Aligning with dominant interests: The role played by geo-technologies in the place given to fisheries in marine spatial planning
This study explores how geographic information technologies – or geo-technologies – are used in spatial planning processes, and more specifically, marine spatial planning (MSP) processes. MSP has the double advantage of being both fertile ground for a lively epistemological debate on positivism and associated with a unique space (maritime space) that is frequently reduced to a simple planar space. We investigate the role of geo-technologies in MSP processes and in particular, their capacity to reinforce power relationships by aligning spatial representation norms with dominant interests, which are then expressed through zoning. To do this, we have decided to look at the different cases involving fishing activities, given that they are resistant to zoning and infrequently regarded as a priority in MSP. This has required us to propose a method which draws on the actor-network theory and the field of critical cartography. On this basis, we perform an initial analysis of the fishery “inscriptions” produced by geo-technologies, by examining the content of 43 current marine spatial plans from around the globe. We conclude that fisheries are generally not inscribed, or incorrectly inscribed (i.e., data and representation methods are unsuitable), and as a result, fisheries align themselves more often than not “by default”. We go on to discuss the results and suggest a few ways in which dominated interests, including fisheries, can be taken into account more effectively. Aside from fisheries, dominated interests more generally include interests that are either not inscribed or incorrectly inscribed, such as non-commercial “uses” of maritime space, non-use, itinerant activities, or elements not considered as a priority for conservation objectives.