • How Virtual Reality, anti-collision, optical scanning and ‘man overboard’ detection technologies are being deployed to protect lives at sea.
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High-powered machine learning capabilities are enabling all manner of innovative ocean data collection and analysis systems.

Across the piece, we examine the cross-cutting technologies and techniques that are having an impact on various Blue Economy sectors (e.g. autonomous vessels, satellite-enabled services and machine learning systems creating value from Big Data feature prominently).

We hope we bring all this to life in a compelling way by mixing in underpinning market and environmental statistics, broader reflections of the challenges and opportunities facing many Blue Economy industries and vibrant case studies of hugely innovative emerging technology companies, the vast majority of which are drawn from the past 18 months or so.

Finally, from our own in-depth engagement over several years in the emerging technology space also, we consider the various elements that affect the and offer some personal points of reflection of how to get round barriers, and what more can be done by those looking to support early stage innovators.

We can’t wait to share the book with you and we hope that this initiates healthy debate both about individual Blue Economy sectors and cross-cutting issues. To that end, this is the first of a six-month series of articles that explores some of the themes we have encountered in writing Technology and the Blue Economy. We hope you enjoy them.

We look forward to further engagement in the coming weeks but what we would say at this stage is that there really are many reasons to be cheerful. The technologies we feature are properly squaring up to the many challenges outlined in the opening paragraph of this article. They aren’t playing around at the edges, but pushing tech boundaries hard and building coherent business models to build in longevity. As in any sector that has strong pro-social or environmental elements, leaders of startups and growing companies in this space elicit palpable passion and energy that drives them on and brings others with them.

In short, emerging technology absolutely has the potential to save lives through supporting a sustainable Blue Economy. The future’s bright; the future’s blue.

Andy Hamflett, on behalf of fellow authors and NLA International co-Directors Nick Lambert and Jonathan Turner.

PS We’d like to thank everyone who has supported, listened to, cajoled, prodded and engaged with us in the formulation and execution of Technology and the Blue Economyover the past year. To say thanks, a limited number of discount codes are available. Please send a DM or email us to get one!

It was a real privilege to be invited to attend a dinner hosted by the team behind the Tall Ship Pelican of London at the end of August this year. The Pelican team have a passionate belief that adventure sailing is a compelling and impactful way of developing young people, releasing their potential and inspiring them with passion for the ocean. Having met five of the young people, fresh back from their most recent voyage it is easy to see why. With an age range of between 15 and 21 the young crew shared stories of their feelings and fears from before the voyage; explaining their nervousness towards a new environment, their lack of confidence and their concerns for the nature of the work on board a tall ship. All of that had gone within the week. We met five confident, bright and articulate young people who had obviously gained a great deal from their time onboard Pelican.

A typical voyage onboard the Pelican of London blends traditional seamanship skill training with hands-on experience of sailing. Alongside this teamwork, leadership and marine science are built into the schedule. The most recent trip was generously supported by Plymouth University through the provision of scientists and equipment that together enabled a number of experiments and data-gathering operations to be conducted during the journey from Plymouth to Cork and back.

We speak of sustainability a lot in the Blue Economy. Indeed, we at NLAI describe the Blue Economy as sustaining ocean environments and the people and economies that rely upon them. For the Blue Economy to be truly sustained, though, those of us within the domain must take the responsibility of inspiring and engaging future generations of advocates. The Pelican of London team have met this challenge head on.  As well as the immediate personal and social benefits gained by the young participants, the experience opens their eyes to the potential of a career at sea. The impact of this should not be underestimated. In every sector of the EU’s blue economy (except tourism), young people represent less than 10% of total employment – yet demand for new skills, entrepreneurship and innovation is high, so more definitely needs to be done to expose young people to potential ocean-based career routes.

We are delighted to be exploring ways of working with the Pelican of London team as they plan their sailing schedule for the next year. Members of the NLAI team will be supporting learning and events onboard.

The Tall Ship Pelican of London is a registered charity and so is always looking to engage with businesses, academic institutions and other organisations that can support their important and inspiring work or take part in their voyages. To learn more about the Pelican of London please visit their website or make contact directly with us so we can connect you.

NLAI’s Jonathan Turner joined a week long workshop in Iceland earlier this year. The University of Southern Denmark (SDU) and Polar Research and Policy Initiative (PRPI) hosted the event as part of a multi-year, cross-disciplinary international project on Sustainable Tourism Development in the Nordic Arctic, with the support of the Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science, Nordregio (Nordic Council of Ministers) and University of the Arctic (UArctic). The project also involves the active participation of a number of institutional partners across Europe and North America, including governments, tourism boards, tour operators, universities, think-tanks and foundations.

The network’s aim is to investigate how to utilise existing human capital, natural resources (especially marine living resources) and infrastructure capacity to develop innovative sustainable tourism that can diversify and make Arctic economic development more resilient. The Blue Economy connections are obvious many of the work shop sessions explored the balance that is being sought between enabling financial prosperity and meeting the needs of the environment and societies.

The workshop was held in Akureyri, Húsavík and Reykjavík from 18-22 March 2019, followed by a high-level dialogue hosted in the Alþingi – the Parliament of Iceland – and a networking reception hosted by the Ambassador of Canada to Iceland, Dr Anne-Tamara Lorre, at her residence in Reykjavík on the last day. The report below provides the aims, objectives and proceedings of the second workshop in Northern Iceland, while the short video offers a visual summary of the workshop. The report and the film were launched formally at a dialogue on Sustainable Arctic Tourism hosted by the Polar Research and Policy Initiative and the University of Southern Denmark at the Embassy of Iceland in London on 26 June 2019.

Watch the short film about the workshop here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=13&v=-2JDGKfj4rE

Read the report and proceedings here: http://polarconnection.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Sustainable-Arctic-Tourism-Workshop-Report-15-June-2019.pdf

Harnessing technology to preserve the world’s coral reefs

The plight of the planet’s coral reefs have been thrust once again into the spotlight in recent days. The most eye-catching headlines were also, sadly, the grimmest. A new report from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) stated that nature is declining at rates not previously witnessed in human history, with plenty of concerning emphasis on the world’s seas and oceans. Launched in Paris, the report was compiled over three years by 450 experts, and draws from over 15,000 scientific and government sources. The authors pulled no punches in asserting that ‘transformative changes’ are required in order to protect and preserve various parts of the natural world.

The statistics for sustainable fisheries do not make easy reading (even if many of them were already known). Over 55% of the available ocean area is covered by industrial fishing. Roughly a third of the world’s reported fish catch is illegal, unreported or unregulated. A third of marine fish stocks are being harvested at unsustainable levels; 60% are maximally sustainably fished; a mere 7% are underfished. Additionally, more than a third of all marine mammals are threatened, and the spectre of climate change on the safety and security of coastal communities also looms large.

The warnings related to coral reefs particularly stood out. It is estimated that almost one third of reef-forming corals are at risk. This comes hard on the heels of approximately 50% of live coral reef cover already being lost since the 1970s, and recent scientific predictions that unless urgent action is taken in this area, there may be no coral reefs left at all in a few decades’ time.

Defining the problem

So how is science and technology being harnessed to help protect coral reefs? First of all, by continuing to define and highlight their importance and the threats they face. A new reportby the U.S. Geological Survey, The Nature Conservancy and the University of California-Santa Cruz, for example, calculated that Hawaii’s coral reefs provide more than $835 million in flood protection for the state annually. Reefs are rightly feted as an essential element of marine ecosystems, but their role in protecting human life on land is perhaps less well understood. This is incredibly important as the UN / IPBES report highlighted that between 100 and 300 million people in coastal areas are estimated to be at increased risk due to loss of coastal habitat protection. Healthy reefs essentially act as submerged breakwaters, thus dissipating up to 97% of wave energy offshore – energy that could wreak havoc if it were left to reach land unchallenged during a severe weather event.

EOMAP’s 3D model of Wreck Island Reef, Australia. Source: EOMAP.

Satellite-derived earth observation imagery is being put to good use in several ways. Remote sensing company EOMAP has just announced that it will be showcasing the world’s first 3D habitat map of the entire Great Barrier Reef this week. Their mapping project, undertaken in partnership with the University of Queensland, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the Australian Institute of Marine Science, claims to provide unprecedented detail (to 10m horizontal grid resolution) for every one of the 3,000 reefs contained within the 350,000 square kilometres of ocean that makes up the Great Barrier Reef. Such detail on predicted coral types, water depth, geomorphic zonations and bottom types will provide an important baseline for further scientific endeavour and, no doubt, will help to pinpoint those areas that require urgent intervention.

Others are also utilizing the growing potential of satellite-derived bathymetry (SDB), which is coming of age thanks to significant advances in remote imaging and computer modelling and algorithmic power. The United Kingdom Hydrographic Office, for example, recently contracted innovative earth observation company TCarta Marine to provide a baseline dataset of water depths and seafloor classification around the Republic of Kiribati, a Commonwealth state in Micronesia. Located in the central Pacific Ocean, the country’s 110,000 inhabitants are, like so many of its near neighbours, at risk of the rising sea levels now predicted to be inevitable due to the unchecked advance of climate change. To help understand how best to protect the country, whose islands are on average only 2 metres above sea level, TCarta will use satellites to map some 5,000 square kilometres of the surrounding waters. Of great interest here is that, even at the project’s inception, the research team has already identified many new reefs.

Red Sea coral, shown using satellite-derived bathymetry. Image courtesy of TCarta.

On a macro level, scientists from the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation in Maryland, USA, and the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science launched the world’s first global coral reef atlas. The digital atlas contains maps of over 65,000 square kilometres of coral reefs and surrounding habitats, and was again collected by Earth-orbiting satellites, this time bolstered by observations in the field with traditional survey boats and divers with video cameras.

Such detailed mapping is essential to help quantify the size of the problem and target responses appropriately. Here at NLA International, we are also pleased to be working with TCarta on a joint initiative we have called Start With The Chart. This endeavour uses TCarta’s cost-effective satellite-derived bathymetry charts (with benthic habitat mapping also derived from satellites) as a platform for a broad range of potential marine and maritime interventions and decision-making processes – from navigational analysis to marine spatial planning and ecosystem management. Broadly, then, Start With The Chart supports marine and maritime policy development and governance. Within the specifics of the coral reef domain, that could help authorities to locate areas in need of urgent intervention or greater protection within broader place-based management strategies, areas which again are receiving technological boosts in several ways.

Model behaviour

As well as maintaining resilience against the effects of global warning, coral reefs are also vulnerable to the adverse effects of human activities on land. Harm can come in the form of wastewater discharge, the run-off of fertilisers as well as the more obvious intrusion aligned to greater expansion of coastal developments. In many cases, the detrimental effects of these impacts are only noticed once the damage has been done. To counter this, and enable more proactive action, researchers from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa recently used high-powered computer models to identify specific areas on land where improved wastewater management and landscape practices would lead to the greatest positive impact on nearby reefs and the ecosystems they support. By simulating various potential coastal developments and climate change scenarios, the computer modelling was able to pinpoint areas where the upgrade of cesspools and reduction of fertiliser use would benefit coral reefs both on wave-sheltered shores with low circulation (shown to be more vulnerable to land-based pollution) and those on wave-exposed shores.

Such place-based management (which again, can be informed by satellite-derived earth observation imagery) is undoubtedly an important tool in the fight to protect reefs. A broad view of place-based management is required, as coral reefs are under threat from sometimes surprising sources – rats, for example. Research undertaken recently in the British Indian Ocean Territory under the auspices of the UK’s Blue Belt programme revealed that bird droppings make for healthy reefs. So, when sea birds are driven away by invasive rat species, reef health is threatened. As scientists also recently unveiled that they had identified the presence of a previously unknown penguin colony in the Antarctic by studying their guano as identified in NASA landsat imagery, another benefit of satellite imagery becomes apparent.

A 3D visualisation from the University of California – San Diego experiment. Source: Journal of the International Coral Reef Society.

Once interventions have been implemented, significant additional resource can be required to check on progress made. Virtual reality technologies are finding a wide range of uses across Blue Economy sectors by allowing practitioners and trainees to experience sea-based activities without the cost or health and safety issues of actually travelling to potentially distant or harsh environments. Scientists at the University of California – San Diego have now combined imaging and 3D structuring software to allow the virtual assessment of how coral reefs are recovering after harmful bleaching incidents. The technology was trialed in Palmyra Atoll, south of Hawaii, which suffered a serious bleaching event in 2015. According to one of the lead researchers, by sequencing an eight-year collection of 15,000 images of the reef, 3D photographic mosaics of the ecosystem provided a virtual representation of the corals, in effect enabling them to “bring the reef back into the lab.” Virtual reality headsets enabled the researchers to ‘dive’ into the images to assess the changes that took place on the reef.

AI, robots, games and nanotech

These are merely innovations that have been announced in the past few days. Previously, eye-catching emerging approaches have included the widespread installation of artificial reefs; deploying robotic jellyfish to monitor reef health; using video game technology to allow citizen scientists to help classify corals; releasing robots to reseed reefs withmicroscopic coral larvae; and the production of a one-molecule-thick biodegradable film that floats on the ocean surface and blocks the sun’s harmful rays.

So, while some comfort can be drawn from the emergence of these innovations, particularly the convergence of satellite-derived earth observation imagery, high-powered computer modelling and human-centred place-based management, is it enough? Will such innovations lead to the kind of ‘transformative change’ that the UN insists is essential in order to put a stop to the destruction of the natural world?

Where we see real, significant investment being made in innovative technologies across Blue Economy sectors – in offshore renewables and aquaculture, for example – they are often accompanied by the promise of obvious, tangible, near- to mid-term financial returns – good for the planet, but also good for investors.

However, as coral reef conservation falls more under the preventative agenda, where will the money come from to ramp up more coral reef innovation? Where will the revenues be found to propel promising innovations out of academia and into the marketplace before it is too late? And who will pay for them within a commercial model – are any innovative business models emerging that alter the way that this dangerous conundrum is being viewed?

Please share any examples you may have related to these questions. You can follow NLA International’s LinkedIn company page here and follow us on Twitter here. Feel free to suggest or request articles on technologies being used in any Blue Economy sector.


Articles referenced include:

Human society under urgent threat from loss of Earth’s natural life, via The Guardian

Modern life ‘eroding foundations’ of human existence, driving a million species to extinction: U.N. report, via the Japan Times

UN Report: Nature’s Dangerous Decline ‘Unprecedented’; Species Extinction Rates ‘Accelerating’, via un.org

Next generation ‘may never see the glory of coral reefs’, via The Guardian

Study says Hawaii reefs provide $835M in flood protection, via CTV News

Seabirds enhance coral reef productivity and functioning in the absence of invasive rats, via nature.com

Scientists Discover Hidden ‘Supercolony’ of 1.5 Million Penguins After Tracking Poop From Space, via vice.com

Scientists Create Giant Atlas of World’s Most Remote Reefs, via gizmodo.co.uk

UKHO Contracts with TCarta, via Marine Technology News

Place-based management can protect coral reefs in a changing climate, via ScienceDaily

Virtual reality assesses coral reef recovery after bleaching, via Digital journal

Marines, BFAR install artificial reefs in Sulu, via Philippine News Agency

This Robotic Jellyfish Can Monitor The Coral Reef With Little Disruption, via therichest.com

Coral Reef Video Game Will Help Create Global Database, via Earth and Space Science News

‘Crop duster’ robot is helping reseed the Great Barrier Reef with coral, via Digital Trends

Could a floating film protect coral reefs?, via newatlas.com

We’re currently seeking insights from aquaculture and mariculture industry representatives.

If you operate in this sector and would like to complete a short survey or take part in a brief interview please let us know. The survey takes no more than 7mins to complete and is available here.

We’d very much appreciate the opportunity to learn more about the way you operate. In particular we are exploring the extent to which remote sensing is already (and could further) improve efficiency and effectiveness.

Tourism is arguably the most accessible theme across the blue economy spectrum.  Perhaps it’s almost too obvious when considered against deep ocean exploration, mineral extraction, fishing in the open ocean and a host of other themes and industries that seem somehow more mysterious and commercial but marine and coastal tourism accounts for 26% of the blue economy, making it the joint second largest ocean industry. Only the oil and gas sector is considered to have higher economic value in the ocean domain.

Naturally any activity that entices large numbers of people to one area carries with it concerns for the preservation of its geography as well as the local population. One may weigh in the balance the financial benefits of a tourism industry whilst mulling over the potential for their cultures and customs to be eroded by the desire of ‘outsiders’ to engage and observe. In more extreme instances visitors have significant impact purchasing local properties, land and introducing tourism developments.

This week JT has joined the independent, international foreign policy think-tank Polar Research and Policy Initiative (PRPI) for their second workshop in a series exploring Sustainable Tourism Development in the Nordic Arctic, this time held in Iceland.  This series is of workshops co-delivered and developed with the University of Southern Denmark, is concerned with the need to establish and maintain healthy tourism industries that acknowledge and respect the role of indigenous people and the environment.  The symbiotic relationship between all three aligns well to our own NLA International blue economy mission.

Iceland faces the same challenges as so many tourism destinations.  The very assets that attract tourists feel the impact of the tourists they attract.  So how does Iceland protect and sustain these assets at the same time as continuing to provide a warm welcome to over two million foreign visitors a year and the safeguard the 376.6 billion Icelandic Krona (£2.42 billion) tourism revenue a year that they generate?

Dr. Dwayne Ryan Menezes, Founder and Managing Director of PRPI, believes that a lot can be achieved through the engagement of a diverse stakeholder group. “The Nordic Arctic Tourism Workshop series has deliberately sought input from universities, government organisations, businesses, and local people with the specific purpose of generating debate, transposing understanding and sharing a variety of perspectives.” Reflecting on the week he told NLA “we’re delighted that this workshop has generated ideas and projects that will help to address sustainable tourism challenges in Iceland, the Nordic Arctic Region and beyond. It has been particularly useful to raise the debate to include a number of Ministers of the Icelandic Parliament.”

For more information about the workshop series please visit the PRPI website.  We’ll be sharing workshop findings and the video documentary via the NLA website and via our usual channels on LinkedIn and Twitter.

We would like to thank the many contributors who organised and engaged in this immersive workshop.  It’s been an insightful and thought provoking activity providing useful food for thought on a key blue economy sector.

March the 8th is International Women’s Day, this year promoting the theme ‘balance is better’ recognising the importance of gender balance.

We reviewed news and highlights from across the marine and maritime sectors to see how gender is being considered by organisations working in the seas and oceans.

IMO Secretary General Kitack Lim shared this message highlighting the value of creating gender balanced workplaces and raising the challenge to make 2019 a year of action, empowering women in the maritime community.

Maritime Cyprus shared their Top 10 Women in Shipping to mark IWD. Whilst World Maritime News covered the International Labour Organisations intention to make the maritime profession more attractive to young and women seafarers.

The PEW Charitable Trust asked Ecotrust Canda’s programme manager for Community Fisheries Dyhia Belhabib, Ph.D. for her views fisheries subsidies and the impact they have on artisanal fisheries and gender balance.

The Independent in Nigeria reported The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), has pledged  the Agency’s readiness to support initiatives aimed at getting more women involved in the industry.

President Faure of the Seychelles honoured women in the fishing industry today at State House saying “On behalf of Government, I salute the courage and boldness of all our Seychellois women in this field, who are working hard for the advancement of the fisheries and blue economy sectors. Today on the occasion of International Women’s Day, I would like to urge young Seychellois women to take advantage of the opportunities available in this field,”

Many of the articles have made the point that there is scope to do more to recognise the contribution women make and to promote the importance of gender balance. As a final thought ‘Gender and Oceans’ is the theme of World Oceans Day 2019. The UN World Oceans Day pages offers resource and guidance for all to support this.

We were inspired to share this story that came to us via the good people at GLISPA – The Global Island Partnership – an organisation that promotes action to build resilient and sustainable island communities.

During the summer of 2019, a group of nine Loyola students and alums will travel to Tuvalu, an island country in the Pacific Ocean with a population of less than 11,000 people – the fourth smallest country in the world. Tuvalu has suffered from the effects of climate change perhaps more than any country on the planet and, with ocean levels rising, faces the possibility of extinction. The team will travel to Tuvalu to facilitate sharing the story of Tuvalu as told by the island’s youth.

Tuvalu aims to be the first country to utilise 100% renewable energies by 2020 and hopes to inspire the World to follow. By helping to tell the stories of the people of Tuvalu, the project will be humanising the catastrophic effects climate change has on people around the world signalling a clear message: action on climate change cannot wait.

This story really inspired us as it talks about sustainability of attitude and approach. By developing the story telling skills of young people the project is creating a sustainable capacity. Surely this is key to establishing long term environmental stability and with it securing the futures of the people and economies that depend upon that environment.

It is great news that M/V Seabed Constructorcommenced the latest search for the lost Argentine submarine ARA San Juan in the South Atlantic Ocean some 300 nautical miles east of Commodoro Rivadavia on Monday last week. Seabed Constructoris a multi-purpose offshore construction vessel operated by Swire Seabed and chartered by Ocean Infinity(OI), the ocean technology company appointed by the Argentine Government in August 2018. The 60-strong OI and Swire Seabedteam is hosting three Armada Argentina officers and four San Juan families’ representatives as observers of the search operation.

Seabed Constructor is deploying five of OI’s leading edge autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) capable of operating from shallow waters down to 6,000 metres in the world’s deepest oceans. Equipped with multi-beam and side scan sonars, an HD camera, a magnetometer and a range of other sensors, the AUVs are tasked for autonomous operations in the deep seabed canyons and rivers that border the Argentine continental shelf.  The detailed research and planning for the search area were conducted by OI’s highly experienced hydrographic and ocean robotics in conjunction with officers from the Armada Argentina, and expertise from Sherrell Ocean Services, ThayerMahan Incand NLA International Limited.

ARA San Juan was the second of two TR-1700 class submarines, a bespoke design built by Thyssen Nordseewerke, Germany, specifically for Argentina. She experienced battery and propulsion difficulties whilst operating to the south and west of her home base in Mar del Plata on 14 and 15 November 2017, and it is assessed that she was lost with all hands due to an implosion on passing crush depth on the forenoon of 15 November. The immediate search and rescue operation was followed by additional multi-national searches and surveys in the following weeks and months to no avail.  The actual cause of the loss is unknown; some circumstances preceding the event are known from which various theories have been compared with similar submarine losses including the USS Scorpion and USS Thresher.

NLA International, the Blue Economy solutions company, is supporting the OI survey and search planning process, liaising with Armada Argentina officers and experts and providing specialist advice on naval and submarine operations. We are indebted to the support of numerous agencies including the UK’s Defence Attaché to Buenos Aires, the Royal Navy’s Submarine Parachute Group, the US Navy, and experts at the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation and the UK National Data Centre.

The thoughts and best wishes of the NLA International team are with all involved in the operation over the coming weeks, especially the families of the ARA San Juan and the Armada Argentina, and we echo the words of Oliver Plunkett, CEO of OI:

“For the sake of all involved in this tragedy, we hope that we can help locate the submarine.  As ever, there can be no guarantee of success as the exact location is unknown as are the circumstances surrounding her loss.”