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

Authors: Svein Jentoft* and Ratana Chuenpagdee**

*Professor emeritus at the UiT – The Arctic University of Norway and TBTI Co-founder
**TBTI Project Director

This new paper discusses the concept of Blue Justice in the context of the UN Sustainable Goals (SDGs) and the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries (SSF Guidelines).  Blue Justice has been launched by TBTI to highlight the urgent concerns and stakes of small-scale fisheries people and communities in the Blue Economy that is now advancing globally. Framed within a neoliberal agenda, the Blue Economy/Growth poses real and present dangers of further marginalizing small-scale fisheries. This calls for strong institutional countermeasures, built on sound justice principles as per SDGs and the SSF Guidelines.
The authors argue that in a dynamic environment like fisheries, institutions need solid pillars that are able to bend without breaking. One pillar of particular interest in this paper is knowledge, which is more powerful when institutions facilitate interactive and collective learning as part of the governance process. Institutions are language dependent, and the Blue Justice concept broadens the conversation about what small-scale fisheries face and which governance mechanisms they need to remain sustainable and innovative in the Blue Economy.
However, the authors offer a qualification: While just institutions are imperative for securing sustainable small-scale fisheries, justice must also be secured in the daily interactions between small-scale fisheries actors and other stakeholders, including governments, without which the governance transformation that the SSF Guidelines promote, would be elusive. The paper integrates Interactive Governance Theory with Justice Theory to explore why and where Blue Justice lies in the context of small-scale fisheries.