© 2021

The Empty Sea

The Future of the Blue Economy


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxi
  2. Ilaria Perissi, Ugo Bardi
    Pages 1-4
  3. Ilaria Perissi, Ugo Bardi
    Pages 5-40
  4. Ilaria Perissi, Ugo Bardi
    Pages 41-74
  5. Ilaria Perissi, Ugo Bardi
    Pages 75-100
  6. Ilaria Perissi, Ugo Bardi
    Pages 101-128
  7. Ilaria Perissi, Ugo Bardi
    Pages 129-173
  8. Ilaria Perissi, Ugo Bardi
    Pages 175-178
  9. Back Matter
    Pages 179-203

About this book


The “Blue Economy” is used to describe all of the economic activities related to the sea, with a special emphasis on sustainability. Traditional activities such as fisheries, but also undersea mining, tourism, and scientific research are included, as well as the phenomenal growth of aquaculture during the past decade. All of these activities, and the irresistible prospect of another new frontier, has led to enthusiastic and, most likely, overenthusiastic assessments of the possibilities to exploit the sea to feed the world, provide low-cost energy, become a new source of minerals, and other future miracles. This book makes sense of these trends and of the future of the blue economy by following our remote ancestors who gradually discovered the sea and its resources, describing the so-called fisherman’s curse – or why fishermen have always been poor, explaining why humans tend to destroy the resources on which we depend, and assessing the realistic expectations for extracting resources from the sea. Although the sea is not so badly overexploited as the land, our demands on ecosystem services are already above the oceans’ sustainability limits. Some new ideas, including “fishing down” for untapped resources such as plankton, could lead to the collapse of the entire marine ecosystem.

How Neanderthals crossed the sea in canoes, how it was possible for five men on a small boat to kill a giant whale, what kind of oil the virgins of the Gospel put into their lamps, how a professor of mathematics, Vito Volterra, discovered the “equations of fishing,” why it has become so easy to be stung by a jellyfish while swimming in the sea, and how to play “Moby Dick,” a simple board game that simulates the overexploitation of natural resources are just some of the questions that you will be able to answer after reading this engaging and insightful book about the rapidly expanding relationship between humanity and the sea. 


blue economy fisheries and aquaculture biophysical economics maximum sustainable yield ocean plastic

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di ChimicaUniversità di FirenzeItaly
  2. 2.Dipartimento di ChimicaUniversità di FirenzeItaly

About the authors

Ilaria Perissi has a doctorate in physical chemistry and she is engaged in research on mitigating the effects of climate change at the University of Florence, Italy. She is a member of the scientific board of the "Transport and Environment" association and is the author of several articles on the use of systems dynamics models in the study of resource exploitation, particularly in fishing.

Ugo Bardi is professor of physical chemistry at the University of Florence, Italy. Member of the Club of Rome and author of many studies and books dealing with the economics of resource exploitation. He is also editor of the journal "Biophysical Economics and Resource Quality" (Springer). He writes about sustainability on his blog "Cassandra’s Legacy” and on the Italian Newspaper "Il Fatto Quotidiano".

Bibliographic information