Integrated management in the blue economy: one size fits all?

Mr Liam Fullbrook1,2, Dr Joanna  Vince1,4, Professor  Marcus Haward1,3, Professor Stewart  Frusher1,3

1Centre of Marine SocioEcology (CMS), Hobart,, Australia, 2School of Social Sciences, College of Art, Law & Education, University Of Tasmania (UTAS), Sandy Bay, Hobart,, Australia, 3Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies (IMAS), 20 Castray Esplanade, Battery Point, Hobart,, Australia, 4School of Social Sciences, College of Art, Law & Education, University Of Tasmania (UTAS), Launceston,, Australia


As global populations rise and the effects of climate change impact natural resources (e.g. food), nations are increasingly turning their attention to the ocean to meet demands and explore growth opportunities. The resulting ‘Blue Economy’ plans detail objectives, management strategies and key sectors involved while also emphasising a requirement for sustainable development and environmental protection. Integrated management is often championed in Blue Economy plans as a holistic way to ensure multiple societal, economic and environmental actors have consensus through shared objectives and by making issues clearer, including policy overlap, conflict and inefficiencies. As the concepts of integrated management and Blue Economies become increasingly intertwined, we investigate whether integrated management policy is achievable in managing our future ocean resources. This research explores ocean development plans to determine if integration, as defined by current literature, fits within current management approaches and governance structures. The aim is not to evaluate the success or failure of management plans or debate the definition of terms but instead, to identify if integrated management is viable for Blue Economies or if alternative management and governance approaches will need to be explored. This paper argues that that the success of integrated management may be limited when incorporated into a ‘Blue Economy’ due to persistent problems, previous institutional and policy layering, path dependency and weak governance arrangements. It then assesses if approaches to integrated management need to be adapted or altered, or if larger transformative governance changes are required to achieve sustainable development.


Originally from the Republic of Ireland, I have previously studied Marine Science at the National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG), and Environmental Engineering and Conservation at the University of Southampton, UK. I subsequently spent a number years working in a variety of roles, including science communication & knowledge transfer, ecology & conservation and as field consultant in an aquatic consultancy. This allowed me to develop understanding of the multiple perspectives and uses for our oceans and the complexity of managing them.  I am now undertaking a PhD in social sciences, governance and ocean management. I am primarily researching the potential for enhanced utilisation of Australias Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). This will be achieved by assessing future resource use plans, management strategies and Australias governance structures and institutions.