An ecosystem approach to the management of human activities in the marine environment began to feature as a normative concept in international instruments in the 1980s, beginning with the pioneering Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. While an implicit basis for the ecosystem approach can be found in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention, much of the additional conceptual development at the global level has occurred within the framework of the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity. The subsequent widespread acceptance of the ecosystem approach has been described as a response to the failure of reactive and fragmented sectoral and zonal approaches to environmental protection and management. A consensus has emerged that a paradigm shift in thinking is needed, whereby traditional modalities of governance are replaced by proactive, integrative and holistic approaches involving adaptive management and greater cooperation between States, international institutions and other stakeholders in order to achieve effective and long-term, coherent implementation of policies across sectors. This chapter will discuss the origins and evolution of the ecosystem approach in international law, which can now be found in a wide range of international and regional instruments, including the regional seas conventions, fisheries management agreements, as well as the ongoing negotiations to develop an internationally legally binding instrument for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction. Finally, challenges to the operationalization of the concept in practice will be discussed.
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Enright, S. R., & Boteler, B. (2020). The Ecosystem Approach in International Marine Environmental Law and Governance. In T. G. O’Higgins, M. Lago, & T. H. DeWitt (Eds.), Ecosystem-Based Management, Ecosystem Services and Aquatic Biodiversity (pp. 333-352). Cham: Springer International Publishing.
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