Green out of the blue, or how (not) to deal with overfed oceans. An analytical review of coastal eutrophication and social conflict

Levain Alix, Barthélémy Carole, Bourblanc Magalie, Douguet Jean-Marc, Euzen Agathe, Souchon Yves. 2020. Green out of the blue, or how (not) to deal with overfed oceans. An analytical review of coastal eutrophication and social conflict. Environment and Society, 11 (1) : pp. 115-142.

Journal article ; Article de synthèse ; Article de revue à comité de lecture
Published version - Anglais
License Licence Creative Commons.

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Abstract : Despite causing harmful impacts on coastal communities and biodiversity for a few decades, eutrophication of marine systems has only recently gained public visibility. Representing a major land-based pollution, eutrophication is now considered the most striking symptom of intractable disruption of biogeochemical nutrient cycles at a global scale. The objective of this article is to analyze multi-scale dynamics of the problematization and regulation of ocean overfertilization. To do so, we build on a comprehensive literature review of previously published works that address the sociopolitical dimension of eutrophication issues and whose visibility we analyze with a critical perspective. We identify three stages that characterize the social history of marine eutrophication and how it was handled by public authorities. Although social mobilizations focus on emblematic sites, conflicts directly related to eutrophication symptoms spread in diverse hydro-social configurations. We conclude with a typology of four configurations associated with enduring nutrient pollution: noisy, overwhelming, silenced, and disturbing eutrophication.

Mots-clés Agrovoc : Eutrophisation, Zone côtière, conflits, Gestion des zones côtières, Milieu marin, Pollution des mers, Écosystèmes aquatique

Mots-clés libres : Coastal eutrophication, Environmental change, Hydro-social configuration, Public problems, Nutrient-based pollution, Social-environmental conflicts

Classification Agris : P02 - Pollution
M40 - Aquatic ecology
P01 - Nature conservation and land resources

Champ stratégique Cirad : CTS 4 (2019-) - Santé des plantes, des animaux et des écosystèmes

Auteurs et affiliations

  • Levain Alix, CNRS (FRA)
  • Barthélémy Carole, Université de Montpellier (FRA)
  • Bourblanc Magalie, CIRAD-ES-UMR G-EAU (FRA)
  • Douguet Jean-Marc, Université Paris-Saclay (FRA)
  • Euzen Agathe, CNRS (FRA)
  • Souchon Yves, INRAE (FRA)

Source : Cirad-Agritrop (

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