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Science Partnerships Promote Trade, Investment, Sustainability

Tony Livoti,
Monterey Bay International Trade Association

Global trade and investment between countries are cornerstones for sustained peace and prosperity. Countries that interact via business and investment opportunities create a win-win environment, leading to job creation and economic development for each country involved. This fact is no more true than in the ocean technology sector, where countries that collectively address the challenges of a shared ocean through trade and investment opportunities also directly affect the globe’s “blue economy,” bringing economic and environmental benefits to the countries involved and to the entire global marketplace.

Qingdao, Shandong in China, the ninth busiest port in the world, and sometimes referred to as the “California” of China, has been tabbed as China’s “Blue Silicon Valley,” where up to 50 percent of China’s investment into its blue economy has been focused. At the same time, America’s “Blue Silicon Valley” is emerging in Monterey Bay, just 20 mi. from Silicon Valley in California.

Monterey Bay’s one-of-a-kind national marine sanctuary has seen hundreds of millions of dollars invested in 30 different marine science organizations located in Monterey Bay in the last 20 years. Now, this community is ready to share its expertise, technology, services and products in sustainable marine science with the rest of the world.

The Monterey Bay International Trade Association (MBITA) has initiated an outreach program to commercialize Monterey Bay’s marine science community in the global marketplace by forming a partnership with the leaders of Qingdao’s marine science community, starting with a Monterey Bay and California pavilion at the International Ocean Technology Conference & Expo (IOTCE 2015) in Qingdao this September.

Monterey Bay has been in the spotlight lately, with an upcoming BBC documentary “Big Blue Live” showing the area’s metamorphosis into the “salad bowl” of the oceans. To bring more attention to the blue economy, MBITA held a conference in June in Monterey Bay called “America’s Blue Silicon Valley Meets China’s Blue Silicon Valley,’” in collaboration with IOTCE and the OCEANS 2016 conference that will take place in Monterey Bay.

The U.S.-China conference in June in Monterey Bay featured pressing topics concerning the oceans, such as sustainable marine aquaculture, offshore energy production, desalination, biofuel, breakthrough marine technologies, public policy issues, and renewable energy. With California’s drought looming in the background, Donald Lewis, co-founder of the U.S.-China Trade and Innovation Initiative, unveiled a new strategy at the conference to dovetail “blue innovation” with “green innovation” in terms of U.S.-China scientific, technological and commercial cooperation.

The Monterey Bay marine science community is also making efforts to reach out to the offshore oil and gas industry to collaborate in making their operations more sustainable, especially in the wake of a recent oil spill in Southern California. Some of the immediate issues that offshore oil and gas can address with the marine science community involve curtailing leaks of oil and gas into the environment, further analysis of the environmental impact of offshore oil and gas exploration, and the socioeconomic impact of offshore oil and gas exploration on coastal communities.

We believe there is opportunity for the marine science community to collaborate with the offshore oil and gas industry not only to assess its environmental impact but also to help provide sustainable solutions to these challenges.

“We must deepen our understanding of the ocean and constantly improve our technical capacity for marine resource exploitation through innovation and technology,” said Hao Yunxing, main organizer of the IOTCE conference in Qingdao.

Monterey Bay is an example of how international partnerships can leverage science to promote economic development, as well as sustainable use of ocean resources. The U.S. and China are two big players on the world stage, and cooperation on trade, investment and environmental issues can shine a light on what’s possible.

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