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

AuthorSvein Jentoft,Ratana Chuenpagdee
Published date01 August 2022
Date01 August 2022
Subject MatterArticles
Administration & Society
2022, Vol. 54(7) 1255 –1282
© The Author(s) 2022
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/00953997211073947
Interactive Learning
and Governance
Transformation for
Securing Blue Justice for
Small-Scale Fisheries
Svein Jentoft1 and Ratana Chuenpagdee2
In the “Future We Want,” states and non-state actors are invited to
contribute to achieving sustainable development goals through various
means and mechanisms. This includes securing justice for the most
marginalized and disadvantaged sectors like small-scale fisheries, whose
rights and access to resources are threatened by Blue Economy/Growth
initiatives. While strong and just institutions are imperative to securing
sustainable small-scale fisheries, they are not sufficient conditions for
obtaining justice. As illustrated in this paper, justice must be secured
in the daily interactions between small-scale fisheries actors and other
stakeholders, including governments, by means of interactive learning and
involving governance transformation.
UN Sustainable Development Goals, small-scale fisheries, Blue Economy,
SSF Guidelines, Blue Justice, interactive learning, poverty alleviation
1Norwegian College of Fishery Science, UiT—The Arctic University of Norway, Tromsø,
2Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, NL, Canada
Corresponding Author:
Ratana Chuenpagdee, Department of Geography, Memorial University of Newfoundland,
IIC 3063, St. John’s, NL A1C 5S7, Canada.
1073947AAS0010.1177/00953997211073947Administration & SocietyJentoft and Chuenpagdee
1256 Administration & Society 54(7)
“Small-scale fishers are currently the largest population group directly
economically dependent on the ocean and are part of the private sector. They
feel squeezed out of coastal zones that they have occupied, used and stewarded,
in some cases for centuries. They could be powerful allies for ocean stewardship.”
(Allison et al., 2020, p. 1)
Small-scale fisheries involve millions of people globally, playing a major
role in the viability of coastal and inland aquatic communities and providing
the world’s population with nutritious food (FAO, 2015). The UN Sustainable
Development Goal (SDG) 14 (Target B) specifically names them, thus
underlining that the small-scale fisheries sector is simply “too big to ignore.”1
They are core stakeholders in the Blue Economy/Growth, a new develop-
ment template that evolved from the Green Economy and the Rio + 20
conference, launched by the association of small-island development states,
which is now spreading around the world (Jouffray et al., 2020; Steadman,
2019). Small-scale fisheries have much at stake in current and emerging
development initiatives, but also a contribution to make in fulfilling many
SDGs, like eradicating poverty (SDG1) and hunger (SDG2). Deterring
small-scale fisheries from fulfilling this role would risk not only their own
livelihoods and communities, but also the food security of local and global
On their own, small-scale fisheries people face persistent challenges. They
are vulnerable to environmental degradation, especially when it affects the
health of their resource base. Their location and operation make them exposed
to effects of climate change, be they sea level rise, storm surges, flooding, or
coastal erosion (Allison et al., 2020; Charles et al., 2019).2 Small-scale fish-
ing is among the most dangerous occupations, as measured by the number of
fatalities from capsizing and drowning (Remolà & Gudmundsson, 2018).
Small-scale fishers suffer from the encroachment of their traditional territo-
ries at land and sea (Allison et al., 2020; Charles, 2013), and in the era of Blue
Economy/Growth, they face the present threat of ocean and coastal “grab-
bing” (Barbesgaard, 2018; Bavinck et al., 2017; Queffelec et al., 2021).
Small-scale fisheries typically exist in rural settings, away from centers of
power, outside the political process of decision-making on issues that affect
them and their communities, and without organizations to represent and
speak for them. Consequently, many small-scale fishing people end up in
extreme poverty (Béné, 2003; Jentoft & Eide, 2011), unable to realize their
potentials to contribute to achieving the SDGs, or benefit from this call to

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