When early modern humans went fishing on the oceans some 42,000 years before present (defined as 1950), they did not need to concern themselves so much with boundaries determining where they could and could not go. Times have changed a great deal. From the 18th Century, nations were formally claiming territorial waters. In 1947 Chili and Peru claimed 200 nautical miles of ocean around their countries – the first Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
As human activity has increased in both magnitude and frequency on the ocean, spatial management has become a critical tool for managing our interactions with the marine environment, humans, and other animals. We have varying forms of marine protected areas in coastal and (to a lesser extent) open ocean. Fishers may be subject to regulations on the place and time they can fish. Fossil fuel and renewable energy development may only be allowed in pre-designated zones. Humans are good at drawing lines. Compartmentalisation, in theory, makes management easier. Unfortunately the natural world – especially when it comes to the oceans, is not so easily placed into boxes...
The full article was published – and can be read in – The Marine Professional, a publication of the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science & Technology (IMarEST).
Image: Sea turtles like this one swimming just off the Hawaiian islands move vast distances and are at risk from human activity. Credit: NOAA National Ocean Service/Flickr (Public Domain Mark 1.0)