Geography and the Blue Economy

Session organizers: Gordon Winder, Ludwig-Maximilians Universität Munich, and Richard Le Heron, The University of Auckland

How are geographers engaging with or reacting to the so-called ‘Blue Economy’ initiatives that are reshaping the international scene in fisheries, coastal and ocean management? In 2014 there was a concerted push to realize new ocean commodities and territories under the Blue Economy rubric. Oceans are being remapped and re-imagined as potential investment spaces. Formative actors 'see' new frontiers, and plan to make capital more productive at the expense of other solutions, other people, other actors, including the non-human. This challenges the idea of coherent 'industry' perspectives, whether from national fisheries industries or oil and gas industries, as well as coherent 'national' perspectives. It is our intention to draw together geographers to discuss geographical understanding of Blue Economy initiatives and the Blue Economy as geographical knowledge production. How are geographers engaging with the Blue Economy, and how is it engaging with geographers? We envisage papers that explore themes such as the following:


1. Geography of the Blue Economy – towards geographical understanding of the Blue Economy

  • The work of metaphors and narratives: Blue, Green or Brown Economies?
  • Reframing EEZs for Blue Economy goals
  • Re-territorializing oceans and coasts
  • Where to Fish in the Blue Economy?
  • The aquaculture promise in the Blue Economy
  • Reconciling competing marine resource economies
  • Blue Economy as open experimentation


2.  Blue Economy as Geographical Knowledge Production – what geographical knowledge is needed?

  • New objects of science and policy in a Blue Economy world
  • Monitoring: GIS/RS and data generation
  • Socio-geographic knowledge and expertise
  • What role for geographers in oceans ecosystem management?
  • Integrated resource management in the oceans and coastal waters
  • Contestation of power, knowledge and expertise

What engagement can we expect from geographers at large in emerging Blue Economy knowledge spaces? We are particularly interested in the creation of new knowledge, new territories and institutions that are supportive of new knowledge efforts required in the Blue Economy.  It will be no simple task to insert Integrated Resource Management into the Blue Economy.  Integrated Resource Management needs new legislative mandates and procedures, new experts and managers, and, if pursued constructively, is, itself, likely to be a menu of experimental options. Further, the nature of the Blue Economy relationalities call for a very different set of framings, knowledge, measurement systems, and, most importantly, a system that prioritises cumulative and territorial effects and full consenting. Further, calls for ‘spatial planning’ and ‘Integrated Resource Management’ need to be subordinated to ecosystem management, to what could be called ‘Resilience and Resourcefulness Management’.  Above all we are interested in the challenge of resolving the content of biological-economic relations, and the dearth of differently principled frameworks that might enable new lines of experimentation in enacting situated resolutions of biological-economic relations.

Please send abstracts of no more than 200 words to Gordon Winder at  by January 15, 2014.