Delegates to the Our Oceans conference are gathering to discuss ocean sustainability, but there’s a big problem: their proposals will only sanitize continued resource extraction and environmental and ecological degradation.
On 23 and 24 October, Norway will host the “Our Ocean” conference: An annual international conference that was initiated in 2014 by the US Department of State outside of any UN process. The people who live with and are surrounded by the ocean, and who are most affected by the deterioration of the marine environment, are not present in the conference panels: Fishers, coastal communities and first-affected by climate change indigenous groups.
This report is based on on-going collaborative research between the Transnational Institute (TNI) and the Indonesian traditional fisher folk union, Kesatuan Nelayan Tradisional Indonesia (KNTI). For the past decade, Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) has become a popular policy tool to resolve conflicts over and in ocean space. Proponents claim that MSP can ensure a process that balances competing interests between different users of ocean space from large-scale extractive industries, to tourism companies to small-scale fishers.
Our relationship to the ocean has changed greatly over the centuries. For those who fish, it is their livelihood, while for trade the ocean is considered simply a surface across which goods can be shipped. At the beginning of the 20th century another era began, centred on the extraction of ocean resources from the seabed, and today there is talk of the “blue economy”, which promises a triple win on the ecological, social and economic fronts.