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The development of world oceans & coasts and concepts of sustainability

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Abstract

The current phase of technological development and expansion in the world economy is leading to greater human activity and development offshore. Some have described this as the colonisation of the oceans, one phase in the wider history of world industrialisation. This study empirically tests notions of 'industrialisation' and 'colonisation' in the oceans for the first time. It finds that human activity in the oceans has increased by multiple factors in the most recent long term wave of economic development. The methods include the combined use of Raster and R! to overcome methodological challenges to analyse large spatial datasets which map the footprint of human activity. In response to increasing human activity in the oceans, nations and supranational institutions are developing new governance regimes. These regimes are characterised by policy integration and a commitment to sustainability. Sustainable development is a central tenet of most national and international policies for the world's oceans. An analysis of sustainable development terminology within coastal and ocean policy is provided for seven major maritime governance regimes: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, EU, South Africa, UK and the US. The results show that sustainability is highly differentiated in the context of 'the blue planet' (oceans and coasts). The diverse interpretations of sustainability present an impasse to measuring progress in the field. Therefore the paper concludes by offering a framework for explanation and interpretation of sustainable development, by linking it to foundational assumptions held by systems of thought or philosophical traditions. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-165
Number of pages9
JournalMarine Policy
Volume42
DOIs
StatePublished - 2013

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