United Nations
The Blue Cluster - De Blauwe Cluster
by Zero Emissions Research and Initiatives - ZERI (Scientific community)
The Blue Cluster is a network organization connecting everybody and anyone who is interested in the development of a marine/maritime industry in Belgium. We have a long term vision, which is the building of a string of structures in front of our Belgian coastline, from the French boarder, all the way to the Dutch border, and these structure should not only protect the Belgian coastline against rising sea levels, and especially the increasing storm surges due to climate change, but also provide a solid base for an economic development of the North Sea.

To achieve this long-term vision, we have defined 3 pillars around which we work: coastal protection, regeneration of biodiversity and the continuous supply of healthy seafood. Next to the achievement of these topics, we defined 5 others domains (renewable energy production and storage, transport and a smart coast network, biomarine resources, minerals, tourism and recreation and desalination) which once combined deliver a multifunctional coastal protection scheme, offering innovative and sustainable technologies, exportable know-how, job generation, community building, and security for nature, society and economy.

1. Coastal protection: as previously stated not only against rising sea levels, but more needed, against rising storm surges. This could be the building of islands, atolls, dunes, under water structures such as sandbanks and biogenic reefs (oyster and mussel reefs).
2. Regeneration of biodiversity and the supply of healthy seafood: this includes growing all that has once flourished in the North Sea (algae, mussels, oysters, seaweeds, etc) providing a space for fish to repopulate. These products will then not only be serving as healthy seafood for the Belgian population, but will also serve as an input in a variety of other industries, such as the chemical, pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry. The nutrients and proteins in the algae are of extremely good quality, and the phosphors or high interest for the making of biological fertilizers.
3. Renewable energy: we want to secure a continuous stream of renewable energy by connecting floating solar, floating windmills and windmills, with tidal and wave energy, with digestion of biomass (yet another application for the algae from the aquaculture).
4. Transportation and communication: by creating a quieter seasurface inland barges will be able to sail along the coastline without have to be overloaded onto sea vessels, saving time and deleting an economical cost. On top, building these structures will allow us to create a smart coast 5G network combining data mining, monitoring, communication and autonomous usage of floating platforms.
5. Desalination: The Blue Cluster aims on connecting desalination plants with the renewable energy provided by its structures. This way we want supply coastal areas with the much-needed fresh water, so the need of pumping ages old groundwater decreases.
6. Minerals: our first source of calcium carbonate would be the shells of the oysters, which are of the highest quality there is to be found on this planet.
7. Recreation: the building of islands in front of the coastline equals resting places for terns, birds and seals.

Progress reports
By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution
Type of commitment
  • Other (please specify): Sustainable extraction of nutrients out of algae
  • Wastewater treatment:
  • Plastics recovery/recycling/reuse
  • Management of ship-based pollution and/or port waste management
By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans
Type of commitment
  • Marine Spatial Planning
  • Large Marine Ecosystem approach
  • Ecosystem-based Adaptation
  • We applied for a zone 440km2 in front of the Belgian coastline (about 3.400km2)
Minimize and address the impacts of ocean acidification, including through enhanced scientific cooperation at all levels
Type of commitment
  • Scientific research and cooperation to address ocean acidification knowledge gaps
By 2020, effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics
Type of commitment
  • Compliance, monitoring and enforcement
  • Reduction and elimination fishing practices and gear that destroy/degrade marine habitat
  • Ecosystem approach to fisheries (EAF)
  • Eco-labelling, traceability, certification programmes
  • Other (please specify):
  • We defined 3 searching zones of 127km2, 26km2 and 36km2 in which we would like to develop 3D sea farming (growing algae, seaweeds, oysters, mussels, etc). This is integrated aquaculture recreating a natural habitat for fish to reproduce, and where waste of one is food for another.
By 2020, prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and refrain from introducing new such subsidies, recognizing that appropriate and effective special and differential treatment for developing and least developed countries should be an integral part of the World Trade Organization fisheries subsidies negotiation
Type of commitment
  • Removal or reduction of harmful fisheries subsidies
Increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity and transfer marine technology, taking into account the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology, in order to improve ocean health and to enhance the contribution of marine biodiversity to the development of developing countries, in particular small island developing States and least developed countries
Type of commitment
  • Scientific, socioeconomic and interdisciplinary research
  • Research capacity development
  • Training and professional development
  • Scientific cooperation
Provide access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets
Type of commitment
  • Transfer of fishing technology
  • Access to coastal fishing grounds
Enhance the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in UNCLOS, which provides the legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources, as recalled in paragraph 158 of The Future We Want
Type of commitment
  • Activities to raise awareness of the comprehensive legal and policy framework for the sustainable development of oceans and seas, in particular UNCLOS, its Implementing Agreements and other relevant ocean-related instruments and promote their effective im
  • Ratification, accession and acceptance of UNCLOS, its Implementing Agreements and other relevant ocean-related instruments
  • Strengthening ocean governance, for example through the development of a national ocean policy or regional ocean policy
  • Development of necessary infrastructure and/or enforcement capabilities to comply with international law, as reflected in UNCLOS and as complemented by other ocean-related instruments
January 2020
First algae from which nutrients are extracted, is then digested into energy, leaving phosphates for the chemical industry and animal feed as a leftover
Other, please specify
Applying for subsidies at Flemish, Belgian and European level
Staff / Technical expertise
Every member dedicates one co-worker for free to the initiative
In-kind contribution
Membership fees from partner organizations (depending on # of employees - 50.000EUR or 5.000EUR)
Basic information
Time-frame: 01/2017 - 01/2052
1. ZERI (lead) - Scientific Community 2. Capricorn Sustainable Chemistry Fund - Private Sector 3. Colruyt Group - Private Sector 4. Dredging International DEME - Private Sector 5. Econopolis - Private Sector 6. INVE Aquaculture - Private Sector 7. Jan De Nul Group - Private Sector 8. Siemens - Private Sector 9. Sioen Industries - Private Sector 10. Tractebel - Private Sector 11. Vanbreda Risk&Benefits - Private Sector 12. Vyncke nv - Private Sector 13. Vlaamse Visveiling nv - Private Sector 14. Flemish Marine Institute (VLIZ) - Academic Institution 15. Flanders' Maritime Cluster - Partnership
Ocean Basins
  • North Atlantic
Beneficiary countries
Other beneficaries
Contact information
Laurenz-Frederik Pauli, Advisor at ZERI - Co-Founder and Manager at Blue Cluster, lf.pauli@zeri.org, 0032 486 40 78 16
Other SDGs
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