Blue Justice Glossary

Addressing Epistemic Blue Injustice in Small-Scale Fisheries

How to talk about Blue Justice for Small-Scale Fisheries?

Framed in terms of sustainable development, Blue Economy and Blue Growth strategies aim to maximize economic growth and benefits from the ocean. These initiatives are being endorsed in government agendas that are pledging significant financial support for their implementation. There is a growing tension, however, between Blue Economy/Growth strategies and small-scale fisheries, with the latter arguing for ocean values that go beyond profit and encompass traditional, cultural and social aspects. In response, the term Blue Justice has emerged as a counter-narrative to Blue Economy/Growth, paying particular attention to the existing vulnerability and marginalization of small-scale fisheries and highlighting the need to prioritize them in ocean development policies. When fishers are excluded from the decision-making process, it is either because their concerns are not fully understood or their voices are dismissed. The knowledge and experiences of fishers — the daily users and caretakers of the ocean — need to be recognized as invaluable to society and is necessary for achieving fisheries management goals. Naming and conceptualizing the injustices experienced by small-scale fisheries people is an important first step for the acknowledgement and remediation of these injustices. 

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