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European Maritime Day
News blog7 June 20244 min read

European Maritime Day 2024 – making waves in the sustainable blue economy

Fylla sailing ship at European Maritime Day 2024

On 30 and 31 May 2024, Svendborg, a Danish coastal city with a strong maritime heritage, became a vibrant hub for the EU maritime community. Svendborg hosted the European Maritime Day 2024, welcoming more than 1100 maritime experts and actors.

So much has happened in two days, and here is a short recap!

Charlina Vitcheva, Director General at the Commission’s Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, opened the event by recalling the long list of “oceanmark” achievements in the sustainable blue economy over the last five years (why keep using landmark when referring to our blue planet, anyway?), starting with the new approach to sustainable blue economy adopted in 2021.

Over the last years, the Commission has for example been supporting the sector increase its resilience by reducing its climate footprint via public funding, via the Energy Transition Partnership, and supporting innovation through BlueInvest.  

A full room attending the opening ceremony at EMD 2024

Focus on energy transition

The energy transition has been high on the EMD’s agenda. The EU Blue Economy Report 2024, unveiled during the EMD, states that the “sustainable blue economy offers many solutions to achieve the EU Green Deal objectives. However, this requires some of the current activities, technologies, and processes to reduce their carbon footprint”. Sectors like shipping and fisheries, highly dependent on fossil fuels, must make steps forward in decarbonisation. The good news is that EU technology providers are well-positioned to be involved in the future energy transition, the report says.

Innovative solutions exist, and the participants in EMD had the chance to experience firsthand concrete applications of electric-powered and hydrogen-powered vessels moored in the port of Svendborg. 

Under everybody’s eyes, an electric-powered autonomous vessel by Dana Dynamics has been sampling water and sailing across the port. 

The vessel can reach a speed of up to 5 knots, with a battery autonomy of several hours. The company has been testing the technology on bigger boats with the idea of scaling up more and more. 

Dana Dynamics autonomous electric vessel

 The Commission recently launched the Energy Transition Partnership to support the EU fisheries and aquaculture sector in meeting the challenge of decarbonisation. 

The European Blue Forum: a participatory approach to address challenges 

How is the blue economy sector reacting to the most pressing challenges? This question was at the core of the second European Blue Forum's annual meeting, which took place in Svendborg.

The members of this participatory forum expressed their expectations for implementing a sustainable and inclusive blue economy. They want to see more land-sea interaction in the development of projects and measures, better use of maritime space through stronger cooperation between maritime stakeholders, and more ocean education and awareness. 

Concerning energy transition, the stakeholders identify phasing out from fossil fuels, improving energy efficiency, better understanding the role of technology, and investing in upskilling as crucial steps of the decarbonisation journey.

The insightful discussion in Svendborg has been eye-opening on the needs of the blue economy actors. It has provided a compass for future policymaking.  For more information, readers can check out the position papers recently published by the forum.

Blue skills, ocean literacy and education

Critical transitions like reaching a zero-net Europe require the use of new technologies and, therefore, new skills. Innovative sectors in the blue economy are creating new jobs and opportunities, but skilled workers are needed and lacking. 

In Svendborg, the Svendborg International Maritime Academy (SIMAC) provides high-level maritime education to approximately 900 students, offering three education programmes. Host of the EMD 2024, the SIMAC and its students invited the EMD participants to test their skills in using welding machines and the school's more sophisticated tools available to future maritime professionals. More challenging than it might be!

Students at SIMAC testing a welding machine

Moving to ocean education for younger generations, EMD offered two great practical examples of ocean literacy.

First, FYLLA: a 40-meter-long, traditional three-mast sailing ship that Geopark, a Danish organisation, has transformed into a local school ship. Geopark has developed “Under the Archipelago”, an original learning program for secondary school students that runs while sailing across the South Fyn Archipelago. The students try firsthand life on board, taking care of the ship under the master's direction and conducting scientific research during the day. The programme combines climate change, traditional maritime culture, and marine biodiversity.

Secondly, EU4Ocean. The ocean literacy initiative launched by the Commission has brought a vast array of educational activities and ocean activism to Svendborg. At EMD, participants were invited to join beach clean-up activities guided by the Mission Ocean project Plastic Pirates Europe. Equipped with sieves and bags, the cleaning squad learned all about marine and microplastics pollution and their impact on the marine environment. A workshop on the filtering powers of algae, mussels or oysters complemented the educational offer of the day. 

On the last day of EMD, seven initiative received the MakeEUBlue Awards 2024 for their leading role in ocean education. Are you curious to meet the winners? Check out their projects: Sunset DocksLife CONCEPTU MARISBlueNIGHTAnnual AZTI's Summer School on Marine ResearchPlastic Soup,  Small Scientistand True Tales for Ocean Rebels

Winners of the MakeEUBlue Awards 2024

See you in Cork in 2025!

This is just a fraction of the many encounters, exchanges, and inspiring discussions that made EMD 2024 memorable. It is now time to set sail for Cork for the next edition of the European Maritime Day. Tak Svendborg, see you soon Cork!

Family picture at the end of the event

More information

European Maritime Day website (including recordings of the plenary sessions)


Publication date
7 June 2024