blue economy

Blue economy is a term in economics relating to the exploitation, preservation and regeneration of the marine environment. Its scope of interpretation varies among organizations. However, the term is generally used in the scope of international development when describing a sustainable development approach to coastal resources. This can include a wide range of economic sectors, from the more conventional fisheries, aquaculture, maritime transport, coastal, marine and maritime tourism, or other traditional uses, to more emergent spaces such as coastal renewable energy, marine ecosystem services (i.e., blue carbon), seabed mining, and bioprospecting.

[The following text, excluding minor additions or bracketed word substitutions] is from the article “What is the Blue Economy?” by Hannah, January 22, 2021; provided by Eco Canada:]

What is the Blue Economy?

“There is no one clear definition of the blue economy. In general, the blue economy refers to the ways the ocean can contribute to an economy in a sustainable way. Sometimes you may see it referred to as the “ocean economy”.

The World Bank defines the blue economy as: “a concept that seeks to promote economic growth, social inclusion and the preservation of livelihoods while at the same time ensuring environmental sustainability of the oceans and coastal areas.”

The idea of oceans contributing to the economy isn’t new; oceans have been contributing to the global economy for [centuries]. What has changed is the focus from profit to sustainability. The Ocean Foundation says the ‘new’ blue economy focuses on “economic activities both based in and which are actively good for, the ocean”.

The Blue Economy and Canada

Canada has the longest coastline in the world, the 4th largest ocean territory and its lakes and rivers make up a fifth of the world’s surface freshwater. These natural, aquatic resources are the backbone of many Canadian communities and provincial territories.

Furthermore, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), estimates the value of the world’s ocean economy (the blue economy) will reach $300bn by 2030 and, some sources state, this could provide 350 million jobs worldwide.

Embracing the blue economy in Canada looks set to help create employment and contribute to the economy. In addition, the whole concept of the blue economy is centred on preserving the oceans’ resources to ensure that they’re around for a long time to come.

This focus on preservation lies in contrast to instances current ocean economy where exploitation of marine resources is done with little to no attention paid to the oceans’ future health and productivity.

Benefits of the Blue Economy

Presently, the ocean economy is focused on transport (cargo and ferries), fisheries and offshore oil and gas. These industries aren’t typically focused on sustainability and shouldn’t be relied on for economic growth in the future.

Supporters of this new blue economy cite several areas for sustainable development which are explained in more detail below.

Renewable energies

Sustainable marine energy could play a vital role in social and economic development. This includes harnessing the ocean’s wind, tidal and wave energies to step away from oil and gas which we know to be contributing greatly to climate change.


Fisheries contribute greatly to the economy in Canada. However, their operations are not always sustainable and focusing on improving this would lead to improved longevity in their operations.

The government’s announcement about a reformed Fisheries and Aquaculture Act looks set to improve sustainability in this area.
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Coastal tourism brings jobs and economic growth. For tourism to grow and continue to be successful, the oceans and waterways must be well preserved to maintain their intrinsic value which brings tourists.”

For example, in the State of Maine, where co-cultivation of seaweed with shellfish is a rapidly expanding aquaculture sector, in recent years tourists have added visits to such ocean farms to their itineraries.

According to Dr. Dana Morse, an aquaculture specialist from the University of Maine, each year there are a growing number of visitors travelling what has been dubbed “The Oyster Trail”.

By visiting a number of oyster farms, oyster lovers are able to sample the nuanced flavour differences from farm-to-farm.  These differences in taste are derived, in part, from variations in growing environments related to the particular bodies of water in which the oysters are grown.  In some ways, this is analogous to differences in wines produced from the same grape variety but varying significantly in taste, in part due to the soils and climate conditions existing in the vineyards producing vintages from the same grape.

Climate change

A focus on ocean preservation wouldn’t only benefit the economy. A more sustainable approach would help the oceans maintain their ecosystem services (benefits we obtain from a healthy ecosystem).

Marine ecosystem services include carbon storage, protection of coastal communities from flooding, supporting biodiversity and providing recreation and amenity options.

Restorative ocean farming contributes increased systems services.


While there is no single definition of the blue economy, what’s clear is that it relates to improving the sustainability of the economic activities involving the world’s ocean. By focusing on this blue economy, it’s hoped that the longevity of fishing, tourism, and energy sources from the ocean is increased. If successful, the blue economy looks set to provide economic and social benefits, while reducing its impact on climate change.”
[From “What is the Blue Economy?” – By Hannah, January 22, 2021; Eco Canada]