Towards defining the Blue Economy: Practical lessons from pacific ocean governance
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.