Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Porter Hoagland III

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Hoagland, P. and A.R. Solow, Regional ocean governance: a critique of two recent proposals, Marine Technology Society Journal 38(4):61-67, 2005

Two recent expert panels, the US Commission on Ocean Policy and the Pew Oceans Commission, have focused on analyzing and proposing solutions to the ocean management problems of the United States. Both panels have come up with concrete and detailed recommendations for mitigating governance problems that have plagued this field for decades. Many of the recommendations are specific and useful, and the panels have provided a service to the nation in constructing them. In this article, we consider the sets of recommendations pertaining specifically to institutions of regional ocean governance. Unlike the majority of recommendations, which are very helpful, we argue that the proposals from both panels for regional ocean governance are not well-developed. We formulate a critique along three lines. First, to be effective, regional institutions must be tailored to the scale of specific problems and focused on those problems. Second, the political entities that comprise the membership of a regional institution must have tangible incentives to participate in decision-making. Third, the right to use the resources of those areas of the ocean under US jurisdiction belong to the nation, not to any particular region. We conclude that the nation must pay attention to the lessons of other attempts at regional governance, otherwise it may end up with a system of management that seems simple in concept but merely symbolic in practice.

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