Comprehensive Planning, Dominant-Use-Zones, and User Rights: a New Era in Ocean Governance

Josh Eagle, University of South Carolina - Columbia


Ocean-zoning arguments often center on the biology of ocean species, the geography of fishing-use patterns, and the need for preventing use conflicts. Here we expand this discussion to the social and legal aspects of ocean zoning, focusing on comprehensive planning, segregation of activities into use-priority areas, and the allocation of user rights within each zone. The inclusion of all of these features within an ocean-zoning regime can be a catalyst for a variety of ancillary benefits, including opportunities for user groups to form informal or formal long-lived institutions and a reassessment of the focus and scope of the regulatory institutions involved in ocean management. Along with the ability of users to negotiate and trade within and between zones, both features will lead to improved conflict resolution, efficiency of use, and ecosystem stability—critical components for the production of ecosystem services and maintenance of biological and human economic benefits.