Public consultation on marine biotechnology

From 18 November 2013  to 10 February 2014

Objective of the consultation

Marine biotechnology has the potential to help in addressing some of today’s greatest challenges, including those relating to health, food supply, environmental sustainability, energy security and others. At the same time the introduction of new high value added products and processes into the market can stimulate economic growth, leading to the creation of new high-quality jobs. This is why this nascent industry has been highlighted as one of the five blue growth focus areas in the Communication on “Blue Growth: opportunities for marine and maritime sustainable growth”, adopted on 13 September 2012. In the upcoming months, the European Commission will seek to develop an in-depth understanding of the sector and its future trends. Based on the findings, the Commission will determine whether or not further action at the EU level is needed to accelerate the development of the sector.

Marine ecosystems are much more biologically diverse than terrestrial ecosystems, yet they have been so far explored and exploited to a much lesser extent. As the research technologies advance, however, we are increasingly able to access valuable marine resources. The incredible diversity of marine life can translate into a wide range of useful applications. Marine Biotechnology can be defined as the use of marine bioresources as the target or source of biotechnical applications. Enhancing aquaculture productivity through containment and rearing technology is an example of the former, more established applications of biotechnology. Modern applications include for example the derivation of drugs from marine sponges, fuel from microalgae and environmental monitoring technologies.

In this initiative, the Commission focuses particularly on the cutting-edge innovative applications of marine biotechnology. Whilst this part of the marine biotechnology sector currently only takes the form of a niche market of high value added products and processes, some suggest that there is a strong potential for it to grow and develop further to become an important contribution to smart, inclusive and sustainable growth in Europe. In the context of this initiative, the Commission may develop an impact assessment study, which would explore the potential of the marine biotechnology sector into detail, propose possible options to facilitate the development of the sector and analyse their corresponding social, environmental and economic impacts and inform further policy steps.

For this purpose the Commission is now launching a public consultation. Its aim is to gather information about the sector as whole and individual stakeholders, and establish a robust understanding of its strengths and weaknesses and also of the risks and opportunities that further development of the industry could involve. The results of this public consultation can possibly serve as a basis for a future initiative in support of the sector.

More information

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