Developing offshore seafood and renewable energy integrated production systems

Stewart Frusher, Adjunct Professor (University of Tasmania)
Irene Penesis, Interim Research Director (Blue Economy CRC, Australian Maritime College, University of Tasmania)

The world’s oceans are a new frontier for development with a predicted value of US$3 trillion by 2030. From 2021 to 2030, the United Nations has also declared this period as the Decade for Sustainable Ocean Development. With many coastal systems already under significant stress from development, nations are looking to their offshore zones for new development opportunities.

Australia, with the world’s third largest exclusive economic zone has begun a journey towards offshore development of seafood and energy systems. Established in 2019, the Blue Economy CRC is one of the largest funded cooperative research efforts and brings together the knowledge, skills and experience of over 40 partners from industry, research and government, based around Australia and internationally, over 10 years to develop systems, structures and capabilities that will transform the future of Australia’s marine- based industries. A key focus will be the integration of activities onto a multi-use platform by 2025. To ensure sustainability and good governance, research in marine engineering, seafood and renewable energy are integrated with programs in environment and ecosystems and sustainable development. These latter programs will develop:

(i) Real-time monitoring systems to understand the impacts of offshore systems on the environment and the environment on these systems.
(ii) Governance and accountability systems to ensure that both industry and the community understand the benefits, costs and trade-offs of sustainable offshore development

Australian CRC’s are industry lead initiatives with over 75% of participants in the CRC from the engineering, renewable energy and seafood sectors. Innovation is at the centre of the CRC with development of novel and integrated seafood and energy systems to deliver a new era in sustainable and environmentally acceptable offshore floating solutions for seafood and marine renewable energy production.

Keywords – Offshore systems, Marine renewable energy, Seafood production, Multi-use platforms

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Dr Stewart Frusher is an adjunct Professor at the University of Tasmania. He has led a variety of programs at the University including the Sustainable Fisheries, Marine Environment and Climate Change impacts on marine resources. He was the inaugural Director of the Centre for Marine Socioecology from 2015-2017 which brought together interdisciplinary researchers across a number of research institutions to focus on multiple use management of the marine environment. He was the conceiver and co-bid Director of the successful $329M Blue Economy Cooperative Research Centre. Current interest include the development of innovative offshore integrated food and energy systems that can mimic ecosystem services and provide environmental and social benefits from large scale to smaller scale production units. He is passionate about wise use of ocean resources and the need to ensure sustainability, minimal environmental footprints including the re-use (circular economy) of materials and building into systems opportunities to mitigate climate change where feasible.

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