Tools for analyzing large amounts of data to improve marine safety through training, early detection, prevention and quick response.
Fishing, tourism, renewable energies, biotechnology and underground mining. These economic activities, known to all, are part of the set of actions through which humans have exploited the oceans and marine spaces in recent times. The use of the multiple resources offered by this source of opportunities, which covers three quarters of the Earth's surface, is increasingly aligned with sustainability in order to contribute to the good health of these marine areas.
Science continues to advance to find solutions that balance the economy-sustainability binomial. To get an idea of the wealth contributed by this industry, it is estimated that the 'blue economy' ranks seventh among the world's economies, with a total impact of around 2.5 trillion dollars.
In Spain, based on data from the Spanish Sustainable Development Network, the sectors linked to the seas and oceans employ 945,000 people and contribute a gross added value of close to 32.7 billion euros. These figures illustrate a potential that still has plenty of room for growth.
Traffic that "threatens" the marine world
However, not all the data are positive when it comes to the health of the seas and oceans. As a result of all these activities, together with the phenomenon of globalization that has become consolidated in the 21st century, traffic has increased significantly through these "marine highways". And it is expected to increase. The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food estimates that, between 2006 and 2014, global marine traffic grew by 260% and forecasts an increase of up to 1,209% by 2050, according to a study by researchers at McGill University in Canada.
Meanwhile, the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) has warned in a report that the health crisis caused by COVID-19 reduced maritime traffic in the European Union by 10% in 2020, a region that accounts for one-fifth of the world's maritime trade. Even so, this type of transportation kept supply lines open during the pandemic and demonstrated a great capacity for resilience, so everything points to the recovery of this upward trend from recent decades.
Maritime trade is capable of moving any type of goods. Many of these vessels handle and transport potentially hazardous materials, just as they do on overland routes, and accidents involving products such as hydrocarbons and Potentially Hazardous Harmful Substances (PHHS) put the sustainability of marine environments at risk.
With regard to oil spills, scientific and technological advances have implemented techniques and procedures to prevent and manage these incidents, which are now also beginning to be developed to respond to chemical contamination events in the marine environment.