FES researchers release Ocean Frontiers videos

Researchers out of York University’s Faculty of Environmental Studies (FES) have released a series of videos offering overviews of the inquiries conducted by specialists who participated in the Ocean Frontiers Workshop in May 2017.

The release of the Ocean Frontiers videos complements the recent passing of a motion on Jan. 16 by the European Union that calls for a moratorium on deep sea mining.

Deep sea mining, along with the regulation of fisheries and biodiversity beyond state jurisdiction, were the key topics addressed at the May 2017 workshop organized by Professors Leesa Fawcett (York University, Faculty of Environmental Studies), Anna Zalik (York University, Faculty of Environmental Studies) and Elizabeth Havice (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill).

The two-day workshop, entitled “Ocean Frontiers: An Interdisciplinary Workshop on the Changing Contours of Marine Space and Resource Access,” brought together a network of interdisciplinary scholars to explore the political-economic and ecological dynamics that shape new resource practices in marine zones. The overall goal was to unite social scientists and ecologists to share their understanding of how contemporary marine resource use is redefining the ocean frontier, as well as how oceans should be conserved and equitably used, and by whom.

It was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Canada @150 York University Fund, and the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill Department of Geography and Center for Global Initiatives.

Tapping into the participants’ research and policy expertise, the workshop outputs disseminate, exchange and mobilize participants’ responses to a central question uniting their sectoral areas of work: How are the central principles that underwrote ocean governance in the era in which the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea was negotiated – sovereignty, socioeconomic equity and ecological sustainability – being remade through the new dynamics shaping contemporary ocean frontiers?

Globally, contests over access to marine resources are intensifying, said Fawcett.

“States, firms, diverse user groups and conservation agencies are scrambling to claim resources for which demand has increased due to environmental, technological and political change. Only last week it was announced that the European Parliament has called for a moratorium on deep sea mining,” Fawcett said. “Despite rapid changes in ocean use and knowledge, there has been minimal interdisciplinary research on the combined political-economic and ecological processes shaping the shifting terrain of the vast ocean frontier.”

Given a central goal of the workshop was to further mobilize this knowledge, the workshop organizers produced a short video series in which participants share their research contributions.

“The pedagogical intent of the Ocean Frontiers short video series we are publishing is to unite this interdisciplinary knowledge and make it more accessible to academic audiences and practitioners, which is essential to shaping policy and practice regarding ocean protection and sustainable use,” said Fawcett. “Equipping and training the emerging generation of ocean specialists and policy-makers with interdisciplinary reference points is a crucial part of shaping these new policies.”

These videos make specialist knowledge available in non-technical language to a broader public, and will be useful for teaching at postsecondary levels and for institutional knowledge sharing across organizations and communities engaged in, and affected by, activities on ocean frontiers.

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