Posted: February 9th, 2023

Ocean governance

Ocean governance: studying the institutional framework with a new look
Ocean governance is the term used to describe the range of mechanisms, both formal and informal, that are used to manage human interactions with the world’s oceans and seas. This includes the regulation of activities such as fishing, shipping, and offshore oil and gas development, as well as the conservation of marine biodiversity and the protection of the oceans from pollution.
The institutional framework for ocean governance is complex, involving a range of actors at the global, regional, and national levels, including international organizations, national governments, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
On the global level, the United Nations (UN) is the primary institution responsible for ocean governance. The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) sets out the legal framework for the use and protection of the oceans, establishing rules on issues such as the delimitation of maritime boundaries, the rights and obligations of states in relation to the exploitation of marine resources, and the protection of the marine environment.
In addition to UNCLOS, there are a number of other international agreements and organizations that play a role in ocean governance, including the International Maritime Organization (IMO), which is responsible for regulating shipping; the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which deals with issues related to fisheries; and the International Whaling Commission (IWC), which is responsible for the conservation and management of whales.
At the regional level, there are a number of regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) and other regional organizations that are responsible for ocean governance within specific areas of the world’s oceans. These organizations often work in collaboration with national governments and other stakeholders to manage activities such as fishing, shipping, and oil and gas development.
At the national level, each country has its own laws and regulations governing the use of its territorial waters and the resources within them. National governments also play a key role in implementing the provisions of international agreements such as UNCLOS and the various regional organizations.
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) also play an important role in ocean governance. These organizations often work to promote the conservation of marine biodiversity and the protection of the oceans from pollution and other forms of degradation. NGOs may also advocate for the implementation of stronger ocean governance measures at the national and international levels.
One recent development in ocean governance is the emergence of ocean governance frameworks that take a more holistic, ecosystem-based approach. This approach recognizes that the oceans are complex, interconnected systems and that human activities in one part of the oceans can have impacts on other parts of the system. An ecosystem-based approach to ocean governance seeks to balance the needs of different users of the oceans and to ensure that the oceans are managed in a way that is sustainable over the long term.
One example of an ecosystem-based approach to ocean governance is the MPA network approach, which seeks to create a network of marine protected areas (MPAs) that are designed to conserve marine biodiversity and protect the oceans from the negative impacts of human activities. This approach involves the creation of MPAs that are ecologically representative and well-connected, in order to ensure that the MPA network as a whole is effective in conserving marine biodiversity and supporting the long-term health of the oceans.
Ocean governance is a complex and multifaceted challenge, involving a range of actors at the global, regional, and national levels. In order to effectively manage the world’s oceans and seas, it will be important to continue to develop and strengthen the institutional framework for ocean governance, including through the adoption of more holistic, ecosystem-based approaches.

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