William & Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review


Edward Canuel


The time has come, the Walrus said,

To talk of many things:

Of shoes—and ships—and sealing-wax—

Of cabbages—and kings—

And why the sea is boiling hot—

And whether pigs have wings.

And like the conversation of the Walrus and Carpenter walking along the “wet as wet could be” sea, the blue economy offers us the opportunity to talk of many things. Part I of this Article analyzes what the blue economy is and its relevance. Governance mechanisms, including ecosystem-based management and marine spatial planning are introduced and reviewed. The section discusses the benefits associated with such mechanisms, including streamlined decision-making, promoting levels of certainty, and convening stakeholders. Associated challenges also exist, such as emboldening bureaucratic in-fighting, perceptions of sovereignty threats, and implementation hurdles. Part II further reviews public and private law issues which intersect the blue economy within the domestic and international governance context, focusing on topics including seafood fraud; illegal, unreported, and unregulated (“IUU”) fishing; and bioprospecting. This includes analysis of various coordination challenges concerning international enforcement measures, particularly regarding the United States and European Union. Part III examines the Arctic as a blue economy case study where many of these governance-focused concepts intersect. The Article concludes with a discussion of the blue economy’s unique research potential.