A sustainable and equitable ocean and coastal economy that optimizes advances in science and technology to create value-added, data-driven economic opportunities and solutions to pressing societal needs.

The New Blue Economy is “a knowledge-based economy, looking to the sea not just for extraction of material goods, but for data and information to address societal challenges and inspire their solutions.”

Dr. Richard Spinrad, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere & NOAA Administrator

The United States is an ocean nation with a growing Blue Economy. Coastal communities in the U.S. are home to over 127 million people, 40% of the population. In 2019, the American blue economy grew faster than the nation’s economy in its entirety, supporting 2.4 million jobs and contributing $397 billion to the nation’s gross domestic product through activities such as tourism and recreation, shipping and transportation, commercial and recreational fishing, power generation, research, and related goods and services.1 

Mariner-related gross domestic product grew 4.2% from 2014 to 2019, much faster than the 2.2% growth of the total U.S. gross domestic product.1 The economic activity of America’s seaports alone grew 17% from 2014-2018 to $5.4 trillion, comprising nearly 26% of the nation’s $20.5 trillion gross domestic product (GDP).2 And despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, American seaports are adding terminals and piers, and demand for maritime commerce is expected to triple by 2030.

If American coastal counties were an individual country, they would rank third in the world in GDP, surpassed only by the United States and China. The prosperity and security of this nation is therefore predicated on the understanding, health, and sustainable use of our Oceans, Coasts, and Great Lakes.

A new age in ocean technology, sustainability, and logistics requires a New Blue Economy founded on the improved collection, analysis, and dissemination of ocean and coastal-derived data and information to support economic growth, protect the ocean’s health, and address societal challenges and inspire their solutions, while protecting ocean health and ensuring social equity.

The New Blue Economy builds on the traditional Blue Economy by harnessing the power of big-data to coalesce and apply ocean and coastal data and information. Given NOAA’s role as an authoritative ocean and coastal data collector, product developer, and disseminator and as public servants, NOAA is uniquely poised to accelerate and guide the early development of the New Blue Economy by revolutionizing the application of ocean data within multiple sectors. 

NOAA’s free and open source ocean and coastal data (temperature, water level, hydrography, topography, pH, salinity, surface currents, and more), provide the foundation for the New Blue Economy. These data are used by other Federal agencies, state and local governments, tribes, academia, non-governmental organizations, businesses, and the public, and are vital to the siting of offshore wind and aquaculture farms, creating the most efficient shipping routes, and better understanding the conditions needed for rapid intensification of hurricanes. NOAA’s data also include information about where certain marine life occur, whether there’s a harmful algal bloom on the way, or whether important fish stocks have moved into another country’s waters.

The rapid and accelerating pace of climate change is driving increased demand for information in the ocean and along our coasts, and NOAA is looking ahead and anticipating our country’s current and future needs by generating and disseminating the ocean and coastal data, information, tools, and services that economic sectors, decision makers, and communities need. In turn, these products contribute to our Nation’s climate and economic resilience, opening up new markets, and increasing the need for authoritative coastal and ocean observations and data as a foundation.

NOAA is investing in innovative ocean and coastal observing technology to maximize the economic potential of the world’s oceans while ensuring the sustainable use of ocean and coastal resources and protecting ocean health, natural capital, and ecosystem services now and in the future.

To drive the growth of the New Blue Economy, NOAA is:


Promoting the Development of the Ocean Enterprise


Augmenting and Innovating Approaches for Data Collection and Forecasting


Increasing Stakeholder Engagement

How NOAA is Supporting the New Blue Economy


To ensure the New Blue Economy has the ocean and atmospheric data and information needed to address societal challenges and grow the economy, NOAA is sustaining and improving ocean observing systems while increasing data collection to include industry-based data collection and real-time reporting of ocean and atmospheric observations.

Sustaining, improving, and expanding ocean and coastal observations

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Working with industry partners, NOAA is planning for climate resilient infrastructure and encouraging more sustainable operations — particularly with regard to conservation, nature-based solutions, aquaculture, renewable energy and other sectors with emerging interests in ocean co-benefits.

Strengthening established sectors of the Blue Economy


To ensure responsible development and growth of the coastal communities and economies, NOAA is connecting tools for resilience and climate science with coastal communities and engaging in co-development of those tools to support planning and management decision-making.

Improving the resilience of coastal communities and economies


NOAA is increasing stakeholder engagement to better capture evolving societal challenges and user needs and prioritizing social inclusion and equity in every aspect of stakeholder engagement and service delivery.

Providing equitable access to reliable, consistent and accurate ocean and coastal data


NOAA and its partners are collaborating to improve data collection, data management, and forecasting capabilities. NOAA is also exploring artificial intelligence, machine learning and data visualization technologies for use in at sea observing, data and video analysis, and stock assessments.

Conducting and supporting research, development, acquisition and application of new technologies

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Recognizing that science is not only done by or in service of a select few, NOAA’s commitment to science will mirror its commitment to an equitable, diverse and inclusive workforce.

Promoting and developing a diverse and ready New Blue Economy workforce

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A healthy blue economy depends on responsible management of our ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources. NOAA will continue to protect, manage, and conserve more than 620,000 square miles of ocean and Great Lakes waters, 430 domestic protected marine species, the Exclusive Economic Zone, and Extended Continental Shelf.

Protecting and restoring marine life and ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes ecosystems


NOAA is working to ensure decision-makers and the public coastal communities have access to the products and services they need for effective preparation and response to the ocean-related hazards that threaten their health and economies.

Reducing risk from coastal and environmental hazards

New Blue Economy Resources


Advancing the New Blue Economy, integrating equity into all operations, and ensuring a Climate Ready Nation


Innovation, equity, and resilience for strengthening American competitiveness in the 21st century


New Blue Economy business scale, scope, and projected growth


Ensuring U.S. residents understand and use the breadth of NOAA’s information for their decisions


Helping our Nation’s communities and businesses understand the climate crisis and build the resiliency necessary to mitigate its impacts


Supporting oceans and coastal economic activity while ensuring environmental sustainability


Maximizing the value of NOAA’s data


Maximizing value for science-based mission support

1 Department of Commerce Marine Economy Satellite Account, 2014-2020

2 National Economic Impact of the U.S. Coastal Port System Report, 2018