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”.
A brief history of marine fisheries is presented which emphasizes the expansion of industrial fleets in the 20th century, and their inherent lack of sustainability. In contrast, small scale fisheries, i.e. artisanal, subsistence and recreational fisheries could become part of a blue economy, given that care is taken to reduce incentives for building up fishing effort. However, they usually receive little attention from policy makers, as reflected by the almost complete absence from the catch data submitted by member countries to the FAO. While industrial fisheries tend to lack the features that would make them compatible with a blue economy, small-scale fisheries possess most of these features, and thus may represent the future of sustainable fisheries.
Harnessing the economic potential of the oceans is key to combating poverty, enhancing food security, and strengthening economies. But the concomitant risk of intensified resource extraction to migratory species is worrying given that these species contribute to important ecological processes, often underpin alternatively livelihoods, and many are already threatened. We thus sought to quantify the potential conflict between key economic activities (five fisheries and hydrocarbon exploitation) and sea turtle migration corridors in a region with rapid economic development: Southern and East Africa. From 20 loggerhead and 14 leatherback tracks, we used movement-based kernel density estimation to identify three migration corridors for each of the two species. We overlaid these corridors on maps of the distribution and intensity of economic activities, quantified the extent of overlap and threat posed by each activity on each species, and compared the effects. These results were compared to annual bycatch rates in the respective fisheries. Both species’ corridors overlap most with longlining, but the effect is worse for leatherbacks: bycatch rates are substantial (ca. 1500 per annum) relative to the regional population size (<100 females nesting per annum), likely slowing the population growth rate. Artisanal fisheries are of greater concern for loggerheads, but the population appears to be withstanding the high bycatch rates because it is increasing exponentially. The hydrocarbon industry currently has a moderately low impact, but exploitation in key areas (e.g., Southern Mozambique) has the potential to undermine more than 50 years of conservation efforts, affecting >80% of the loggerhead population, 33% of the (critically endangered) leatherback population, and their nesting beaches. We support establishing blue economies, but oceans need to be carefully zoned and responsibly managed in both space and time to achieve economic (resource extraction), ecological (conservation, maintain processes) and social (maintain alternative livelihood opportunities, combat poverty) objectives.
Despite their importance for human well-being, nearshore fisheries are often data poor, undervalued, and underappreciated in policy and development programs. We assess the value chain for nearshore Hawaiian coral reef fisheries, mapping post-catch distribution and disposition, and quantifying associated monetary, food security, and cultural values. We estimate that the total annual value of the nearshore fishery in Hawaiʻi is $10.3-$16.4 million, composed of non-commercial ($7.2-$12.9 million) and commercial ($2.97 million licensed + $148,500-$445,500 unlicensed) catch. Hawaii’s nearshore fisheries provide >7 million meals annually, with most (>5 million) from the non-commercial sector. Over a third (36%) of meals were planktivores, 26% piscivores, 21% primary consumers, and 18% secondary consumers. Only 62% of licensed commercial catch is accounted for in purchase reports, leaving 38% of landings unreported in sales. Value chains are complex, with major buyers for the commercial fishery including grocery stores (66%), retailers (19%), wholesalers (14%), and restaurants (<1%), who also trade and sell amongst themselves. The bulk of total nearshore catch (72–74%) follows a short value chain, with non-commercial fishers keeping catch for household consumption or community sharing. A small amount (~37,000kg) of reef fish—the equivalent of 1.8% of local catch—is imported annually into Hawaiʻi, 23,000kg of which arrives as passenger luggage on commercial flights from Micronesia. Evidence of exports to the US mainland exists, but is unquantifiable given existing data. Hawaiian nearshore fisheries support fundamental cultural values including subsistence, activity, traditional knowledge, and social cohesion. These small-scale coral reef fisheries provide large-scale benefits to the economy, food security, and cultural practices of Hawaiʻi, underscoring the need for sustainable management. This research highlights the value of information on the value chain for small-scale production systems, making the hidden economy of these fisheries visible and illuminating a range of conservation interventions applicable to Hawaiʻi and beyond.
In the 2010s, the ‘Blue Economy’ has been widely advocated by a spectrum of interests as a strategy to save the world’s oceans and water. This article explores what the Blue Economy moment is and how geographers can engage with it. It acknowledges recent efforts by geographers to understand Blue Economy but goes further by outlining the European Union’s Blue Economy programmes and by discussing these in relation to recent agenda setting in marine science. We argue that in spite of apparent convergence on this goal, the Blue Economy imaginary disciplines disparate knowledge for economic projects, when the planetary reality is that every economic project is axiomatically a biological project, with some economic aspects. In this context, the article outlines how assemblage thinking could be relevant to a human geography engagement with Blue Economy and what this could like, and how a relational conception of Blue Economy helps advance understanding. Finally, we discuss the difficulties and potential for human geographers to be genuinely enactive given the disciplinary framings that have already been assumed or imposed through Blue Economy. This last is highlighted by discussing engagement in a particular New Zealand Blue Economy initiative. Rather than either promoting or critiquing Blue Economy, we encourage informed and critical engagement with Blue Economy by geographers.
The blue economy can be a driver for Europe's welfare and prosperity. That was the message of the Blue Growth Strategy adopted by the Commission in 2012. Since then, the Commission has undertaken a series of steps to translate it into actions. It has launched initiatives in many policy areas related to Europe's oceans, seas and coasts, facilitating the cooperation between maritime business and public authorities across borders and sectors, and stakeholders to ensure the sustainability of the marine environment.
Governments and regional agencies of the Pacific Islands are strengthening their commitment to sustainable oceans management through proactive policies and programs. The Blue Economy concept is increasingly being invoked, yet clarity on definitions and implementation steps remain vague. This paper reviews reports, academic literature and regional speeches to develop a Blue Economy conceptual framework which is then applied to three case studies from the fisheries sector – small scale fisheries, urban fish markets and onshore tuna processing. The cases illustrate an imbalance in attention paid to key components of the Blue Economy and missed opportunities for integration across scales, time and stakeholders with a few noteworthy exceptions. Issues of power, agency and gender remain weakly addressed even in the most recent initiatives. While clearly defining components of the Blue Economy provides a valuable tool for assessing coverage of key elements of sustainable ocean management, it is less obvious that the new label, Blue Economy, significantly advances practice beyond existing sustainable development frameworks. A proliferation in terms adds more complexity to an already challenging management space. Nevertheless, the conceptual framework is useful for structuring evaluations of practice, and helping to reveal missing ingredients necessary for the sustainable development of oceans.