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"The blue economy: Identifying geographic concepts and sensitivities"

Michaela Garland,

Stephen Axon,

Marcello Graziano, 

John Morrissey, &

C. Patrick Heidkamp

Published July 2019 in Geography Compass

Open Access at


There is currently no generally accepted definition for the “blue economy,” despite the term becoming common parlance over the past decade. The concept and practice have spawned a rich, and diverse, body of scholarly activity. Yet despite this emerging body of literature, there is ambiguity around what the blue economy is, what it encapsulates, and its practices. Thus far, the existing literature has failed to theorise key geographical concepts such as space, place, scale, and power relations, all of which have the potential to lead to uneven development processes and regional differentiation. Previous research has sought to clarify the ontological separation of land and sea or has conceptualised the blue economy as a complex governmental project that opens up new governable spaces and rationalises particular ways of managing marine and coastal regions. More recently, geographers have called for a critical—and practical—engagement with the blue economy. This paper critically examines the existing literature of the geographies of the blue economy through a structured meta‐analysis of published work, specifically its conceptualisations and applications to debates in the field. Results offer the potential to ground a bottom‐up definition of the blue economy. In so doing, this paper provides a clearly identifiable rubric of the key geographical concepts that are often overlooked by researchers, policymakers, and practitioners when promoting economic development and technological innovation in coastal and marine environments.

Towards Coastal Resilience and Sustainability

Edited by C. Patrick Heidkamp and John Morrissey



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Coastal zones represent a frontline in the battle for sustainability, as coastal communities face unprecedented economic challenges. Coastal ecosystems are subject to overuse, loss of resilience and increased vulnerability. This book aims to interrogate the multi- scalar complexities in creating a more sustainable coastal zone. Sustainability transitions are geographical processes, which happen in situated, particular places. However, much contemporary discussion of transition is either aspatial or based on implicit assumptions about spatial homogeneity. This book addresses these limitations through an examination of socio- technological transitions with an explicitly spatial focus in the context of the coastal zone.

The book begins by focusing on theoretical understandings of transition processes specific to the coastal zone and includes detailed empirical case studies. The second half of the book appraises governance initiatives in coastal zones and their efficacy. The authors conclude with an implicit theme of social and environmental justice in coastal sustainability transitions.

Research will be of interest to practitioners, academics and decision- makers active in the sphere of coastal sustainability. The multi- disciplinary nature encourages accessibility for individuals working in the fields of Economic Geography, Regional Development, Public Policy and Planning, Environmental Studies, Social Geography and Sociology.

"Charting the course for a blue economy in Peru: a research agenda"

Emma McKinley,

Oscar Aller-Rojas,

Caroline Hattam,

Celine Germond-Duret,

Inés Vicuña San Martín,

Charlotte Rachael Hopkins,

Héctor Aponte, &

Tavis Potts


Published March 2018 in Environment, Development and Sustainability 

Open Access at


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”.


"Ocean governance and maritime security in a placeful environment: The case for the European Union"

Basil Germond &

Celine Germond-Duret 

Published April 2016 in Marine Policy

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Adopting a critical geopolitics approach that accounts for the mutually reinforcing link between geo-informed narratives and projection practices, this article proposes that ocean governance and maritime security have translated into states' and regional organisations' increasing control over maritime spaces. This leads to a certain territorialisation of the sea, not so much from a sovereignty and jurisdictional perspective but from a functional and normative perspective. The article starts by discussing the ways oceans have been represented and shows that they are far from a placeless void, both in practice and in discourse. The article then frames the analysis of ocean governance and maritime security within critical geopolitics, and elaborates on the case of the European Union's narrative and practice. It concludes on the mutually reinforcing link between discourse and practice in the field of ocean governance and maritime security in general, and on the consequences for the EU in particular. Scholars working on ocean governance and maritime security are encouraged to challenge the traditional view that oceans are placeless.

"Where have all the people gone? The limits of resilience in coastal communities"


Matthias Kokorsch

Karl Benediktsson

Published April 2018 in Norsk Geografisk Tidsskrift-Norwegian Journal of Geography

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The concept of resilience has been used for the assessment of community development and its prospects in natural resource-based localities. In the article, the resilience of two Icelandic coastal communities is evaluated. During fieldwork, various qualitative data were collected. Both communities have had to adjust to a radical change in the fisheries management, resulting in the loss of resource entitlements. Substantial differences were found in the level of resilience of these two coastal villages. One is undergoing a transition towards a non-fisheries-based existence. The other struggles to adjust and seems to have reached the limits of resilience.

"'The tides they are a changin’: Resources, regulation, and resilience in an Icelandic coastal community"


Matthias Kokorsch 


Published April 2017 in Journal of Rural and Community Development


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Icelandic coastal communities face major socio-economic and demographic challenges. Multiple reasons can be identified, among them restricted access to fishing grounds with de facto privatisation through the introduction of individual transferable quotas in 1990, which caused substantial stress to the economic structure of numerous fisheries-dependent towns and villages. The aim of this case study is to reveal the coping strategies of one such place that once was a thriving fishing village. The underlying theoretical framework is that of social resilience, here understood as the ability of a system to adapt to changes and disturbances and bounce back into equilibrium of sorts. The case study is based on a mixed methodology approach, including structured interviews with key informants and workshops with various groups, including young adolescents, entrepreneurs and the general public. The chosen case study site is a place that has lost almost all land-based jobs in fisheries, but where the former fish processing facilities have been transformed into places of cultural activity and for research and development. It therefore provides a good example of a shift from extractive industries towards creative and knowledge-based industries. This does not only invite the emergence of innovative pathways, but also increases the ability to attract young talent from outside, and to keep educated and skilled people in the community. Potentials and capacities for further increasing the social robustness of the community will be identified.

"The social dimension in Icelandic fisheries governance"



Catherine Chambers &

Matthias Kokorsch 


Published June 2017 in Coastal Management


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How social sciences can help achieve sustainable fisheries

Fisheries are a complex mixture of social, political, economic, and biological aspects, and often biological or economic end goals are given priority in fisheries governance. However, there is a growing trend around the world to include non-economic social objectives in fisheries management schemes, e.g., supporting rural communities, increasing opportunities for newcomers or part-time fishermen, or providing equitable access for culturally and historically important fisheries. In Iceland, fisheries management has given biological and economic goals precedence over social goals, and there is no formal inclusion of a social science advisory body in the fisheries governance process. Non-economic social sciences such as geography, anthropology, sociology, and political science can add important information and considerations that in turn make fisheries more sustainable in the long run. In this paper, we explain the role of social science in fisheries governance, explore how social aspects are addressed in other fisheries governance schemes, and review highlights from fisheries social science research in Iceland. We hope to generate a meaningful conversation regarding the possibilities of a modern, pioneering fisheries governance process in Iceland where social, economic, and biological goals and research are given equal attention.



"Improving or overturning the ITQ system? Views of stakeholders in Icelandic fisheries"



Matthias Kokorsch,

Anna Karlsdóttir, &

Karl Benediktsson


Published October 2015 in Maritime Studies



Open Access at



Icelandic fisheries have gone through tremendous changes since the 1980s and the gradual implementation of individual transferable quotas. The paper investigates to what extent the power of different stakeholders in in the fisheries management system has changed, and examines whether and in which fields enhanced participation is favoured by relevant stakeholder groups. Strengths and weaknesses of participation within the system are scrutinized and alternatives assessed. The analytical framework stems from the concept of adaptive co-management, whereas the empirical data derives from a survey on Icelandic fisheries management among important stakeholder groups. This survey showed that the critique of individual transferable quotas is not homogeneous. Regional differences are present regarding the evaluation of the current regime, but also of proposed alternative management instruments. Overall, more stakeholder participation, especially in data gathering and decision making, is demanded. This has in fact decreased over time. The authors suggest that the perceived shortcomings of the quota system in general and the lack of stakeholder participation in particular, can be addressed by adopting certain elements of adaptive co-management.




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