The Blue Biotechnology and non-traditional living resources is a sector that continues to grow within Europe's Blue Economy sector. They include the non-traditionally commercially exploited groups of marine organisms and their biomass application. Macro and micro-algae, bacteria, fungi and invertebrates are among the main marine resources used as raw materials/feedstock in the Blue Bioeconomy. It's associated with the use of renewable aquatic biological biomass, e.g. food additives, animal feedstuffs, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and energy.
Bio-based alternatives to traditional fossil technologies have many environmental benefits, not least helping to decarbonise chemical processes. For example, the Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP) highlights the possibilities of renewable bio-based materials, such as bio-based plastics. Algae production is a significant industry in Europe, with algae and spirulina being produced for commercial purposes in 23 Member States. Annual sales exceeded EUR 10 million in EU countries with the most production facilities (France, Spain and Portugal).
A variety of EU policy areas benefit from a better understanding of biomass supply, demand, prices, and impacts. In 2015, the JRC initiated its biomass study in response to a directive from 12 European Commission services. This study of all biomass sources (including fisheries and algae) provides data, models and analyses of the EU and global supply and demand of biomass and its environmental, social and economic sustainability.
In 2017, the JRC launched the European Commission's Knowledge Centre for Bioeconomy (KCB), which brings together the knowledge and expertise needed to analyse the effect of the bioeconomy, both from inside the JRC and from outside sources. Built in response to the increasing complexity of the policy challenges and expanding volume of data and information on the bioeconomy, the KCB helps map, examine, analyse, and condense the best available knowledge to inform of EU policies.
Cellular mariculture - an emerging technology defined as the production of marine products from cell cultures rather than from whole plants or animals - is attracting growing interest due to its potential to address public health, environmental and animal welfare challenges. Producing seafood from fish cells and tissue cultures represents an emerging approach whereby industrial aquaculture and marine capture systems can be used to address resource supply challenges.