Transnational Area-Based Ocean Management

Note from the Digital Editor: In order to highlight the high-level of research and scholarship from the authors who have published in the William & Mary Policy Review’s peer-reviewed print journal, we have reproduced the abstracts from Volume 7, Issue 1 along with a link to an electronic copy of the full form of the piece. 

In the face of global environmental problems such as overfishing or marine habitat loss, ocean management experts have argued that managing areas of the sea in order to maximize one or a set of objectives might be more effective than the traditional non-spatial approach. Proponents of area-based management face a basic jurisdiction dilemma: marine resources and environmental problems pay no heed to international boundaries. When the same marine region belongs to different nations, the lack of uniform jurisdiction can turn ineffective even the most carefully drafted marine plan.

Efforts to confront this problem include several forms of international cooperation, ranging from “global governance” initiatives to the “peace parks” movement. This paper finds that these efforts are inadequate to confront the challenge of transboundary place-based management.

Seeking alternatives to these cooperation approaches, this paper finds a model on international treaties that establish maritime boundaries between nations. These treaties are abundant and broadly complied with. Moreover, some already contain transboundary ocean zoning clauses. These clauses pursue conservation and/or exploitation objectives for the benefit of all signing parties. Despite being overlooked by most area-based management advocates, these treaties establish truly harmonized transboundary place-based regulations, and provide durable, enforceable rules for interconnected marine spaces that belong to different nations.

Find the full version of this article in PDF form here.

Xiao Recio-Blanco is a SJD Candidate at Duke University School of Law. He extends his thanks to Jim Salzman for his support and guidance throughout the writing process. For input on earlier versions of this work he thanks Stuart Barr, Josh Eagle, Susana Garcia, Steve Kourabas, and Ori Sharon. For invaluable discussion, he is grateful to Seline Trevisanut and Miguel Garcia Garcia-Revillo, and to the participants in the International law and the Sea Workshop of the European Society of International Law, held at the University of Vienna in September 2014. Any questions or comments should be addressed to