State office established to propel Florida as leader in ‘Blue Economy’

by | Apr 25, 2024

The State of Florida has established the Office of the Blue Economy to harness the economic potential of maritime industries, aquaculture, and tourism through academic research, aiming for sustainable growth and positioning the state as a global leader in these sectors.

The State of Florida established the Office of the Blue Economy last week, an initiative designed to integrate academic research with the economic opportunities presented by maritime industries, aquaculture, and tourism.

The measure establishes the Office of the Blue Economy which will be housed at Florida Atlantic University. The initiative integrates academic research with the economic potential of maritime industries, aquaculture, and tourism, among others, with an eye toward sustainable growth and environmental stewardship.

“Florida has 8,436 miles of coastline, the second longest in the U.S., containing essential, valuable, and iconic natural resources, which makes it the best place for us to plant the blue economy flag,” Rep. Chip LaMarca said during bill deliberations. “This bill creates the path for the state to connect the economic resources with the relevant industries needed to make Florida a global leader in this space.”

Key responsibilities of the Office include fostering collaboration among state universities and colleges, facilitating the commercialization of academic research, and developing strategies to overcome economic challenges through technological and innovative solutions.

The office is additionally tasked with publishing annual reports on job growth, wages, and addressing labor shortages within the blue economy sectors, thereby providing a framework for targeted economic development and policy-making. The measure also mandates the office to engage in educational activities and promote Florida as a leading destination for blue economy investments and activities on both national and international stages.

“By creating the Office of Ocean Economy, we are establishing the infrastructure needed to ensure a stable, robust economy for generations to follow,” stated Rep. Kelly Skidmore.“The United Nations has designated 2021 through 2030 as the UN Decade of Ocean Sciences for Sustainable Development to stimulate ocean science – and Florida answered the call. I am elated that we have taken this first step toward making Florida the premier internationally recognized destination for research and innovation relating to what is known globally as the blue economy.”

Per state data, there are approximately 1,000 certified aquaculture farms in Florida, located in every region of the state, which produce an estimated 1,500 varieties of fish, mollusks, and crustaceans for food markets as well as for sporting, conservation, and educational purposes.

Sales of Florida aquaculture products, as reported by the USDA, totaled approximately $75 million in 2005, $68.8 million in 2012, and $71.6 million in 2018. Based on the dataset, Florida ranked 9th in the nation for total overall aquaculture value in 2018, down slightly from 6th place in 2013 and 7th place in 2005, indicating a weakening sector economy.

Moreover, total cargo units handled by Florida’s ports reached 114.25 million tons in 2023, a 1.5 percent rise from 2022, while the number of cruise passengers climbed to 19.4 million, marking a 3.1 percent compound annual growth rate since 2010. Per the Council’s latest Economic Impact Study, it was found that the state’s 16 ports, through cargo and cruise activities, supported 900,000 jobs in Florida with an economic contribution value of $117.6 billion, or 13.3 percent of the state’s total GDP.


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