From Blue Economy to Blue Communities: Reorienting Aquaculture Expansion for Community Wellbeing

Document Type


Publication Date



Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory


Ocean Science and Engineering


Efforts to expand the marine aquaculture industry often draw on a discourse of opportunity that highlights untapped potential for economic growth. This discourse also underlies the more general concept of Blue Economy in which oceans are a frontier for economic development. Marine aquaculture is seen as an important part of Blue Economy, but the current discourse overlooks evidence that straightforward trickle-down effects—from aggregate economic growth at the national level to holistic benefits at the community level—rarely exist for marine aquaculture. Using the case of marine aquaculture in the United States, we argue that a shift in focus to community wellbeing is necessary to realize the potential benefits of marine aquaculture expansion. More generally, we suggest that marine aquaculture illustrates the need to reorient Blue Economy to Blue Communities, a concept that draws on the multidimensional concept of wellbeing to foreground social, cultural, and environmental factors alongside economic growth. With attention to just and equitable governance embedded in place and context, marine aquaculture can grow in ways that enhance wellbeing in Blue Communities while supporting broader economic development.

Publication Title

Marine Policy



Find in your library