Integrated Marine Management

  • The blue economy comprises the activities and industries based in marine and coastal environments. This rapidly expanding set of sectors is worth an estimated US$1.5 trillion globally and over $40 billion per annum in Australia. Within the next 10-15 years, this value is predicted to double, especially on the back of large investments in infrastructure and resource development.


Offshore wind farm

Offshore wind farm – Shutterstock

Australia’s fisheries are renowned for product quality and sustainability and aquaculture is the fastest growing global food-producing sector, with the highest per capita consumers of seafood located in Asia, on Australia’s doorstep. Australia also has the third largest Exclusive Economic Zone globally, a marine territory larger than its landmass, that spans multiple ecosystem types and features some of the world’s best ocean energy resources.


Prawn trawler

Prawn trawler – CSIRO


This richness provides unparalleled opportunities, but also significant challenges – technologically and in terms of ensuring the concepts of sustainability and equity that are at the core of the vision of a prosperous blue economy. Without proper support, knowledge and management, the rich opportunities for growth could place unsustainable pressure on the marine environment and adversely affect coastal communities and existing activities.

To achieve sustainability and equity will mean bringing all forms of knowledge to bear, including the recognition that the first peoples of Australia have some of the longest recorded histories of connection to the oceans; respecting and applying that knowledge and bringing it to bear on current conditions.

As industries and ocean uses expand in type and extent, there is much to be done. CSIRO research in this area currently focuses on:

  • Multiple use management, planning and cumulative effects, including monitoring and data sharing
  • Socioecological systems (connecting natural and human systems)
  • Sustainability aspects in new environments, such as for offshore exploitation, extraction and production activities (e.g. renewable energy generation, aquaculture production)
  • Future Infrastructure (construction through to decommissioning)
  • Social acceptability, trade-offs and equity
  • Governance and policy considerations (efficient and robust regulation and approval processes)
  • Alternative livelihoods

Domain Lead:  Beth Fulton

The domain works closely with many others on shared topics, such as food & energy security, plastics removal and looks to collaborate on emerging topics like integrating decarbonisation into day-today activities of marine industries, achieving true ocean stewardship.

Research Pages:

Atlantis is an ecosystem model that considers all parts of marine ecosystems – biophysical, economic and social.

The goal of the Ocean Futures project is to develop new insights, approaches, understanding and tools that can help marine scientists, managers and policy makers prepare for future challenges.


  • NO CRISES – Negotiating Ocean Conflicts among RIvals for Sustainable and Equitable Solutions

  • Growing demand for marine resources means that fair and sustainable use of marine resources will be key. Over the long-term economic development, environmental sustainability, social equity will all need to be achieved. Pursuing such diverse goals simultaneously often leads to conflicts. Effective approaches to conflict reduction and resolution are increasingly urgent. This requires new negotiation approaches that differentiate between types of maritime conflict and conflict development pathways and that make unavoidable compromises explicit.The NoCRISES project examines the origins, drivers, and options for ocean conflict mitigation. In particular, we aim to uncover the complex causalities of conflicts over the use of the marine environment. To enable globally linked learning, we jointly develop a comprehensive methodological approach that is used in six different case studies. In this way, we also create a solid basis for cross-case analyses – and useful tools for future use.

Publications and Reports:

Other Resources:

Investing in New Marine Industries

The blue economy is worth an estimated US$1.5 trillion globally and up to $68 billion per annum in Australia.

Read the November 2020 ECOS story telling how Australia’s blue economy is set to boost the coronavirus recovery, and watch below how CSIRO is providing scientific knowledge critical for supporting investment in sustainable aquaculture, offshore renewables and ecosystem restoration.



We collaborate widely and participate in partnerships to advance work in this area. Two key collaborations we currently participate in are:

The Blue Economy Cooperative Research Centre
The Centre for Marine Socioecology