Steering the global partnership for oceans



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The Global Partnership for Oceans (GPO) is an alliance of governments, private firms, international organizations, and civil society groups that aims to promote ocean health while contributing to human wellbeing. A Blue Ribbon Panel (BRP) was commissioned to develop guiding principles for GPO investments. Here we offer commentary on the BRP report from scholars in multiple disciplines that study the oceans: environmental economics, environmental politics, fisheries science, physical oceanography, and political economy. The BRP is a prominent, unique group of individuals representing diverse interests of GPO partners. We applaud the call for knowledge creation, but identify diverse issues that the BRP omitted: the need for effective governance to address data-poor stocks so that gaps do not dictate solutions; the deployment of projects that facilitate learning about governance effectiveness through program evaluation; and the importance of large-scale coordination of data collection in furthering the BRP's call for capacity building. Commenters' opinions are mixed on the likely impact of the report's recommendations on ocean health, governance, and economic development, but they highlight several key features of the report. A centerpiece of the report that distinguishes it from most previous high-level reports on the oceans is the prominence given to human well-being. The report emphasizes the commons problem as a critical institutional failure that must be addressed and focuses heavily on market-based mechanisms to improve governance. The report successfully acknowledges tradeoffs-across different stakeholders as well as across human well-being and ocean health-but there is little specific guidance on how to make these tradeoffs. Historical tensions among GPO partners run deep, and resolving them will require more than high-level principles. For instance, it is unclear how to resolve the potential conflict between proprietary data and the report's stated desire for transparency and open access to information. Some differences may ultimately be irreconcilable. The report appropriately advocates flexibility for the GPO to adapt solutions to particulars of a problem, avoiding the trap of one size fits all. However, flexibility is also a weakness because the BRP does not provide guidance on how best to approach problems that span multiple scales. Some scales may be beyond the scope of the GPO; for example, the GPO cannot meaningfully contribute to global climate change mitigation. Nevertheless, the GPO could play an important role in climate adaptation by facilitating the development of governance regimes that are resilient to climate-induced species migrations.






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Abbott, J, JL Anderson, L Campling, R Hannesson, E Havice, MS Lozier, MD Smith, MJ Wilberg, et al. (2014). Steering the global partnership for oceans. Marine Resource Economics, 29(1). pp. 1–16. 10.1086/676290 Retrieved from

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M. Susan Lozier

Ronie-Richele Garcia-Johnson Emerita Professor of Earth and Ocean Sciences

Susan Lozier is a physical oceanographer with interests in large-scale ocean circulation. Upon completion of her PhD at the University of Washington, she was a postdoctoral scholar at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. She has been a member of the Duke faculty since 1992. Professor Lozier was the recipient of an NSF Early Career Award in 1996, was awarded a Bass Chair for Excellence in Research and Teaching in 2000, received a Duke University Award for Excellence in Mentoring in 2007, was named an American Meteorological Society Fellow in 2008, a Distinguished Professor in 2012, a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union in 2014 where she has been elected as president elect. She begins her two-year term as president-elect on Jan. 1, 2019, and then will serve a two-year term as AGU president beginning in 2021. She was named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2015. She currently serves as the past-president of The Oceanography Society and is the international lead for the OSNAP (Overturning in the Subpolar North Atlantic Program) observing system.


Martin D. Smith

George M. Woodwell Distinguished Professor of Environmental Economics

Smith studies the economics of the oceans, including fisheries, marine ecosystems, seafood markets, and coastal climate adaptation. He has written on a range of policy-relevant topics, including economics of marine reserves, seasonal closures in fisheries, ecosystem-based management, catch shares, nutrient pollution, aquaculture, genetically modified foods, the global seafood trade, organic agriculture, coastal property markets, and coastal responses to climate change. He is best known for identifying unintended consequences of marine and coastal policies that ignore human behavioral feedbacks. Smith’s methodological interests span micro-econometrics, optimal control theory, time series analysis, and numerical modeling of coupled human-natural systems. Smith’s published work appears in The American Economic Review, Nature, Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, the Review of Economics and Statistics, and a number of other scholarly journals that span environmental economics, fisheries science, marine policy, ecology, and the geo-sciences. Smith has received national and international awards, including the Quality of Research Discovery from the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, Outstanding Article in Marine Resource Economics, and an Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellowship. His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, and the Research Council of Norway. Smith has served as Editor-in-Chief of the journal Marine Resource Economics, Co-Editor of the Journal of the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, and Co-Editor of the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management. He served as a member of the Scientific and Statistical Committee of the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and currently serves on the Ocean Studies Board of the National Academies.

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