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Dr. Christine Knott and Dr. Charles Mather have put together a double panel on understanding equity and justice in the blue economy/recovery in Canada for the 2021 MARE People & the Sea Conference, to be held online on June 28-July 2, 2021. The papers in these two sessions emerge from a group of social science and humanity researchers affiliated with the Ocean Frontier Institute in Canada who conduct research projects that look at the blue economy from the framework of equity and justice in the marine sectors.

Panel 1 on 'Blue Justice in Canada', one on 'Understanding Equity and Justice in the Blue Economy' fits with Stream 3: Governing, Steering and Managing the Blue Realm, and panel 2 on 'Blue Recovery efforts in the Canadian Context' fits with Stream 5: Resisting Blue Appropriations. The papers investigate the following aspects of equity and justice in marine environments: in panel one; occupational health and safety; strategic environmental assessments; Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), and; Food sovereignty. In panel two: privatization and financialization in aquaculture; blue degrowth, and; getting blue justice right.

An Economic Frontier and Ecological Savior?

The ocean is increasingly seen as both an economic frontier and an ecological savior framed through blue growth, blue economy, and ocean economy narratives. These narratives all take up the ways that economic growth in the marine sector will strengthen economies, communities and human health in equitable ways. With one of the longest coastlines in the world, Canada is identified as a legitimate leader of the emerging blue economy and is one of 14 member countries on the High Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy.

This panel identifies five areas: ocean wealth, ocean health, ocean equity, ocean knowledge and ocean finance that aligns with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and commits to delivering on them by 2030. In alignment with this, the Fisheries Council of Canada/Conseil Canadian des Pêches (FCC) and the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Association (CAIA) released Canada’s Blue Economy Strategy 2040 which aims to position Canada as one of the top three sustainable fish and seafood producers by 2040 (FCC/CCP 2020).

While equity and justice are pillars of these economic ocean growth agendas, scholars and policy makers are raising critical questions about the ability of these new approaches to achieving equitable and just outcomes, including in the context of a pandemic where the ocean is now positioned as part of a blue recovery. In some of this work, the narratives of growth and economic development are juxtaposed against multiple injustices including, ocean grabbing, environmental degradation, ongoing negative impacts for small-scale fisheries, decreased food security, increased social inequities, human rights abuses, and problematic forms of governance (Bennett et al. 2021).

Through this session, the organizers Dr. Knott and Dr. Mather aim to bring researchers together to engage, through their paper presentations, with the disjuncture between ongoing processes of dispossession, exploitation and degradation and the promissory narratives of sustainable economic growth supporting coastal communities. 

By 'Fishy Feminist', June 16, 2021

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