Abstract

We humans once thought the Earth was flat. Little did we know that the oceans extended far beyond the horizon, covering about 70% of the planet’s surface, containing more than 95% of its water. Once early explorers learned that planet earth is a sphere, the oceans morphed into a huge two-dimensional surface, largely uncharted – a mare incognitum. Today, we’ve tracked courses across every sea and plumbed some of the ocean’s greatest depths, coming to a more three-dimensional perspective of the water that envelopes the planet. We now know that the interconnectedness of these waters and systems means that earth truly has only one ocean. While we have yet to comprehend the depth and seriousness of the threats posed by global change to our planet’s marine systems, we know enough to recognise that the ocean is in peril as a result of overexploitation, pollution, habitat destruction and climate change impacts. And we know enough to acknowledge that existing ocean governance is woefully inadequate to address these threats. Here, we define three major challenges in ocean governance, and then frame the five analytical governance problems that need to be addressed, according to the earth System Governance Project, in order to protect earth’s complex interconnected ocean.

The article is available here (pdf).