Creating value from a blue economy

Seaweed harvesting. © Waikaitu Ltd

We are studying initiatives to create economic value from sustainable marine activities based on healthy ecosystems. We will use the findings to map and model a blue economy.

Project leader: Nick Lewis, University of Auckland

Duration: April 2016 – June 2019 
Budget: $1,135,000 
Status: Ongoing 

In recent years, advocates for sustainable oceans have focused attention on building a sustainable ‘blue economy’, where innovative practices that promote and sustain diverse industries are based on healthy marine ecosystems. 

We are studying Aotearoa New Zealand-based initiatives to create economic value from sustainable marine practices and activities. We have considered five broad and overlapping marine sub-economies (iwi, techno-science, commodity, community, and small business), and are investigating connections between them. Our research is:  

  • Defining what a blue economy means for Aotearoa New Zealand and working with economic enterprises and agencies to ensure that its opportunities are recognised and realised. 
  • Ensuring that blue economy considerations are incorporated into models of ecosystem-based management. 
  • Identifying sites and possibilities for transitions to a blue economy. 
  • Identifying and supporting regional development initiatives to foster regional blue economies and develop their potential. 
  • Highlighting specific enterprise-level production and investment practices that are helping to bring about a blue economy.  

We have found several activities that are helping Aotearoa New Zealand transition to a blue economy including: investor commitments to sustainable futures (Seafood New Zealand’s ‘Our Promise’ campaign), consumer-oriented and community education programmes; the emergence of Māori enterprises with long term and kaitiakitanga approaches to blue economy; blue economy champions (individuals and organisations) who support participatory resource management processes; and a host of practices from precision seafood harvesting to harvesting of seaweed.  

Journal articles:  

Hikuroa D (2016) Dan Hikuroa looks at Maori involvement in the formation of a new plan for the Gulf. Gulf Journal, June.

Hikuroa D (2017) Mātauranga Māori—the ūkaipō of knowledge in New ZealandJournal of the Royal Society of New Zealand. 47(1):5 DOI: 10.1080/03036758.2016.1252407

Lewis N (2017) From value as theoretical object to rent as political project. Dialogues in Human Geography 7(3):331 DOI: 10.1177/2043820617736619

Winder GM and Le Heron R (2017) Assembling a Blue Economy moment? Geographic engagement with globalizing biological-economic relations in multi-use marine environments. Dialogues in Human Geography 7(1):3 DOI: 10.1177/2043820617691643

Book chapters: 

Lewis N (2018). Cultivating diverse values by rethinking blue economy in New Zealand. Heidkamp CP and Morrissey J (eds) Towards coastal resilience and sustainability, Routledge, Oxford.

Lewis N & Le Heron R (2018). Re-imagining economy: a fundamental first step for a regenerative Environmental Management. In Clarke B & Hay I. Challenging Environmental Management, Edward Elgar.

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