Competing spatial claims and conflicts between maritime economic activities and biodiversity in Europe's seas continue to challenge governments and non-governmental actors. Responses to these problems have resulted in a fragmented patchwork of EU policies, private initiatives, and regulations on different levels. It is clear that the different sets of problems in each sea and the existing institutional arrangements (often created in an ad hoc fashion) require different responses and that a regional approach to marine governance is more flexible than a pan-European one. This paper explores whether and how it is possible to develop integrated maritime governance arrangements for Europe's regional seas. It explores the sui generis institutional setting of the EU – a fragmented system in constant flux – and the roles of the Regional Sea Commissions, Member States and other stakeholders. This, together with Wallace's concept of the swinging pendulum of governance, provides us with the basis to identify the conditions for more effective and legitimate EU marine governance arrangements and examine whether it is possible to turn the tide of marine governance to the level of the regional sea? Using concepts from institutional theory, such as institutional ambiguity, institutional layering and conversion and institutional capacity building, this paper develops six building blocks that could help to turn the tide, help to develop legitimate regional-level marine governance arrangements and strengthen the capacity of marine institutions and governance.
- fisheries management
- ocean governance