Blue bioeconomy has promising development prospects in Saaremaa and the waters of Western Estonia

The blue bioeconomy is the key to the development of Saaremaa as well as a field that unites Estonia's largest universities, local entrepreneurs and public sector parties. These thoughts were echoed at the seminar "Blue bioeconomy in the Waters of Western Estonia" that was held on February 3, 2023 in Kuressaare, Saaremaa.

Various universities and other research and development institutions in Estonia have a lot of specialized knowledge and know-how related to the blue bioeconomy. Despite this, the potential and opportunities for renewing entrepreneurship activities related to the blue bioeconomy in Saaremaa and the waters of Western Estonia have so far been underutilized. The roots of the blue bioeconomy are intertwined in local culture and traditional economic activities, mainly in fishing and shipping activities, but several prospective development directions such as the agar industry, fish and mussel farming, production of biochemicals and materials, energy and coastal tourism offer new opportunities.

At the seminar, local entrepreneurs AS Est-Agar, OÜ Redstrom, OÜ Saare Fishexport, and Saaremere Kala OÜ shared their experiences and challenges, and emphasized that sustainable use of resources, innovative technological solutions, watertight profitability calculations as well as the courage to test new solutions in marketing and sales as key factors for success.

In the panel discussion, university representatives discussed the future prospects of the blue bioeconomy in Saaremaa and the roles of various parties. Dr. Jonne Kotta from the Marine Institute of the University of Tartu pointed out that Estonian scientists have proven that mussels grown in the waters of Western Estonia contain relatively few undesirable residues. According to the representative of the Estonian University of Life Sciences, Dr. Ants-Hannes Viira, blue bioeconomy and the regional approach focusing on the use of Estonian bioresources should be addressed more strongly in various national development strategies. Dr. Merit Kindsigo from Taltech Kuressaare College pointed out that the college supports technical education in blue bioeconomy with the new curriculum. The universities all agreed that the blue bioeconomy is strongly intertwined with the various areas of responsibility of the three universities, both related to water, land and people.

In the second half of the seminar, a workshop was conducted with the aims to create a vision for the development of Saaremaa blue bioeconomy in ten years, to collect data on obstacles and possible solutions. When conceptualizing the future and vision of the blue bioeconomy, it was recognized that several obstacles must be addressed in order to explore the potential of local blue bioresource overcome. Stakeholders mapped obstacles such as the lack of awareness of the blue bioeconomy as a concept in society, the lack of a common vision for the blue bioeconomy, the lack of effective cooperation between the government, researchers and other stakeholders, limited ability to develop and bring niche products to export markets, etc. During the workshop, it was found that obstacles can be overcome through improved cooperation between fields and stakeholders, joint activities, new business models and consolidation of common values.

The seminar was organized by the Estonian Maritime Institute of the University of Tartu, Taltech Kuressaare College and the Agricultural and Environmental Institute of the Estonian University of Life Sciences in cooperation with the Saaremaa Local Government, Saare Arenduskeskus, the Estonian Representation of the European Commission and the Tartu Biotechnology Park. The seminar took place within the BlueRev and BlueBioCluster projects that are Horizon Europe projects and funded by the European Union. The organizers will continue to try together to boost the blue bioeconomy with advice and strength.

Information: Anne Põder,