Dissemination events and outreach

Charting a Course Through “Blue Fear”: Insights from the Mare “People and the Sea Conference”


Welcome to a place where science and history intersect with the daunting realities of the Anthropocene. At this year’s Mare “People and the Sea Conference,” the theme was an apt reflection of our times — ‘Blue Fear.’ We navigated through deep anxieties that have always been associated with our vast oceans. Fear of storms, pirates, shipwrecks, and the cryptic creatures lurking beneath the water’s surface. Today, these fears have metamorphosed into pressing concerns about sea level rise, climate change, pollution, overfishing, and biodiversity loss. In short, ‘Blue Fear’ encapsulates the threats jeopardizing the livelihoods and identities of coastal communities that have been intertwined with the sea for centuries.

Fear isn’t just an alarm bell — it’s a call to action. It pushes us towards transformation, instilling hope and motivation to engage, connect, and mobilize. And, true to this spirit, the ERC TRADITION project presented two groundbreaking abstracts at the conference. The work of Leopoldo Gerhardinger, Dannieli Herbst, and other ERC TRADITION team members offered insights and solutions for these complex challenges.

Riding The Wave Of Transformation: The Potential Of Learning Networks

The first abstract presented at the conference in a Session hosted by Dr. Patrick Christie (University of Washington – Seattle), “Learning Networks Could Help Create the Ocean Decade We Need for the Ocean We Want,” focused on the United Nations’ Ocean Decade initiative. This global call to arms aims at co-designing transformative science, ocean networks, and learning strategies to address ocean health decline and the vast chasms in ocean governance inclusivity of marginalized ocean rights holders (Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities). The paper delved into the potential of Marine Learning Networks (MLNs) and Media and Information Ocean Literacy (MIOL) to generate transformative capacities for ocean governance systems.

Drawing from the experience of the self-organized, youth-led Brazilian Future Ocean Panel, the study revealed the empowering effects of MLNs and MIOL for early-career ocean professionals. It underscored their potential to foster active participation in ocean policymaking, thereby driving the much-needed transformation of ocean governance systems.

Crafting Blue Justice Pathways: Social Innovation Labs & Serious Gaming

In the second paper, “Networked Blue Justice Pathways – Social Innovation Labs & Serious Gaming for Multi-Level Ocean Sustainability,” Gerhardinger and Herbst proposed the Networked Blue Justice Pathways (NBJP) framework in a session led by Dr. Marion Glaser (Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Ecology, Bremen). This novel approach aims to bridge the gap between marine historical socio-ecology and citizen knowledge, all while promoting blue justice.

They reported on the concept co-design and early experimentation results at key coastal sites in Babitonga Bay (Santa Catarina state, Brazil). The ERC Tradition project is developing an inclusive NBJP game-based learning toolkit using gamification of the participatory network mapping technique in a Real World Lab context. This unique approach enables participants to understand the past, present, and future contexts of transformative change.

The ultimate goal? To empower historically marginalized ocean users and foster inclusive knowledge about social-ecological baselines and future pathways amongst small-scale fisheries (SSFs). By bridging the gap between historical marine ecology and citizen knowledge, the NBJP framework aims to steer the course toward equitable ocean governance systems and sustainable blue economies.

In this time of ‘Blue Fear,’ the ERC TRADITION project remains steadfast in its mission to explore, understand, and learn from our historical and ongoing relationship with the ocean. Let’s carry these insights forward into our collective efforts toward ocean sustainability. After all, as we navigate these uncharted waters of the Anthropocene, we’re all in the same boat, and every bit of knowledge serves as a compass for action, guiding us toward a sustainable future.