Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security


The enactment of ocean-related legal and policy instruments and the establishment of ocean-mandated institutions driven by the United Nations in the past 30 years have not succeeded in protecting the oceans and their resources as the continuing depletion of ocean resources and deterioration of marine ecosystems attest. It is assumed that the overall system of ocean governance is plagued by problems characterised by a sectoral approach towards management and uncoordinated proliferation of legal and policy instruments as well as institutional organisations. This thesis utilises principles of international law as analytical tools to argue that their introduction in the legal and institutional frameworks for ocean governance can contribute to reducing these governance problems. These principles are cooperation, integration, ecosystem and precautionary approaches. The selected principles of international law were chosen because all of them are compatible with the notion that ocean problems are interrelated and multi-dimensional in their nature. It is argued that the negative effects of the governance problems can be reduced if the interrelated and multi-dimensional nature of the oceans is recognised through the inclusion of the principles of international law within the text of ocean-related legal and policy instruments and in the practice of ocean-mandated institutions.

It is concluded that the inclusion of the above-referred principles in several of the ocean-related policy and legal instruments and in the practice of some institutions contributed to a shift in paradigm in ocean governance from a prevalence of sectoral views and uncoordinated proliferation of legal and policy instruments and institutions to a more holistic approach in ocean management. The thesis gives particular consideration to linkages (or their absence) among sectoral management initiatives from a legal and institutional perspective. The results suggest that despite the shift to a more holistic approach in ocean management, there still remain problems due to the prevalence of a dichotomy in ocean governance between the widespread approach towards single use and sectoral management and new approaches that support more integrated, cooperating, ecosystem and precautionary approaches towards ocean governance. This thesis also offers suggestions on how some of the persisting governance problems can be overcome.