Dissemination events and outreach

People’s Blue Economy Tribunal: Turning the tide toward just coastal & ocean development


Small-scale fishers across the planet are fearing the so-called ‘Blue Economy’ campaigns under implementation since 2012 (Rio+20) by United Nations agencies, development banks, and Nation States. In Brazil, the corporate world is agitated with investments and public policies envisioned for new and emerging sectors such as immense off-shore wind energy production parks in the coastal states of Ceará and Rio Grande do Sul. In their historical struggle for a good living, fisherfolk in Latin America have had to deal with the impacts of other economic sectors, i.e. decades of industrial fisheries subsidies, coastal transport and development infrastructure (e.g. port expansion, urbanization, tourism), and many others (see “Baffling Shades of Blue“). Will history repeat itself with Blue Economy campaigns furthering social inequity and environmental degradation? This question was addressed during the “People’s Blue Economy Tribunal”, a project by the Brazilian Fishers Movement (MPP) and the Fisheries Pastoral Commission (CPP) in 2022 (see more). The judgment of the legacy impinged upon artisanal fisheries by the powerful ocean and coastal sectors (and new ‘Blue’ initiatives) was undertaken in four acts which involved three subnational regional hearings fed with hundreds of testimonies by fisherwomen and fishermen. ERC Tradition postdoctoral researcher Leopoldo Cavaleri Gerhardinger was invited to the Accusation Committee for South and Southeastern Brazil. During each hearing, this Committee documented the evidence of all violations of the human and territorial rights of fisherfolk. Between 21st-22nd November 2022, hundreds of fishers’ caravans convened from all seventeen Brazilian coastal states, in a large conference in Louisiania (Federal District of Brasilia). During the conference, a voluntary Judgment Council was elected with notorious jurists enlisted to learn about the accusations put forward by the Accusation Committee, and again hear the testimonies and produce a final verdict on the Brazilian Blue Economy. The verdict points out violations of the rights to health, education, social security, work, and housing, and indicates that these violations result from the denial of a fundamental right to traditional fishing territories (https://cutt.ly/GM5Pghu). Concern was demonstrated with environmental licensing processes as the main doorway for the unjust ocean and coastal development. The verdict also highlights racist and sexist practices by the Brazilian State, which is condemned for the crimes of ECOCIDE, ETHNOCIDE AND FEMICIDE carried out in the name of Blue Economy. The jurists and scientists contributing to the Tribunal will remain engaged with MPP and CPP in the post-production of reports and actions derived from this rich experience. The People’s Blue Economy Tribunal in Brazil stressed the importance of engaging with historical knowledge about artisanal fisheries territories as a requisite for advancing socially equitable ocean sustainability – one focal area of research for the ERC project Tradition (see “Ocean citizen Knowledge in action“).