Blue Justice

TBTI for Blue Justice. Blue Justice for Small-Scale Fisheries.

Addressing Epistemic Blue Injustice in Small-Scale Fisheries
How to talk about Blue Justice for Small-Scale Fisheries?

Millions of people around the world are highly dependent on small-scale fisheries for livelihood, food provisioning and community well-being. Despite their importance, the voice of small-scale fishers is often dismissed due to epistemic injustice — those in which the capacity of fishers as knowers has been diminished — leading to systemic marginalization. A study of 20 testimonies of injustices results in a glossary of terms that captures testimonial and hermeneutical injustice experienced by small-scale fisheries people. It argues that filling conceptual gaps could help fishers to express their experiences in an effective way, contributing to a better understanding and appreciation of the situation that small-scale fisheries are in. Having their own language to talk about different types of Blue (in)Justice will also enhance local empowerment and mobilize support.

The glossary is based on the recently published paper on “Blue Justice and the co-production of hermeneutical resources for small-scale fisheries”, written by Milena Arias Schreiber, Ratana Chuenpagdee and Svein Jentoft and published in Marine Policy.

The glossary is available in English, Spanish and Japanese. If you would like to help translate the glossary to other languages, please send us an email at

Book ‘ Blue Justice: Small-Scale Fisheries in a Sustainable Ocean Economy’


For small-scale fisheries around the world, the Blue Growth and Blue Economy initiatives may provide sustainable development, but only insofar as they align with the global consensus enshrined in the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication. If states do nothing to fulfill the promises they made when they endorsed these guidelines in 2014, the Blue Economy will come at a loss for small-scale fisheries and further their marginalization in the ocean economy.

Under the umbrella of Blue Justice, this book demonstrates that these risks are real and must be considered as states implement their sustainable ocean development plans. These are human rights issues, which are embedded into governance principles and institutions and which make a difference for small-scale fisheries people in their daily lives. In stressing the importance of policies and institutions that build on the experiences of small-scale fisheries people in the contexts in which they operate, this book draws on case studies of small-scale fisheries from countries on all continents to clarify what Blue Justice entails for small-scale fisheries and make suggestions for real change.

The volume was developed through the TBTI ‘Blue Justice’ initiative and includes case studies from all regions of the world with contributions from 70 authors from multiple backgrounds and disciplines.

E-book ‘Blue Justice for Small-Scale Fisheries – A Global Scan’ [Volume 1, 2 & 3]


Pushing towards a more equitable and just space for small-scale fisheries requires, first and foremost, an understanding of the current situations, looking at the kind of injustices and inequity that may be happening and affecting women and men involved in small-scale fisheries, their families and their communities.

With this in mind, TBTI has gathered stories and examples of policies, programs, projects, initiatives, regulatory frameworks, as well as other situations that create different types of injustice and inequity in small-scale fisheries. The two volumes of the ‘Blue Justice for Small-Scale Fisheries – A Global Scan’ e-book contain 29 stories from 21 countries.


Types of justice

Over the following months, we will be releasing a series of reflection pieces that take a closer look at the types of justice and how they affect small-scale fisheries. We are especially focusing on the compounding effect of the different types of justice and the strategies employed by small-scale fisheries as a way to respond and mitigate these issues. 

Blue Justice Wikipedia entry

Blue Justice reflects a critical examination of how coastal communities and small-scale fisheries may be affected by blue economy and “blue growth” initiatives — initiatives that are being undertaken by institutions and governments globally to promote sustainable ocean development. The blue economy is also rooted in the ‘green economy’ and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, underlying sustainable development globally. Blue Justice acknowledges the historical rights of small-scale fishing communities to marine and inland resources, and coastal space, as traditional users for thousands of years in some cases. Thus, as a concept, it seeks to investigate pressures on small-scale fisheries, from other ocean uses, including industrial fisheries and coastal/marine tourism, aquaculture or energy production, promoted in the blue economy and blue growth development agenda, and how it may compromise the rights and the wellbeing of small-scale fisheries and their communities. Read more…


TBTI Blue Justice articles

Blue Justice and the co-production of hermeneutical resources for small-scale fisheries

Arias Schreiber, M., Chuenpagdee, R., and Jentoft S.

Interactive Learning and Governance Transformation for Securing Blue Justice for Small-Scale Fisheries

Jentoft S. and Chuenpagdee, R.

transdisciplinary research
for small-scale fisheries

Chuenpagdee, R.,
Kerezi, V., & Jentoft, S.

Analysis / Blue Economy: The Power Game of Language


Jentoft, S.

TBTI project
Blue Justice Alert: An Interactive Platform for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries


Blue Justice Alert aims to highlight the potential threats and opportunities that the Blue Growth/Economy brings to SSF globally. The project is envisioned as an interactive, web-based, mobile platform connecting experts, practitioners and SSF people. The platform will be developed based on the co-production of knowledge between researchers and SSF people, allowing monitoring and evaluation of SSF status. SSF communities can also use it to register crises or threats to rights and livelihoods and seek help from experts and practitioners connected to the platform. The platform will be build upon TBTI information System on Small-scale Fisheries (ISSF), which is a first interactive global repository of SSF knowledge. Platform development and pilot testing will occur in Bangladesh, South Africa, and Mexico.

The overall goal of the project is to contribute to reducing SSF vulnerability and strengthen their capacity to achieve viability, food security and sustainability – a necessity given the current status of global fisheries. The project is led by a team of TBTI members and is funded by the Canadian New Frontiers in Research Fund.

Fishing for Justice  – original song by TBTI Global
The linkage between the blue economy and Blue Justice is apparent; however, what the SSF communities are faced with is a combination of Blue Justice issues on top of the long-standing social justice issues within this context. Hence, more clarity and a clear definition is needed on the concept of Blue Justice, which will require going beyond SDG 14 and the SSF Guidelines.

Discussion at the TBTI special session on Blue Justice at the 2019 MARE Conference

Blue Justice for Small-Scale Fisheries

The stakes have never been higher for small-scale fisheries: they face countless challenges such as poverty, food insecurity, access issues, gender inequity, resource depletion, habitat degradation and inequitable resource allocation. More recently, small-scale fisheries are being threatened by ‘blue economy’ and ‘blue growth’ initiatives – while these initiatives may lack a unifying definition, they have been criticized for being economic strategies that prioritize economic growth over sustainability. This situation is further convoluted by climate change, in unprecedented and ever-growing ways.

However daunting, we must tackle these challenges heads on. And the way we can do this is by implementing socially just responses, built on a comprehensive understanding of the natural, social and political systems that small-scale fisheries are entrenched within. For that reason, TBTI has been bringing the notion of ‘Blue Justice’ in the forefront, as a way to call attention to fairness and equity for the most marginalized and vulnerable fishing people. ‘Blue Justice’ acknowledges the historical rights of small-scale fishing communities to marine and inland resources, and coastal space, as traditional users. As a movement, ‘Blue Justice’ seeks to investigate pressures on small-scale fisheries, from other ocean uses, including industrial fisheries, coastal/marine tourism, aquaculture, energy production and others. At its core, Blue Justice encompasses social justice and human rights principles whilst being intrinsically tied to principles of environmental and climate justice.

What is Blue Justice? How to join the TBTI movement for Blue Justice?

At the 3rd World Small-Scale Fisheries Congress held in Chiang Mai, Thailand in October 2018, the concept “Blue Justice” was presented and discussed, urging all involved actors to critically examine what “Blue Economy” and “Blue Growth” initiatives mean to small-scale fisheries and their communities, in terms of distributive justice, community empowerment, human rights, food and nutritional security, gender equity, and sustainability.

On November 21, 2018 TBTI launched ‘Blue Justice campaign”, calling for stories and commitments to Blue Justice for Small-Scale Fisheries. Find out more and  join the movement!

TBTI is committed to Blue Justice towards fulfilling SDG14

On February 20, 2019 TBTI submitted its ‘Blue Justice for Small-Scale Fisheries’ commitment, as a Voluntary Commitment towards fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. Our pledge joins more than 1,400 other voluntary commitments to save our oceans, all registered on a UN platform.

Find out more about the topic of Blue Justice

Check out some of the recent publications on small-scale fisheries that critically examine the concepts of Blue Justice as well as Blue Growth / Blue Economy and their impact on the small-scale fishing communities.

You can also watch the video recording of a special seminar  Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies, University of Western Cape organized in partnership with TBTI as a way to encourage discussion about the concept of ‘Blue Justice’ in relation to small-scale fisheries.

Blue Justice at the center of TBTI special session at 2019 MARE Conference

At 2019 MARE People and the Sea Conference, held in Amsterdam, TBTI convened two special sessions on ‘Blue Justice’: 1) ‘Transdisciplinary fisheries sciences for blue justice: The need to go between, across and beyond,’ co-organized by Milena Arias Schreiber (University of Gothenburg, Sweden) and Ratana Chuenpagdee (Memorial University, Canada); and 2) ‘Blue Justice for Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Fishing Opportunities and Markets: A Lens for SDG14b’, co-organized by Alicia Said (Institut Universitaire Européen de la Mer, France) and Jose Pascual-Fernández (Universidad de La Laguna, Spain).