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.
Guy Standing has held professorships at Bath, London and Monash Universities, was a programme director in the UN's International Labour Organisation and has advised many international bodies and governments on social and economic policies. He co-founded the Basic Income Earth Network and is now its co-president. He is the author of the bestselling The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class (2011), Basic Income: And How We Can Make it Happen (2017) and Plunder of the Commons: A Manifesto for Sharing Public Wealth (2019).
– A Financial Times best economics book of 2022
"In this landmark book, Guy Standing not only documents how state-corporate collusion is destroying fragile ocean ecosystems, fisheries, and coastal communities. He explains how degrowth economics and fishery commons could restore the 'Blue Commons-Wealth' that belongs to all of us. The Blue Commons is at once a brilliant synthesis, a searing analysis, and an inspiring call to action"
– David Bollier, author of The Commoner's Catalog for Changemaking
"Shines a bright light on the economy of the oceans, directing us brilliantly towards where a sustainable future lies"
– Danny Dorling
"Guy Standing writes with remarkable erudition, but also with passion and lyricism about the Blue Commons.He 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. He offers radical and hopeful alternatives to the dominant economics for 'making a killing' from the commodification of nature – giving hope to the dedicated stewards of the seas – fishers and 'blue commoners' – but also to his readers"
– Ann Pettifor
"As capital sets its sights on the seas, our planet's final frontier, the struggle for the commons becomes all the more urgent. This is a powerful, visionary book – essential reading for all who yearn for a better world."
– Jason Hickel
"A powerful indictment of all that has gone wrong with contemporary oceanic governance, and an inspiring account of how it can be put right. Guy Standing shows how local communities can turn the tide on neoliberal excess and put a vibrant and inclusive politics in its place"
– Chris Armstrong
"Looking out of my window at the radiant blue of the Aegean Sea, I surrender to the dream of a near future where Guy Standing's Blue Commons proposals have been implemented – an indispensable blue section of any genuine Green New Deal. It is a good dream, one that deserves a shot at infecting our sad reality"
– Yanis Varoufakis
"Standing makes an urgent case for a new politics of the ocean [...] For anyone who has watched a David Attenborough documentary and wished it made a clearer appeal for a change in ocean governance, this is the book for you"
– India Bourke, New Statesman