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Deep aspirations: towards a sustainable offshore Blue Economy

  • Novaglio, Camilla1, 2, 3
  • Bax, Narissa2, 3
  • Boschetti, Fabio4
  • Emad, Gholam Reza5
  • Frusher, Stewart2, 3
  • Fullbrook, Liam2, 5
  • Hemer, Mark1
  • Jennings, Sarah2
  • van Putten, Ingrid1, 2
  • Robinson, Lucy M.4, 6
  • Spain, Erica3
  • Vince, Joanna2, 5
  • Voyer, Michelle7
  • Wood, Graham2, 8
  • Fulton, Elizabeth A.1, 2
  • 1 CSIRO, Oceans and Atmosphere, Hobart, TAS Australia
  • 2 Centre for Marine Socioecology, Hobart, TAS Australia
  • 3 Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania,
  • 4 CSIRO, Oceans and Atmosphere,
  • 5 University of Tasmania,
  • 6 Oceans Graduate School, University of Western Australia,
  • 7 Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS), University of Wollongong,
  • 8 School of Humanities, University of Tasmania,
Published Article
Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries
Publication Date
Jan 21, 2021
DOI: 10.1007/s11160-020-09628-6
PMID: 33500602
PMCID: PMC7819630
PubMed Central


Abstract The ocean economy is experiencing rapid growth that will provide benefits but will also pose environmental and social risks. With limited space and degraded resources in coastal areas, offshore waters will be a particular focus of Blue Economy expansion over the next decade. When emerging and established economic sectors expand in offshore waters (within national Exclusive Economic Zones), different potential Blue Economy opportunities and challenges will arise. Following a series of interdisciplinary workshops, we imagine two technically possible futures for the offshore Blue Economy and we identify the actions required to achieve the more sustainable outcome. Under a business as usual scenario the focus will remain on economic growth, the commodification of nature, the dominance of private over public and cultural interests, and prioritisation of the interests of current over future generations. A more sustainable scenario would meet multiple UN Sustainable Development Goals and ensure inclusive economic developments, environmental sustainability, and fair and equitable access to resources and technologies across users, nations, and generations. Challenges to this more sustainable future are a lack of infrastructure and technology to support emerging offshore sectors, limited understanding of environmental impacts, inequitable outcomes, and a lack of planning and governmental oversight. Addressing these challenges will require a shift in societal values, a more balanced allocation of funding to offshore activities, transparency in information sharing between industries and across nations, and adjustment of international legal and institutional mechanisms. The sustainable and equitable offshore Blue Economy we envisage is achievable and provides a unique opportunity to build global capacity and partnership. Graphic abstract Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (10.1007/s11160-020-09628-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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