How 3D and geolocation can contribute to a sustainable ocean economy

The ocean, already the world’s seventh largest economy, is in trouble and now comes the part where we realize we have the technology to do something.

With an asset valuation of $ 25 trillion, including an annual gross domestic product (GDP) of $ 2.5 trillion, the ocean economy is accelerating as fast as calls for its conservation. And no wonder: the ocean is a massive force in protecting us from climate change, absorbing 25 percent of global climate emissions and 90 percent of the heat caused by those emissions. It generates 50 percent of the oxygen we breathe and is the largest biosphere on the planet, home to 80 percent of life on earth.

Fortunately, business leaders and businesses around the world are starting to understand and adopt strategies and practices that support a sustainable ocean economy. Technologies such as 3D, digital maps and location intelligence are supporting the global challenge of preserving the ocean as its economic use increases and climate impacts intensify.

The ocean suffers from uncontrolled overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution, loss of biodiversity and climate change, even as the ocean protects people from the unintended consequences of the robust economic activity that it does. ‘He supports.

Yet we must view the ocean today as a key solution to climate change, not just a victim. In addition to all of its lifebloods, it is a powerful source of renewable energy and sustainable seafood for our growing world.

“For the first time, our knowledge of the ocean can come close to our knowledge of the land,” said Dawn Wright, geographer, oceanographer and chief scientist at Esri. “We can transform the unknown into the known depth.”

The release of the world’s first full opus 3d ocean map, a huge leap forward, has helped spur an innovation revolution in ocean data and sustainability solutions.

“Seeing the ocean in its true depth and complexity is exactly what we need,” Wright said in a recent GreenBiz item. “This is what we need if we hope to reduce the risk of critically damaging or depleting marine resources, if we hope to preserve the world’s fisheries or anticipate when a warm current turns into a hurricane. devastating. This is what we need if we are to hope to tackle the growing continents of plastic, waste and other pollutants threatening marine life. “

Ocean economy and innovation

The ocean is teeming with its own life, but its health impacts all human life. Realizing this, a growing cohort of socially responsible companies have started to build durability solutions tailored to business opportunities – making profits while preserving our ocean.

Their work often revolves around complex, real-time data, stored and processed with a modern geographic information system (GIS) and visualized on smart digital maps. This location intelligence helps answer key questions, especially for leaders in the shipping, energy, logistics and fisheries sectors:

· Where would offshore wind turbines have the least impact on commercial fishing?

· Where should a new transatlantic submarine communication cable go to avoid interference with scallop beds, rare deep-sea coral habitats or sand-mining areas necessary for beach restoration?

· What are the appropriate areas for the transit of ships in the Arctic (now that it is no longer covered with ice all year round) in order to minimize the impact on sensitive ecosystems?

Companies that approach sustainable seafood by increasing supply chain traceability will help protect the ocean while meeting growing consumer demand for ethical practices.

Taylor Shellfish Farms, for example, maintains a sustainable system it starts in the hatcheries where the shellfish are raised and the tidal beaches where they mature and extend through harvesting, processing and distribution. Every link in this process must meet sustainability standards set by the company and industry regulators.

Data-rich GIS-based maps and dashboards provide visibility into all aspects of the business. Taylor executives use their GIS data and reports to maintain responsible stewardship of the environment. At the same time, the technology supports the process improvements that make it a profitable business. Efficiency takes many forms, from mobile apps that allow farmers to update information in the field, to smart maps that show where certain techniques or environmental conditions provide higher yields.

Smart shipping, sustainable shipping

Commercial ships produce an amount of carbon – 800 million tonnes per year – that exceeds most countries’ production. Shipping companies strive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by designing more efficient vessels, an approach that promotes the cause of sustainability while reducing commercial expenses.

As with sustainable fishing, geolocation helps shipping companies increase the efficiency of the process.

This is true for individual vessels where GIS can track operations, providing a view of the operation of on-board systems. This is also true for the larger fleet management project, with GIS helping operators track overall emissions using smart maps to report to international regulatory agencies.

Adopt a circular approach to the blue economy

Even in non-ocean-centric industries such as retail and manufacturing, socially responsible companies seek to extend sustainable practices far beyond the construction of the product and throughout its lifecycle. Most often, this means putting measures in place to recover or recycle materials after the product has completed its initial use. The growing number of companies adopting circular economy Principles uses modern GIS to track products and oversee the recovery process.

The circular economy is a way for businesses that exist far from the blue economy to continue supporting ocean sustainability. A circular approach to manufacturing cuts costs while decreasing the amount of plastic reaching the ocean. Likewise, precision farming techniques increase the efficiency of food production while limiting the amount of pesticides, sediments and organic matter that pollute the oceans.

Now is the time

As the United Nations launches its “Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development” this year, momentum is growing towards achieving “a healthy and resilient, secure and productive ocean”. The UN calls for strong international cooperation between all sectors and all communities.

Leaders of companies directly or indirectly supported by the ocean now have the motivation (increased climate risk, consumer demand, global pressure for corporate social responsibility) and the technology and tools to seize the opportunity.

“We need the capacity and competence of the business community to meet this challenge,” said Lise Kingo, Executive Director and CEO of the United Nations Global Compact. “Ensuring a healthy marine environment is not only necessary for many ocean companies to continue to operate for the long term, innovation and investment in new ocean solutions also offers a significant business opportunity. “

For more information on smart maps and location intelligence, visit To learn more about ocean sustainability and location intelligence technology, visit

About Kristina McManus

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