Mar 29, 2023 | Over the Bar

Over the Bar

Christopher Seufert photo

By John Pappalardo | Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance

The term “green economy” has been in play for a while now, and we have a pretty good idea what it means at least in the abstract; an economy that builds jobs and prosperity while keeping environmental impact in mind, reducing or even reversing damage.

Of course how it translates on the ground and on the water, the real tradeoffs and specific measurements, is another matter and worth a long discussion that could begin with coffee and end with beer.

Then there’s another color that works especially well for the Cape, the “blue economy.” The blue economy of course refers to water, recognizing that the Cape’s coastal beauty and economic strength are water dependent at every level, maybe even one in the same. Seeing everything through that lens clarifies many things, helps create priorities and public policy, so that’s a good tool.

From my perch it seems clear that fishermen were and are among the first and crucial practitioners of the blue economy — our mission at the Fishermen’s Alliance includes making sure people understand that. By people I mean the general public as well as our public officials whose decisions do much to make or break historic, independent, small-boat fleets.

And the more fishermen embrace, personify, and champion “blueness,” the more we all work in ways that respect our marine habitat, the more we guarantee our future.

Among the people who work at the public nexus of green and blue, who thinks about both a lot, is Mike Maguire, director of the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension, part of Barnstable County government. County government is not well understood or appreciated, and the Extension might be the most striking example. The team there contributes to our community in a remarkable number of ways few people realize.

For example, Josh Reitsma and Abigail Archer accomplish great things in and around fisheries and aquaculture, while Andrea Marczely and Tara Racine play major roles helping bring our “Small Boats Big Taste” chowder and stew to people facing food insecurity. That’s just work directly engaged in our little corner; from fighting tick disease to recycling and getting rid of hazardous waste, community nutrition education to agriculture and 4-H programs, the Extension walks the walk.

So it makes sense that the other day, talking through issues, life and times, shifting from green thoughts to blue notions and back again, Mike came up with something intriguing:

How about we conjure up a new term to express that crucial combination we seem to be looking for so often?

“It’s the aqua economy,” he smiled.


The more it sank in, the better it worked. Aqua conjures water first and foremost, and the color is a mix of blue and green, at least to my mind. So it embodies, evokes, and blends.

With Mike’s permission, I might start using it, throw it out there now and then. Maybe it’ll catch on. Maybe it will become even more useful than green and blue.

But if it does, I have one request:

No Aquaman promotions allowed, no matter how much DC Comics wants to do it!

(John Pappalardo is CEO of The Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance)