According to the latest report of the European Commission from June this year, the blue economy is recording continuous growth. With a turnover of 566 billion euros, the sector generates 174 billion euros of added value and creates jobs for almost 3,5 million people. It is projected to grow twice as fast as the rest of the economy by 2030, which means a turnover of almost a trillion euros for Europe.The Blue Economy represents all economic activities related to the oceans, seas or coastal areas with the aim of strengthening economic growth and development, increasing jobs and improving the environment while preserving the ecosystem. It covers sectors such as fisheries, shipbuilding and tourism, as well as emerging industries such as ocean energy and biotechnology. The coastal part of Croatia is traditionally facing the sea, which is of exceptional economic importance for these areas, but also for the entire Croatian economy. “Today it is necessary that all stakeholders of the so-called. blue economy, from the tourism sector through fisheries to aquaculture, work together in the long term to preserve the purity and richness of the sea in order to reap the maximum economic benefit, taking care not to further disturb its natural balance. But the blue economy needs to be integrated not only through sectors, but also through different countries and regions. We need international cooperation if we want to get the most out of this huge resource. “, explains the director of the Zadar County Chamber Denis Ikić.In October, the first applications for EU funds for the blue economyAlthough in Croatia last year the total catch and farming of sea fish and other marine organisms fell by 2 percent compared to the previous year, to 83.318 tons, it is encouraging that the fisheries and mariculture sector has recognized the importance of international cooperation and is increasingly turning to EU funds. to raise competitiveness. The Zadar County Chamber is thus the holder of the EU project Blue boost, worth 1,5 million euros, which is aimed at strengthening mariculture, and aims to encourage, train and finance innovation within the Blue Growth sector in the Adriatic-Ionian region. “As part of the project, innovation vouchers will be awarded in the individual amount of 9 thousand euros for a total of five blue companies from each project area. The public tender will be announced in October this year, and entrepreneurs from Zadar County can apply”, Explains Ikić. Except for the project Blue boost, in which the holder, ŽK Zadar participates as a partner in two other EU projects related to the so-called. blue economy: 4helix + i Mistral. Project 4helix + it is aimed at encouraging and financing innovation within the Blue Growth sector in the Mediterranean area (MED). The aim of the project is to reduce the gap between the eight Mediterranean regional maritime clusters through the exchange of knowledge between companies and their cooperation with the cultural and creative industries. Encouraging innovation (in the blue traditional and emerging sectors) should be achieved through the establishment of digital platforms, the organization of international B2B meetings and regional information days, and the award of innovation vouchers. The innovation voucher scheme will award 480 euros for at least 48 projects in the blue economy sector, and a public tender should be announced in March 2019.Goal Mistral is to strengthen a transnational partnership of eight countries to make marine knowledge and sustainable innovation key drivers of blue growth, support Mediterranean clusters to become excellent knowledge intermediaries for a growing blue economy and create and implement sustainable development paths aligned with Mediterranean specialization strategies. Namely, the Mediterranean currently lags behind the EU on average in the efficiency of innovation due to the lack of cooperation. “Given the importance of mariculture and fisheries for the economy of Zadar County, the contribution of such and similar projects is extremely large. This directly strengthens the competitiveness of companies in the blue economy sector”, Explains Ikić, adding that the Zadar County Chamber is a reference point for all information and assistance to entrepreneurs, including applying for the mentioned tenders.Without coastal zone management, there is no blue economyIkić also explains that the precondition for the development of mariculture was the establishment of integrated coastal zone management, and as a basis for initiating this process in 2003 a study of the use and protection of the sea and submarine of Zadar County, the first in the Republic of Croatia, was included. plan. “The result of such a systematic and thoughtful approach in order to valorize the maritime domain, as a space whose purpose is determined by spatial planning documentation, enables entrepreneurial initiative and realization of preconditions for employment and economic growth in Zadar County, in a way that will ensure adequate maintenance and protection. maritime domain”, Concluded IkićAttachment: EU / The 2018 annual economic report on the EU blue economy.