Social Innovation for Small-Scale Blue Food Systems in the Gambia


The emerging 'Blue Economy' and 'Blue Growth' paradigms, focusing on economic growth, innovations, and environmental sustainability, have increasingly dominated discussions on ocean development and blue food systems. However, within this discourse, the future of small-scale fisheries (SSF) often remains uncertain and underemphasized. This study explores the potential of social innovation approaches as a tool to support just and inclusive transformation within SSF in the blue economy. We draw on a case study of a social enterprise in The Gambia - the TRY Oyster Women's Association (TOWA), to highlight the social innovation pathways for small-scale blue food systems transformation. The study shows that institutional innovation through polycentric governance, institutional leadership and entrepreneurship, and financial resource support facilitate effective environmental stewardship, social inclusion and economic justice within SSF blue food system in The Gambia. TOWA's exclusive use rights has facilitated efficient management and sustainability of the oyster fishery and mangroves in The Gambia. Also, TOWA enterprise promotes community empowerment through social learning and capacity-building initiatives with financial and technical support from external partners enabling the association to thrive as a social enterprise. The paper underscores the significance of social innovation in driving successful SSF's transformation into a thriving blue food system, fostering environmental and inclusive resource management in the blue economy.