Green Energy Meets Blue Food

Nordic countries have set up ambitious climate and energy targets and offshore renewable energy will play a key role in enabling the green transition in the Nordic Region. The European Green Deal underscores at the same time the importance of minimal harm to the environment and the contribution to nature conservation, with for example the EU Biodiversity strategy 2030 including more ambitious targets for protecting marine areas. Furthermore, our seas in the Nordic Region are also an increasingly important resource for food supply. 

Offshore renewable energy, not least wind energy, is crucial for the green transition in the Nordic Region but its expansion poses challenges such as conflicts over space. Hence, there is an increasing need for enabling enhanced coexistence with other sectors, not least with blue food sectors such as fishing and aquaculture. Governance frameworks, in particular marine spatial planning, are crucial for managing conflicts, promoting collaboration, and for enabling possibilities for sustainable coexistence at sea.  

The Nordic Council of Ministers have initiated several projects to address sustainable marine economy and coexistence issues. The “Green Meets Blue project”, financed by the Nordic Council of Ministers for Fisheries, Aquaculture, Agriculture, Food and Forestry (NCM FJLS) and running for two years (2024-2025), aims to contribute to a common knowledge base for the Nordic countries, by contributing with an increased understanding of sustainable coexistence between renewable energy (focusing on offshore wind energy) and marine food sectors (focusing on fisheries and aquaculture).   

The project will give better insights on how Nordic countries and self-governing territories in the Nordic Region can effectively tackle potential conflicts between the green and blue sectors, promote synergies and better enable cooperation and collaboration. The project seeks to investigate existing conditions on how trade-offs, conflicts and synergies are managed between these sectors within marine spatial planning frameworks from a governance perspective and in a Nordic context.  

Questions the project will try to address are:  

-How are coexistence conditions between offshore wind energy and marine food sectors described in existing research, including their interactions?  

-How are conflicts and synergies between these sectors currently addressed in Nordic marine planning systems?  

-How have conflicts and synergies been managed in different geographical settings in the Nordic region from a governance perspective, particularly in marine spatial planning?  

-What lessons can be drawn from the experiences of different Nordic countries and regions regarding policy frameworks and governance mechanisms to handle conflicts and promote collaboration between offshore wind energy and marine food sectors in marine spatial planning?  

We will conduct a thorough literature and policy review to identify trends, conflicts, and synergies, alongside defining key concepts and case study areas. Through case studies across varied geographical locations, the project examines governance practices related to managing the coexistence of offshore wind energy with marine food sectors. A series of workshops planned for 2025 aims to engage stakeholders from the Baltic Sea, North Sea, and North Atlantic regions, facilitating discussions on governance challenges and solutions for sector coexistence from local to cross-border levels. The project will disseminate its findings, through case study story maps, policy briefs and recommendations, to further improve the sustainable coexistence in Nordic seas.