Call for Papers – Ocean Governance Conference – Bremen, Germany, March 6-8, 2017

Ocean Governance for Sustainability – Challenges, Options and the Role of Science

Deadline for Abstract Submission: December 31st, 2016.

Current practices and future directions in Ocean Governance

The subject of governing oceanic systems and coastlines is moving into the center of European strategic and sustainability interests. Yet, it suffers from a high degree of fragmentation and the lack of a cross-scalar approach to addressing prevailing policy shortcomings. The COST Action “Ocean Governance for Sustainability – Challenges, Options and the Role of Science – OceanGov” comprises a vision, and a series of approaches that informs research and future policy directions on crosscutting sustainability-driven issues related to the fragmented governance framework of oceans, seas and coastlines within regional- and open ocean-waters, in areas beyond national jurisdiction.

The conference therefore aims at conceptualizing ‘Ocean Governance for Sustainability’ by looking at the realities and practices of ocean governance in the following six thematic fields:

  • Land-Sea Interactions
  • Area-based Management
  • Seabed Resource Management
  • Nutrition Security and Food Systems
  • Ocean Climate and Acidification
  • Fisheries Governance

In addition, the here to be found ocean governance practices, as well as their underlying structures and discourses, will form the empirical basis for a  conceptual panel on theoretically grounded discourses in relation to ocean and coastal governance crosscutting diverse conceptual approaches such as Interactive Governance Theory, Evolutionary Governance Theory, together with Social-Ecological Systems analyses.

The conference will end with a policy-level podium discussion with the aim of further advancing policy-practice considerations on Ocean Governance for Sustainability within the context of European Union policy-making. The public panel will comprise representatives spanning the EU Commission, national-level policy making, and civil society.

We encourage the submission of innovative papers related to the conceptualization and/or the applicability of current governance discourses and practices linked to the ocean and marine realms. The focus of this conference targets the governance of the oceans, from multiple approaches and varied disciplinary traditions, illustrating empirical and/or conceptual contributions around Europe. For submission, please send in an abstract (no longer than 300 words) and a short CV to Dr. Maria Jose Barragan Paladines (Mail: by latest December 31st, 2016. Speakers will be expected to contribute sections to a jointly authored concept note following the conference by the end of March, 2017.

Session Abstracts

Ocean Governance Theory

Convenor: Anna-Katharina Hornidge (ZMT & University of Bremen)

How may we put diverse theoretical frames and conceptual paradigms related to marine and coastal governance in dialogue with one other? In what ways could we make sense of their historic inter-/disciplinary genesis and broader thematic applications, particularly in terms of their understudied conceptual convergences and differences?  Are integrative approaches to marine and coastal governance necessarily meaningful for engaging with the complexity of topical and nascent issues such seabed mining, marine ‘vertical’ territorialisation and institutional fragmentation? Do territoriality-derived land based governance theories hold any value in the study of marine spaces and their socio-natural politics and vice versa, and if so, in what ways?  These questions constitute some of the crosscutting angles that will be explored in the panel, while delving into their plural theoretical foundations and approaches relevant to the conceptualization of ocean and coastal governance in both integrative and in intersectional ways. In particular, panel participants will critically engage with a range of conceptual advances, limitations and possibilities for cross-fertilization in the marine field spanning a range of older and more recently emerging fields of study such as meta-governance and collaborative governance paradigms, Evolutionary Governance Theory (EGT) and Interactive Governance theory (IT), among others.

Land-Sea Interactions. Who, for what purpose and guided by which structures?

Convenors: Achim Schlüter (ZMT & University of Bremen) & Maria Natasa Vaidianu (University of Bucharest)

Interdependencies and interactions between the land and the sea are rising in a world which is getting more crowed on the land and the sea side. This rise relates to geomorphological or ecological interdependencies, like sediment transfer or nutrient flows from catchment areas, but it also relates to social, economic and technological interdependencies, like the development of infrastructures, or agricultural products, like bananas and grapes, which heavily rely on well-functioning maritime logistics. For a sustainable management people and governance systems from the various realms have to interact. Governance systems need to become more interwoven, communication, participation and joint planning have to take place, which remains a challenge to this day. Sustainability issues are different in the various realms, collective dilemmas faced, economic dependencies and vulnerabilities, world views are fundamentally different. Dive tourism operators, subsistence fishers, multinational aquaculture, or fruit companies, sewage works, small rice paddy farmers, just to mention a few examples, are interdependent at the land sea nexus and need to interact to achieve sustainable governance. The session aims at bringing together broad areas of necessary enquiry for understanding this governance conundrum by approaching among others the following questions: What are the important interdependencies and interactions between land and the sea? Are they unidirectional or by-directional? What are the pressures and impacts produced by climate change and human actions? How important is the alignment between marine and terrestrial planning? Is there any consistency of policy guidance, plans and decisions? What are the interactions in the social, ecological and economic realm? What are the important differences between the people? What are the fundamental differences between the various ecological technological and social subsystems? How are they reflected and need to be reflected within the resulting governance systems? And what does this imply for joint governance?

Area-based Management. How to move from silo to system thinking?

Convenors: Sebastian Unger (Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies – IASS) & Nilufer Oral (Istanbul Bilgi University)

The conservation and sustainable use of the oceans and their biodiversity depends on the appropriate planning and management of human uses, both within and beyond areas of national jurisdiction. Area-based management tools (ABMTs), such as marine protected areas, pollution control zones or fisheries closures, have been recognized as critical instruments for safeguarding vulnerable biodiversity, restoring and for stabilizing the values that humans derive from marine and coastal ecosystems. The ocean and its resources are governed by a fragmented framework of national, regional and international institutions, e.g. the IMO for shipping, the ISA for seabed-mining, the FAO and RFMOs for fisheries, the Regional Seas Conventions for conservation and for sustainable use of the marine environment, making an integrated and effective management of the marine space difficult. Also significant legal gaps remain, especially with respect to emerging maritime activities and the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ). Despite some promising recent achievements we are a long way from integrated management of the marine space and achieving global objectives such as conserving at least 10% of coastal and marine areas, in particular through marine protected areas (MPAs) by 2020. Recent high level policy processes have put the ocean high on the political agenda, including the Agenda 2030 and its Sustainable Development Goal for the ocean (SDG 14), the development of a legally binding instrument under UNCLOS on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in ABNJ, the joint Action Plan of the European Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign and Security Policy “International ocean governance: an agenda for the future of our oceans”, as well as various regional and national initiatives and programmes. Collectively these processes provide a unique opportunity to advance global ocean governance and enable effective area based management.

This session will examine which role ABMTs (potentially) play in facilitating and strengthening cooperation among competent management bodies to achieve common objectives and implement overarching governance principles that enshrine conservation and sustainable development. What can be learned from tools such as marine spatial planning and the analysis of good-practice examples for using ABM as a tool to drive integration and cross-sectoral harmonization? This session will work closely with the other working groups, taking ABM as an example to identify pathways towards more integrated ocean governance.

 Managing the Seabed. Governing Resources at Depth

Convenors: Kimberley Peters (University of Liverpool) & Philip Steinberg (Durham University)

Management of mineral extraction involves a balance between control of horizontal surfaces and power over depths. In a typical land-based mining scenario, a mining entity receives tenure over a quantity of horizontal surface area while, complementarily, receiving the right to intervene in subterranean ecologies through extraction of specified resources from specified depths using specified procedures. Seabed mining adds new dimensions to this balance because the seabed is a surface at depth. On the one hand, seabed mining is generally conceived of as a surficial activity (even though a degree of surface disturbance occurs and the seabed ‘surface’ is anything but a flat plain). On the other hand, the seabed exists beneath depths of volume, so that even if the extractive process is primarily horizontal the environments of both operations and impacts are profoundly voluminous. Seabed mining thus raises a number of conceptual questions about the extent to which land-centered perspectives — wherein vertical extractive activities occur amidst horizontal ecologies — can be applied to mineral extraction beneath the ocean’s waters where this idealized relationship between the horizontal and the vertical is, in a sense, reversed: less vertical extraction in a horizontal environment than horizontal extraction in a vertical environment. This spatial characteristic of seabed mining also raises practical questions regarding the management of mining activities and the assessment of environmental impacts: Can adjacency be used to identify interested parties when proximity and distance are defined along axes other than horizontal distance? How does one define an ‘interested stakeholder’ or ‘competing user’ in a space whose volumes, on the one hand, prohibit directly competing users but, on the other hand, contribute to a complex web of connections and cascading impacts across the globe? How does one define the scope of an impacted area in a voluminous environment? In a voluminous, marine environment can one ever achieve the minimum level of certainty necessary to enable environmental impact modeling of seabed disturbance? Should basic principles for regulating seabed mining be derived from those developed for onshore mining (vertical extraction in a horizontal space), offshore oil drilling (vertical extraction in a vertical space), integrated marine management (which focuses on interactions within volumes), or an entirely different model?

 Nutrition Security and Food Systems. A Security Perspective

Convenors: Maarten Bavinck (University of Amsterdam) & Juan Luis Suárez de Vivero (University of Seville)

The nutritional properties of seafood make it valuable to the health of millions of poor consumers in LMIC (HLPE 2014). While global capture fisheries are under continuing duress, they contribute strongly to food and nutritional security (WorldBank /FAO/WorldFish 2012). Yet, “limited attention has been given to fish as a key element in food security and nutrition strategies […] As a result, the tremendous potential for improving food security and nutrition embodied in strengthening the fishery and aquaculture sectors is missed” (Bene et al. 2015, 261).

This session will examine the challenges in enhancing global fish chains (Kooiman et al. 2005) for the benefit of food and nutrition security. It includes capture fisheries as well as aquaculture, and considers options for improving the interaction between these sub-sectors. It also investigates the linkages between food security and geopolitical instability. Despite the fact that fisheries and aquaculture only make a limited contribution to feeding the world (no more than 10% of all the calories consumed) and over half of the world’s fish catches are taken from less than 7% of the oceans, stagnating marine food production is exacerbating geopolitical risks, especially for the poverty-stricken coastal populations of western Africa and south-east Asia (UNEP, 2009). The maritime strategies formulated in recent years are a reflection of this situation, both in the developed (e.g., EU Maritime Strategy) and the developing world (2050 AIM Strategy), and fisheries governance is becoming a factor that, by way of food security, has implications for national security, with States’ geopolitical facet becoming increasingly closely linked to  their maritime dimension.

Ocean Climate and Acidification. Avoid the Unmanageable, Manage the Unavoidable

Convenors: Julien Rochette (Institute for sustainable development and international relations – IDDRI) & Isabel Torres de Noronha (Future Ocean Alliance – FOA)

The increase of greenhouse gas emissions, most notably CO2, has major impacts on the ocean, which will intensify in the coming decades: warming, acidification, and sea level rise. These impacts add to the threats posed by the diversification and intensification of human activities which have placed the ocean on an unsustainable pathway. Food security, livelihoods and the living conditions of billions of people are therefore at risk, posing significant challenges for the scientific community that has to inform  decision-making processes with proposals that could likely “avoid the unmanageable” and “manage the unavoidable.” Against this background, this session aims at discussing these key challenges by highlighting options for mitigating the effects of climate change and acidification on the ocean, and adapting to their impacts. Issues related to, for example, the identification of climate change and ocean acidification impacts on marine ecosystems and associated human activities (fisheries, aquaculture, tourism, etc.), the role of marine and coastal ecosystems as carbon sinks (so-called “blue carbon“), the development of robust adaptation measures and the ways to build bridges between the ocean scientific and policy communities will particularly be highlighted and discussed.

 Fisheries Governance under a ‘Blue Growth’-paradigm

Convenors: José Pascual-Fernández (University of La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain) & Aline Delaney (Aalborg University)

Fisheries, along with maritime commerce and other activities, constitute one of the most important and traditional uses of oceans and coastal areas. In recent years, these “other” activities have gained in importance, as evidenced by Blue Growth, the long term strategy of the EU for sustainable growth in marine and maritime sectors. In this strategy aquaculture, maritime and coastal tourism, marine biotechnology, ocean energy and seabed mining are the sectors with high potential for sustainable jobs and growth, and the strategy focuses in its development. These sectors occupy the same physical, geographic areas where fisheries have been developed traditionally and may have an impact on maritime cultural heritage that needs to be diversely valued, preserved and inclusively lived. All these heritages increase the imperative to collectively govern due to the confluence of diverse activities that center around fisheries.

Fisheries governance in itself is not an easy task, as an analysis of the process of elaboration of the European Common Fisheries Policy and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund easily demonstrate. The tensions between small-scale and large scale fleets remain on-going, along with pressures from environmental organizations and other, competing lobbies. The implementation of these policies is challenging, as exemplified by the polemic about the discard ban, the difficulties in applying the preference for access to 12 nautical mile zones by small-scale fisheries or the implementation of article  17 (CFP) related to incentives to vessels with selective fishing gear, reduced energy consumption, etc. In the international realm, new governance tools have been developed recently like the “Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries” by FAO, related also to other international regulations.

All these elements are relevant for fisheries governance analysis, and in this panel we want to provide an inclusive and holistic perspective about how fisheries governance is evolving in Europe and beyond.

TheScience-Policy Interfacepanel will foster the interaction of policy makers and other members of civil society, to actively discuss on current trends in ocean governance at the European regional scale and explore the implications, at decision and policy making instances taking into account current practices and future trends in governing oceans and marine environments, locally, regionally and globally.


Early career, gender awareness and career-family balance in Ocean Governance research: Roundtable on challenges, opportunities and perspectives

Convenors: Ms. Rachel Tiller (SINTEF Fisheries and Aquaculture), Dr. Michelle Portman (Technion-Israel Institute of Technology), Dr. Wenting Chen (Norwegian Institute for Water Research), and Prof. Frank Maes (Ghent University – Faculty of Law)

“You can’t be what you can’t see” is an often quoted reference that speaks volume, often attributed to Marian Wright Edelman. Young researchers and gender balance is as such an important aspect of ocean governance and the diversity of scholars working within the field.  Female leaders in the marine and maritime sectors of research are still rare, for this path may not be a natural choice for their family futures to consider. Perspectives on how a career in this field can be balanced with family, especially in an intense early career, are seldom highlighted in international research networks on ocean and coastal governance. We recognize the importance and value of gender diversity in science and decision-making in contemporary democratic societies. There is a warranted call to increase the percentage of women in the marine and maritime sectors in order to meet gender equality goals. The OceanGov Action will provide a good platform for both early career young researchers and female researchers to increase their participation in research processes and platforms relating to ocean and coastal governance.

This participatory roundtable event is organized by the COST Action for Ocean Governance for Sustainability and will highlight the role of early career research opportunities and challenges, with an emphasis on gender awareness, inclusivity, and on achieving a healthy career-family life balance.

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