As a result of the elaboration of Blue Growth Puerto de Vigo, 38 projects and 44 actions have been identified to be carried out in the 2016-2020 period, in whose definition more than 250 participants from public and private entities of the quadruple helix have collaborated ( public administration, private sector, research and training organizations, and civil society), belonging to Vigo and its area of influence, thanks to a pioneering, innovative work methodology adapted to the characteristics and needs of the Port of Vigo. It should be noted that two grouped projects have been conceived, arising from the unification of proposals from different areas. These projects appear in their areas of origin, although their management and budget have been assigned to only one area.
The main goal established during the sessions of the Working Group for Motorways of the Port of Vigo is to increase traffic volume at the Ro-Ro Terminal. This Group’s participants propose capturing sectors that so far have been using other means of transportation for their goods but, nevertheless, show great potential in terms of increasing the terminal’s traffic, as is the case with the food sector and others. Accordingly, the terminal’s services must be adapted in order to make it easier for small and medium businesses to opt for this transportation option. Also, it is crucial to attract goods of other kinds, such as the so called project goods (large pieces of offshore structures), so it is imperative to improve the loading and unloading services, as they have a great impact on the quality of the service and its expansion.
The frozen fish industry is one of the economic drivers of the Port of Vigo, employing more than 30.000 people according to a study of its socioeconomic impact performed by the Cooperative of Ship Owners (ARVI) and the Port Authority of Vigo. For this reason, the Blue Growth Port of Vigo initiative has a specific Working Group to deal with this sector. The members of this Group reflected about the reasons that explain why Vigo is a major port in terms of unloaded volume of frozen fish; one quick glance reveals that these quantities of frozen fish come from local fishing companies that operate in distant waters, both of third countries and international, and that these companies have facilitated the development of a very important fish processing industry, which uses frozen fish as raw material and provides the (mainly) national market with a range of processed fish products. In line with this, during the working sessions, the participants indicated several needs: increasing legal certainty for investments and analysing investment performance in third countries, exploring the development policy looking for potential synergies, and establishing a Special Registry of fish processing vessels operating in non-EU fishing grounds.
Understood as the reduction of obstacles and burdens deriving from the bureaucratic activity of public administrations, administrative processing simplification is present at each instance of the State structure. After discussing the main topics and problems in the scope of this Working Area, the participants established a global goal: the paperless office. In order to achieve this goal, two major subject fields were defined: administrative processing of the port community, and administrative processing with entities other than the port.
Level Playing Field is the title for all the topics concerning the rights of Blue Economy players to enjoy balanced competition conditions. Nevertheles, the participants in this Working Group wanted to highlight first the lack of examples on how to carry out a comprehensive implementation of the Blue Growth strategy in a port, and, accordingly, the necessity of reclaiming the pioneering and exemplary nature of the Blue Growth Port of Vigo initiative.
The Port of Vigo is internationally regarded as the most important fishing port in Europe and one of the major ones in the world. Thus, the port must distinguish itself with infrastructures and services that are ahead in terms of technology and efficiency. Accordingly, a Working Group was established involving representatives from different sectors and all the agents from the fishing sector. As a pioneering action, the working sessions followed a hybridisation model whereby the know-how from the automotive sector, the IT sector, the ship building sector, and the commercial fishing sector were combined with the goal of defining the fishing port model of the future. First of all, the participants highlighted that the infrastructures of the Fishing Port are obsolete, and that processes related to them need to be updated with the implementation of new technologies. Subsequently, the participants stated that it is crucial to increase the supply of fishing products in terms of quantity, diversity, and quality. Accordingly, the established a series of challenges such as defining what Vigo’s fishing products should be, expanding the product catalogue, improving sales performance taking advantage of the Motorway of the Sea and air shipping, attracting external agents through a stable and trustworthy supply, and developing initiatives targeted at capturing retailers and department stores.
The participants in the Shipbuilding Working Group started by agreeing that a global strategy must be defined to position the shipbuilding sector as an international benchmark. This strategy must be based on diversification, a focus on specialised vessels and highly dynamic markets, and cooperation within the sector to generate an improved value chain. Regarding shipbuilding in itself, this Group is in favour of investing in new designs looking to make the ship of the future a reality (particularly, the fishing ship of the future), a smart and energetically efficient vessel, with high habitability standards, equipped with alternative propulsion technologies, and relying on clean energy. Essentially, the idea is to build a new fishing fleet that exceeds in habitability and incorporates innovative, state-of-the-art technologies to guarantee the best possible labour conditions for the crew and not, by the way, to increase the ships’ fishing capacity.
The Blue Energy Working Group of the Blue Growth Port of Vigo initiative consisted of participants coming from major technology centres, university research groups specialising on energy, companies operating in the field of renewable energies, port users, and energy-related institutions, all of them with the common goal of sharing the different angles existing in this field. Among the assessed topics, the participants underlined the importance of incorporating new technologies to provide support supervising and managing energy-related activities and power consumption at the port, in order to go a step further towards the Green Port goal. In this sense, several proposals were made along the lines of implementing expert systems or using big data simulations and predictive models. Furthermore, it was deemed vital to install, in the port, renewable energy systems (wind, geothermal, etc.), which will be proof of the port’s commitment to the Galician renewable energy sector.
This Working Group concluded that the last step that the Port of Vigo should take in order to be an exemplary green port in the South of Europe is to clean and recover the footprint laid by the industrial and urban activities in its waters. To achieve this important goal, Blue Biotechnology and Technology must play a crucial role, as it is one of the most important areas of activity. As already mentioned, one of the main subjects in this Working Area is that there are seabed areas in the Ria de Vigo that need to be regenerated. To that effect, the Group prioritised the docks of Bouzas, where the local industries, primarily shipyards, have historically caused pollution; the seabed under the mussel farms, due to the biological pollution resulting from mussel farming; and shell fishing areas such as Arcade.
This Working Group was made up by the main cultural, museum, and research institutions in Vigo and its metropolitan area, in order to agree upon a set of measures directed towards enhancing and preserving the region’s maritime culture and heritage, and supported by this, its territorial identity. Around the issue of maritime heritage, several features were singled out as particularly valuable: navigation aids as the lighthouses of Cíes or Cape Silleiro, traditional crafts like fishing, shell fishing, and aquaculture, or port-related activities such as merchant shipping, cargo stowage, and passenger transportation. It was also emphasised the notion of what is known as “living treasure”, a different kind of heritage collecting anecdotes, experiences, and memories of individuals that have had a close relationship with the sea through any of its industries and crafts.
In a complex and changing environment such as the one surrounding ports, it is important to have well trained professionals. A well skilled workforce is vital for maintaining a high levels of competitiveness. The adaptation of this set of knowledge and skill to the market needs is no simple necessity, but an indispensable factor. Blue Growht Port of Vigo favours adapting the existing training plans to the needs of the Blue Economy operators, in order to launch basic, intermediate, and specialised training programmes.
The Cruise Traffic Working Group channelled its efforts in three separate directions: turning Vigo into a favourite destination for cruise-goers, consolidating the port in its role as port of call of excellence for cruise lines, and securing for the city and the region a well-disseminated, varied, and passenger-centric tourism supply. Nonetheless, these three challenges rely on an essential precondition: it is vital to achieve an efficient and orderly collaboration between the Port of Vigo, the public administration, and all the private companies involved in the sector in order to make sure that the actions taken will cover the needs of both cruise-goers and cruise lines.
In order to discuss the issues that were assigned to it, this Working Group was made up by the project promoters (Port Authority of Vigo, Free Zone of Vigo Consortium, Galician Institute of Housing and Land), the municipalities where the project is located, logistics operators, port users, and other stakeholders. As a starting point, the participants agreed that the goals and challenges of PLISAN must be updated and adapted to the current expectations, emphasising this is an ongoing project that will solve the land demand at the port.
Nautical tourism has a long tradition in Vigo and many faithful devotees. The excellent natural conditions for sailing or practicing nautical sports that one encounters at the Ria of Vigo are unique, thanks to the tranquil waters and the protection offered by the Cíes Islands. The first subject to be discussed during the working sessions was yachting. In this field, several initiatives were harvested, such as emphasising the ria and port’s features (calm and safe eaters, affordable berths, yacht repair services, etc.) and the city’s leisure options to promote Vigo as a berthing port. On the other hand, the second main topic has to do with achieving a better coordination between yachting clubs, marinas, and suppliers of nautical services, particularly in terms of unifying and centralising all the information about available services and to bring it to the end-users, for example via web.