Maritime Economy research unit

The Maritime Economy unit (Économie marine — EM) carries out research in economics in support of sustainable development of marine and maritime activities and for public policies with regard to the regulation of these activities and the protection of biodiversity.


Staff at the ME unit include two engineers, one assistant and ten researchers in humanities and social sciences involved in projects that use sectorial economy, institutional economy and ecological economy approaches.

The unit, located in Brest, is part of the joint research unit AMURE (Development of resource uses in marine and coastal areas — Aménagement des Usages des Ressources des Espaces marins et Littoraux), associating IFREMER and University of Western Brittany staff in marine law and economy. AMURE has a staff of nearly 70 people, including 40 researchers, research-lecturers and research support staff in law and economy. The UMR is also part of the CNRS Institute of Ecology and Environment and is a component of European Institute for Marine Studies (IUEM). It is a host laboratory in the Doctoral School of Marine Sciences and an associate laboratory in LabexMER.

Research focus

The growing demand for natural resources and coastal species leads to an increase in the intensity and the diversity of interactions between human activities in the sea. These interactions cause external effects due to the incomplete definition of the conditions of access to space and natural resources and, more generally, to the services that ecosystems provide.

The issues that the unit addresses are as follows:

  • The trajectory and the factors behind the development of maritime activities;
  • The institutions and the regulatory mechanisms that ensure the sustainability of maritime activities and ecosystems;
  • Developing ways to assess public policies according to their objectives.

The unit focuses in particular on the management of exploited biological marine resources (professional fishing, marine cultures, study of the associated sectors and markets) and marine and coastal ecosystems (local and regional scales).

Research actions

The actions of the unit touch upon four complementary topics that integrate observation, assessment and research:

  • Acquisition, usually at the source, of empirical knowledge required for the characterisation of marine and coastal activities in relation with ecosystems and by considering the interactions between these activities;
  • Analysis and dynamics of these activities in response to the changes in environmental, economic and institutional contexts in which they develop;
  • Analysis of policies that regulate activities and marine biodiversity conservation (access rights, environmental standards, compensatory measures, marine protected areas, etc.), their assessment particularly in terms of a cost-effectiveness and cost-advantage approach;
  • The development of integrated approaches to assess scenarios of marine socio-ecosystem evolution.