Marine communities : governing oil & gas activities and cruise tourism in the Arctic and the Caribbean

Linde K.J. Bets

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU

Abstract

Oceans and seas are among the most ecologically vital and socio-economically important systems on the planet. Despite the acknowledged pristine nature of the marine environment, there is a growing interest in exploring the sea for human use such as offshore wind production, extraction of sand, oil and gas, deep  sea mining, gene mining and aquaculture. This is the result of, among other things, the food and energy needs of the growing world population, globalisation processes and technological innovation. This intensified use of the sea has led to new governance initiatives to address the resulting environmental effects and risks for the marine environment.

Actors involved in governing maritime activities are not necessarily located in the same geographical place and may not even be in direct contact, but they increasingly interact through global and transnational institutions or networks. Globalisation results in communities characterised by the interplay between territorially defined actors (e.g. national states, port agencies and island communities) and less territorially defined actors (e.g. mobile and transnational industries). The community literature conceptualises communities as small spatial units, homogenous social structures or sets of shared norms. These conceptualisation of communities provide insufficient insights in the type of community involved in environmental governance of maritime activities.

This thesis, therefore, presents the marine community concept as a new analytical lens for studying environmental governance of maritime activities. A marine community is a community of socio-economic and policy actors and institutions organised around a certain maritime activity that influences or will be affected by the (marine) ecosystem in which the activity occurs.

The aim of this PhD thesis is twofold: first, to understand environmental governance of maritime activities by different marine communities, and second, to understand how different governance modes, shifts, styles and processes affect the role of the user and policy community in the marine community.

The central research question is: How can the marine community concept enrich our understanding of environmental governance of maritime activities in distinct maritime settings?

             1. How are marine communities organised to govern environmental problems in  different sectoral and geographical settings?

             2. How do marine communities develop in relation to various institutional settings, and how do different governance modes, shifts, styles and processes affect the role of the user and policy community in the marine community?

A case study methodology and cross-case comparative analysis were chosen to study the research question. The selection of cases is based on two distinct marine regions (the Caribbean Netherlands and the European Arctic) and two different maritime activities (cruise tourism and oil & gas activities). The case studies are investigated through the collection of primary data from semi- structured interviews and (participatory) observations, supplemented with secondary data from literature, policy documents, social media, and newspapers.

Chapter 2 illustrates how the marine community of liquefied natural gas production in Hammerfest transforms from a local fisheries marine community into an international oil and gas marine community in Northern Norway, driven by a discourse on economic growth. This is implemented through a strong institutional coalition between the Norwegian State and Statoil in which both actors participate in the user and policy community. Although non-governmental organisations, Sámi indigenous people, fisheries and local inhabitants of Hammerfest engage in strategic and oppositional coalitions to strive for environmental and community development related to liquefied natural gas production, the success of these coalitions is constrained by centralised decision-making by the institutional coalition.

Chapter 3 illustrates the institutional change in the marine community of oil transhipment at St. Eustatius. Since 2010, St. Eustatius is a special municipality of the Netherlands, and since 2015, the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure & Environment, instead of the island government, is responsible for the environmental management of the oil terminal at St. Eustatius. The Dutch Ministry relies on Dutch and European standards for environmental management, which deviate from the standards of small islands. This structural power change, however, is not perceived as legitimate by part of the local population of St. Eustatius. This chapter analyses the reversal of the existing power relationships from strong intertwinement of the user and policy community, stereotypical of small island developing states, to the user and policy community drifting apart.

In Chapter 4, the marine community of cruise tourism at Bonaire is situated between the transnational cruise network and the local tourism industry of Bonaire. This case study analyses how two interconnected flows of cruise ships and passengers are governed by this transnational-local interplay. An important conclusion is that the transnational cruise ship flow increasingly determines the local cruise passenger flow at Bonaire. As a result, the marine community, and the user community especially, increasingly connects and adapts to the requirements of the transnational cruise network.

Chapter 5 analyses the changes in the marine community of expedition cruise tourism at Svalbard changes because of the establishment of the self-governing Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators. Collective self-governance complements regulation by the Norwegian government through the implementation of an industry code of conduct and providing access to knowledge and information, such as statistical information and a track-and-trace system for cruise ships. At the same time, the demanding information generation and provision of collective self-governance creates distance between the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators and the Governor of Svalbard in the policy community and the expedition crew in the user community. Information generation and provision becomes a challenge for sustainable cruise tourism. Once information provision requires too much time and resources, self-interest is prioritised over collective interest.

In Chapter 6 the conclusions of the thesis are drawn, based on the cross-case comparative analysis. First, the comparison of environmental governance illustrates the use of different problem-solving styles in marine regions. The islands of Bonaire and St. Eustatius (in the Caribbean Netherlands) are eager for short- term economic growth. The lack of a strong government results in a curative problem-solving style in relation to urgent environmental problems. In the European Arctic the activities are more recent. Governance, therefore, attempts to prevent problems through stakeholder involvement and informed decision-making. Second, the analysis shows that environmental governance of maritime activities depends upon the mobility of the maritime activity and consequently the level at which regulations are developed and implemented. A difference is observed between governing through transnational regulations predominantly by the user community for cruise tourism and governing through territory-bound regulations predominantly by the policy community for oil and gas.

In the second part of the conclusion, marine communities as a governance arrangement is discussed in relation to theories on governance modes and shifts, policy styles and mobilities. In the first place, changes in governance modes illustrate a shift towards more contemporary modes, such as open co-governance and self-governance, with St. Eustatius being the exception because of its political situation. In this thesis the complexity of governance is further structured according to two analytical dimensions: the governance style, ranging from reactive   to   proactive,   and   the   governance   process,   which   distinguishes governance of the marine community from governance through the marine community. In the analysis it becomes clear that the spatial scale of the maritime activity is crucial as it defines the mobility of the activity and the marine community. Therefore, the thesis concludes that the maritime activity has a larger influence on environmental governance than the marine region. The chapter ends with methodological reflections, future research and policy implications for the new concept of marine community.

Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
Supervisors/Advisors
  • van Tatenhove, Jan, Promotor
  • Mol, Arthur, Promotor
  • Lamers, Machiel, Co-promotor
Award date22 Sept 2017
Place of PublicationWageningen
Publisher
Print ISBNs9789463436571
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22 Sept 2017

Keywords

  • oil and gas industry
  • oil spills
  • governance
  • international tourism
  • pollution by tourism
  • tourism impact
  • marine areas
  • marine environment
  • water pollution
  • environmental policy
  • caribbean
  • caribbean sea
  • arctic ocean
  • arctic regions

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