A critical challenge facing our growing human population on this primarily ocean-covered planet is how to equitably and justly manage, use, and protect marine resources across local, national, regional, and global scales. The concept of a “blue economy” has been gaining momentum and financial resources in global and national forums over the last decade; however, its conception, definition, and implementation have been dangerously incomplete and myopic to date. The efforts currently undertaken in the name of Blue Economy typically ignore both the life cycles of marine species as well as the human beings whose way of life is most closely connected to the ocean, such as small-scale and artisanal fishing communities. This roundtable discussion will explore how we can ensure that a holistic view is used to implement ocean activities rather than an exclusively economic view so that the most vulnerable groups of marine resource users are not harmed.

Given that the 8th World Fisheries Congress highlighted “securing sustainable small-scale fisheries and equitable access to resources” as a key issue in the proceedings, this session aims to advance the conversation through a robust and well-rounded discussion of developing justice-focused ocean use, management, and protection processes from the small-scale fisheries perspective. This sector is also a prime segment to consider for guaranteeing human rights, workforce safety and gender equality, which were also key issues that the 8th World Fisheries Congress highlighted as requiring attention.

The session will bring together diverse speakers from the legal, policy, scientific, and small-scale fishing sector perspectives to share experiences relating to the impacts of blue economy efforts from different geographies and sociopolitical contexts. They will set the stage for an open dialogue among all participants regarding key issues that small-scale fisheries face at the intersection of food, water, energy, tourism and conservation issues, and highlight how a justice-minded lens and a human rights based approach can help improve policy, science, and livelihoods. The session aims to draw out both commonalities and differences among the examples, and to generate a forward-looking conversation that advances our thinking about the potential solution-space to achieve a more just and equitable future over the near-term that more successfully incorporates fisher and community participation and empowers their voices across regional and international platforms.


Melissa Garren, ELAW, [email protected]

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