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This report discusses the complex and interconnected challenges and opportunities to effective ocean governance in the Atlantic Ocean. The report considers selected outcomes of iAtlantic research on the changing status of open and deep ocean ecosystems where relevant to ocean governance within the Atlantic region. The report concentrates on enhancing the current Atlantic Ocean governance structure to make it resilient and effective in light of the challenges that currently exist and lie ahead. By highlighting selected iAtlantic research on the changing state of the Atlantic Ocean, recommendations towards how these could influence current and future policy-making processes are made. The report is targeted towards researchers, policy makers, and other stakeholders looking to find a collection or ‘one stop shop’ report covering ocean governance processes relevant to the Atlantic Ocean.
The assessment of the current governance structure follows the approach of ecosystem-based integrated ocean management (IOM), which focusses on the strategic integration across five categories: (i) governance integration to overcome the fragmented governance structure, (ii) knowledge integration to bring together knowledge and information from multiple field of academia and beyond, (iii) stakeholder integration to capture and align the various needs of stakeholders and prevent negative impacts from actions from one stakeholder group on another, (iv) transboundary integration to coordinate across administrative and biophysical boundaries, and (v) the integration of system dynamics, such as temporal ecologic or social-economic dynamics. IOM is defined as an adaptive approach for governing human activities at sea, rooted in the ecosystem approach, guided by the SDGs, with a strong focus on improving the ecological status of the ocean and on strategic integration across governance, knowledge, and stakeholder silos.
The report provides a succinct overview of the existing governance framework (i.e., treaties, regulations, policies) in the Atlantic Ocean region and explores fisheries as a key example of the complexity of ocean governance. Key ocean issues (i.e., fisheries, deep sea mining, biodiversity, climate change) within ocean governance are then explored to provide a more detailed view into these selected policy fields. Reflecting on these governance processes under the framework of IOM the report touches upon possible responses and reflects on opportunities for improving ocean governance in the Atlantic region and beyond.
Research from the iAtlantic project has contributed significantly to advancing the understanding of the complex and interconnected system of the Atlantic Ocean and generated extensive knowledge that will inform policy and management decisions for the region. Through gathering and compiling data on various aspects of the ocean, such as ocean circulation, habitat-building corals, hydrothermal vent communities, and pelagic taxa, iAtlantic has helped to establish baseline information for the region and develop tools for predictive habitat mapping. These data can inform e.g., the development of guidelines for regional environmental management plans (REMPs) at the International Seabed Authority (ISA), the designation of marine protected areas (MPAs) in areas beyond national jurisdictions (ABNJ), and for forecasting the impacts of climate change on specific species. Furthermore, iAtlantic research has explored the impacts of multiple stressors on Atlantic ecosystems, including ocean warming, acidification, reduced oxygen, increased salinity, and lower food quality, as well as sediment plumes. The findings from this research can help to inform integrated management responses to emerging challenges such as acidification, deoxygenation, and deep seabed mining and highlight the potentially intensified impact of cumulative pressures.
The full D6.2 report will be available once the review process is complete
iAtlantic Deliverable 6.2: Atlantic Ocean governance frameworks affecting Atlantic marine ecosystems under conditions of change. Report by Ben Boteler, Luise von Pogrell and Matthew Gianni. March 20223.