Fisherman in Fort Dauphin, Madagascar

The Centre for Blue Governance

Find out more about our newest research centre, and explore the work we're doing to secure the future of the planet's marine and freshwaters


Aquatic environments cover more than 70% of our planet’s surface and the value of the global oceans is estimated to be US$24 trillion. 

The scale and importance of aquatic systems impacts biodiversity and ecosystem services and is critical to addressing crucial challenges in climate change, biodiversity loss, and safeguarding human health and well-being. However, despite the fundamental importance of these systems, there are large gaps in our conceptual knowledge and practice on how to best govern aquatic environments for the common good. New holistic solutions are urgently needed.

Our four themes

The CBG tackles new and current research themes but also elaborates on new research areas. Our work encompasses numerous sub-topics and four central themes:

Birds on rocks in the Indian Ocean

Blue policies, planning and security

Sub-topics include

  • Coordination of aquatic economic sectors and inclusion of non-market services (ecological services)
  • Spatial planning
  • Maritime security and maritime domain awareness
  • SDG14 implementation
  • Integrated coastal zone management

Cargo boat on ocean ready to leave port

Blue energy, technologies and transport solutions

Sub-topics include

  • Marine renewables energies
  • Logistics and safety
  • Shipping
  • Port management
  • Oil spill prevention
  • Biofouling and anti-fouling
  • Off-shore technologies
Plastic pollution on sunny beach

Biodiversity, blue carbon and climate change

Sub-topics include

  • Marine and coastal ecosystem functioning
  • Ecosystem carbon sequestration and storage
  • Ecosystem resilience
  • Marine debris litter and plastics
  • Biodegradation and bioprospection
  • Marine and coastal ecosystem service valuation

Young boy with a just-caught fish, Madagascar

Aquatic resources management

Sub-topics include

  • Fishery management
  • Fishing by-catch of birds, turtles and mammals
  • Aquaculture development
  • Marine protected areas
  • Habitat restoration

Research projects

  • MaCoBioS

    The MaCoBioS project brings together a multidisciplinary team of experts, to ensure the efficient and integrated management and conservation strategies to help the most-important marine coastal ecosystems to face climate change

  • MOVE

    The MOVE pilot project aims to involve policy makers, researchers and civil society in the development of methodologies for mapping and assessing the state of ecosystems and their services in outermost regions and overseas countries and territories


    MOVE ON aims to address the principal issues raised by its predecessor, the MOVE project, in an integrated fashion, through the development of 4 Anchor Projects

  • INdIGO

    The INdIGO project (Innovative Fishing Gear for Ocean) aims to reduce the amount of plastic in the Channel area of the UK and France by 3% through the development of biodegradable fishing equipment

  • Big Microplastic Survey

    The Big Microplastic survey is a citizen science research project that is examining the scale and distribution of microplastics and mesoplastics on coastlines, lake shores and riverbanks around the world

  • Native Oyster Restoration

    The Native Oyster (Ostrea edulis) Restoration Ecology project has created a model for restoration of this key habitat, by relaying millions of oysters into the Solent – the strait that separates the Isle of Wight from mainland England.

  • Centre for Enzyme Innovation collaborations

    The University's Centre for Enzyme Innovation (CEI) focuses on the discovery, characterisation and engineering of useful novel enzymes, and their deployment at pilot and industrial scales. Marine environments offer many opportunities to discover novel enzymes with biotechnological potential, and CBG members work with CEI members on a range of projects

  • Revolution Plastics

    Revolution Plastics builds on the momentum of our globally-acclaimed plastics research, and we're collaborating with scientists, business-leaders, campaigners and citizens on projects aimed at ensuring the elimination of damaging environmental and health impacts arising from plastics

  • RaNTrans

    Excessive nutrients in coastal waters cause eutrophication in the aquatic environment and green algal mat growth on intertidal mudflats, and this project aims to develop and test innovative and cost-effective methods to reduce both algal mat coverage and nutrient levels there

Where our work has taken us

The Centre for Blue Governance has a global outlook, and our research has taken us from Portsmouth to almost every corner of the world – the countries where we've worked are marked here in blue.

World map CBG - new

Centre management


For more details on the work of the Centre, please contact Louisa Wood by emailing or calling +44 (0)2392 844158

For information or enquiries on hosting possibilities for visiting fellows, professors and post-docs, please email

Blue Economy and the need for ‘Blue Governance’

At the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development held in Rio de Janeiro in 2012, the Blue Economy was viewed as the ocean economy, which aimed to “improve human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities”.

Achieving this requires integrating the needs and all stakeholder and interests in aquatic systems. However, there is a lack of consensus on quite what form these mitigation and adaptation measures might take and, crucially, how they might be implemented. 

Blue Governance is an emerging concept and integrates Blue Economy and Blue Growth with the governance principle. Governance refers to structures and processes that are designed to ensure accountability, transparency, responsiveness, rule of law, stability, equity and inclusiveness, empowerment, and broad-based participation.

Blue Governance relates to the public and private institutional mechanisms (institutional coordination, private-public partnerships, institutional arrangements, etc.) required to implement Blue Economy and Blue Growth initiatives, strategies and policies.

What is the Centre for Blue Governance? 

The Centre for Blue Governance at the University of Portsmouth aims to meet the holistic and multi-disciplinary research needed to inform blue governance mechanisms. The CBG takes a more expansive view of Blue Economy to encompass marine and freshwater systems and conceptualises them as development spaces.

The overall objective of the Centre is multidisciplinary collaboration to contribute to the design, setting-up and implementation of blue growth in countries, regions and political entities. It will develop and provide inter-disciplinary research expertise at both sectoral (various economic branches) and overall levels (coordination, planning) with a strong emphasis on the challenge synergising nature conservation and economic development.

The Centre for Blue Governance will also serve as a nexus to facilitate collaboration across stakeholders in blue governance. It provides multi-discipline expertise to the multi-sector and multi-user landscape of aquatic governance. The Centre's activities encompass research, development policies, social justice and education.

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