The vast developmental opportunities offered by the world’s coasts and oceans have attracted the attention of governments, private enterprises, philanthropic organizations, and international conservation organizations. High-profile dialogue and policy decisions on the future of the ocean are informed largely by economic and ecological research. Key insights from the social sciences raise concerns for food and nutrition security, livelihoods and social justice, but these have yet to gain traction with investors and the policy discourse on transforming ocean governance. The largest group of ocean-users – women and men who service, fish and trade from small-scale fisheries (SSF) – argue that they have been marginalized from the dialogue between international environmental and economic actors that is determining strategies for the future of the ocean. Blue Economy or Blue Growth initiatives see the ocean as the new economic frontier and imply an alignment with social objectives and SSF concerns. Deeper analysis reveals fundamental differences in ideologies, priorities and approaches. We argue that SSF are being subtly and overtly squeezed for geographic, political and economic space by larger scale economic and environmental conservation interests, jeopardizing the substantial benefits SSF provide through the livelihoods of millions of women and men, for the food security of around four billion consumers globally, and in the developing world, as a key source of micro-nutrients and protein for over a billion low-income consumers. Here, we bring insights from social science and SSF to explore how ocean governance might better account for social dimensions of fisheries.
The worlds’ oceans and seas have tremendous potential to contribute to the provision of food, feed, energy and natural resources. The emerging concepts of “Blue Growth” and “Blue Economy” have put the development of new marine industries on the political agenda. As marine industries expand, spatial interconnections and industry boundaries are being drawn and the potential for the combined use of marine space is being explored. The aim of this paper is to provide a single source document that summarizes the probable boundaries of marine growth industries, namely aquaculture; offshore wind energy with fixed foundations; floating offshore wind energy; tidal and wave energy; marine biotechnology, seabed mining; and tourism and recreation, based on depth and distance from the shore. This is an important first step in developing a single source document for marine industry boundaries that will help marine spatial planners and researchers develop innovative industry combinations to foster growth in the marine sector. This paper explores marine industry overlaps in four basins: European Atlantic, Baltic/North Sea, Mediterranean/Black Sea and the Caribbean/ Gulf of Mexico. By describing the geographical characteristics of different sea basins, this paper helps to focus marine governance strategies for stimulating combinations of marine industries towards the most promising areas. The methodology developed in this paper was also used to generate 72 country-specific maps and corresponding tables to support marine spatial planning processes at a national level.
In this article, we track a relatively new term in global environmental governance: “blue economy.” Analyzing preparatory documentation and data collected at the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (i.e., Rio + 20), we show how the term entered into use and how it was articulated within four competing discourses regarding human–ocean relations: (a) oceans as natural capital, (b) oceans as good business, (c) oceans as integral to Pacific Small Island Developing States, and (d) oceans as small-scale fisheries livelihoods. Blue economy was consistently invoked to connect oceans with Rio + 20’s “green economy” theme; however, different actors worked to further define the term in ways that prioritized particular oceans problems, solutions, and participants. It is not clear whether blue economy will eventually be understood singularly or as the domain of a particular actor or discourse. We explore possibilities as well as discuss discourse in global environmental governance as powerful and precarious.
While the global rush to control land resources is well established, ‘power-grabs’ in relation to marine and coastal resources are less well researched. Under the banner of ‘blue growth’, such power-grabs are taking shape through global policy processes that purportedly align the needs of the poor with profit interests and climate change concerns. This contribution critically interrogates these policy proposals and situates them within broader neoliberalization of nature debates. It is argued that the policy proposals fail on their own terms and are a form of ‘antipolitics’ that precludes more radical visions of addressing environmental and climate change issues. In an attempt to challenge this, small-scale fishers’ movements are increasingly framing their opposition in terms of the broader struggle for ‘food sovereignty’.
In recent years the European Union has firmly committed itself to energy from oceans as a means of decarbonising the European energy system. Despite a favourable political landscape, the development of offshore renewables still faces economic and technological barriers, which are coupled with the inherent difficulties of an increasingly industrialised marine environment, such as complex evolving regulation, lack of knowledge regarding the possible environmental impact of such an activity, as well as spatial conflicts with other traditional and emerging uses. Most of the coastal Member States have adopted Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) as a fundamental tool for integrated and sustainable management of human activities in the marine environment. MSP is capable of definitively driving the use of offshore renewable facilities. Its proper application supports decision making, simplifies and accelerates the process of obtaining permits, improves compatibility of uses, integrates stakeholders in planning, prevents environmental deterioration of sensitive areas, enhances the availability of information and promotes cross-border co-operation. This paper aims to evaluate the influence of maritime spatial planning processes on the advance of blue energy within the framework of the European Union. The results show positive relationships between MSP and the development of offshore renewable energy in countries such as Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
The development of the Marine Renewable Energy (MRE) industry is part of the EC Blue Growth Strategy. It brings together a range of relationships across people, sea, and energy, from developers to local communities and policymakers. This calls for diverse approaches, moving beyond an oppositional mindset to one that can establish an inclusive community around MRE development. Ownership of the marine environment is a legal issue, but MRE devices operate within a cultural and emotional sense of place. Early, sustained community engagement and advocacy is crucial to developing an industry whose impacts are likely to be felt before its social benefits materialise. Crucially, local communities could be supported by Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) research in creating new mythologies and imaginaries through which MRE technologies become an integral part of their culture, as well as part of their biophysical environment. A complex physical, political, and legal environment provides the context for these new marine energy technologies, and its development provides opportunities for SSH research to address issues around the sea and to integrate into the design of new marine energy seascapes.
The ‘Blue Economy’ is an increasingly popular term in modern marine and ocean governance. The concept seeks to marry ocean-based development opportunities with environmental stewardship and protection. Yet different actors are co-opting this term in competing, and often conflicting ways. Four conceptual interpretations of the Blue Economy are identified, through examination of dominant discourses within international Blue Economy policy documents and key ‘grey’ literature. The way the Blue Economy is enacted is also examined, through an analysis of the Blue Economy ‘in practice’, and the actors involved. Finally, the scope of the Blue Economy is explored, with a particular focus on which particular marine industries are included or excluded from different conceptualizations. This analysis reveals areas of both consensus and conflict. Areas of consensus reflect the growing trend towards commodification and valuation of nature, the designation and delimitation of spatial boundaries in the oceans and increasing securitization of the world's oceans. Areas of conflict exist most notably around a divergence in opinions over the legitimacy of individual sectors as components of the ‘Blue Economy’, in particular, carbon-intensive industries like oil and gas, and the emerging industry of deep seabed mining.
Terms like blue growth (as well as the blue economy) have become the new buzzword inscribing a new era where the seas are recognized as potential drivers for the European economy. It is nevertheless, through this same logic of limitless economic growth, marine resources have been unsustainably exploited despite numerous institutional attempts to tackle overfishing. The aim of this paper is to point at the contradictions inherent in the objectives of the blue economy, and question the belief that ecological, social and economic targets can be achieved under (blue) growth-centred policies. An analysis of the (failing) policies for a ‘sustainable use of marine resources’ will be conducted and exemplified through an analysis of the main tools the EU has promoted as solutions to the fisheries crisis (sustainable consumption, privatisation of fish, fishing in waters of third countries and marine aquaculture). Additionally, the sectors promoted by the EU's Blue Growth strategy (marine aquaculture, coastal tourism, marine biotechnology, ocean energy and seabed mining) will also be evaluated in order to question this new vision for the seas and the coast. Through the introduction of the concept blue degrowth, this article aims to open up a more critical discussion around the blue growth strategy by highlighting the inherent dangers which lie in such economic strategies.
Marine and coastal tourism as one of the largest segments of the maritime economy sector, as well as the largest component of the tourism industry, often leads to controversy over environmental impact and compatibility with other human activities. The application of economic and tourism concepts that are oriented towards environmental conservation and natural resources is one option to overcome the problem. The Blue Economy concept offers an economic concept based on ecosystem principles, where the development will not only generate economic growth but also ensure ecological and social sustainability. In addition, the concept of ecotourism also offers a tourism activity that prioritizes aspects of nature conservation and improving the welfare of the community
Ocean- and coastal-based economic activities are increasingly recognised as key drivers for supporting global economies. This move towards the “blue economy” is becoming globally widespread, with the recognition that if ocean-based activities are to be sustainable, they will need to move beyond solely extractive and exploitative endeavours, aligning more closely with marine conservation and effective marine spatial planning. In this paper we define the “blue economy” as a “platform for strategic, integrated and participatory coastal and ocean development and protection that incorporates a low carbon economy, the ecosystem approach and human well-being through advancing regional industries, services and activities”. In Peru, while the seas contribute greatly to the national economy, the full potential of the blue economy has yet to be realised. This paper presents the findings of an early career scientist workshop in Lima, Peru, in March 2016. The workshop “Advancing Green Growth in Peru” brought together researchers to identify challenges and opportunities for green growth across three Peruvian economic sectors—tourism, transport and the blue economy with this paper exploring in detail the priorities generated from the “blue economy” stream. These priorities include themes such as marine spatial planning, detailed evaluations of existing maritime industries (e.g. guano collection and fisheries), development of an effective MPA network, support for sustainable coastal tourism, and better inclusion of social science disciplines in understanding societal and political support for a Peruvian blue economy. In addition, the paper discusses the research requirements associated with these priorities. While not a comprehensive list, these priorities provide a starting point for future dialogue on a co-ordinated scientific platform supporting the blue growth agenda in Peru, and in other regions working towards a successful “blue economy”.