Research Handbooks in Environmental Law series
Edited by Michael Bowman, Peter Davies and Edward Goodwin
Chapter 6: Broad-spectrum efforts to enhance the conservation of vulnerable marine ecosystems
This chapter seeks to provide an overarching insight into the initiatives being pursued by international law for advancing the conservation of marine ecosystems that are perceived to be in a vulnerable position. As will be described, humankind’s mark upon marine ecosystems is so extensive that arguably there is no part of the ocean that is not vulnerable in some way and to some degree, in the short or long term. This fact demands wide-reaching broad-spectrum action to address the underlying drivers. Nevertheless, the author has observed elsewhere that a necessary complement to this is that scientists and governments need to have systems in place to identify instances of marine ecosystems that are suffering particularly badly, so that targeted treatment can be deployed. Such focused responses are complementary and significant. For instance, international support in response to such events might provide increased capacity – in terms of knowledge, expertise or financing. Furthermore, international engagement in developments might raise the priority given to the conservation of a site in the face of competing claims upon limited national resources. Whilst the author therefore regards legal initiatives as falling along a continuum, from macro to micro level action, this chapter takes advantage of the opportunity presented to focus upon, and look in more detail at, the broad-spectrum responses of international law. That said, mention will still be made of the systems available to catch emergency cases.
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