Delivering Scotland's Blue Economy approach

Sets out the first phase of delivery towards our Blue Economy Vision (published March 2022). It provides a clear picture of where we are now in relation to the six Blue Economy outcomes and sets out our next steps in delivering a collaborative approach in Scotland.

4. Next steps

This document has provided an initial assessment of our current Blue Economy status, as well as a summary of some of the activity already underway against the six outcomes set out in our Vision. This serves as the foundation to discuss and identify where additional transformations are needed to move us between our current status and where we want to be by 2045.

Within the Scottish Government, we are launching a number of new initiatives this year and next, which have been designed to support the outcomes as part of our Blue Economy approach. Key examples of these initiatives are detailed within this publication and they include the recently published Strategy for Seafood, the upcoming Aquaculture Vision, the Biodiversity Strategy Delivery Plan, the Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan, and importantly our second National Marine Plan.

These initiatives, among many others, will help to set us on a path to our 2045 Vision. However, to achieve shared stewardship of our seas in Scotland, thinking about the Blue Economy must become an integral part of all policy development, delivery and decision making, throughout government and beyond.

We now need to build a sense of collective ownership of our Blue Economy and empower key actors to support delivery and mobilise resources. We will do this by mainstreaming a Blue Economy approach across government, and wider, working with partners and communities.

Mainstreaming is not novel to the Scottish Government. It is an approach that has successfully been used across the government, to deliver complex, multi-facet policy agendas. Mechanisms, for how to mainstream a policy, may differ and to successfully mainstream a Blue Economy approach, we must deliver clear mechanisms. At a fundamental level, we consider mainstreaming to be embedding Blue Economy concepts so that they become the norm, become part of policy making and are not optional.

Successfully mainstreaming a Blue Economy approach will require leadership to drive a cultural transformation. Thinking about a Blue Economy and using the evidence available to us about how we deliver our outcomes must remain at the forefront of decision-making and delivery, without considering it to be a hindrance to progress. It will require leadership at all levels - those making day to day decisions that will have a direct impact on the marine environment, those making decisions with indirect consequences, and those in senior leadership, who must maintain strategic oversight and direction.

We have identified seven elements that will be the immediate focus of our work over the next 12 months to aid us in mainstreaming a successful Blue Economy approach. These elements are not dependent on each other and will mutually reinforce our approach as we work through them.

4.1 Mainstreaming mechanisms

Policy making through a Blue Economy lens is already happening within the Marine Scotland Directorate. The Strategy for Seafood and the Marine Fund Scotland were developed in line with our Blue Economy outcomes and we will now build on those experiences, to develop guidelines and tools for work streams to use, so that policy and decision making right across the Marine Scotland Directorate has clear alignment with the Blue Economy agenda. This will include mechanisms to ensure individual policies minimise or reduce impacts on, or enhance marine natural capital, realise wider community benefits and protect our heritage, and support productivity, resilience equality and innovation in marine sectors and supply chains. As part of this, we will explicitly set out how each new activity in Marine Scotland links to our outcomes, and where the synergistic or cumulative benefits can be realised.

Taking our approach wider than Marine Scotland with other Scottish Government Directorates including Food and Drink, Energy and Transport, and with external partners, will then enable us to work towards our shared stewardship vision, so that any new policy development and decision making is likewise considered through that Blue Economy lens.

4.2 Engagement

Thinking about our marine environment and our people needs to be at the forefront of minds when making decisions, not just within government, but within communities too. A focus on consensus building to embed the Blue Economy approach across sectors and interest groups will provide the greatest opportunities to mainstream the Blue Economy agenda.

To widen our engagement, and as a step towards building citizen representation into our Blue Economy ambitions, we will be holding a series of Blue Economy Dialogues, that will be open to a full range of organisations and communities. These will be focussed discussions, from which we will gather views on what those communities and organisations see as the challenges and opportunities of a Blue Economy agenda. As part of this engagement, we will seek to diversify the range of voices that we engage with and will draw on best practice from across the Scottish Government to expand engagement with children and young people.

We will also continue to build on existing engagement forums. From our stakeholder survey, a majority of respondents stated that their preferred method of engagement on the Blue Economy was workshops and virtual information sessions.

Table 4.1 notes a small selection of forthcoming opportunities for stakeholders to participate in relevant workshops. Marine Scotland will continue to communicate and advertise opportunities for workshops and other engagements as they open.

Table 4.1: Forthcoming Blue Economy Stakeholder Engagement opportunities.


National Marine Plan


Engagements including workshops, meetings and surveys. Link to more details to be provided at a later stage at National marine planning - Marine planning


Future Fisheries Management Strategy


Engagement to agree forward action plan on mitigation and adaption to climate change. Autumn/Winter 2022/2023


Bute House Agreement – inshore fishing


Consultation on new management measure for inshore commercial fishing vessels. Winter 2022


Bute House Agreement – highly protected marine areas


Consultation on policy framework and site selection guidelines. Autumn/Winter 2022


Offshore Marine Protected Areas


Consultation on fisheries management for offshore MPAs. Date TBC

4.3 Pilot projects

While we may be clear on what our Vision for a Blue Economy in Scotland looks like at a high level, we must also understand how that will translate at a regional or local level, to inform understanding and buy-in locally and stimulate activity at that level.

A key next step in our approach will be to establish a regional Blue Economy pilot programme. We will identify a suitable location, or indeed theme, where new or existing relevant partners can test a Blue Economy approach to local economic development, community engagement and marine environmental protection through some of the enablers identified in section two. In considering the criteria for selecting a suitable pilot location, theme or partners, we will evaluate where there is likely to be the greatest value add or return from this way of working.

As part of the pilot, we will identify local indicators that will enable us to measure the effectiveness of the approach against outcomes throughout the pilot. The pilot will help us to identify challenges and opportunities, informing our approach, so that we are clear on how we can scale it to the national picture and use it to inform our route to reaching our Vision.

4.4 Furthering the evidence base

We know that there is a wealth of knowledge and experience around the concept of a Blue Economy across sectors and nations, and we want to use that to further improve our own work. We already have a range of existing data sources and regular monitoring that provide us with an evidence base for implementing a Blue Economy approach in Scotland. We also have a good understanding where some of our priority research needs and knowledge gaps exist as set out in Scotland's Marine Assessment 2020 and through the Scottish Marine Energy Research Programme.

However, we must continue to build the underpinning evidence and data that will allow us to build an effective pathway to delivering our outcomes. We need a co-ordinated approach to developing and sharing our evidence base across our Blue Economy outcomes, and one that can mobilise Scotland's marine science community to support delivery. The first stage in this process will be to establish a process that allows us to dynamically identify and communicate our strategic research, monitoring and surveillance needs right across the Blue Economy outcomes. We will develop and deliver this process over the next 12 months. Accessibility of this evidence will also be crucial, to assist in meeting our Ocean Literacy outcome.

4.5 Funding and finance in the Blue Economy

The scale and multidimensional, multisectoral nature of our ambition for Scotland's Blue Economy, means that identifying opportunities to leverage funding and finance from both the private sector and wider public sector will be an increasingly important part of our Blue Economy approach going forward. This is particularly important given the context of the ongoing fiscal challenges following withdrawal from the EU, recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing cost of living crisis. The need to use private finance to meet wider global climate and biodiversity goals is now widely recognised.

Existing schemes, such as those set out in section three of this document, are key examples of steps that we are already taking to invest in the development of our Blue Economy - from promoting responsible investment in natural capital, to supporting innovation and development in Scotland's seafood businesses, to driving research to promote the sustainable development of offshore renewable energy. In addition to these schemes, we must now also look wider, to have a full grasp of the funding landscape and the opportunities for leveraging wider funding and finance to achieve our ambitions for Scotland.

Guided by the Blue Economy outcomes and existing principles, including the interim principles for responsible investment in natural capital, over the next 12 months we will work with partners to map current funding and financing opportunities, and consider how we can help to maximise these in support of our Blue Economy. We will also further develop the role of marine and Blue Economy interests within the wider programme of work across Scottish Government to establish a values-led, high-integrity market for responsible private investment in natural capital, as described in the National Strategy for Economic Transformation.

4.6 Monitoring and evaluation

Monitoring our progress and evaluating whether our actions are delivering the Blue Economy Vision is vital to ensure effective delivery. This will require a suite of metrics and indicators across the six Blue Economy outcomes.

As part of the status assessment that has been undertaken to support this publication, we have reviewed the existing data sources and routine reporting to understand the extent to which this data could be used as indicators to monitor our Blue Economy approach. We will set out this detailed status assessment and review of data sources in a separate Technical Publication shortly. We will use the review to then develop a monitoring and evaluation framework for the Blue Economy. Having a clear understanding of how we will measure progress towards our outcomes, will support us in understanding where we have gaps in our current approach in delivering those outcomes.

4.7 Governance

At the centre of our Blue Economy approach is leadership, but also effective governance. We must operate within a governance framework where a strategic narrative is maintained and policy actions and work across the piece are connected and linked together. Developing mechanisms to mainstream our approach within Marine Scotland will be part of our delivery and reporting responsibilities. Our Directorate-level governance framework will oversee progress of the planned Marine Scotland activity as set out in section three of this document and the six elements set out above as the focus of our work over the next 12 months.

Extending our approach beyond Marine Scotland will naturally put a responsibility on others to engage with and report on our Blue Economy approach and will link with wider interests. At that point, we need to have in place governance mechanisms, with multi-partner representation and linking with already existing governance arrangements, to provide assurance on our approach and make sure that a coherent strategic narrative is maintained between policy actions and Blue Economy outcomes. This process has already started with representation of marine interests with the Biodiversity Strategy delivery plan and governance mechanisms.

This next phase of our work is a vital step to engage across government and beyond, as we move to a position where we have the mechanisms to clearly and effectively assess that we are on track to meet our Vision and accompanying six outcomes.



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