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Increased interest in oceans is leading to new and renewed global governance efforts directed toward ocean issues in areas of food production, biodiversity conservation, industrialization, global environmental change, and pollution. Global oceans governance efforts face challenges and opportunities related to the nature of oceans and to actors involved in, the scale of, and knowledge informing their governance. We review these topics generally and in relation to nine new and emerging issues: small-scale fisheries (SSFs), aquaculture, biodiversity conservation on the high seas, large marine protected areas (LMPAs), tuna fisheries, deep-sea mining, ocean acidification (OA), blue carbon (BC), and plastics pollution. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Environment and Resources Volume 41 is October 17, 2016. Please see for revised estimates.
EG41CH20-Campbell ARI 13 September 2016 18:47
Global Oceans Governance:
New and Emerging Issues
Lisa M. Campbell,1Noella J. Gray,2Luke Fairbanks,1
Jennifer J. Silver,2Rebecca L. Gruby,3
Bradford A. Dubik,1and Xavier Basurto1
1Nicholas School of the Environment, Duke University Marine Lab, Beaufort, North Carolina
28516; email:
2Department of Geography, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario NIG 2W1, Canada
3Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources, Colorado State University,
Fort Collins, Colorado 80523
Annu. Rev. Environ. Resour. 2016. 41:517–43
First published online as a Review in Advance on
July 6, 2016
The Annual Review of Environment and Resources is
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2016 by Annual Reviews.
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food production, industrialization, biodiversity conservation, global
environmental change, pollution
Increased interest in oceans is leading to new and renewed global governance
efforts directed toward ocean issues in areas of food production, biodiversity
conservation, industrialization, global environmental change, and pollution.
Global oceans governance efforts face challenges and opportunities related
to the nature of oceans and to actors involved in, the scale of, and knowl-
edge informing their governance. We review these topics generally and in
relation to nine new and emerging issues: small-scale fisheries (SSFs), aqua-
culture, biodiversity conservation on the high seas, large marine protected
areas (LMPAs), tuna fisheries, deep-sea mining, ocean acidification (OA),
blue carbon (BC), and plastics pollution.
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OA: Ocean
INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 518
ENVIRONMENTALGOVERNANCE........................................... 520
Actors.......................................................................... 520
Scale........................................................................... 522
Knowledge..................................................................... 523
NEW AND EMERGING ISSUES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 523
Food Production . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 524
Industrialization................................................................ 526
Biodiversity Conservation....................................................... 528
Global Environmental Change . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 531
Pollution....................................................................... 533
CONCLUSIONS................................................................. 535
A review of new and emerging issues in global oceans governance is timely given contemporary
interest in oceans by government, scientists, the private sector, nongovernmental organizations
(NGOs), and philanthropic foundations (see Sidebar: Oceans on the Agenda). Interest is driven by
both recognition of the economic potential of oceans—oceans as a development opportunity—and
concern about the health of ocean ecosystems and their role in global environmental processes—
oceans as a conservation concern (1–3). Governance interventions to support development and/or
conservation (4) will confront a series of challenges based on the biophysical, political, and social
nature of oceans.
Biophysically, oceans are vast, varied, complex, fluid, and three-dimensional. For humans,
ocean environments are difficult to see beyond their surfaces, and underwater environments are
hostile to and remote from habitation. As a result, many scientific unknowns remain (5). In just the
past several decades, critical basic discoveries have been made, e.g., the existence of Prochlorococcus,
a single-cell marine cyanobacteria that plays a major role in the global carbon cycle (6). Scien-
tific understanding of new environmental concerns, e.g., ocean acidification (OA), are emerging
(7). Some ocean spaces are frontiers, being explored (and exploited) for the first time. Deep-sea
Increased interest in oceans governance is reflected in the rapid proliferation of international meetings over the
past decade. These include the Global Ocean Forum on Oceans, Coasts, and Islands, held five times, beginning
in 2001; the International Marine Protected Areas Congress, held three times, beginning in 2005; the Society for
Conservation Biology’s International Marine Conservation Congress, held every two years, beginning in 2009; the
World Small-Scale Fisheries Congress, held twice, in 2010 and 2014; the World Ocean Summit, held three times,
beginning in 2010; and the Our Oceans Conference, hosted by the US Department of State in 2014 and by the
Government of Chile in 2015. These meetings reflect scientific, government, nongovernment, and private sector
interests in oceans governance generally and in relation to specific ocean activities.
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United Nations
Convention on the
Law of the Sea
(UNCLOS): the legal
framework for
protection and
management of ocean
Areas beyond
national jurisdiction
(ABNJ): include the
water column (the
highs seas) and the
seabed (the area)
RFMO: Regional
Fisheries Management
Exclusive Economic
Zone (EEZ):
designates the extent
of state authority over
adjacent oceans
ISA: International
Seabed Authority
Small-scale fisheries
(SSFs): are difficult to
define (as detailed by
the FAO; see
fishery/ssf/en) but are
generally contrasted to
industrial, highly
Large marine
protected areas
(LMPAs): larger than
30,000–250,000 km2
Blue carbon (BC):
the carbon stored,
sequestered, or
released from coastal
and ocean ecosystems
hydrothermal vents—with biotic communities of interest to scientists and mineral deposits of
interest to the mining sector—continue to be discovered (8).
Politically, existing national and multinational oceans governance is a product of post–World
War II constructions of the nation state and of the international order established by the United
Nations (UN). The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) provides the
overarching legal framework for protection and management of globally shared ocean resources
in areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ). Existing measures implemented through UNCLOS
are issue specific; for example, Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) address
fisheries in ABNJ. UN governance of ABNJ is often described as inadequate and incomplete, with
gaps related to specific issues (9) such as biodiversity conservation (10). UNCLOS also guides
signatory states in exercising authority within a 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
State authority over the seabed can extend beyond 200 miles to the extent of the continental shelf.
In many states, ocean resources are conceptualized as public goods [e.g., under the Public Trust
Doctrine in the United States (11)] and extracted under a variety of access regimes, including open
access. With some exceptions, governments lease or license spaces and resources to individuals
or firms rather than transfer them to private ownership, but communities and resource users also
claim access by other means (12).
Socially, dominant Western constructions of oceans portray them as “unpeopled” spaces of
nature, but not society (13, 14), and the biophysical features described above support such con-
structions. For most of Western industrial history, human interactions have been considered
predominantly economic, with oceans providing resources and a smooth surface for ship-based
trade and military movement (14). By reviewing alternative historical and cultural understandings
of oceans, Steinberg (15, p. 2092) illustrates how social constructions create “the cultural and
political environment in which certain interventions are deemed desirable and others deemed
unattainable.” Efforts to develop new or modify existing oceans governance regimes are situated
within, or alternatively challenge, such constructions.
Oceans governance regimes reflect the combined biophysical, political, and social features
of oceans. Western constructions of oceans as unpeopled support a commitment to freedom of
the seas (14). In the post–World War II era, nationalized spaces of the EEZ and UN measures
for ABNJ reflected evolving understanding of biophysical features and changing political and
social commitments (9, 14, 16, 17). For example, the inaccessibility of seabed minerals in ABNJ,
recognition of their potential value, and the concept of an ocean commons combined such that
seabed minerals were designated as the “common heritage of mankind” by UNCLOS (14, 17).
Since then, technological developments have increased mineral accessibility, and new rules to
control access, minimize environmental impacts, and distribute benefits of seabed mining are
being negotiated in the International Seabed Authority (ISA). These rules may or may not uphold
the common heritage principle; social and political ideas about ocean resources and governance
processes have also changed.
In this review, we outline the concept of environmental governance and focus on three gov-
ernance themes: actors, scale, and knowledge. Under five broad categories of ocean activities—
food production, biodiversity conservation, industrialization, global environmental change, and
pollution—we review new and emerging issues in each: SSFs and aquaculture for food production,
biodiversity conservation in ABNJ and large marine protected areas (LMPAs) for conservation,
tuna fisheries and seabed mining for industrialization, OA and blue carbon (BC) for global en-
vironmental change, and plastic pollution for pollution. We selected these categories and issues
based on several criteria. First, they have received attention on a developing global oceans agenda
(e.g., 18), which several of us have been tracking for almost a decade (1, 2, 19, 20). Although this
agenda intersects with oceans governance within EEZs and we consider such intersections, the Global Oceans Governance 519
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GPO: Global
Partnership for Oceans
issues are discussed in international venues as globally significant. Second, we select issues recently
identified, such as OA (7), or those long-standing but subject to renewed attention, such as SSFs
(21). Third, the issues illustrate both variety and similarity in their relation to our governance
themes. By choice and necessity, many issues are excluded from our review. Our attention to new
issues means that long-standing issues such as coastal and marine tourism, offshore oil and gas
development, and industrial fishing generally are not covered. Some new issues, e.g., sea level rise
and the changing Arctic Ocean, are also omitted due to space constraints. The framing of our
review reflects scholarship in the fields of human geography and political ecology, social studies of
science, and common-pool resources theory, fields that are underrepresented in oceans research
(e.g., compared to law or economics), but that have much to contribute to understanding and
addressing oceans governance challenges.
Although the concept of governance is broad and variously defined (22), core inter-related char-
acteristics support its contrast to government. First, governance marks a shift away from state-
centric, territorial-based power and “acknowledges that a plethora of forms of social organization
and political decision-making exist that are neither directed toward the state nor emanate from
it” (23, p. 191). Second, governance foregrounds participation by nonstate actors (e.g., private
companies, NGOs, civil society groups and movements) and shifts in influence among these (24).
Third, governance problematizes categories of public and private, as well as global, national, and
local. Authority is multilayered and multiscalar, and the boundaries between types of actors and
the scales of interaction are porous and unfixed (25–27). Fourth, science and technology are often
critical to governance, determining what and how to govern and lending legitimacy to actors seek-
ing influence (28–30). Finally, contemporary governance often emphasizes market over regulatory
mechanisms; for environmental issues, this often necessitates enclosure and privatization of the
commons (26, 31).
Informed by our ongoing research tracking global oceans governance over the past decade
(1, 2, 19, 20, 32), we highlight issues of actors, scale, and knowledge as themes particularly relevant
to global oceans governance. A focus on governance directs us to look not only at formal politics
among states, but also at the more subtle politics among diverse actors working to influence
who participates in (and is subject to) governance regimes, the scale at which these governance
problems are conceptualized and solutions implemented, and the knowledge that informs such
decisions. This is certainly not the only way to think about governance; for example, in contrast
to our emphasis on broad characteristics of governance, others have focused on more specific
mechanisms and institutions for governing oceans (33, 34).
Although governance highlights the role and importance of nonstate actors, the formal politics of
nation states and multilateral institutions continue to play central roles in global oceans governance
due to the political history described above. Oceans have received renewed attention in the UN
as reflected in the inclusion of a goal for oceans in “Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda
for Sustainable Development” (35) and the June 2015 UN General Assembly resolution on the
development of a new legally binding instrument under UNCLOS to allow for the conservation
and sustainable use of biodiversity in ABNJ (36). Renewed interest is also seen in the World Bank,
where its Global Partnership for Oceans (GPO) (2012–2015) launched a major reinvestment in
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FAO: United Nations
Food and Agriculture
MPA: Marine
protected area
oceans by multilateral financial institutions after more than a decade of inattention (4). Nation
states pursue their interests in global oceans through the UN and related agreements.
Scientists and scientific collaborations are also key actors in global oceans governance, often
in partnership with state and UN agencies. For example, the Intergovernmental Ocean Com-
mission of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (IOC-UNESCO) supports
more than a dozen scientific programs such as the Global Ocean Observing System. The UN
Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has led scientific efforts to identify areas of significant
biodiversity on the high seas (37), and the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization
(FAO) has overseen the identification of vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs) (38). The Cen-
sus of Marine Life, a decade-long study of global marine biodiversity, lists hundreds of partners
and sponsors—including states, multilateral agencies, the private sector, NGOs, and academic
NGOs are involved in oceans governance, and UNCLOS recognized their role in the 1980s,
a decade prior to their general ascendance at the 1992 UN Conference on Sustainable Develop-
ment (24, 39). NGOs have unparalleled opportunities for influence in oceans governance due to
governance gaps, and they exert this influence in policy development and agenda setting, educa-
tion, capacity building, science, watchdogging, and rapid response (40). They have advocated for
particular forms of oceans governance [e.g., marine protected areas (MPAs) (19) or ecosystem-
based management (41)] and sometimes play active roles in implementation (40, 41). Many receive
financial support from US and European private foundations active in oceans philanthropy. Civil
society organizations with interests beyond environment are less evident, especially in ABNJ. In
international negotiations related to oceans governance, topics that are politically contentious for
terrestrial resources (e.g., poverty, gender, rights, justice) are seldom discussed, and when they are,
it is mostly at the scale of the nation state (e.g., how small island developing states might capture
more benefits from tuna fishing). Small-scale fishers are the exception, represented in interna-
tional forums by organizations such as the International Collective in Support of Fishworkers or
the World Fishermen’s Forum (1).
Private sector actors have long been using ocean resources, and some ocean industries are
major components of the global economy (e.g., shipping, industrial fisheries, offshore oil and gas
extraction). Corporations are increasingly active in oceans governance, advocating for industrial
best practices and engaging in public-private partnerships (P3s). In ABNJ, UN organizations are
now joined by groups such as the World Ocean Council (, an
industry leadership alliance committed to corporate ocean responsibility. World Ocean Council
programs include analyzing and seeking to influence ocean policy and a smart oceans/smart indus-
tries initiative that promotes using private sector infrastructure (e.g., ships, oil drilling platforms)
as platforms for ocean science. P3s for oceans governance were a major theme at the 2014 UN
Conference on Sustainable Development (hereafter Rio+20) (2) and were central in the World
Bank’s GPO (2, 4).
How these actors will influence emerging oceans governance is a compelling research question.
In international venues such as the CBD, NGOs and ocean scientists from the Global North have
been the primary advocates for conservation, particularly MPAs (19), and NGOs have played a
key role in facilitating conservation in ABNJ in specific places (42). However, large international
NGOs often fail to translate their international successes into policies that work at a local level (43),
in part because their global conservation priorities conflict with the priorities of local communities
and national governments (44), and sometimes with those of their own local-level staff (45).
Similarly, Abbott et al. (4) raise questions about the private sector in oceans governance, pointing
out the historical tensions among corporate, state, and NGO partners. For example, the GPO’s
promotion of transparency conflicts with private sector interests in proprietary data. In a subsection Global Oceans Governance 521
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of Abbott et al. (4), Liam Campling and Elizabeth Havice argue that P3s in other sectors have
come with high costs to the state and risks for the public, while profits have been channeled
to the private sector. On the basis of their studies of tuna fisheries, they critique the GPO for
underemphasizing supply chain governance in questions of resource exploitation.
More generally, the diverse interests of ocean actors were reflected in efforts to define Blue
Economy at Rio+20, where Silver et al. (2) identified four separate Blue Economy narratives:
oceans as natural capital, oceans as good business, oceans as integral to small island developing
states, and oceans as SSF livelihoods. Although government, NGO, scientific, civil society, and
private sector actors promoting these narratives often invoked similar language, their underlying
assumptions about human-ocean relationships, and thus the purpose of the Blue Economy, were
quite different. Silver et al. argue that it is precisely because there is momentum toward increased
oceans governance that actors worked to define the Blue Economy in particular ways; ocean actors
sought to define a vision for the future of oceans governance.
Scale is relevant to oceans governance in three distinct ways. First, oceans are large in extent.
Managing global oceans entails managing an environment that covers 70% of the planet (the
oceans in ABNJ cover 64%). Accordingly, the extent of governance is also large. RFMOs manage
fish stocks with transoceanic migrations. The FAO’s Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable
Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (hereafter FAO-SSF
Guidelines) (46) are applicable to the world’s estimated 50 million small-scale fishers. Once de-
veloped, rules for extracting seabed minerals will cover the seafloor in all ABNJ and set minimum
standards for mining within EEZs of UNCLOS signatory states. Governing oceans is an enormous
Second, ecological features and processes as well as governance levels are described in scalar
terms—the local, national, regional, or global—and scale denotes a relation among these. Scale and
multiscalar interactions are confounding factors in global environmental governance (27, 47). One
explanation for failed oceans governance is scalar mismatch; that is, a governance intervention (e.g.,
local fisheries management) is not well matched to the ecological scale of the feature or process
being governed (e.g., migratory fish stock) (48, 49). The concern for scalar mismatch fuels support
for governance at global or regional scales and coordination among scales (20). For example, Barkin
& DeSombre (50) call for a new fisheries management agency to allocate individual transferable
quota at a global scale. Emphasis on the global sometimes encounters resistance from proponents
of the local (51), and at the very least raises questions about how scales might interact (52, 53).
Berkes (48) argues that global management must integrate local management, but others are less
sanguine. For example, scientists and conservationists have sometimes dismissed local claims to
resources by invoking data that illuminate global and regional resource sharing (52, 54).
Third, there is a politics of scale that leads to questions of how scales are represented and
to what effect (25). How do different actors invoke scale to pursue particular agendas? How are
global, local, and national scales produced through efforts to govern oceans? Gruby & Campbell
(32) trace the means by which some Pacific Island nations strategically enacted a Pacific Region at
the meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the CBD to better influence negotiations, but also
to attract funding associated with global ocean conservation. Gray et al. (20) attribute enthusiasm
for MPAs to the ways in which they can align with distinct scalar narratives. Sievanen et al. (41)
and Gruby & Basurto (55) illustrate how new scalar narratives about ocean resources, introduced
through NGOs or international policy processes, promote particular forms of conservation in ways
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that sometimes undermine existing national or local institutions for oceans governance. The fluid
biophysical nature of oceans combined with the more fixed understanding of political boundaries
(e.g., the EEZ separates the national and global) makes questions about the politics of scale in
oceans governance particularly compelling.
Science and technology help us better know the oceans, “making visible what had previously been
hidden or inaccessible” (56, p. 779). Remote sensing, global positioning systems, and satellite
tracking illuminate ocean spaces, processes, and species from above (57), whereas remote and
autonomous underwater vehicles do so from below (58). The Census of Marine Life, a decade-
long study of marine biodiversity, illustrates scientific efforts to better know oceans; more than
2,500 scientists employed 30 technologies in more than 540 expeditions to discover and describe
more than 1,200 new species and confirm the existence of 250,000 others (59).
Technological advancements also support development opportunities; many emerging ocean
issues, e.g., seabed mining and aquaculture, are emerging because of technological possibil-
ity. These opportunities have potential environmental costs. In industrial fisheries, increased
technological capacity to extract fish in the absence of governance regimes limiting fleet de-
velopment has contributed to overfishing (60, 61). So-called roving bandits in fisheries are
supported by both technological developments in fishing practices and technologies that sup-
port the spread of information on markets at speeds that outpace policy responses. Simulta-
neously, technology can support improved monitoring of vessels (62), and Global Fishing Watch
(, a collaboration between Google, SkyTruth, and Oceana,
illustrates such potential.
What we know about oceans interacts with how we govern them. The task of knowing oceans
has generally been given to natural scientists, particularly in global governance regimes where
science provides universals around which conservation projects can be structured (63, 64). What
scientists (and scientific collaborations) see, however, is influenced by what they look for. Social
scientists have raised the concern that studies of the global environment via the technologies
described above produce representations that render people and their resource claims invisible
(65) or, if they are seen, that trump them (52, 54).
Concerns about the visibility of people and their resource claims are amplified with regard to
oceans, given the construction of oceans as unpeopled. This is not only a philosophical problem,
but also a practical issue of data availability. Considering the spatial turn in marine resource
management, St. Martin & Hall-Arbor (56) argue that data gaps in relation to the so-called human
dimensions result in a cartographic silence that overlooks communities and their dependence on
resources. Even when management agencies attempt to include people and their understandings
of environment and resources in policymaking, agency commitments to science-based assessment
and monitoring render them unable to accommodate alternative ways of knowing (66). Attention
to the role of science and technology in knowing and representing oceans, and the interactions of
such knowledge and representations with governance, is a critical area of research.
In the following sections we review nine new and emerging issues in global oceans governance,
highlighting how governance actors, scale, and knowledge are shaping and sometimes confounding
governance efforts. Global Oceans Governance 523
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Food Production
Neither SSFs nor aquaculture are new issues, but they are subject to increasing interest due to their
contributions to food security and employment for millions of coastal residents, particularly the
poor, and to their role in conservation and development of coastal environments and economies
(21, 46, 67). SSFs are characterized by diverse fishing techniques, spatial and temporal dynamism in
terms of the number and types of species caught, and low levels of capitalization (46). Aquaculture
produces an estimated 50% of total seafood and has grown at an average rate of 6.2% per year since
2000 (68). Our review focuses on the culture of marine organisms, which accounts for roughly
18% of global seafood production (68). Marine aquaculture (hereafter aquaculture) operations
vary in production models and species, including open water culture of tuna and other pelagics
in pens, pond-based culture of shrimp, and cage-and-rope-based culture of bivalves. Aquaculture
is characterized by a divergence between intensive industrial practices and small-scale operations.
The diversity of production methods and contexts for both SSF and aquaculture contribute to
their governance challenges.
Small-scale fisheries. Historically, SSFs have been geographically, economically, socially, and
politically marginalized and have played practically no role in the development of fisheries science
(and vice versa) (69). SSF diversity challenges state capacity to collect and generate landing statis-
tics, and self-reported catch data, often linked to taxable income and/or quota allocation, suffer
from under- and overreporting (70). Similar challenges constrain the quality and availability of
social science data, making SSFs generally data poor. Efforts are ongoing to increase knowledge
about SSFs (21).
In the mid-twentieth century, government agencies, NGOs, and multinational agencies pur-
sued economic development and poverty alleviation via modernizing SSFs through technological
investments in capture and storage infrastructure (69). As in industrial fisheries, state-sponsored
subsidies resulted in bigger and more efficient boats, motors, and fishing gear, as well as larger
catches over greater areas. Better processing infrastructure promised better connections to mar-
kets and larger profits. This technology-centered approach failed to attend to resource access and
traditional tenure and often led to conflict over increased harvesting rates and resource deple-
tion (71). The 2014 FAO-SSF Guidelines (46) offer a different vision of SSF development, one
centered on fisher livelihoods, human rights, and institutions (72).
Historically, state governance of SSFs, in addition to the activities described above, has focused
on determining what type of scientific information constitutes valid data for regulatory purposes
and on controlling fisheries access through licensing, quota allocation, and other regulatory mea-
sures (69). States have yet to pay sufficient attention to fishers as actors (e.g., the ways they organize
and self-govern their harvesting and marketing interactions) or to use this information to develop
regulations that account for organizational differences (12). Many fishers organize through fish-
ing associations, whereas others do so through informal contracts with patrons. Each of these
forms is likely to offer very different outcomes for human well-being and conservation (12), their
contributions to food security of marginalized populations (73), and even their ability to adapt to
climate change (74).
Fisher organization is in part overlooked because of the dominant understanding of fishers
as individual rational actors seeking to maximize individual benefits. As a result, many national
governments and the World Bank’s GPO promote rights-based fisheries management that em-
phasizes well-defined exclusionary property rights as a solution for SSF governance (75). However,
rights-based reforms are often resisted by fishers themselves who do not trust that such reforms
will benefit them, as seen in comparable tenure reforms for land, water, and forests (76).
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NGOs have emerged as another important actor in SSF governance and are involved in certi-
fication and labeling programs to promote premium markets for sustainably caught and processed
seafood. By defining the conditions under which SSF harvesting, processing, and commercializa-
tion take place, these NGOs effectively become SSF regulatory bodies. In contrast to the industrial
fisheries for which certification programs were initially designed, most SSFs are unable to inter-
nalize the high costs of evaluation and sector-level reforms needed to attain certification status
(77). Although there have sometimes been unexpected political benefits for certified SSFs, many
challenges remain for certification in developing countries (78).
The complex interdependencies of fishers and markets with the biology of targeted species
make coordination across scales of governance particularly relevant for SSFs. Fifty years ago local
fishers might have been able to implement access and use agreements that contributed to human
well-being and resource health (79). Increased mobility of fishers and technological development
increasingly challenge fishers’ abilities to self-govern, and conflicts between local fishers and highly
mobile fleets are common and of global concern (62). Co-management, the shared responsibility of
governance duties between government and fishers (80), is increasingly seen as a viable alternative
to address larger-scale coordination needs. However, further work to determine what contributes
to effective co-management is needed (81).
Aquaculture. Although aquaculture is estimated to account for 50% of global seafood, such
estimates mask unevenness in the global distribution of production and consumption, and are
contingent upon production projections that may considerably underestimate current aquaculture
capacity (81). The 50% figure does not distinguish between freshwater and marine aquaculture,
making it more difficult to understand the intersections between aquaculture, marine capture
fisheries, and oceans governance. Whatever the figure, creating resilient and adaptive aquaculture
systems remains a significant challenge, as monoculture and intensive coastal development may
undermine long-term resilience. Climate change poses particular risks, as many high-value sectors
such as shrimp and shellfish production are vulnerable to the direct impacts of sea level rise (82).
Impacts on feed supply, health of cultured organisms, and shifting disease environments due to
climate change are concerns for virtually all sectors, and particularly for high-value species such
as shrimp and salmon (82).
Aquaculture development has primarily pursued a technically focused best management prac-
tices (BMPs) approach, in which more efficient or sustainable production practices and technolo-
gies are introduced to farmers and industry members in an attempt to curtail negative impacts.
BMPs include those that prevent escape of cultured species, use preferred chemicals or feeds,
avoid or reduce use of antibiotics, and properly site facilities. Efficiency gains from BMPs have
frequently proven insufficient to motivate their adoption, in many cases necessitating enforcement
by the state or actors in the supply chain (83). Such technical approaches do a poor job of ad-
dressing social and environmental issues that occur at scales beyond the farm level, particularly in
addressing structural issues that lead to negative social and environmental outcomes for vulnerable
populations (73, 84).
Both multinational agencies and NGOs have played a key role in shaping the emergence of
aquaculture governance. During the 1980s and 1990s, multinational agencies supported aquacul-
ture development in many areas of the Global South as a means of poverty alleviation and rural
development. As aquaculture value chains began to mature, development goals shifted from estab-
lishing aquaculture to promoting sustainable governance (85). During this transition, a variety of
NGOs participated in developing governance schemes, through drafting BMPs or developing cer-
tification and labeling programs to promote sustainable production (73). As in SSFs, certification
provides a pathway for NGO, retailer, and consumer preferences to guide production practices, Global Oceans Governance 525
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and is well established in many aquaculture commodities, particularly species commonly con-
sumed in the United States and Europe such as shrimp, salmon, and pelagic finfish (86). Despite
widespread adoption, the effectiveness of aquaculture certification programs may be limited due
to a lack of capacity for monitoring and oversight in producer areas (87). Furthermore, they
have been criticized for undermining state-level management capacity, marginalizing producers
in decision-making processes, targeting a narrow range of species, and disproportionately focusing
on species and environmental issues important to consumer countries (86, 88, 89).
Aquaculture markets are increasingly global in nature, with many high-value products produced
in in the Global South and consumed in the Global North. The global nature of these markets is
reflected in approaches to governance, which have historically involved market-based approaches
and P3s operating across scales. In developing BMPs, certification, and labeling, global actors
set standards for local producers. However, not all aquaculture is tied to global markets, which
precludes the use of these multiscalar approaches. The most important example is China, where
roughly 72% of domestic fish and shellfish consumption comes from domestic culture (67, 90).
Penetration of global governance schemes into China is minimal, and data concerning production
and domestic governance trends are often unreliable (67).
The governance of long-standing and newly emerging ocean industries is in flux. “Old” industrial
activities such as fishing are held up as examples of failed oceans governance (60, 61), whereas new
industrial activities, e.g., aquaculture and seabed mining, are promoted as opportunities for devel-
oping countries and coastal communities (1, 2, 17, 91). Governance of one long-standing industrial
activity (tuna fishing) and one emerging industrial activity (seabed mining) reveals the tensions
between greater scientific understanding of the conservation significance and development po-
tential of oceans and emergent questions about who should be involved in oceans governance and
at what scale.
Tuna fisheries. Tuna fishing is a complex multiscalar industry. Tuna are highly migratory with
transoceanic journeys that cross EEZs and ABNJ. Vessels from one country (e.g., China) purchase
licenses to capture tuna in the waters of other countries [e.g., Papua New Guinea (PNG)], and it
is normal for fleets that target various tuna species and stocks to be in different territorial waters
at different times of the year (92, 93). Tuna fishing is also embedded in a global commodity
network (94, 95). Tuna caught in the waters of PNG might be processed in hubs in Thailand or
the Philippines before being shipped to canned tuna markets in Europe and the United States
Regional research on tuna fishing and management in the Pacific Ocean illustrates the power
dynamics and social implications of the tuna industry’s multiscalar governance. Since the intro-
duction of EEZs, tuna catch has grown from 450,000 metric tons in the 1970s to 2.2 million metric
tons in 2011, for a total landed value of US$5.5 billion in 2011 (96, 97). Although Pacific Island
states license foreign fleets to fish tuna in their EEZs, they capture a relatively small proportion of
total economic rent, as foreign firms, sometimes with the help of national governments, negotiate
license agreements with very favorable terms and then export raw catch for processing elsewhere
(93, 94). In 2010, PNG—a country whose waters supply 11–12% of global tuna catch—collected
5–6% of exports valued at more than US$766 million (94).
Regional patterns in tuna distribution/migration, available infrastructure, working conditions,
and colonial histories differentially temper local experiences of tuna fishing among Pacific Islanders
(92, 98). One tuna cannery in Fiji, for example, has at times employed up to 70% of the available
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local workforce. However, most processing happens in facilities in Southeast Asia, and it is rare
for large industrial tuna fishing vessels to employ Pacific Islanders (92). To address these sorts of
uneven outcomes, eight Pacific Island states have increasingly worked as a bloc under the Nauru
Agreement and have been able to incrementally strengthen their control over tuna access, and
in some cases to negotiate increased local processing activity (94, 96). However, even as these
small successes accrue, terms of resource access remain embedded in “complex bundles and webs
of power and social relations that operate across institutional and geographical boundaries” (94,
p. 432) and that are influenced by a variety of actors.
The Fish Stocks Agreement, an UNCLOS implementing agreement, mandates cooperative
management of all shared fish stocks. For tuna, cooperative management is facilitated through
tuna RFMOs (93). RFMO processes bring together coastal states home to tuna stocks and states
where fishing fleets originate, to jointly study stocks and determine management provisions such
as openings and quota volumes (93). Although RFMOs are an important governance arrangement,
complex political relations and significant disconnects between scientific recommendations and
policy outcomes challenge RFMO management. For example, Berkes (48) and others (92, 93) have
criticized RFMOs for privileging the interests of strong fishing nations, often to the disadvantage
of smaller developing states.
The relationship between science and policy has been important in the North Atlantic, where
North American versus European interests are at stake and are negotiated in the International
Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas RFMO. At least two genetically distinct
populations exist in the Atlantic (99), and they are managed as such (separated by longitude
45W). However, recent satellite tagging data suggest mixing between populations (100). This new
insight complicates management of both stocks and raises questions regarding who is responsible
for taking action to rebuild them. Although satellite tagging data reveal location and movement of
tuna, the meaning of such information needs to be interpreted and will not necessarily be translated
into new governance regimes. Whether or not an RFMO can adjust a fixed management boundary
in light of new scientific evidence remains to be seen.
Seabed mining. Significant mineral reserves (in cobalt, copper, gold, iron, manganese, nickel,
rare-earth elements, silver, and zinc) exist on, and in the subsurface of, the seabed. Although private
sector and state actors have recognized the economic potential of seabed minerals since at least
the 1960s, technological challenges and political/regulatory uncertainty, particularly in ABNJ,
have made industrial mining untenable (14, 17). However, this is changing and decisions about
future mining must weigh private interests against a longer history that designated these minerals
common heritage (17). When proposed during initial UNCLOS negotiations, this designation
recognized the potential value of minerals, as well as the potential impacts of their removal. Po-
litically, it also guarded against ABNJ enclosure, a possible outcome that Western nations wanted
to avoid (14, 17). Although developing countries’ vision of deep-sea minerals managed via a UN
production company for global benefit was watered down in the 1994 UNCLOS implementing
agreement, the common heritage principle remains.
The 1994 implementing agreement established ISA as the regulatory body guiding seabed
development, responsible for both distribution of benefits and environmental protection. In ABNJ,
exploration and exploitation must adhere to ISA guidelines. The first guidelines for exploration
were adopted in 2000, but ISA has yet to provide any for exploitation. Such guidelines are needed,
for several reasons. First, recent exploration activities have revealed concentrations of deep-sea
mineral deposits to be significantly greater than those of remaining accessible terrestrial resources
(101). Second, demand for minerals is expected to increase, given their use in many consumer
goods [e.g., cell phones, laptops, hybrid cars, solar panels (101)]. Third, prospects for mining are Global Oceans Governance 527
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imminent; some of the initial exploration contracts granted by ISA are reaching their 15-year
limit, and ISA is expected to convert these to exploitation contracts.
Once ISA regulations for mining in ABNJ are in place, ISA member countries will have to meet
or exceed ISA standards. Regulations are on the docket for the 2016 ISA session, but a time line for
their approval is unknown. In the absence of ISA regulations, coastal states with mineral resources
are working to develop their own guidelines, but the world’s first deep-sea mining lease was
obtained in 2011, when PNG signed an agreement with Nautilus Minerals, a Canadian mining
company, prior to the establishment of national guidelines. The cost of developing guidelines
is high, particularly for Pacific Island nations where interest in mining is most concentrated.
The Secretariat of the Pacific-European Union Deep Sea Minerals Project (SOPAC) aims to
address this through a regional approach to seabed mining that will create stronger, harmonized
management ( Supported by SOPAC, The Pacific Island Forum Leaders
endorsed the Regional Legislative and Regulatory Framework for deep-sea minerals in 2012, and
in 2014 Tonga became the first nation to implement supporting law in their Seabed Minerals Act
The key actors seeking to influence emerging governance regimes are countries with min-
eral resources and countries with mining industries. In ISA, a designated seating system on its
Council recognizes the interests of major consumers of seabed minerals, major investors in min-
ing, major exporters of minerals, and special interests (such as small island developing states; see However, as exploitation becomes a reality, broader developed versus
developing country politics may emerge, particularly around benefits sharing. Non-mining coun-
tries and NGOs committed to biodiversity conservation in ABNJ may also engage more directly.
For example, the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition is a group of more than 70 NGOs, fisher
organizations, and law and policy institutes that have worked to influence UN regulations on
deep-sea bottom trawling. It has criticized ISA for limiting participation and observation by civil
society (see
Although underwater environments are assumed to be undervalued by society, emerging evi-
dence challenges this assumption (103). Public awareness of deep-sea environments is increasing as
the same technologies that reveal minerals also reveal unfamiliar and exotic biodiversity. Commer-
cial mining in PNG has faced unexpected resistance prior to any mining taking place; indigenous
PNG communities have expressed concern that mining activities will interfere with customary
practices such as shark calling (104). Deep-sea mining advocates often promote the minimal hu-
man impacts relative to terrestrial mining, but it would be a mistake to assume such impacts are
nonexistent (105).
Biodiversity Conservation
International effort to establish a global network of MPAs is a key feature of contemporary oceans
governance (19). At the center of this effort are targets, most notably the CBD target aiming to
protect 10% of the ocean by 2020 (106). Although the merits of target-driven conservation are
debated (107), targets have dominated the ocean conservation agenda in recent years and are
clearly implicated in both the trend toward LMPAs within EEZs and the ongoing effort to estab-
lish MPAs in ABNJ (108). Although the total ocean area under protected status is less than 4% (see
the WDPA;
gpap_wdpa/), the rate of increase is rapid and is evidence of a broad effort to expand conservation
territories at sea.
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Biodiversity conservation in areas beyond national jurisdiction. There is currently no
legally binding mechanism for conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity in ABNJ.
Multiple actors have been working toward closing this governance gap for more than a decade,
particularly by advocating for an UNCLOS implementing agreement to facilitate the establish-
ment and management of MPAs in ABNJ (10). In 2004, the UN General Assembly established
the Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group to study issues relating to the conservation
and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction (hereafter
the Working Group). After nine years of meetings, the Working Group submitted in February
2015 a recommendation that the UN develop an international, legally binding instrument under
UNCLOS to better enable conservation in ABNJ (109), and in June 2015 the UN General Assem-
bly adopted a resolution to develop such an agreement (36). The agreement will include provisions
for a package of issues, including area-based management tools such as MPAs, benefit sharing in
relation to marine genetic resources, environmental impact assessments, and capacity building
and technology transfer (10). A preparatory committee will negotiate draft text for this agreement
and report back to the UN General Assembly by the end of 2017.
In spite of recent advances in scientific knowledge related to biodiversity in ABNJ (59), many
aspects of marine biological diversity (e.g., total number of species) will remain unknowable (5).
However, MPAs are advocated as one important tool for effectively slowing marine biodiversity
loss (110). Scientific efforts to establish criteria for identifying areas in need of increased manage-
ment have advanced through several parallel UN agencies and processes. The CBD has adopted
scientific criteria for identifying ecologically or biologically significant areas (EBSAs) in ABNJ,
established an EBSA repository, and identified candidate EBSAs through a series of regional
workshops (37), and the FAO has overseen the identification of VMEs through RFMOs (38).
We note three challenges related to the evolving science-policy domain of MPAs in ABNJ.
First, the relationship between the EBSA criteria and potential MPAs will need to be negotiated.
Although the development of the EBSA criteria was motivated by calls for more effective conser-
vation in ABNJ, including through MPAs, the EBSA process has been repeatedly characterized
as a scientific exercise that does not imply any political or management obligations, in order to
assuage the concerns of various states (20, 37). Second, although there is complementarity among
the various sets of institution-specific criteria, including EBSAs and VMEs (37, 38), the manner in
which they might collectively inform the establishment of a network of MPAs in ABNJ is unclear.
A systematic approach to conservation planning is needed (9), especially given the lack of cooper-
ation between sectors to date (111). Finally, a systematic approach will need to incorporate social
data and engage a broad array of stakeholders (9). The EBSA process has focused explicitly on
biological data and criteria and not on use. Extensive research on MPAs within EEZs has demon-
strated the importance of accounting for human uses and social context in MPAs (112). Although
the social context of ABNJ is quite different from that of inshore areas, there are nonetheless
multiple actors and interests (e.g., fisheries, mining, shipping) that will need to be engaged.
To date, the main actors involved in pursuing conservation in ABNJ have been states and
NGOs, especially the 27 NGO members of the High Seas Alliance. NGOs have facilitated efforts
to establish particular MPAs in ABNJ (42) and lobbied for an UNCLOS implementing agreement
(1). Supportive states have also played a key role as champions (42). As with many international
environmental issues, conservation in ABNJ is perceived as a rich country issue (20); there has
been particular tension between developed and developing countries around benefit sharing in
relation to marine genetic resources (10). Although all states have now agreed to negotiations on
an implementing agreement, a few, including Canada, the United States, and Russia, have actively
resisted this effort (1). It remains to be seen whether and how they will engage in negotiations in Global Oceans Governance 529
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the future. The private sector has not played a prominent role in the discussion thus far, although
the World Ocean Council has represented the ocean business community at Working Group
meetings as well as Conferences of the Parties to the CBD (113).
Until there is an UNCLOS implementing agreement, and possibly even under the mandate of
a new agreement, conservation in ABNJ will need to proceed through existing institutions (111).
A scalar narrative has thus emerged that identifies MPAs in ABNJ as science-based tools for the
conservation of a global good that must be realized through regional agreements and organizations
(20). The only MPAs in ABNJ have arisen in this manner, e.g., the OSPAR Commission in the
Northeast Atlantic (114). Although these MPAs in ABNJ offer proof of concept for regional
cooperation that integrates concerns for both biodiversity conservation and sustainable use of
fisheries (9), they are also challenged by their nonbinding/voluntary status, inability to enforce
their regulations on nonparties, and limitations of consensus-based decision making (111, 114).
Large marine protected areas. The recent expansion in LMPAs began in the early 2000s,
with 16 new sites designated between 2006 and 2014, and at least four more currently under
development (115). LMPAs have been variously defined as MPAs larger than 30,000 km2(116),
100,000 km2(108), or 250,000 km2(117). They account for most of the significant increase in
global MPA coverage from 0.5% in 2010 to 2.93% in 2013 (108, 118), leading some to conclude
that they provide the “best hope for arresting the global decline in marine biodiversity” (117, p. 7).
Others, including many conservationists, are skeptical about their conservation value (119) and
critical of their social implications (116); although helping to meet numerical targets, LMPAs may
not be effectively managed (119). There is an emerging debate about the unique opportunities
and challenges of “going big “(120), with many open questions about how LMPAs function as
governing systems.
As vast ocean spaces often remote from populated areas, LMPAs pose numerous scale-related
governance challenges. One concern is about effective monitoring and enforcement in such large
areas and the potential illusion of conservation created by paper parks (119). Interest and in-
vestment in new surveillance technologies is developing rapidly, however. In addition to Global
Fishing Watch, The Pew Charitable Trusts in partnership with the company Satellite Applications
Catapult have developed Eyes on the Seas, a project that merges satellite tracking and imagery data
with fishing vessel databases and oceanographic data to identify suspicious activities in a “Virtual
Watch Room” (121). Another scalar challenge for LMPAs relates to institutional interactions.
National LMPA policies that affect large portions of EEZs may interact with other institutional
arrangements in new patterns with as yet unclear consequences. For example, LMPAs that ban
fishing in large portions of EEZs, such as that in Palau, will interact with bilateral and multilateral
tuna access agreements in ways that smaller MPAs would not (115).
Although empirical research has been limited, the emerging dynamics of decision making for
LMPAs variously support and challenge theories of shrunken state and expanded civil society
roles in environmental governance. There is a common assumption that remote LMPAs will
be politically easier to establish than smaller MPAs closer to shore, with fewer challenges from
local stakeholders (108, 122). Under this assumption, several sites have been developed through
top-down processes initiated at the highest levels of government by state actors and international
conservation organizations (116, 123). The largest nongovernmental programs promoting LMPAs
include The Pew Charitable Trusts, Global Ocean Legacy project that aims to establish 15 marine
reserves 200,000 km2or larger by 2022, and National Geographic’s Pristine Seas project that is
working with governments to establish no-take LMPAs in remote areas. The Global Ocean Legacy
project is funded by philanthropic foundations, and the Pristine Seas project is supported through
foundation and private sector funds. Although additional research is needed, at this stage it appears
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that a significant number of LMPAs reflect hybrid forms of governance through which centralized
governments are driving efforts to conserve vast ocean areas in partnership with national and
international conservation NGOs and donors. The extent to which other nonstate actors (e.g.,
industry, indigenous populations) are engaged in the initiation and development of LMPAs is an
open and important question (121).
In contrast to activities in ABNJ, science and scientists have so far played a relatively limited role
in the development of LMPAs. Marine ecologists have long argued that MPAs and reserves must
be scaled up to provide significant conservation benefits (124), and LMPAs have been promoted
for their ability to protect connected ecosystems, habitats not often included in smaller MPAs, and
highly migratory species (120). Critics question these benefits, suggesting that LMPAs in practice
are established in residual, unthreatened areas to advance progress toward global targets while
minimizing costs and conflict with resource users (122). There is little empirical work to resolve
such debates. The establishment of LMPAs has progressed ahead of the relevant science, and
research agendas are being articulated in response to their rapid development (115, 125). There
is a need for both biophysical and social science research to inform the ongoing management of
existing LMPAs as well as the establishment of new ones.
Global Environmental Change
The ocean activities and governance efforts described in previous sections are taking place in the
context of environmental change. The oceans are critically important to the global environment
and climate regulation, and there is considerable interest in better understanding, measuring, and
valuing the ecosystem services oceans provide. The intersection of oceans and climate governance
is manifesting in the rapid emergence of new environmental concerns and proposed solutions.
This section looks at one emerging concern—OA—and one proposed solution—BC. These two
issues have recently been prioritized on the global oceans agenda. For example, in A Blueprint for
Ocean and Coastal Sustainability (126), a high-profile interagency UN report prepared for Rio+20,
developing OA and BC governance strategies are proposals 1A and 1B toward future ocean and
coastal sustainability.
Ocean acidification. The chemical mechanisms behind OA are well known (127), as are many
of its direct impacts on certain taxa. As the oceans take up increasing atmospheric CO2, chemical
interactions reduce seawater pH (acidifying the seas) and decrease the concentration of carbonate
ions necessary to form biologically important minerals such as aragonite and calcite. Mollusks,
some gastropods, corals, and coralline algae rely on these minerals for shell and skeletal formation,
and decreasing seawater mineral saturations inhibit proper growth (7, 127). Some fishes and other
organisms experience altered larval development and brain function due to lowered pH (128, 129).
Scaling up OA’s effects is a complicated task, and the relationships between OA’s direct im-
pacts and indirect ecosystem interactions are often unclear (130). For example, current OA re-
search methods can make only limited predictions about food web interactions (128), and physi-
ological responses vary across species and individuals (131). New research is working to address
these gaps, for example finding that OA’s indirect effects of habitat modification may have far-
reaching consequences for fish populations (132). Further complexity arises as OA interacts with
other ocean stressors such as ocean warming and deoxygenation or localized acidification events
linked to seasonal and regional variation (3). Although OA is globally dependent on atmospheric
CO2, coastal pH is influenced by local processes such as eutrophication, riverine runoff, and
nearshore upwelling (129, 133). Although OA’s impacts on global oceans are largely negative,
they are not uniform. There will likely be winners and losers with variable consequences for both Global Oceans Governance 531
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ecosystems and people (128). To account for these factors, improve future research, and better pre-
dict outcomes, scientists have called for reexamining OA through ecological theory that remains
underapplied within the field (e.g., foraging theory, competition theory, biodiversity models) and
suggest new research opportunities that explicitly take complexity into account (e.g., multiple
stressors and evolutionary adaptation to OA) (130).
Currently, OA research and advocacy is largely driven by the scientific community, and other
actors have only recently engaged OA in governance discussions (1). These actors debate both
the available governance mechanisms (134) and the appropriate scale at which to address OA
(135). More generally, the literature attends primarily to OA’s economic and management im-
plications, and the social and political dimensions of OA (e.g., impacts on communities or food
security) are understudied (127, 135, 136). Regardless, it is clear that addressing OA may ne-
cessitate new governance interventions. For instance, coral reef area losses (136) and harvest
reductions in fisheries and shellfish aquaculture (127, 137) could have significant economic costs
across scales. To address this, new research has begun to explicitly include OA in integrated fish-
eries models (138), gauge public understanding of OA to inform better policy and management
(139), and investigate emerging OA science and connect it to communities and policymakers
alike (140). As Frisch et al. (139) show, even in a heavily fisheries-reliant region (Alaska) where
residents are aware of OA, there is limited public understanding of its biological and economic
Perhaps in response to growing frustration with global inaction on CO2policy (1), governance
discussions have recently shifted away from framing OA as the “other- CO2problem,” a companion
to global climate change, toward a new emphasis on local and regional action (129, 133). This
includes taking OA into account in (sub)national fisheries and aquaculture management (135),
coastal planning and pollution laws (133), and local adaptation measures, while still acknowledging
the importance of global CO2mitigation. This multiscalar approach brings together new actors in
governance processes—such as industry, community, and regional actors—to enact OA programs
at smaller scales. This is important due to the likely heterogeneity and inequity of OA impacts;
many of the poorest coastal areas that rely heavily for food and income on small-scale reef and
shellfish fisheries are expected to be most adversely impacted by acidification (129, 137). Efforts to
engage new actors, science, and policies at smaller scales and to explore governance options that
address local impacts while providing secondary benefits (e.g., pollution reduction) are emerging
trends (133, 135). Rather than considering OA a singular global event, it may be more appropriately
understood as a process that affects seawater, organisms, and peoples differently across space and
Blue carbon. BC is carbon storedin vegetated coastal ecosystems such as salt marshes, mangrove
forests, and seagrass meadows (141), ecosystems that account for nearly half of the total carbon in
ocean sediments and sequester carbon more quickly than terrestrial ecosystems (142). Researchers,
policymakers, and other actors are working to quantify and value these habitats to support new BC
governance strategies (141). Many proposed BC strategies involve monetizing coastal ecosystem
services to trade on global and regional markets and draw theoretical inspiration from terrestrial
payments for ecosystem services (PES) programs such as REDD+(143, 144). They aim to provide
a market-based oceans “solution” that addresses global environmental change as well as local
coastal issues and are supported by many international, state, and NGO actors (142). For example,
the Blue Carbon Initiative—a globally-funded partnership led by IOC-UNESCO, Conservation
International, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature—is developing climate
and coastal policy focused on BC management and sustainability, with an emphasis on valuation
of services and financial governance mechanisms ( More
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generally, BC scientists and policymakers are exploring ways to enroll BC in both new and existing
carbon markets (e.g., adding mangroves to REDD+or trading BC credits on regional voluntary
markets) (143, 145).
BC strategies are representative of a more general shift toward governance characterized by an
emerging Blue Economy discourse that focuses on the natural capital of oceans and coastal spaces
(2). BC PES strategies continue the trend of commodifying nature in order to conserve it (31).
Although this may offer real environmental benefits in some cases, it is also problematic, given
that ocean and coastal spaces are often public or common property, rather than privately owned
and managed. Many BC strategies require rationalizing this complexity by subsuming coastal
ecosystems into the sphere of capital, a difficult and potentially detrimental process for local envi-
ronments and peoples. Thomas (146, p. 34), for example, explains that although BC “represents
an opportunity to support sustainability outcomes” in Malaysia’s proposed Tun Mustapha Park,
establishing BC programs requires navigating complicated and sometimes overlooked local factors
ranging from race relations to local informal governance arrangements. In fisheries, market-based
regulatory reform has met with resistance in some places while disrupting traditional practices
and social relations, such as labor and wage patterns (147). In the terrestrial context, the REDD+
projects that provide models for many BC strategies have had variable outcomes both ecologically
and socially (148), resulting in significant concerns over social justice, adverse community impacts,
and governance gaps (149). More generally, PES schemes require translating ecosystem science
into prices in ways that are sometimes incomplete or even incoherent (150), creating commodities
and markets that do not reflect the multifaceted value of nature.
Ecosystem science and valuation is critical to BC strategies. In particular, ecologists,
economists, and others work to determine the total areas of BC ecosystems and their carbon stores,
rates of carbon sequestration, and potential carbon emissions if transformed (e.g., for aquacul-
ture or development). Although this research has rapidly increased since 2005 (142), in part due to
technical advances in remote sensing, it is still limited and many of these values are uncertain (143).
Global salt marsh estimates are unclear due to ambiguous recordkeeping and categorizations, and
global seagrass extent is also uncertain (142). Even though global mangrove forest cover is better
estimated, the dynamic nature of these habitats means carbon sequestration rates can vary dramat-
ically across space and time (151). Similarly, shoreline erosion can limit or overwhelm the carbon
storage capacity of salt marshes by narrowing the ecosystems, potentially turning some coastal
carbon sinks into net sources (152). Quantifying BC ecosystem services is further complicated as
these spaces provide other roles and functions beyond carbon storage. Mangroves offer shoreline
and erosion protection, ameliorating storm damage or sea level rise (142). Sea grass beds can
locally buffer acidifying seas, protecting nearby coral reefs (153), and many coastal environments
have cultural value. It is not immediately apparent how these diversities of values can be quantified
and enrolled in market regimes, although some scholars suggest broader PES schemes that ac-
count for noncarbon services may be more successful for BC ecosystems (154). Alternatively, BC
may be better viewed as a new consideration for more traditional environmental regulation (e.g.,
habitat conservation laws or ocean and shoreline restoration programs), rather than requiring a
market-based approach for its management. Regardless, as with OA, BC governance will likely
require engaging new actors beyond the scientific and NGO communities, as well as new social
science to examine and inform policy interventions at local and global scales (145).
Ocean pollution has been a concern since at least the 1970s, but recent attention to plastic-waste
pollution warrants its inclusion here. Early UN efforts to address ocean pollution focused on Global Oceans Governance 533
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sea-based activities, and the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships,
adopted in 1973, added a 1998 Annex V that imposed a ban on the disposal of all forms of plastics
at sea. Attention has since shifted to plastic-waste leakage from land-based activities, and the
1995 Global Program of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based
Activities included litter as a concern. Nevertheless, the plastics problem has grown as plastics have
become ubiquitous in global trade, particularly in packaging, and as human population growth
in coastal areas has increased. A 2015 study estimates plastics entering oceans from land at 4.8–
12 metric tons annually, and that without improvements to waste management infrastructure there
will be 1 ton of plastic for every 3 tons of fish by 2025 (155). These types of figures have put plastics
at the forefront of ocean pollution concern: “Because of its longevity, ubiquity, and sheer volume,
plastic debris is emerging as a new, truly global challenge” (156, p. 3).
Scientific studies of plastics estimate amounts entering the ocean (155), model where they
go (157), and assess their impacts (158); they also inform policy debates. For example, concern
was once directed at large plastics floating at the ocean surface; washed up on shore, they are
an aesthetic nuisance and expensive to remove, and at sea they entangle and/or are ingested by
large marine mammals, fish, and sea birds (159). Although these concerns remain, attention is
focused increasingly on microplastics that result both from the breakdown of large plastics and
from direct release into the water system due to their prevalence in personal care and other
household products. The size of microplastics means that they pass through filtration devices
in water treatment systems and can be taken up by microorganisms such as zooplankton, thus
entering the food web at the lowest levels. Impacts on ingesting organisms have been shown, and
these potentially bioaccumulate in the food chain, including in human consumers of fish. Mitchell
(160) argues that these new understandings of microplastics and their potential effects on humans
effectively challenge the traditional boundaries established between the human and nonhuman,
between places of people (land) and places of nature (oceans).
The shift from sea-based to land-based plastic-waste leakage and the inclusion of microplastics
as a concern expands the realm of governance actors engaged in the issue to include governments
that provide and/or regulate waste management infrastructure, the private sector that uses plastics
for products and packaging, consumers who make purchasing and disposal decisions, and NGOs
that have led efforts to raise public awareness and galvanize national and international action.
In some of the countries with the highest levels of plastic-waste leakage, the informal sector—
trash pickers—are stakeholders that will be affected by and critical to changed waste management
practices and should not be overlooked (156).
Although targeted efforts and resources directed toward improving waste management in a
small number of countries with the highest amount of plastic-waste leakage hold promise (155),
the global problem will require regionally specific solutions. Analysts variously promote market-
based incentives directed at consumer and producer behavior (161); technological innovation to
collect plastics from oceans; improved waste management infrastructure (155); and government
regulation, including banning particular products (162). In the United States, several municipalities
and counties have banned (or taxed the use of) plastic bags, and Congress and Senate recently
approved a ban on the production (effective July 2017) and sale (effective July 2018) of personal
care products containing plastic microbeads. Reducing and/or eliminating use of plastics helps
to balance the distribution of costs and benefits associated with addressing the plastics problem.
For example, although a small percentage of plastic-waste leakage originating from the United
States is a result of mismanagement, high per capita plastic consumption puts the United States in
the top 20 countries contributing to plastic-waste leakage globally (155). Focusing only on waste
management practices in the top polluting countries belies the complexity of the plastics problem
and its ties to the global economy.
534 Campbell et al.
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In this final section, we highlight the similarities and differences in the ways in which actors,
scale, and knowledge are relevant for efforts to govern new and emerging ocean issues. Actors
engaged in oceans governance vary by issue, sometimes reinforcing and sometimes challenging
the existing political framework for oceans governance. States and UN institutions continue to play
key roles, particularly in ABNJ and for traditional conservation and development issues, such as
establishing MPAs or rules for seabed mining. NGOs are making inroads on other issues, however,
sometimes in partnership with states as in LMPAs, sometimes with scientists as in conservation in
ABNJ, and sometimes with the private sector as in new ocean surveillance efforts, such as Global
Fishing Watch. The private sector has specific interests in extractive activities, such as seabed
mining and tuna fishing, but is increasingly attending to broader policymaking processes, working
collaboratively through groups such as the World Ocean Council. For some issues such as plastic
pollution, engagement of all actors is necessary for a comprehensive and effective solution to the
Although we have highlighted distinct and sometimes conflicting interests of diverse actors
throughout, here we note a familiar dynamic that runs through our review, i.e., tensions be-
tween the Global North and the Global South, or developed and developing countries. We see
it across oceans issues, primarily in the story of developed country actors asserting their power
over their developing country counterparts, e.g., via certification schemes that establish global
standards for developing country producers and sometimes undermine state authority, northern
NGOs pursuing a conservation agenda on the high seas, and northern firms getting favorable
deals in tuna. Although there is resistance to this dynamic—as seen in the Nauru Agreement on
tuna, developing country insistence on a package deal for the ABNJ, and the human rights versus
property rights emphasis in FAO-SSF Guidelines—the divide between the developed and devel-
oping world remains prominent in oceans governance, even as actors involved in governance have
Our review has highlighted the importance of scale in multiple ways. First, scalar mismatches
are evident in new and emerging issues and in efforts to govern them. RFMO governance of tuna
fisheries might be necessary from an ecological perspective but has disadvantaged small island states
and favored fishing fleets and their home nations. The Nauru Agreement challenges this system, via
regional cooperation. Cooperation among Pacific Island nations to set appropriate environmental
impact and benefits sharing rules for seabed mining in their EEZs before mining begins may
avoid repeating the experience of tuna fisheries. Global FAO-SSF guidelines that emphasize local
rights and needs may improve outlooks for fish stocks and people through multiscalar governance
regimes such as co-management. A shift in focus from framing OA as primarily a global problem
to a focus on questions of local adaptation and resilience may bring new and important actors into
the science-dominated discussion and result in more diverse governance efforts. These responses
to scalar mismatch are promising, but there are also cases where global narratives—of the need
for more MPAs, fisheries certification, and market-based solutions—are driving initiatives that
have the potential to marginalize local actors and overlook their diverse connections to coastal
and marine ecosystems.
Knowing the oceans remains primarily a function of science. Science and technology are im-
plicated in multiple ways, facilitating new exploitation opportunities (e.g., seabed mining) and
informing BMPs for these (e.g., aquaculture). Science is determining where conservation efforts
should be focused (e.g., EBSAs) and revealing new information on ocean resources that are com-
plicating existing management (e.g., tuna fisheries). In some cases, development and conservation Global Oceans Governance 535
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EG41CH20-Campbell ARI 13 September 2016 18:47
interventions have had little scientific basis (e.g., SSFs and LMPAs), and data gaps constrain the
ability to evaluate the impacts and effectiveness of particular interventions.
In almost all cases, science has focused on resources and ecosystems rather than human use of
or values attached to these, or institutional arrangements for their governance. This is partly a
function of constructions of oceans as unpeopled and human interests as remote (e.g., in ABNJ and
LMPAs). It also results from framing problems as technical, ones of identifying EBSAs, developing
aquaculture BMPs, calculating BC, or predicting OA impacts. In SSFs, historical lack of scientific
attention reflects marginalization of SSF fisheries in global fisheries science.
The tendency to overlook or understate human uses and values is reflected in many emerging
governance regimes, for example, in some LMPAs that are being established with limited consul-
tation and without a full understanding of the potential social, economic, and political impacts,
and in efforts to protect biodiversity in ABNJ that have yet to engage resource users. Aquaculture
and SSF certification schemes do account for human values, but those of seafood consumers rather
than producers. The FAO-SSF Guidelines stand out as an exception in this review, attending as
much to questions of resource access, human rights, and food security as they do to questions
of fisheries ecology. In many cases, predetermined governance preferences—for MPAs in ABNJ,
for LMPAs, for PES—are driving research efforts. Data gaps remain in our understanding of the
biophysical features of oceans, but data gaps related to diverse human values, uses, and institutions
for oceans are pronounced, and new research efforts to inform governance should address both.
Efforts to guide future oceans governance are ongoing and outcomes, both general and specific
to issues discussed here, are anything but predetermined (2). For example, broader trends toward
market-based environmental governance are evident for some ocean issues (BC, aquaculture and
SSF certification schemes), but not for others. For tuna fishing and seabed mining, governance
by national and multinational government remains key. Similarly, for LMPAs, traditional state
support for protection is a prerequisite, although such support is now encouraged and incentivized
by NGOs and other nonstate actors. Some emerging oceans governance efforts seem to indicate
further privatization and/or enclosure of the ocean commons (e.g., aquaculture, MPAs), whereas
others, such as the FAO-SSF Guidelines, challenge this logic.
We see opportunity to create governance regimes that support environmental sustainability and
human well-being. These opportunities exist in part because of governance gaps and in part because
governance processes are evolving, with ever-changing emphases on who participates and what
types of information inform them. Although existing political frameworks and dominant social
constructions of oceans are often a constraint, opportunities exist for new actors to exert influence,
and are enhanced by our increasing ability to see and know oceans and for actors to work across
scales. New actors and technologies could help break down old ideas about scale in the oceans,
bridging scales or even descaling the complexity of ocean problems. For example, by working
both in communities and on a global/regional carbon market, an NGO (or any other actor) might
ultimately transcend governance gaps in ways that were not possible when oceans governance
was in the realm of the state and multinational institutions alone. Whether such an outcome
increases democratic participation and strengthens global civil society or reinforces existing power
imbalances between developed and developing countries remains to be seen. However, these and
other governance questions are ones that social scientists can and will continue to pose and explore
in ways that might support progressive politics and practices for oceans governance.
The authors are not aware of any affiliations, memberships, funding, or financial holdings that
might be perceived as affecting the objectivity of this review.
536 Campbell et al.
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All authors contributed to the intellectual framing as well as theoretical and topical scoping of
this work. There are no gift or ghost authors. L.M.C. was lead author. In addition, author groups
formed to review and write about new and emerging issues as follows: food production (X.B.
and B.A.D.), industrialization ( J.J.S. and L.M.C.), biodiversity conservation (N.J.G. and R.L.G.),
global environmental change (L.F.), and pollution (L.M.C.).
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Annual Review of
and Resources
Volume 41, 2016
I. Integrative Themes and Emerging Concerns
Environmental Issues in Central Africa
Katharine Abernethy, Fiona Maisels, and Lee J.T. White ppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp1
II. Earth’s Life Support Systems
Peatlands and Global Change: Response and Resilience
S.E. Page and A.J. Baird ppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp35
Coral Reefs Under Climate Change and Ocean Acidification:
Challenges and Opportunities for Management and Policy
Kenneth R.N. Anthony pppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp59
Megafaunal Impacts on Structure and Function of Ocean Ecosystems
James A. Estes, Michael Heithaus, Douglas J. McCauley, Douglas B. Rasher,
and Boris Worm pppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp83
Major Mechanisms of Atmospheric Moisture Transport and Their
Role in Extreme Precipitation Events
Luis Gimeno, Francina Dominguez, Raquel Nieto, Ricardo Trigo, Anita Drumond,
Chris J.C. Reason, Andr´ea S. Taschetto, Alexandre M. Ramos, Ramesh Kumar,
and Jos´e Marengo pppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp117
III. Human Use of the Environment and Resources
Human–Wildlife Conflict and Coexistence
Philip J. Nyhus pppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp143
Beyond Technology: Demand-Side Solutions for Climate Change
Felix Creutzig, Blanca Fernandez, Helmut Haberl, Radhika Khosla,
Yacob Mulugetta, and Karen C. Seto pppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp173
Rare Earths: Market Disruption, Innovation, and Global Supply
Roderick Eggert, Cyrus Wadia, Corby Anderson, Diana Bauer, Fletcher Fields,
Lawrence Meinert, and Patrick Taylor ppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp199
Grid Integration of Renewable Energy: Flexibility, Innovation,
and Experience
Eric Martinot pppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp223
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Climate Change and Water and Sanitation: Likely Impacts and
Emerging Trends for Action
Guy Howard, Roger Calow, Alan Macdonald, and Jamie Bartram pppppppppppppppppppppp253
IV. Management and Governance of Resources and Environment
Values, Norms, and Intrinsic Motivation to Act Proenvironmentally
Linda Steg ppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp277
The Politics of Sustainability and Development
Ian Scoones ppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp293
Trends and Directions in Environmental Justice: From Inequity to
Everyday Life, Community, and Just Sustainabilities
Julian Agyeman, David Schlosberg, Luke Craven, and Caitlin Matthews pppppppppppppp321
Corporate Environmentalism: Motivations and Mechanisms
Elizabeth Chrun, Nives Dolˇsak, and Aseem Prakash ppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp341
Can We Tweet, Post, and Share Our Way to a More Sustainable
Society? A Review of the Current Contributions and Future
Potential of #Socialmediaforsustainability
Elissa Pearson, Hayley Tindle, Monika Ferguson, Jillian Ryan, and Carla Litchfield pp363
Transformative Environmental Governance
Brian C. Chaffin, Ahjond S. Garmestani, Lance H. Gunderson,
Melinda Harm Benson, David G. Angeler, Craig Anthony (Tony) Arnold,
Barbara Cosens, Robin Kundis Craig, J.B. Ruhl, and Craig R. Allen ppppppppppppppppp399
Carbon Lock-In: Types, Causes, and Policy Implications
Karen C. Seto, Steven J. Davis, Ronald B. Mitchell, Eleanor C. Stokes,
Gregory Unruh, and Diana ¨
Urge-Vorsatz pppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp425
Risk Analysis and Bioeconomics of Invasive Species to Inform Policy
and Management
David M. Lodge, Paul W. Simonin, Stanley W. Burgiel, Reuben P. Keller,
Jonathan M. Bossenbroek, Christopher L. Jerde, Andrew M. Kramer,
Edward S. Rutherford, Matthew A. Barnes, Marion E. Wittmann,
W. Lindsay Chadderton, Jenny L. Apriesnig, Dmitry Beletsky, Roger M. Cooke,
John M. Drake, Scott P. Egan, David C. Finnoff, Crysta A. Gantz,
Erin K. Grey, Michael H. Hoff, Jennifer G. Howeth, Richard A. Jensen,
Eric R. Larson, Nicholas E. Mandrak, Doran M. Mason, Felix A. Martinez,
Tammy J. Newcomb, John D. Rothlisberger, Andrew J. Tucker,
Travis W. Warziniack, and Hongyan Zhang ppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp453
Decision Analysis for Management of Natural Hazards
Michael Simpson, Rachel James, Jim W. Hall, Edoardo Borgomeo, Matthew C. Ives,
Susana Almeida, Ashley Kingsborough, Theo Economou, David Stephenson,
and Thorsten Wagener ppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp489
Contents vii
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Global Oceans Governance: New and Emerging Issues
Lisa M. Campbell, Noella J. Gray, Luke Fairbanks, Jennifer J. Silver,
Rebecca L. Gruby, Bradford A. Dubik, and Xavier Basurto pppppppppppppppppppppppppp517
V. Methods and Indicators
Valuing Cultural Ecosystem Services
Mark Hirons, Claudia Comberti, and Robert Dunford pppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp545
The Role of Material Efficiency in Environmental Stewardship
Ernst Worrell, Julian Allwood, and Timothy Gutowski pppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp575
Cumulative Index of Contributing Authors, Volumes 32–41 ppppppppppppppppppppppppppp599
Cumulative Index of Article Titles, Volumes 32–41 ppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp604
An online log of corrections to Annual Review of Environment and Resources articles may
be found at
viii Contents
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... The United Nations Convention on the Law These new uses triggered a new ocean blue economy 1 , "Blue Growth" 2 and a demand for maritime spatial planning, leading to a new challenge to ocean governance (Guerreiro, 2021). There was a need for new rules and instruments as social and political ideas about ocean resources and governance processes changed (Campbell et al., 2016). ...
Full-text available
Integrated maritime and blue economy policies are changing ocean governance by introducing new policy drivers, reshaping institutional frameworks, as well as demanding new management instruments (e.g., Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP)). This started in 2007 though the European Union Integrated Maritime Policy approach, and in 2009 the Africa Union initiated a similar process, leading both to the Africa integrated maritime strategy as well as a blue economy strategy. Several countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, began to look to blue economy as a booster to socioeconomic welfare and initiated the development of national strategies, together with the necessary adaptation of institutional and legal networks. Case studies address those processes at the transition from the Atlantic to the Indian Oceans, focusing on Angola, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Kenya in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, as well as several African Small Islands Developing States (SIDS), particularly Cape Verde, S. Tomé and Príncipe, Seychelles, Madagascar and Mauritius. Findings show that all countries covered in the case studies are developing national ocean and/or blue economy strategies and adapting their governmental, institutional, and legal frameworks, although there is a deeper political impact in SIDS. Overall, these new policy drivers are leading to a new model of ocean governance by addressing integrated maritime policies and blue growth strategies, as well as introducing MSP as a new EEZ governance tool.
Full-text available
The blue economy has emerged as an influential global concept. It is commonly understood to relate to the development of the ocean in a manner which also addresses concerns about ocean health in the face of increasing demands on ocean resources, marine pollution, and climate change. While the blue economy holds potential to act as an integrating policy framework for the sustainable development of the ocean, to date, there are limited examples of implementation in practice to test the usefulness of the concept. Based on a typology of “good governance” adapted from existing global typologies, we investigated the role of blue economy governance in enabling integration. We used a mixed methods approach to explore the experience of Seychelles, a blue economy early adopter, combining policy and institutional analysis, semistructured interviews with key actors and partners, and country fieldwork. Our analysis shows that from its inception, Seychelles' vision of blue economy was a transformative model of development based on the protection and sustainable use of ocean resources for the benefit of Seychellois, consistent with the SDGs. Thanks to early political leadership and international engagement, the adoption of the blue economy concept was successful in raising awareness of the ocean health and its connection to people and the economy, and in establishing the basis of a national blue economy “architecture,” which helped secure innovative finance for implementation. Transitioning to implementation, several governance challenges emerged, which included maintaining high-level political momentum, stakeholder engagement, and institutional coordination and capacity. While some governance barriers to effective integration may be unique to Seychelles, some are common to SIDS, and others are found in a range of governance settings. Seychelles international visibility has brought high expectations, not always commensurate with local aspirations, capabilities, and jurisdictional responsibilities. Bridging the gap between global expectations and local realities will require support for locally driven institutional reforms, which take account of issues of scale, culture, and capacity.
In recent years it has been stressed that the problems created by population growth and climate change are so big and of such complexity that we do not have the capacity to address them. We do not react to a cascade of situations that are driving us to absolute collapse for two reasons: (1) The mental short-termism that is inherent in any animal, including the human being, (2) the synergy of factors that act together, not being able to isolate each other to give partial solutions. In this puzzle, the oceans, after decades of being ignored, seem to take on rele�vance. The UN launched a plan to draw attention to the role of that 70% mass of water that covers the surface of our planet, finally coming to the conclusion that part of the solution lies in understanding, managing and restoring the oceans. Biodi�versity, complexity, and functionality take on relevance in one of the Sustainable Development Goals that aims to improve our oceans. Life Below Water (SDG 14) is one of the goals to be achieved in this desperate decade, in which we are going to have to race to try to save civilization in its many facets. A Decade of the Oceans has been instituted that aims to channel the greatest possible number of initiatives to substantially improve the health of marine habitats, as well as try to mitigate the impact on human communities. Fisheries, pollution, and urban expansion are some direct issues that are stressing the oceans, but we may have direct (local and regional) solutions to solve them in many cases. However, among all the challenges we face, the most global and complex one to mitigate is climate change. In the oceans, climate change is especially evident, since 93% of the heat absorbed by the earth is concentrated in the water masses that are warming rapidly. Acidification, which is the sister of warming in water masses due to the increase in CO2 that penetrates and reacts to create slightly less alkaline water, is the other large-scale problem that has a global impact and cannot be controlled locally. Marine organisms suffer these consequences, having to adapt, migrate or disappear. We have created a transition phase to a new unknown state in which some species, habitats and even biomes will prevail while others languish or simply disappear. Understanding, managing and repairing our actions in the oceans has become a very urgent task to solve the problem and understand how long this transition between systems will last. This book focuses, in seven chapters, on the perspectives and solutions that different research groups offer to try to address problems related to SDG 14: Life Below Water. The different objectives developed in SDG 14 are treated indepen�dently, with an attempt to give a global vision of the issues. The mechanism used to select the book’s content was through an Artificial Intelligence program, choosing articles related to the topics by means of keywords. The program selected those arti�cles, and those that were not related to the topic or did not focus on SDG 14 were discarded. Obviously, the selection was partial and the entire subject is not covered, but the final product gives a very solid idea of how to orient ourselves to delve deeper into the topic of SDG 14 using published chapters and articles. The AI program itself selected the text of these contributions to show the progress in different topics related to SDG 14. This mode of operation will allow specialists (and non-specialists) to collect useful information for their specific research purposes in a short period of time. At a time when information is essential in order to move quickly by providing concrete answers to complex problems, this type of approach will become essential for researchers, especially for a subject as vast as SDG 14.
Full-text available
Here we propose a framework and agenda for nutrition-sensitive governance (NSG) of fisheries that rethink dominant paradigms of fisheries governance and propose measures to incorporate nutrition-related objectives into fisheries governance. Fish, rich in micronutrients, have potential for improving the nutritional status of coastal and riparian communities, particularly in the Global South where inadequate nutrition is prevalent. Yet, the potential for fish to alleviate malnutrition remains limited to policy documents and high-level government commitments. We propose an agenda for NSG in the Global South grounded in three main pillars: 1-extending the boundaries of fisheries governance, 2-integrating multiple forms of knowledge, and 3-prioritizing domestic and local needs; each of these pillars links different levels of governance starting at the level of conceptualization and images connected to what fisheries are and should do, to a more policy-oriented level with hands-on recommendations, through an intermediate level that links the two. Overall, we propose a concept and agenda for NSG grounded in a human-centred approach to fisheries governance with social sciences playing a crucial role in unearthing the nodes of power that limit access and agency of poor and vulnerable (fishing) communities to the nutritional benefits of fish. In doing so, we critically analyze dominant fisheries governance agendas (‘Blue Economy’, ‘Blue Growth’) through the lens of food and nutrition security and anchor these debates to the objective of getting the right nutrients to those who need them most
It is not surprising that we are interested in plastics as one of the most prominent polluting agents of the twenty-first century. We have gone from producing less than 10 million tons in the 1960s to more than 300 million in the 2010s. That plastic has had time to distribute itself, fragment and enter food chains of the oceans. Studies related to the three phenomena are now one of the main objectives of various research projects and groups around the planet. The first is understanding how fragmentation is increasing the volume of macro and microplastics, how they are dispersed at the oceanic and local level, and what their chemical characteristics are. In line with these observations and quantifications, we have to understand what influence they have on organisms and how we can reduce their concentration. For example, the displacements of macroplastics are modeled relative to their dispersion according to global and local currents, giving importance to the phenomena of fouling and fragmentation, as well as understanding how the creation of microplastics is heterogeneous according to latitude, water temperatures or seasonal conditions. One of the biggest problems is, without a doubt, the chemical, morphological and size classification of plastics, especially micro and nanoplastics. This topic is crucial, as is the standardization of the measures that we consider to classify them in one way or another. This topic has been largely discussed during the last decade, and in this chapter there are cues to understand that the consensus is very close. Other issues are still pending in the complex agenda of the understanding of these pollutants. For example, the adherence of certain types of elements such as heavy metals is a relevant issue on which much information is lacking. But it is not the only knowledge gap that we have. Dynamics in the water column and in the sediment is also a main issue, since this sediment is a sink for microplastics and nanoplastics that is continually disturbed by organisms from the meiofauna. Some of these microplastics become airborne, and their range from likely emission sources is still poorly understood. The understanding of these fluxes from the land-river to the sediments passing through the water column is one of the main challenges to solve the problems derived from the presence of such macro, micro and nano items. Marine organisms are the ones that, apparently, are the most affected by this increase in solid contamination, especially microplastics. Today they are found at any latitude, from the poles to the equator, even in places as surprising as sea ice or abyssal depths. In fact, microplastics are found in very remote places, interfering with the diet of various planktonic and benthic organisms. There are many questions to be resolved, among others, how temperature affects the retention of microplastics in organisms, or which are the most vulnerable species. And we have to understand one important issue: many of those marine organisms affected by micro and nano plastics are part of our diet. Therefore, understanding the rate of transmission in food chains in general and in our consumption in particular is a major issue. That is why we looked for solutions, such as the use of bioremediators (active suspension feeders such as sponges, sea squirts, etc.) in areas where the abundance of microplastics is especially high. Bacteria are also beginning to be used as active decomposers of microplastics, a solution that could help eliminate a large amount of this material about which we still have too many knowledge gaps regarding the health of ecosystems and our own health. The synergy of efforts to understand all these different variables is crucial. During the next decade we do have to solve this plastic problem, with coordination, standardization and the application of different tools to execute the solutions of different associated problems.
Following the previous chapter about ecosystem conservation and restoration, we also need to strengthen the monitoring of climate change and biodiversity with the help of a plan that involves people outside the academic context. Citizen science has been shown to be a very good tool for providing useful data for scientists, if well directed. For example, the monitoring of invasive species is impossible to do from research institutes due to lack of money, tools and personnel. But well trained, even sporadic tourists can give useful information about their distribution. This is also true in the case of rare or endangered species, or in migrations or the detection of anomalies. They can also be useful in tracking marine litter, not only helping to clean beaches and seabed, but also observing the origin of that waste thanks to photos or collections that can be used to understand where the objects come from. Other observations and data collection are more complex, and require specialists to make adequate quantitative observations, but may still benefit from broad support from people who want to help in the logistical part. Once again, indigenous people are put in the spotlight, because they help to solve many problems thanks to their great local wisdom. We are realizing that many of the things we do to monitor and give keys for conservation are provided by local populations who have lived in, protected or managed the areas we want to study for hundreds of years or millennia. That is why it is important to accelerate the follow-up processes by broadening the spectrum of people who can help in these processes, professionals and non-professionals alike. However, there are limits. Specialist teams are still needed to do sampling, monitoring or experiments. The tools used by scientific research teams to make such monitoring programs have substantially advanced. The technology to keep track of the problems we have in the oceans has made a really important qualitative leap. For example, although attempts have been made to track oil spills in certain circumstances, only the collection of data by specialists can help to understand the origin of contaminants. Coastal and ocean governance needs a paradigm change. We need co-governance processes in which democratic decisions, education and awareness-raising fit together. The models in which people interact with science, problems and solutions about the oceans are more and more demanded, and the last two decades have been crucial. An authentic bottom-up process in which all these advances and the different ways of observing nature and the impacts suffered are available to non-specialists. Without that bridge, we will not be able to create the necessary conditions to reverse the process of deterioration of our oceans.
An important part of the health of the oceans depends on a good balance of the biogeochemical cycles. Both climate change (in its broadest sense, from the warming of the oceans to acidification) and the introduction of excess nutrients or heavy metals have caused, in many places, distortions in the balances between chemical elements, organisms and detritus. A series of scenarios have been created in which the excess or absence of certain components are distorting carbon fluxes or biomass accumulation. Such changes are not new at all, but now are accelerating and we have to be ready to understand and manage the repercussions that they may have locally and globally. An increase in nitrogen and phosphorus due to land changes in the Amazon, together with other local phenomena, are promoting an uncontrolled increase in Sargassum, which moves every year with the currents until it invades the Caribbean coast, for example. There is such inertia in the entry of these nutrients into the ocean that it becomes difficult to manage them, and even in areas where there is already a much more exhaustive control of the agricultural or industrial activities that promote them, the proliferation of micro and macro algae seems unstoppable. The microbial composition and also the seasonality are key points that have to be considered, especially when certain physical phenomena are weakened such as upwelling (and the related nutrient supply) or the ocean currents (and the related nutrient transport). Several models are based not only on temperature changes (which affect the availability of macro and micronutrients) but also on coastal morphology and local current dynamics. Such models are complex but very useful to understand, locally, what may happen with a cascade effect, such as the relationship of biogeochemical cycles with primary productivity and, in turn, with biomass production. Climate change is greatly affecting this nutrient availability, not only because the physical-chemical balance may be changing, but also because the organisms that process these nutrients are also changing and their ability to recycle may be affected. Acidification also enters this equation, which makes some microelements less available, or makes some species (for example, coccolithophorids) less capable of completing their life cycles, compete for nutrients or suffer more predation because they have more fragile structures. Latitude must also be taken into account in these changes, both due to the effects of climate change and the direct impacts of human activities that have profoundly transformed many ocean environments. In certain areas the predominance of the impact on biogeochemical cycle comes from the direct action of humans (e.g. fertilizers, farming, etc.), but in others the predominance comes from the warming or acidifying effect due to climate change. Thus, for example, the most accelerated changes in the Arctic are having very rapid effects on these biogeochemical cycles, both due to the increase in temperature and acidification and also due to the fact that the dynamics and coverage of the ice are changing. In this area, the direct impacts by pollution and eutrophication are replaced by climate change accelerating paths. Associated with these changes in nutrient cycles is the decrease in available oxygen that alters the physiological capacities of some organisms. The increase in temperature, the decrease in primary production and the slowdown in currents in various parts of the planet are affecting the response capacity of organisms, from benthic to pelagic. No less important is also the fact that stormy phenomena of different types are increasing in frequency and intensity. Storms and hurricanes are also responsible for the distortion of biogeochemical cycles, in some cases impoverishing biomass production and its quality for the following trophic levels. It is a very complex scenario in which the physiology and adaptability of many organisms is at stake, and which we will have to understand in order to properly manage marine resources in the near future.
Climate change, rigorously heralded more than thirty years ago as a real threat, has become the most pressing and pernicious global problem for the entire planet. In conjunction with local impacts such as fishing, eutrophication or the invasion of alien species, to give just a few examples, the acidification of the oceans and the warming of the sea began to show its effects more than twenty years ago. These signals were ignored at the time by the governing bodies and by the economic stakeholders, who now see how we must run to repair the huge inflicted damage. Today, different processes are accelerating, and the thermodynamic machine has definitely deteriorated. We see, for example, that the intensity and magnitude of hurricanes and typhoons has increased. Most models announce more devastation of flash floods and a decomposition in the water cycle, which are factors directly affecting ecosystems all over the world. Important advances are also observed in the forecasting of impacts of atmospheric phenomena in coastal areas with more and more accurate models. Rising temperatures and acidification already affect many organisms, impacting the entire food chain. All organisms, pelagic or benthic, will be affected directly or indirectly by climate change at all depths and in all the latitudes. The impact will be non-homogeneous. In certain areas it will be more drastic than in others, and the visualization of such impacts is already ongoing. Some things may be very evident, such as coral mortalities in tropical areas or in the surface waters of the Mediterranean, while others may be less visible, such as changes in microelement availability affecting plankton productivity. In fact, primary productivity in microalgae, macroalgae and phanerogams is already beginning to feel the impact of warmer, stratified and nutrient-poor waters in many parts of the planet. Nutrients are becoming less available, temperature is rising above certain tolerance limits and water movement (turbulence) may change in certain areas favoring certain species of microplankton instead of others. All these mechanisms, together with light availability (which, in principle, is not drastically changing except for the cloudiness), affect the growth of the organisms that can photosynthesize and produce oxygen and organic matter for the rest of the trophic chain. That shift in productivity completely changes the rest of the food chain. In the Arctic or Antarctic, the problem is slightly different. Life depends on the dynamics of ice that is subject to seasonal changes. But winter solidification and summer dissolution is undergoing profound changes, causing organisms that are adapted to that rhythm of ice change to be under pressure. The change is more evident in the North Pole, but is also visible in the South pole, where the sea ice cover has also dramatically changed. In the chapter there is also a mention about the general problem of the water currents and their profound change do greenhouse gas effects. The warming of the waters and their influence on the marine currents are also already affecting the different ocean habitats. The slowdown of certain processes is causing an acceleration in the deoxygenation of the deepest areas and therefore an impact on the fragile communities of cold corals that populate large areas of our planet. Many organisms will be affected in their dispersion and their ability to colonize new areas or maintain a connection between different populations. The rapid adaptations to these new changes are apparent. Nature is on its course of restart from these new changes, but in this transitional phase the complexity and interactions that have taken thousands or millions of years to form can fade away until a new normal is consolidated.
The impacts of industrial fishing have been present in the oceans for over one hundred years, but the exponential increase all over the world and the systematic exploitation of different areas started after world war II. The phenomenon of fishing has to be understood in order to understand the changes in the oceans, and such deep transformation is essential to capture the essence of the resilience: the collapse of fish stocks, the lack of biodiversity, and the profound transformation of ecosystems due to overfishing is in part responsible for the ocean’s impacted functioning that we witness today. It now seems that the collapse of many habitats is to blame for rising acidification or temperature, but the reality is that the impact of overfishing on pelagic and benthic systems is largely responsible for the profound transformations we see today. Trawling has devastated entire ecosystems, destroying the complexity of marine forests, both those that are dominated by vegetal organisms (macroalgae and phanerogams) and those dominated by animals (corals, gorgonians, sponges, etc.). It has been possible to verify that it is not only the destruction of the structures, but the compaction of the sediment and the continuous resuspension that made possible the impoverishment of the communities and therefore of the impoverishment of the fishing stocks. Beyond these impacts, pelagic fisheries have seen profound changes in populations, which evolve to the sound of fishing pressure. The minimum size of successful reproduction (i.e. the size in which the fish is lying eggs to promote the continuity of the populations), for example, has been drastically changed in many species, making possible for populations to survive despite the immense pressure of the predator, us. In addition, these fisheries highlight the fact that many animals are trapped with nets and long lines (dolphins, turtles, birds, etc.). The solutions to these problems are sometimes difficult to apply. These large organisms are usually essential for the health status of the ecosystem and the maintenance of the biodiversity, but we are impacting them in such a way that they have become irrelevant from an ecosystem functioning point of view. The so-called by-catch of smaller organisms is another huge problem. Discards (sometimes more than 50% of fisheries) profoundly harm and transform the ecosystem, and are difficult to sell in the fishing market. Solutions have been sought for decades and this collateral damage has been denounced, but there is still a long way to go. There is also a long way to go to eliminate the high percentage (calculated in more than a quarter of the fish landings of the entire planet) of those known as illegal, unreported and unregulated fisheries. This type of mismanagement of the sea is at the heart of the active policies of many countries, but without transparency and transnational actions, it will it will be difficult to reach a good agreement to suppress or minimize them. In fisheries models, apart from direct impacts, the effects of climate change have long been implemented. As already explained in the previous chapter, rising temperatures and the effects of acidification are transforming the landscape of primary and secondary productivity. The most obvious of these changes is the fact that there will be less fishing, and therefore less production. The effect of lower productivity is already felt in several long-lasting time series, where fishing is being affected by the decrease in phytoplankton. But, in addition, there are less obvious effects. One is the substitution of species, because some are more vulnerable than others to the increase in temperature, so that in the same taxonomic and functional group those who are best adapted to the new conditions win. Another is the expansion of invasive species that directly affect the food chain, and that may feel more comfortable with the new “rules” of fisheries impact and climate change. Some animals are already undergoing these changes, such as cetaceans dying of starvation in certain areas where the synergistic effects of fishing and climate change are felt. The co-governance of fisheries, in which scientists, politicians and society work together, is essential to move forward. They are not hollow words; they are real needs in a world of an excessively accelerated change.
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Big Ocean: A Network of the World’s Large-Scale Marine Managed Areas, was established in December 2010. Since its inception, the network has aimed to improve global marine management efforts by increasing our understanding of the world’s oceans through sharing information, expertise and resources. To facilitate these efforts, Big Ocean managers and scientists gathered at a three day think tank held in conjunction with the 25th International Congress for Conservation Biology in December 2011. The purpose of the think tank was to produce a framework for a shared research agenda that addresses the unique scientific needs and challenges of large-scale MPAs. The think tank highlighted various unique features of conducting research in large-scale MPAs. In particular, large-scale MPAs contain entire, diverse and relatively pristine ecosystems that can serve as natural laboratories because they are removed from the many anthropogenic impacts that are associated with human population centers. Additionally, large-scale MPAs contain larger scale natural processes, which cannot be studied in their entirety in smaller regions. However, resource limitations magnify when spread over a larger area, and as a result there is greater uncertainty when studying large-scale MPAs. Based on workshop discussions, three main research themes were identified as being most relevant to large-scale MPAs, and included (1) biological and ecological characterization, (2) connectivity and (3) monitoring of temporal trends. Furthermore, a number of potential collaborative research initiatives were identified as being particularly important to the Big Ocean network, and a timeline was proposed to pursue such initiatives over the next two years. While we acknowledge that this is a living document that is subject to change, we hope that this framework will facilitate future joint research efforts between Big Ocean sites, and thereby improve marine management practices worldwide.
Climate change represents the most significant challenge of the twenty-first century and poses risks to water and sanitation services. Concerns for water supply include damage to infrastructure from flooding, loss of water sources due to declining rainfall and increasing demand, and changes in the water quality of water sources and within distribution of water. Sanitation concerns include damage and loss of services from floods and reduced carrying capacity of waters receiving wastewater. Key actions to reduce climate risks include the integration of measures of climate resilience into water safety plans, as well as improved accounting and management of water resources. Policy prescriptions on technologies for service delivery and changes in management models offer potential to reduce risks, particularly in low-income settings. Water and sanitation services contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. Choice of wastewater treatment technologies, improved pumping efficiency, use of renewable sources of energy, and within-system generation of energy offer potential for reducing emissions. Overall, greater attention and research are required to understand, plan for, and adapt to climate change in water and sanitation services. As with many other climate change adaptations, the likely benefits from no-regrets solutions are likely to outweigh the costs of investment. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Environment and Resources Volume 41 is October 17, 2016. Please see for revised estimates.
Property relations in oceans have a complex history, shaped in part by the deep seas’ distance from processes of territorialization on land. While the national marking of some coastal space through the largely accepted, if not universally ratified, premises of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) sets specific territorial extensions for states, the metaphorical and practical fluidity of oceans exemplify how their care is essentially an issue of global governance (Steinberg 2001). The oceans are the quintessential commons onto which contaminants and wastes can be externalized (Clapp 2002); the reduced social relations on those spaces distinguish them as a frontier zone, removed from terrestrial relations. The offshore, and particularly the ‘deep’ offshore, is isolated from human settlements. This places a physical limit on the capacity of external, and even internal, actors to observe and account for the rush to extraction there. Indeed, the marine zone offers spaces freer from public disruption and constant forms of social accountability than on land. As applied to finance, the term offshore refers to regions where state oversight and regulatory rules are attenuated (Hudson 2000, Cameron and Palan 2004).
Like the Green Revolution of the 1960s, a "Blue Revolution" has taken place in global aquaculture. Geared towards quenching the appetite of privileged consumers in the global North, it has come at a high price for the South: ecological devastation, displacement of rural subsistence farmers, and labour exploitation. The uncomfortable truth is that food security for affluent consumers depends on a foundation of social and ecological devastation in the producing countries. In Confronting the Blue Revolution, Md Saidul Islam uses the shrimp farming industry in Bangladesh and across the global South to show the social and environmental impact of industrialized aquaculture. The book pushes us to reconsider our attitudes to consumption patterns in the developed world, neoliberal environmental governance, and the question of sustainability.