UK scans future marine chances

UK’s Government Office of Science has published a new report that analyzes the future of the sea and sets out the opportunities available for the UK to capitalize on its existing strengths in research, technology and the diversity of ocean industries.

The report, titled Foresight Future of the Sea, identifies 4 major areas that can deliver opportunities for the UK by exploiting its science and innovation.

The areas highlighted in the report include an improved understanding of the sea, greater co-ordination; a long-term approach to decision making; and the increasing global nature of the challenges the UK faces.

The report outlines a number of recommendations to help the UK utilize its current expertise and technological strengths to foster trade links, build marine capacity across the world and collaborate to tackle climate change.

Autonomous vessels, robotics and other emerging technologies are reported to be creating a new generation of economic activity, according to the paper.

When it comes to the emerging energy technologies, the report finds that if the challenges associated with tidal and wave energy generation are overcome – opportunities exist to grow the sector and export UK products and expertise.

Therefore, the report has identified an opportunity for the UK to define its strategy towards marine energy sources, which by industry estimates could create 20,000 skilled jobs in the next decade and contribute around £4 billion to UK GDP by 2050.

The marine environment changes over inherently long timescales and emerging industries require a long-term commitment in order to demonstrate success. For these reasons, a long-term approach to decision making is important from both an economic and environmental perspective, the paper concludes, the report states.

The clear, joined-up strategy, and getting cross-cutting agreement on what the UK should be aiming to achieve in the medium- to long-term future in marine, would create a common framework to act upon and capitalize on the strengths of the UK’s individual marine interests, according to the report.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office minister Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon said: “Both the opportunities and the challenges set out in this important report are global in scale and demand our urgent attention. The UK is rightly recognized as a world leader in the marine and maritime fields.

“We must keep pushing our scientific understanding of the oceans, harness new technologies, and support commercial innovation. Most of all, we must ensure that governments keep pace with this changing environment. International collaboration remains crucial in order to realize the fullest benefits of our marine industries and scientists, for the UK and the world.”

The Government Office for Science advises the UK Prime Minister and members of the Cabinet to ensure that government policies and decisions are informed by the best scientific evidence and strategic long-term thinking.

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