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High Seas Marine Protected Areas: Concept and Discourse Analysis

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Hislop, CF (2010) High Seas Marine Protected Areas: Concept and Discourse Analysis. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

The notion of creating marine protected areas (MPAs) in the high seas has been hailed as “an idea whose time has come”, and advocates are calling for them to be part of a global representative system to be established by 2012. This thesis argues that embedding the high seas MPA concept within the macro-goal of a global representative system by 2012, and the high seas epistemic community’s persistence that this system be contained within an appropriate legal framework subsumes more pragmatic and politically acceptable “micro-actions”. I suggest an alternative approach, namely a ‘prototype’ high seas MPA established by means of an informal agreement between a small number of countries that share both political will and technological capacity to make a difference. Prototypes enable policy diffusion: a successful programme draws attention and establishes de facto standards that can be diffused laterally and adapted to similar problems elsewhere. Counter-intuitively, if unsuccessful, the experience can be used to clarify what to do differently in the future. The concept of a legally binding, globally representative system of high seas MPAs, and the fit this ‘macro-concept’ has within the vast and evolving global oceans governance ‘seascape’ is explored and critiqued against the backdrop of complex adaptive systems theory, components of international relations theory, and Rogers’ diffusions of innovation. Complex adaptive systems theory provides a metaphorical framework for analysing and evaluating the arguments and motivation of the oceans conservation epistemic community in relation to the concept of high seas MPAs. This thesis argues that development of politically contentious conservation arrangements such as high seas MPAs may have a better chance of success if they proceed by increments and are negotiated outside the limelight of a full-scale, temporally defined global programme. I argue that international acceptance of the high seas MPA concept stands to benefit from a more politically cautious ‘micro-action’ – a prototype – modelled on the 2004 agreement to protect in situ the wreck and remaining artefacts of the Titanic (the Titanic Accord). A high seas MPA prototype would allow Parties to develop a collaborative and cooperative rules-based regime to manage the actions of their citizens involved in activities that may have a negative impact on a specific area of the marine environment.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: marine protected areas, high seas
Date Deposited: 08 Sep 2011 01:44
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2011 01:44
URI: http://eprints.utas.edu.au/id/eprint/11783
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