Blue Innovation Laboratories

The Blue Innovations Labs were held from November to December 2017 in Bulgaria, France, Italy and Spain.

In total these labs gathered 150 stakeholders from different sectors (attendance lists in annexes):

  • Companies developing/ exploiting artificial reefs;
  • Universities;
  • Tourism companies;
  • Associations;
  • Representative of public authorities (regional and national authorities);
  • NGO’s;
  • Fisheries associations;
  • Divers associations.

The main objective was to share the first results of ArtReefs and exchange about further steps for existing artificial reefs or future projects:

  • Present the action plan, guidelines, business model;
  • Explore the peculiarities, strengths, weaknesses and needs of the local areas involved in the project, in order to enhance new tourism packages and promote these areas;
  • Develop new joint initiatives in real-life contexts in order to validate the proposals;
  • Exchange promising and good practices;
  • Facilitate the discussions between Regional institutions, local representatives and companies about the outcomes of Innovation Lab exercises as solutions to foster a new approach for regional branding

Main topics discussed

During these sessions, some relevant topics have been highlighted:

  • Need to improve the knowledge around the regulation of artificial reefs;
  • Clarify protocols and requirements for deployment and management of Artificial Reefs in EU Mediterranean regions
  • Some management plans could be used for Artificial Reef management (e.g. Marine Protected Areas);
  • Financing;
  • Need to have more socioeconomics data before the implementation of the projects to convince investors;
  • Raise awareness of public authorities and private stakeholders for fundraising.
  • Define a business model to maintain the artificial reefs and the activities around them.
  • Involve all stakeholders (tourism, companies, fishermen, divers …);
  • Some failed experiences have been discussed about the business model based on fees paid by diving clubs (in France).

These Blue Innovation Labs gathered many stakeholders from different sectors and allowed to exchange deeply on the issues of multipurpose artificial reefs.

The number of participants indicates a strong interest for this topic and it would be interesting to consider the further actions listed before.

The importance of economic data has been highlighted and an action to improve this could be necessary (e.g. implement a survey on the existing and for the future projects).

It would be also interesting to improve the visibility on the different regulations about artificial reef to facilitate the understanding of the process to immerge such structure for a recreational use.

Additionally, Artificial Reefs should be fully integrated in regional brandings strategy.

We can observe a favorable context for the multipurpose artificial reefs projects and ArtReefs allows to gather all information we need to engage a second step with concrete projects.