On 22 September 2023 eight new projects funded under the Blue careers for a sustainable blue economy call for proposals under the European Maritime Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund kicked-off. With a total budget of 7.5 million Euro the projects aim to contribute to the development of the next generation of blue skills and to provide opportunities for attractive, sustainable maritime careers and thus perfectly align with the Atlantic Action Plan 2.0’s Pillar II: Blue skills of the future and ocean literacy . It therefore does not come us a surprise that in each project there is at least one of the four Member States with and Atlantic coasts (Ireland, France, Portugal, Spain).
While blue careers is the overarching theme, the projects will cover a broad range of topics and sectors: BLUE PORTS will address the ports sector. BOUTCAR will address the fisheries and aquaculture sectors. Turning Blue project is focusing on empowering young offenders, that are a particular high-risk group, and increasing its capacities to contribute and participate in the blue economy value chains (especially in fisheries, marine renewable energy, environmental protection, and coastal tourism). BlueBioTechpreneurs project is focusing on unlocking transversal and entrepreneurial skills for the Blue Bioeconomy. NextBlue Generation will address 5 different blue economy sectors (Nautical Tourism, Maritime Transport, Marine Biotechnology, Aquaculture, and Marine Conservation) whereas BLUEAqua Edu will address the aquaculture sector. UBlue Tec is emphasizing on Under Water (UW) technologies as a cross-disciplinary key enabler for numerous blue economy sectors. Last but not least, COASTAL PRO will address coastal tourism entrepreneurship.
This blue careers call has been the fourth so far under the European Maritime and Fisheries (EMFF) and European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund (EMFAF). Previous editions funded 18 projects with a total EU budget of €11 million and showed the interest for support of such skills development in the blue economy. The year 2023 is the European Year of skills has been giving an enhanced focus on skills in the European Union including in the blue economy. It has been pointed out that blue economy is a vast sector and a ‘one size fits all’ approach cannot cope with the different needs. The European Commission therefore relies on bottom up proposals and solutions – but with a clear perspective of legacy and continuation. This new call has also been emphasizing the need to address gaps in terms of green and digital competences, which are sometimes neglected in the skill gap analysis.
More information can be found on CINEA's article "Eight EMFAF projects kickstarted their work to develop the next generation of blue skills"