June 22, 2021 — As an emerging leader in the blue economy, the Port of San Diego is now formally partnering with Canada’s Ocean Supercluster to support and expand our pursuit of innovative and sustainable projects that support the Port’s mission to enhance and protect the environment while also promoting fisheries and commerce.

Since 2020, with support from the Consulate of Canada in San Diego, the Port’s Aquaculture and Blue Technology team has been exploring collaborative partnership opportunities with Canada’s Ocean Supercluster (OSC). OSC is a pan-Canadian private sector-led network that brings together startups, scaleups, and mature organizations to increase sustainable innovation and modernization across ocean sectors. On June 15, 2021, the Board of Port Commissioners approved a Memorandum of Understanding that enables the Port and OSC to formally work together to seek funding and investment opportunities to support blue economy and aquaculture projects, to exchange knowledge of challenges and opportunities in the blue economy sector, to align and raise awareness of Port and OSC programs, and to seek new opportunities to support each other’s goals.

“There is an ocean of opportunity in aquaculture and blue technology,” said Chairman Michael Zucchet, Port of San Diego Board of Port Commissioners. “The partnership with Canada’s Ocean Supercluster will allow us to build upon our collective efforts and share resources for the benefit of our respective programs as well as for emerging businesses in the global blue economy ecosystem, especially in North America.”

“The sustainable development of our oceans is one of the most important opportunities of our time,” said Kendra MacDonald, CEO of Canada’s Ocean Supercluster. “This strategic partnership we have formed with the Port of San Diego will bring together our shared interests and the opportunity to not only tackle some of the biggest challenges in ocean, but also further our collective efforts in the development of new innovation, growth, and global positioning in the blue economy.”

OSC is fostering new partnerships and innovative projects built on collaboration between industry, research, not-for-profits, investors, and government having approved more than 50 innovative projects to date with a total value in excess of $250 million CAD. Together with members and partners, OSC is accelerating the development and commercialization of globally relevant ocean solutions by building a robust ecosystem that is well-connected and well-equipped to rapidly innovate, commercialize solutions, and deliver on the growing ocean opportunity. OSC is designed to eliminate sector silos and to promote co-investment in business solutions that have multiple applications in order to address the costs and challenges associated with ocean innovation. Canada’s federal government has set aside up to $153 million CAD to support OSC programs.

In 2016, the Port established a Blue Economy Incubator to assist in the creation, development, and scaling of new blue economy business ventures in and around San Diego Bay. The incubator acts as a launching pad by removing barriers to entrepreneurs and providing key assets and support services focused on pilot project facilitation. Through the incubator, the Port is seeking innovative aquaculture and blue technology proposals to address environmental challenges at the Port and inform future blue economy opportunities.

To date, the Port has received over 50 proposals and the Board has approved nine agreements with early-stage companies to launch innovative pilot projects including a shellfish nursery operation, a drive-in boat wash, bio-enhancing shoreline armoring technology, and seaweed aquaculture. Go to portofsandiego.org/blueeconomy to learn more.

The Port’s Blue Economy Incubator is complementary to many other blue economy initiatives in the region and globally. Since the creation of the program, the Port has established collaborative partnerships with numerous local, state and federal governmental agencies, academia, NGOs, industry and the local community. These partnerships are critical to increasing opportunities for economic development within the regional blue economy. To continue advancing the blue economy at the Port, staff is continuously seeking new partnership opportunities regionally and globally.

Ports can and are increasingly playing a critical role in the development of sustainable aquaculture and blue economy opportunities, given their familiarity and expertise in the permitting and entitlements process for a variety of coastal and ocean uses, the unique role they often play as landlord, operator and/or regulator, and as champions of the blue economy. The collaborative partnership between the Port and OSC will serve to cooperatively explore opportunities for program alignment and investment to support the development and scaling of innovative solutions that promote the blue economy at ports. The blue economy refers to the sustainably use of ocean resources to grow our economy, to create jobs, and improve livelihoods, while also protecting and improving the health of our ocean and its ecosystems.