The so-called blue economy, which provides for the sustainable development of activities such as fishing, waterway logistics, generation of renewable energies at sea, among others, opens up as a promising window for Rio Grande do Sul. The director-president of APL Marítimo RS, Arthur Rocha Baptista, points out that the municipality of Rio Grande has a natural vocation to carry out actions in this area, however other cities in the state also have qualities in this sector. APL Marítimo RS is an organization that emerged about ten years ago, with the growth of the Rio Grande do Sul naval hub, and now seeks to encourage initiatives within the segments that work with the economy of the sea.
Empresas & Negócios (E&N) – What is the idea of the blue economy?
Arthur Rocha Baptista – The concept of the blue economy emerged in 1994, but gained momentum even with the declaration of the decade of the oceans by the United Nations (UN) in 2017, which was deliberated in the general embly and which began to be valid in 2021. Therefore, from 2021 By 2030, we are living in the decade of the oceans. The concept of blue economy basically encompes the sectors that make up the economy of the sea, that is, those productive segments that live off water, both traditional ones such as fishing, waterway transport, oil and gas extraction, as well as segments over vanguard, such as marine biotechnology, generation of renewable energy at sea, both wave and wind, underwater mining and others.
E&N – Does the proposal go beyond the economy of the sea?
Baptist – AND. Not every sector that makes up the economy of the sea is necessarily blue. For example, oil extraction itself, which is not considered a vanguard renewable energy segment, is seeking to include sustainability and innovation so that it can also be characterized as a blue productive activity, but it is not necessarily so. The same happens with fishing, which is extractive by nature, but not all fishing activities can be included in the blue economy concept.
E&N – Is there an estimate of the values that the blue economy moves in Brazil?
Baptist – The economy of the sea (according to 2019 data) earns around R$ 2 trillion for Brazil per year, something around a fifth of the country’s GDP comes from activities at sea. This obviously includes oil extraction, a big chunk of it all, but all the other practices as well, the fishing industry, shipping activity and everything else.
E&N – And, in Rio Grande do Sul, what is the impact of this activity?
Baptist – Regarding the State, the APL Marítimo has a project called plan for the development of the economy of the sea, which intends to map the size of this economy, of its various sectors. We don’t have that number yet.
E&N – What is the timetable for this mapping?
Baptist – We have a ready-made term of reference. We are currently looking for the resources to execute the plan. We hope that this year we will be able to start carrying out this work and then it will take eight to twelve months to be carried out. At first, a panoramic photograph of the sector will be taken, understanding its relevance in terms of GDP, jobs, industries.
E&N – How does the municipality of Rio Grande fit into the context of this new opportunity?
Baptist – We understand that Rio Grande is the city best suited to start this process (of the blue economy). Rio Grande is the municipality that connects the inland waters of the State to the open sea, the Atlantic Ocean. It is the city that hosts the Rio Grande do Sul superport, which has a fishing activity that, although not as vigorous as it was in the past, is still maintained and is very relevant. Rio Grande has a university devoted to the study of coastal and sea sciences, which is Furg. The municipality also hosts the navigation center in Rio Grande, which is about to complete 100 years and which is a consulting entity for public bodies on matters related to navigation.
E&N – Are there other locations in Rio Grande do Sul with potential in this sector?
Baptist – There is no doubt that other regions of the State are also dedicated and have the potential to develop this type of activity. São José do Norte is one of them, there is a shipyard there, fishing activities and other activities. Pelotas has an active port and other nautical practices and also has this relationship with the waters, it has the connection through the São Gonçalo channel with the Mirim lagoon, through which the Brazil-Uruguay waterway can be made viable. Then we have the entire lagoon estuary (dos Patos), we potentially have inland ports like Estrela and Rio Pardo, there is the Santa Clara terminal (in Triunfo), which in addition to chemical product ships (because of the petrochemical complex) can handle the production of Serra Gaúcha, Vale do Sinos and the Metropolitan Region. We have other cities dedicated to Torres, Capão da Canoa, Tramandaí, Santa Vitória do Palmar and Chuí. So, we started in Rio Grande and we want to spread it throughout the state.
E&N – In April, the 1st Blue Economy Development Forum was held in Rio Grande RS – The future is at sea. What are the consequences of the event?
E&N – Is the naval industry in the state, which a few years ago generated thousands of jobs and is now weakened, something of the past or can it reappear?
Baptist – It didn’t stay in the past. The et is very important, speaking specifically at the Rio Grande Shipyard. I believe that the worst moment is over, they are managing to overcome the stages of judicial recovery and are increasingly putting themselves in a position to compete for new contracts. That volume of contracts and jobs should no longer happen, contracts have to be more rational, more control. I hope that the projects, when they come, and I believe they will, have more control. The EBR shipyard, in São José do Norte, for example, never stopped. He had moments of higher activity and others of lower activity, but he never stopped and he has good projects.
E&N – Where can new demands for the Rio Grande do Sul naval hub come from?
Baptist – We are following federal government policy very closely. We have already seen that Transpetro has shown signs that it wants to start building ships again, Petrobras must have something, the offshore wind energy industry itself must demand appropriate vessels. The President of the Republic (Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva) has already signaled that Petrobras will be a driver of this investment and we understand that because of the ets we have here, because of the knowledge generated in those years of the strength of shipbuilding, especially in terms of platforms of oil, that Rio Grande is one of the poles in the country that will receive these investments.