WEBINAR: Fish Wars and Blue Conflicts

April 6, 2022
10:00 to 11:30 am

War at sea is still a rare event, but declining fish stock and growing geopolitical tensions are rapidly pushing maritime security up the international agenda. Ocean governance systems have become more complex, setting important norms and institutions but also giving way to new injustices, grievances, and territorial claims.The scope and scale of ‘fish wars’ and ‘blue conflicts’ range is broad, from intra-community tensions over gear use to international skirmishes over disputed EEZ.

International conflicts over fisheries have increased in number and intensified, especially in Asia. Despite its sustainability and equity principles, the push for a ‘Blue Economy’ has resulted in a growing number of socio-environmental conflicts, with at least 600 conflicts around the world pitting local communities seeking to protect their livelihoods and ecosystems against large-scale marine and coastal projects.

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) seek to “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development” (SDG14) and to “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels” (SDG16). Achieving a sustainable and peaceful ocean by 2030 may seem an elusive goal, yet many initiatives are taking place to improve cooperation between coastal communities, marine sectors, and government policy-makers.

This webinar brought together leading researchers on maritime and fisheries conflicts. The panelists discussed major types of fisheries conflicts, risks of escalation into militarized disputes, and impacts on affected communities and marine ecosystems. The webinar also provided a forum to discuss options to prevent and transform conflicts to improve the well-being and safety of seafaring and coastal communities, as well as long-term ocean sustainability.


Dr. Philippe Le Billon
Professor, UBC Department of Geography & School of Public Policy
and Global Affairs
Introduction and context
Dr. Cullen Hendrix
Professor, Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver
Fisheries and militarized disputes at sea
Dr. Sarah Glaser
Director, One Earth Future
Fisheries conflict in the Horn of Africa
Dr. Maurice Beseng
Research Associate, University of Sheffield
Maritime security and the securitization of fisheries in Cameroon
Dr. Louise Teh
Research Associate, UBC Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries
Risks (and current impacts) of overfishing in the South and East China Seas


Dr. Christian Bueger
Professor, University of Copenhagen
Lol Dahlet
PhD student, Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT)


  • Adam Hicks, MSc student, Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries
  • Verónica Relaño Écija, PhD candidate, Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries

The Video