Canada Research Chair in Ocean Law and Governance
Tier 1 - 2003-07-01
Social Sciences and Humanities
Evaluating global ocean governance; examining the effectiveness of regional agreements for managing fisheries and protecting the arctic marine environment; studying issues raised by sustainable development, community-based management, indigenous rights and ecoystem-based management.
The research aims to develop legislative and regulatory reforms for supporting more principled decision making in ocean governance.
Ocean Law and Governance
Once considered inexhaustible, the world's oceans are now being overwhelmed. Human pressures include overfishing, land-based pollution, coastal habitat destruction, spills and sewage discharges and aquaculture developments. To make matters worse, governance of ocean uses has lagged. Canada's Oceans Strategy, released in 2002, highlights the need to strengthen ocean governance but is vague on what legal and institutional reforms are required. Even though over 70 percent of ocean pollution comes from land, no global convention on land-based marine pollution has been negotiated. Furthermore rules for conserving the marine species that inhabit the deep seabed have yet to be developed.
A specialist on the law of the sea, Dr. David VanderZwaag is devoting part of his time as the Canada Research Chair in Ocean Law and Governance to considering options for amending the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention to better protect biodiversity on the high seas. In the process, he is assessing the effectiveness of new ocean governance institutions, specifically the International Law of the Sea Tribunal, the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf and the International Seabed Authority. He is also investigating the adequacy of existing international agreements for controlling trade in transgenic marine organisms.
Regional ocean law and governance research is another focus of Dr. VanderZwaag's research. His work involves evaluating the degree of success achieved by regional fisheries organizations (such as the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) and North Atlantic Salmon Conservation Organization (NASCO)) in their efforts to protect marine biodiversity. He plans to make recommendations for enhancing transboundary marine environmental cooperation in North America.
Finally, Dr. VanderZwaag is also concerned about the protection of endangered or threatened marine species and their habitats. For this reason, he is investigating how the federal Species at Risk Act has affected Canada's marine resources sectors, such as the offshore oil and gas industry and aquaculture operations.