On some measures, the global governance of plastic is improving. Curbside recycling and community cleanups are increasing. Companies like Toyota, Walmart, and Procter & Gamble are reducing waste to landfill. And all around the world, as research consolidates and activism intensifies, towns, cities, and legislatures are banning some uses of plastic, such as for grocery bags and as microbeads in consumer products. Yet the amount of plastic flowing into the oceans is on track to double from 2010 to 2025. Why? Partly, the dispersal, durability, and mobility of microplastics make governance extremely hard. At the same time, the difficulty of governing plastic has been rising as production accelerates, consumption globalizes, pollution sources diversify, and international trade obscures responsibility. As pressures and complexities mount, the global governance of plastic – characterized by fragmented authority, weak international institutions, uneven regulations, uncoordinated policies, and business-oriented solutions – is failing to rein in marine plastic pollution. In large part, as this article demonstrates, this governance landscape reflects industry efforts to resist government regulation, deflect accountability, and thwart critics, coupled with industry advocacy of corporate self-regulation and consumer responsibility as principles of governance. These findings confirm the need for more hard-hitting domestic regulation of industry as well as an international plastics treaty to scale up local reforms.
Governance and Legal Frameworks
Most research studies related to biodiversity offsetting have focused on governance systems already in place in the terrestrial realm – these studies tend to rely on an approach of organizational economics, in particular in relation to mitigation banking schemes. In this study, emerging marine offsetting governance systems has been analyzed using the Actor–Network Theory (ANT) with the aim of highlighting the key elements that enable the emergence of marine offsetting tools. The ANT framework has been applied to four case studies in California using data collected in a field study that consisted of interviewing 30 stakeholders working closely with the issue of marine offsetting. Employing ANT allowed to ascertain the role of commonly studied elements such as impacted ecosystems, sizing methodologies and ecological engineering techniques. Further, it highlighted the key role of other critical factors, such as ‘skilled intermediaries’, who succeed in overcoming uncertainties generated by the use of new tools and contribute to leading other stakeholders towards the goal: the offset instrument. These mediators call upon effective translation processes to put forward new arguments: a change in spatial and temporal scales and adaptive solutions. The findings point to a line of approach that encourages reconfiguring environmental governance systems that could benefit from feedbacks from Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) and Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) processes, in order to facilitate the development of marine offset schemes.
As international pressure for marine protection has increased, Scotland has increased spatial protection through the development of a Marine Protected Area(MPA) network. Few MPA networks to date have included specific considerations of climate change in the design, monitoring or management of the network. The Scottish MPA network followed a feature-led approach to identify a series of MPAs across the Scottish marine area and incorporated the diverse views of many different stakeholders. This feature led approach has led to wide ranging opinions and understandings regarding the success of the MPA network. Translating ideas of success into a policy approach whilst also considering how climate change may affect these ideas of success is a complex challenge. This paper presents the results of a Delphi process that aimed to facilitate clear communication between academics, policy makers and stakeholders in order to identify specific climate change considerations applicable to the Scottish MPA network. This study engaged a group of academic and non-academic stakeholders to discuss potential options that could be translated into an operational process for management of the MPA network. The results of Delphi process discussion are presented with the output of a management matrix tool, which could aid in future decisions for MPA management under scenarios of climate change.
Brexit poses a major challenge to the stability of European fisheries management. Until now, neighbouring EU Member States have shared the bounty of the living resources of the seas around Britain. Taking full responsibility for the regulation of fisheries within the UK's Exclusive Economic Zone will cut across longstanding relationships, potentially putting at risk recent recovery and future sustainability of shared fish stocks. The paper considers the meaning of Brexit in relation to fisheries and the issues that will need to be resolved in any rebalancing of fishing opportunities within the UK EEZ. It examines the longer term implications for the governance of fisheries and the likely restructuring of institutional and regulatory arrangements, emphasising the prior need for a shared vision and robust modus operandi for collaboration between the UK and EU to ensure the sustainability of resources, viability of fishing activity and the health of marine ecosystems.
Research has suggested there is a need for an increased attention to the socio-cultural lifeworlds of fishers and fisheries and its importance for fisheries management. An emerging response to this call has been to examine the social and cultural contexts of ‘good fishing’ – an idea which, drawing on the work of Pierre Bourdieu, has sought to move the discussion beyond simply the economic aspects of fishing to also understand the importance of other forms of capital. Utilising these concepts together with the conceptual idea of ‘knowledge cultures’, the following paper examines the ‘cultural sustainability’ of different ways of governing fishing practices – in particular Marine Conservation Zones and voluntary lobster v-notching using a case study approach to the small-scale fishery of Llŷn peninsula, North Wales (UK). The paper observes that those approaches that allow fishers to demonstrate skills and recognises the temporal contingency of fishing lives can be considered more culturally sustainable than others. This paper also notes that culturally acceptable changes to fishing practices can be supported by fishing regulations and, the paper suggests, such innovations are more likely to be taken up by fishers in their everyday fishing practices. The paper recommends that policies seeking to alter fishing practices consider: i) the importance fishers’ hold in demonstrating their skills; ii) how social relations are as important as economic aspects to fishers’ long-term uptake of new practices; and iii) how the past and the future (such as if a successor is present) holds significance for fishers’ actions in the present.
Sea-level rise is a major consequence of climate change that will continue long after emissions of greenhouse gases have stopped. The 2015 Paris Agreement aims at reducing climate-related risks by reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero and limiting global-mean temperature increase. Here we quantify the effect of these constraints on global sea-level rise until 2300, including Antarctic ice-sheet instabilities. We estimate median sea-level rise between 0.7 and 1.2 m, if net-zero greenhouse gas emissions are sustained until 2300, varying with the pathway of emissions during this century. Temperature stabilization below 2 °C is insufficient to hold median sea-level rise until 2300 below 1.5 m. We find that each 5-year delay in near-term peaking of CO2 emissions increases median year 2300 sea-level rise estimates by ca. 0.2 m, and extreme sea-level rise estimates at the 95th percentile by up to 1 m. Our results underline the importance of near-term mitigation action for limiting long-term sea-level rise risks.
This chapter considers legal, institutional and policy aspects concerning maritime activities. Following the Introduction, the chapter considers the legal and institutional framework established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Then, it discusses the activities of the United Nations relating to maritime activities, in particular the work of the General Assembly, which is at the centre of policy-making relating to any activities in the oceans and seas, and the outcome of summits and conferences on sustainable development. This is followed by the discussion of other legal instruments and institutions related to the governance of maritime activities, as well as cooperation and coordination between relevant institutions. The chapter concludes with brief concluding remarks.
Governability is an important concept in the political and environmental social sciences with increasing application to socio-ecological systems such as fisheries. Indeed, governability analyses of fisheries and related systems such as marine-protected areas have generated innovative ways to implement sustainability ideals. Yet, despite progress made, we argue that there remain limitations in current conceptions of governability that hinder further analytical development and use. By drawing on general systems theory—specifically cybernetics, control and feedback—we interrogate the conceptual foundations that underpin two key limitations: the need to incorporate the numerous variables that comprise a complex, holistic system into a singular assessment of governability, and the a priori separation of the governor and the governed that precludes analysis of a self-governing situation. We argue that by highlighting the reciprocal nature of a governor–governed relationship and the co-produced understanding of governing capacity and objects, a relational approach to governability is possible. This offers a clearer and more pragmatic understanding of how governors and fishers can make fisheries governable.
Ship’s ballast water has been a vector for the spreading of nonindigenous invasive species (NIS) around the globe for more than a century and has had devastating impact on aquatic ecosystems in many regions. Due to the harsh climate, shipping activities in Arctic waters have been limited compared to many parts of the world but will increase in the coming years due to climate changes. This will potentially affect the pristine Arctic marine ecosystems by introduction of NIS. In this chapter, we present the international ballast water regulations that have entered into force and the specific challenges of ballast water management in relation to the Arctic environment and marine ecosystems. We discuss the risk of NIS affecting the Arctic marine ecosystems including the impact of increased shipping activity, changes in living conditions of marine organisms because of climate changes and lack of knowledge of the eco-physiological boundaries and distributions of Arctic marine species. It is concluded that at present only a few marine NIS have been recorded in the Arctic area. Despite the existing and planned ballast water regulations, NIS establishment in the region will increase with an unknown magnitude due to lack of biological data.
The Arctic has been an integrated part of the international system for centuries, and systemic developments have deeply influenced the region and its communities. Central Arctic Ocean marine resource governance is in the nexus of climate change and international systemic developments. The international systemic context for the Arctic is: The rise of China and emerging Asian economies driving gradual power transition from Western to Eastern states. Struggles continue over the domestic order and international position of post-Soviet Russia, where either side considers whether to escalate the Ukraine crisis horizontally to the Arctic. The USA and China interact concerning governing Arctic marine resources as Arctic Ocean coastal state/status quo power and fishing nation/rising power. Russia and the West choose not to escalate the Ukraine crisis horizontally into Arctic marine resource management. Co-creating of knowledge and epistemic communities are important for Arctic status quo and rising Asian countries to manage power transition in the Arctic and for Russia and the West to continue Arctic cooperation despite political crisis elsewhere.