Economic Models for Sustainable Ocean Economy


The goal of this course is to introduce the students to the variety of relevant and timely issues that are discussed in the context of the blue economy agenda for policy purposes. Though the focus is on the economic approach to sustainably manage oceans, seas, marine resources, and coastal areas, other disciplines are also important to meet that goal, namely related to natural sciences (e.g., biology) and geography. To take this into account this course is organized in five modules. While the first module provides an introduction to the basic economic concepts and the framework of analysis, the remainder focus on a selection of relevant issues: (i) an introductory analysis to economic fisheries management, (ii) the economic valuation of marine and coastal ecosystem services, (iii) the challenges raised by increasing vulnerability of coastal urban areas to climate risks, and (iv) the regulatory context, namely Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) as an important framework to organize the use of the ocean in space and time, and to manage the interactions among human uses and between uses and the environment.


In summary, this course aims to contribute to a better understanding of the most relevant issues in the blue economy from an economic perspective by introducing the students to the basic tools of economic analysis underlying sustainable management policies. In this context, students learn how to (i) establish the connection between real world problems and a theoretical setup, (ii) use fundamental economic intuition to discuss the results obtained, and (iii) critically appraise them.




General characterization





Responsible teacher

Antonieta Cunha e Sá


Weekly - 2

Total - 24

Teaching language



Available soon


Module #1:


Suggested Readings (to be updated):

  • Lu, W., Cusack, C., Baker, M., Wang, T., Chen, M., Paige, K., & Yin, Y. (2019). Successful Blue Economy Examples with an Emphasis on International Perspectives. Frontiers in Marine Science6, Art-Nr.
  • Segerson, K. (2015). The Role of Economics in Interdisciplinary Environmental Policy Debates: Opportunities and Challenges. American Journal of Agricultural Economics97(2), 374-389
  • Tietenberg, T. H., & Lewis, L. (2018). Environmental and Natural Resource Economics. Routledge


Module #2:



Module #3:


  • Suggested Readings (to be updated):

  • Bjørndal, T., and G. R. Munro. "The Economics of Fisheries Management: A Survey. The International Yearbook of Environmental and Resource Economics 1998/1999, T. Tietenberg and H. Folmer, eds." (1998): 173-182
  • Casey, K. E., Dewees, C. M., Turris, B. R., & Wilen, J. E. (1995). The effects of individual vessel quotas in the British Columbia halibut fishery. Marine Resource Economics,10(3).
  • Huppert, D. D. (2005). An overview of fishing rights. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries,15(3), 201-215.
  • Munro, Gordon R. "Getting the economics and the incentives right: Instrument choices in rebuilding fisheries." (2010): 71-94.
  • Wilen, J. E. (2000). Renewable resource economists and policy: what differences have we made?. Journal of Environmental Economics and Management,39(3), 306-327.


Module #4:


  • Suggested Readings:

  • Aerts, J., Botzen, W., Bowman, M. J., Ward, P. J., and Dircke, P., eds. (2013). Climate Adaptation and Flood Risk in Coastal Cities. Earthscan, Taylor and Francis
  • Brown, S., Hanson, S., and Nicholls, R. J. (2014). Implications of sea-level rise and extreme events around Europe: A review of coastal energy infrastructure. Climatic Change 122(1-2), 81-95.
  • Hinkel, J., Lincke, D., Vafeidis, A. T., Perrette, M., Nicholls, R. J., Tol, R.S. J. et al. (2014). Coastal flood damage and adaptation costs under 21st century sea-level rise. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111(9), 3292-3297.
  • McGranahan, G., Balk, D., and Anderson, B. (2007). The rising tide: Assessing the risks of climate change and human settlements in low elevation coastal zones. Environment and Urbanization 19 (1), 17-37.
  • Pelling, M., and Blackburn, S. (eds.). (2014). Megacities and the Coast: Risk, Resilience and Transformation. Routledge.


Module #5:


  • Suggested Readings (to be updated):

  • Ehler, C. & Douvere, F. Marine Spatial Planning: A Step-By-Step Approach Toward Ecosystem-Based Management (UNESCO, 2009).
  • Directive 2014/89/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 July 2014, Establishing a Framework for Maritime Spatial Planning (European Union, 2014).
  • Qiu, W.F. & Jones, P.J.S. The emerging policy landscape for marine spatial planning in Europe. Marine Policy 39, 182-190 (2013).
  • Study on the Economic Impact of Maritime Spatial Planning (European Union, 2020).
  • The EU Blue Economy Report (European Union, 2020).
  • Morillo, R. & Spalding, M. A Sustainable Blue Economy (Rockefeller & Co., 2017).
  • Golden, J.S. et al. Making sure the blue economy is green. Nature Ecology & Evolution 1, 17 (2017).

Teaching method

 The evaluation will be based on a final exam weighting 100%.

Evaluation method

The teaching methodology is based on the weekly lectures which shall combine theory with illustrative applied research work on the different topics whenever possible. The evaluation will be based on a final exam weighting 100%.

Subject matter

Module #1: The Economic Approach

Antonieta Cunha e Sá

In this first module an introduction to the economic approach is provided aiming to explain how economists view the environment, namely, how the human system, and the economy as part of it, is linked to the natural system. Normative versus Positive criteria decision-making are distinguished. The economic concept of value/market price, property rights and their role are introduced. In particular, the distinction between private and public goods is examined, as well as concepts such as externalities and market failures and its implications to sustainable policy goals¿ implementation. Also, important concepts such as the discount rate, marginal cost, marginal benefit, marginal willingness to pay, efficiency, welfare, are also considered. In all cases, the theoretical concepts are illustrated in the context of the blue economy. An overview of the EU Blue Economy will be provided.


Module #2: Economic Valuation

Carina Vieira da Silva

The sea plays a crucial role to the planet's ecological balance and thus to life on Earth. It provides several services which are key to human well-being, commonly known as "Ecosystem Services", including, for example, food (fish and shellfish), energy (waves), fibers and other materials provision, climate regulation (through carbon sequestration), water purification, nutrient cycling, erosion control, and the possibility of multiple religious, scientific, educational, cultural and recreational interactions, among many others. This module intends to introduce the concept of ecosystem services (ES), addressing the main services provided by the seas and oceans, the existing classification systems and the relevance of their identification, mapping and economic valuation for ocean's sustainable development. The recognition of the economic value of marine and coastal ES is essential for coastal management and marine spatial planning, having direct regulatory implications. Within this framework, students will also be introduced to the economic valuation of ES in general and, in particular, to the different components of the total economic value and the valuation methods currently available.


Module #3: The Economics of Fisheries Management

Renato Rosa

Fishing is a major maritime activity and is a critical source of income for several coastal communities. As a result, several countries have established the goal of guaranteeing that fish stocks remain at healthy, sustainable levels. While cases of success exist in fishery policies, several world fish stocks remain overexploited. This section of the course will provide a critical discussion on the history of world fisheries management, highlighting the contribution offered by fishery economists. The remainder of the course will discuss the current policy framework and the challenges that have to be addressed to design more efficient, economically informed management.


Module #4: Hazards and Vulnerabilities of Coastal Cities

Sofia F. Franco

Coastal cities have lived with weather extremes for centuries, but climatic change and rapid urban development are amplifying the challenge of managing coastal risks. In addition, urban expansion and changes in land use further pressure sensitive coastal environments through pollution and habitat loss. The concentration of people, infrastructure, economic activity, and ecology within the coastal zone deserves special consideration of hazards exacerbated by a changing climate. Major coastal cities often locate valuable assets along the waterfront or within flood zones, including port facilities, schools, hospitals, and other durable structures. These assets are potentially at risk for both short-term flooding and permanent inundation. This lecture discusses the main climatic hazards, key vulnerabilities, and adaptation options, focusing on issues most relevant to coastal cities.


Module #5: Marine Spatial Planning

Catarina Frazão Santos

Commonly known as marine spatial planning (MSP), this planning process is a practical way to organize the use of the ocean in space and time, and to manage the interactions among human uses (e.g., fisheries, aquaculture, shipping, tourism, renewable energy production, marine mining), and between uses and the environment. MSP can decrease conflicts between human uses, promote the best allocation of space for a given activity, identify synergies, and support the conservation of natural resources that are vital for blue growth in the long-term.

This module will explore what MSP is and what it entails, as well as the benefits of having it in place. We will also analyze the requirements for a sustainable blue economy, how MSP can support different sustainability types, and some key challenges faced when developing and implementing MSP. Finally, we will examine national and regional examples (i.e., Portugal and European Union) of how MSP legal frameworks differently address the balance between economic development and nature conservation.