Comparative Ocean Governance

Comparative Ocean Governance

Place-Based Protections in an Era of Climate Change

New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series

Robin Kundis Craig

Comparative Ocean Governance examines the world’s attempts to improve ocean governance through place-based management – marine protected areas, ocean zoning, marine spatial planning – and evaluates this growing trend in light of the advent of climate change and its impacts on the seas.

Chapter 7: Purposeful Climate Change Adaptation in Place-based Governance Systems

Robin Kundis Craig

Subjects: environment, climate change, environmental economics, environmental governance and regulation, environmental law, environmental management, law - academic, comparative law, environmental law


As Chapter 6 indicated, governments established most existing marine protected areas (MPAs) and other place-based ocean management regimes without consideration of climate change. To the extent that these placebased regimes already pursue management measures that contribute to the resilience and adaptive capacity of the marine ecosystems that they protect, they are—like the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM)—accidentally contributing to climate change adaptation. Accidental adaptation is not the only option for place-based marine management, however. Indeed, many governments are now consciously and actively connecting MPAs, marine reserves, and ocean zoning to climate change. In many cases, the establishment of place-based, ecosystem-based marine management is considered, in and of itself, to be an adaptation measure. However, governments are also starting to incorporate climate change considerations into their marine governance structures, pursuing adaptive ocean zoning explicitly to increase the resilience and adaptive capacity of the marine ecosystems being protected through place-based management. These trends are likely to increase in the near future, because in the next few decades coastal nations may be protecting an increasing percentage of their Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs, discussed in Chapter 4) in place-based management regimes. In particular, the 193 nations1 that have ratified the United Nation’s Convention on Biological Diversity2 are still far from achieving the Convention’s goals regarding marine place-based management. Initially, the parties set a goal of protecting 10 percent of marine areas in MPAs by 2012. However, as of 2010, only 1 percent of marine areas were protected in MPAs.3 As...

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