A sustainable and equitable ocean and coastal economy that optimizes advances in science and technology to create value-added, data-driven economic opportunities and solutions to pressing societal needs.
The New Blue Economy is a “a knowledge-based economy, looking to the sea not just for extraction of material goods, but for data and information to address societal challenges and inspire their solutions.”
Dr. Richard Spinrad,
Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere & NOAA Administrator
The United States is an ocean nation with a growing Blue Economy. Coastal communities in the U.S. are home to over 127 million people, 40% of the population. In 2019, the American blue economy grew faster than the nation’s economy in its entirety, supporting 2.4 million jobs and contributing $397 billion to the nation’s gross domestic product through activities such as tourism and recreation, shipping and transportation, commercial and recreational fishing, power generation, research, and related goods and services.
Mariner-related gross domestic product grew 4.2% from 2014 to 2019, much faster than the 2.2% growth of the total U.S. gross domestic product1. The economic activity of America’s seaports alone grew 17% from 2014-2018 to $5.4 trillion, comprising nearly 26% of the nation’s $20.5 trillion gross domestic product (GDP)2. And despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, American seaports are adding terminals and piers, and demand for maritime commerce is expected to triple by 2030.
If American coastal counties were an individual country, they would rank third in the world in GDP, surpassed only by the United States and China. The prosperity and security of this nation is therefore predicated on the understanding, health, and sustainable use of our oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes.
A new age in ocean technology, sustainability, and logistics requires a New Blue Economy founded on the improved collection, analysis, and dissemination of ocean and coastal-derived data and information to support economic growth, protect the ocean’s health, and address societal challenges and inspire their solutions, while protecting ocean health and ensuring social equity.
The New Blue Economy builds on the traditional Blue Economy offsite link by harnessing the power of big-data to coalesce and apply ocean and coastal data and information. Given NOAA’s role as an authoritative ocean and coastal data collector, product developer, and disseminator and as public servants, NOAA is uniquely poised to accelerate and guide the early development of the New Blue Economy by revolutionizing the application of ocean data within multiple sectors.
NOAA’s free and open source ocean and coastal data (temperature, water level, hydrography, topography, pH, salinity, surface currents, and more), provide the foundation for the New Blue Economy. These data are used by other Federal agencies, state and local governments, tribes, academia, non-governmental organizations, businesses, and the public, and are vital to the siting of offshore wind and aquaculture farms, creating the most efficient shipping routes, and better understanding the conditions needed for rapid intensification of hurricanes. NOAA’s data also include information about where certain marine life occur, whether there’s a harmful algal bloom on the way, or whether important fish stocks have moved into another country’s waters.
The rapid and accelerating pace of climate change is driving increased demand for information in the ocean and along our coasts, and NOAA is looking ahead and anticipating our country’s current and future needs by generating and disseminating the ocean and coastal data, information, products, and services that economic sectors, decision makers, and communities need. In turn, these products contribute to our Nation’s climate and economic resilience, opening up new markets, and increasing the need for authoritative coastal and ocean observations and data as a foundation.
NOAA is investing in innovative ocean and coastal observing technology to maximize the economic potential of the world’s oceans while ensuring the sustainable use of ocean and coastal resources and protecting ocean health, natural capital, and ecosystem services now and in the future.
1 Department of Commerce Marine Economy Satellite Account, 2014-2020
2 National Economic Impact of the U.S. Coastal Port System Report, 2018