Towards innovation

Innovation is a major driver of economic progress and will play an important role in meeting global challenges, especially in areas such as environmental conservation and sustainability (OECD, 2007). The need to address the challenge of environmental sustainability is clearly stated in the fisheries and aquaculture strategies of OECD countries.

The current challenges in aquaculture innovation is improving the nutrition and development of specific species diets, health management, the sustainability of fish feed production in fish farming and measures to reduce the impact of aquaculture on the environment (reduction of inputs: water, energy, and reduction of waste outputs).  In this case, there has been an increase in the exploration of genetic selection, biotechnology, research on tackling diseases, breeding programs, diversification as well as recirculation systems and advances in nutrition.

On the fisheries side, major shared challenges where innovation can help is implementing the ecosystem approach to fisheries management as well as improving the selectivity of gears, genetics and stock boundaries, novel fishing techniques (such as gear selectivity and bottom-impact-reduction) to mitigate the interaction with protected species as well as bycatch. The issue of selectivity and discards has received a great deal of attention recently due to the landing obligation that is part of the new European Common Fisheries Policy since 2016. Other research that might not directly come from or affect the fisheries sector is associated with the design of fishing vessels (including fuel-efficiency, less maintenance, ensuring optimal product conservation and providing better working conditions for crew). 

To move towards innovation in fisheries and aquaculture, four priorities for policy makers can set out the basis for a comprehensive and action-oriented approach:


Policy for innovation: The governance and implementation of public policies for innovation

Innovation is affected by the economy as well as the national frameworks for innovation, and for the fisheries and aquacultures sectors (e.g competence of institutions, international competitiveness, private R&D investment.) Depending on the policies implemented, public sector and government actions can improve the conditions for innovation. Analysis and comparable data across OECD countries are developed here to better understand the mechanisms underlying the innovation policies related to fisheries and aquaculture.  

Our Compare Your Country tool will tell you how much fisheries support goes to research and development.


Investment in innovation: Invest in R&D and shape an efficient system of knowledge creation

Innovation systems require investments in knowledge creation and, consequently, in research and development. Innovation starts with research projects. A research project does not necessary become an innovation. Furthermore, if it does and shapes innovation, the process could take decades or centuries.

Universities can produce and transmit scientific knowledge, conduct basic research projects across many disciplines, and contributes to the training of new inventors. Institutions and, public and private research centres also carry out research projects as well as adaptive and applied research. These institutions mainly from the public sectors in OECD countries are listed here. As public research plays a pivotal role in innovation systems, notably in areas of public interest or in which businesses are not suited or motivated to invest, past and current partly publicly funded projects are listed, to help understand trends in R&D.

On the private sectors side, access to finance for research and development could be challenging because of the greater commercial risk associated with immature markets, the high capital intensity of some technologies, and relatively long term investment periods (OECD, 2015). Both public policies and public finance play an important role in mobilising private finance as well.

R&D expenditures and patents are two indicators of progress towards green innovation, although measurements should be taken carefully given that green innovation can come from a wide variety of domains (OECD, 2015).

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Empower people to innovate, the need for co-operation

International co-operation in fisheries and aquaculture sectors can offer universal benefits because fish are by nature a common good.

Building partnerships between national or regional research institutes, civil society organisations, academia, development organisations and the private sector, developing networks, knowledge clusters, PPP, etc. can help with the unexploited potential of innovation for expanding existing and developing new forms of cooperation amongst governmental agencies, research partners and the industry.

Cooperation can optimise resources (both financial and human) and intensify research capacities, provide a place to share experiences, information, facilities and equipment, and finally exploit the different and specific competencies available in each country.

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Foster knowledge diffusion and value creation

The development of fully functioning knowledge networks and markets could have significant impacts on innovation efficiency and effectiveness especially in reducing the transaction costs of knowledge diffusion and by encouraging green innovation in areas where market signals are not fully effective.

Ad hoc markets exist for intellectual property that can be codified, such as patents, databases, designs, trademarks and copyrights which can help to facilitate knowledge diffusion, but the sporadic and thin nature of these exchanges limits the development of a true market. Public policy should endeavour to support the formation of these knowledge networks and markets through existing policies that grant rights on intellectual property, by exploiting the knowledge that government possesses and by encouraging standards development. (OECD, 2011)

Here patents data are indicators of technology diffusion with the number of inventions that seek patent protection through national, regional or international routes (equivalents of the priority application, pertaining to the same "simple patent family") in a given jurisdiction. It shows the extent to which firms and individuals seek to "protect" the relevant markets for their inventions (including both domestic and foreign inventions).