Mapping the maritime users’ needs and challenges: the ESA Blue Worlds Task Force stakeholders’ consultation

Recordings of the full webinar series are available here

Around 75% of the European external trade transits through European ports. According to the EU Blue Economy Report 2020, in 2018 the established sectors of the EU Blue Economy[1] directly employed about 5 million people and generated around €750 billion in turnover and €218 billion in gross value added.

The cooperation between the space and maritime sector dates back to more than 30 years ago. Satellite data historically provided relevant near-real-time information on weather conditions to improve maritime safety or facilitated communication at sea. Today, thanks to the most recent technological developments, a wide range of activities are starting to rely more on satellite data and services: from meteorology and communications to aquaculture, fisheries, disaster management, and safety and security.

The Blue World Task Force

Over the years, ESA has enlarged its portfolio of collaborative programmes. A holistic approach has been implemented through its Regional Initiatives where relevant space systems and data are bundled together to provide the best possible service or to tackle challenges either at regional level or for a specific community or topic.

The Blue World Task Force (BWTF) covers the principal maritime geographic areas in Europe, from the Mediterranean to the Baltic, passing through the North Sea, the High North and the Black Sea and it has been officially kicked-off in October 2019 as part of this initiatives. A brief concept note providing additional details on the BTWF is available here.

The objective of the newly established task force is to support the definition of future ESA programmes addressing the interests of the Member States. To map how space is used today, to identify existing technological gaps and to collect needs, challenges and opportunities of maritime users’ communities the BWTF launched at the beginning of February a stakeholders’ available online for a month.

A large number of maritime operators from fishing communities to ship owners, port authorities, coastguards, insurance companies, economic and research centres dealing with the blue economy, or involved in studies on the preservation and exploitation of ocean biodiversity, are invited to take this questionnaire available here:



“The challenges of the Blue World” webinar series

To complement the consultation online and to stimulate the dialogue between the space and maritime communities, ESA joined forces with Eurisy to organise “The challenges of the blue world” webinar series.

The series will discuss the existing challenges maritime stakeholders face and how satellite-based solutions respond to their emerging needs. Each webinar will gather around a virtual table local authority, NGOs, research centres, and industrial clusters from space and maritime domains.

Three webinars will be organised during the month of February 2021 addressing three main topics:

  • Marine Resources Exploitation. The first webinar will take place Thursday February 18th and will focus on three identified subsectors: aquaculture, fishery and illegal fishing;

Marine resources are threatened by a series of stressors, among which climate change, overexploitation of the natural resources and illegal fishing. Such effects can negatively impact on the sustainable exploitation of the marine living and non-living resources. An example is the over and aggressing fishing. The FAO recently warned that more than a third of the fish stocks are being overfished. The overfishing phenomena reduces fish stocks at a rate that the species cannot replenish leading to lower fish populations and reduced future production.

The first webinar of the series will focus on relevant challenges such as how to ensure a sustainable marine food production and aquaculture, and how prevent the illegal fishing in European waters with the contribution of space technology. The technology perspective and solutions will be provided by a selected European cluster that will provide the participants with up-to-date solutions for the challenges identified.

  • Secure Transports and Communication. The second webinar is scheduled for Monday, February 22nd and will highlight the main challenges and issues faced by stakeholders in the field of marine communications, autonomous shipping, and logistics, with insights from shipowners;

Maritime transport and logistics constitute a large component of the blue economy. Shipping, maritime safety and security, as well as the broad range of maritime logistic services, are embracing innovative solutions to optimise their work and to collect reliable and timely information of what happens at sea. Technology is accelerating the process of modernisation of the whole sector, but still a series of challenges will be faced in the upcoming years by maritime operators: improved marine communications, logistics, autonomous shipping are under the lens to understand how to optimise their work them without impacting on the environment and marine world.

The second webinar of the series move the focus on three of the main issues faced by the maritime end- users’ communities: the optimisation of the vessels’ communication among them and with other means of transports, and how to ensure the safety of autonomous vessels. In addition to this, this second webinar will bring the audience the experience of shipowners’ confederation and their needs. As in the first webinar, a European cluster will provide the participants with the existing solutions to respond to their everyday challenges.

  • Maritime Spatial Planning. The last webinar of the series will be on Thursday 25th February. It will present the experience of end-users involved in the Maritime Spatial Planning process, such as coastal protection, renewable energy, and port development.

Maritime Spatial Planning is necessary to ensure a sustainable management of oceans and seas. In the era of blue growth multiple users need to take informed decision on how to use sustainably marine resources. Multiple actors are involved in the Maritime Spatial Planning process, from energy actors, to environmental entities, development agencies, but also regional policy and decision makers, are called to consider how to minimize the impacts of their activities on the same sea area. The opportunities that technology offers today can help sea and ocean users to define a coordinated and sustainable approach towards the use of marine resources, preserving the marine ecosystems and biodiversity.

The last webinar of the series will present the needs of three of the main industries involved in Maritime Spatial Planning process, to provide the participants with the experience of policy actors involved in the definition of coastal protection policies; how renewable energy relies on satellite data to manage sea resources; and finally, how the port systems are improving and what challenges exist for the operators. Another European technology cluster will provide the stakeholders and the audience with the useful information to consider the adoption of satellite-based solutions for their needs.


The results of the ESA stakeholder consultation will be available in the second quarter of 2021. The outcomes of the webinar series will, instead, be available on the Eurisy website and social media channels. 




[1] Marine Living and Non-Living Resources, Marine Renewable Energy, Port Activities, Shipbuilding and Repair, Marine Transport, and Coastal Tourism.