The blue commons


Planet Earth is mostly blue; about 70% of the earth’s surface is covered by the oceans, which provide half of the oxygen we breathe and about three-quarters of all life on Earth. But who owns the sea? About 40% of the world’s population lives in coastal communities and depend on ocean resources. Yet over the 20th century governments and corporations around the world have pushed the fatally flawed maxim of ‘blue growth’, and as a result nearly all fish stocks are either fully or over-exploited. In the neoliberal era, it has been extensively enclosed and privatized, generating multiple inequalities. A system of rentier capitalism now dominates human activity in the sea, based on privatization, financial capital and a drive for profit over people and ecosystems. Substantial and detailed, ‘The Blue Commons’ peels back the veil of the boundless exploitation and corruption.

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‘A landmark book… The Blue Commons is at once a brilliant synthesis, a searing analysis, and an inspiring call to action.’ – David Bollier

‘With remarkable erudition, passion and lyricism, Guy Standing commands the reader to wake up to the threat posed by rentier capitalism’s violent policies for extraction, exploitation and depletion of that which is both common to us all, but also vital to our survival: the sea and all within it.’ – Ann Pettifor

‘Shines a bright light on the economy of the oceans, directing us brilliantly towards where a sustainable future lies.’ – Danny Dorling

‘This is a powerful, visionary book – essential reading for all who yearn for a better world.’ – Jason Hickel

The sea provides more than half the oxygen we breathe, food for billions of people and livelihoods for hundreds of millions. But giant corporations are plundering the world’s oceans, aided by global finance and complicit states, following the neoliberal maxim of Blue Growth. The situation is dire: rampant exploitation and corruption now drive all aspects of the ocean economy, destroying communities, intensifying inequalities, and driving fish populations and other ocean life towards extinction.

The Blue Commons is an urgent call for change, from a campaigning economist responsible for some of the most innovative solutions to inequality of recent times. From large nations bullying smaller nations into giving up eco-friendly fishing policies to the profiteering by the Crown Estate in commandeering much of the British seabed, the scale of the global problem is synthesised here for the first time, as well as a toolkit for all of us to rise up and tackle it.

The oceans have been left out of calls for a Green New Deal but must be at the centre of the fight against climate change. How do we do it? By building a Blue Commons alternative: a transformative worldview and new set of proposals that prioritise the historic rights of local communities, the wellbeing of all people and, with it, the health of our oceans.

Additional information

Weight 0.319 kg
Dimensions 18.1 × 11.1 × 2.5 cm










333.9164 (edition:23)


College – higher education / Code: F