Tag Archives: geographies of the sea

The fluid geographies of marine territorialisation processes

By Paula Satizábal, University of Melbourne, and Simon P J Batterbury, Lancaster University.

Image

(c) Photo by Paula Satizábal, small-scale fishers on the Gulf of Tribugá.

Empty-yet-full imaginaries

Oceans are framed by policy makers and governments as being empty of people and full of resources available for capital accumulation (Bridge 2001). They are portrayed as containers of open access public goods (e.g. the Exclusive Economic Zones prescribed by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea). These images are used to facilitate the privatisation of fishing grounds and other productive areas, as well as to justify the overexploitation of marine resources, which are generally under very limited state control. People who live near coasts are often excluded from conversations about how marine territory is negotiated.

People living at the intersection of land and sea have not been passive observers of these processes of accumulation by dispossession. Despite an absence of institutional instruments that recognise peoples’ marine territorial rights, several groups and communities have relied on marine conservation enclosures as the only legal tool available to legitimise their authority over the sea. However, for many, this is not a long-term solution; once a marine protected area has been established coastal peoples are often excluded from decision-making arenas.

Previous research has highlighted the key role played by state and non-state actors in negotiating land-based territorialisation. However, the role played by socio-cultural dynamics on guiding and informing marine territorialisation processes has been largely overlooked. Our recent publication in Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, entitled ‘Fluid geographies: marine territorialisation and the scaling up of local aquatic epistemologies on the Pacific Coast of Colombia’ (Satizábal & Batterbury 2017), addresses this gap. We examine the participatory process undertaken by coastal Afro-descendant communities along the Gulf of Tribugá on the northern Pacific coast of Colombia, which enabled them to take part in the state production of territory at sea through the creation of a marine protected area.

Local aquatic epistemologies

Ulrich Oslender (2016) coined the concept of ‘local aquatic epistemologies’ to denote the ways of knowing that result from the entanglements of humans in aquatic environments. We argue that coastal dwellers in the Gulf of Tribugá hold ‘local aquatic epistemologies’, which is where knowledge has been produced through the individual and collective experiences of people entangled in the fluid dynamics of rain, rivers, and sea, as well as through their interactions with indigenous and expert knowledge.

Coastal people along the Gulf generally conceived the sea as a lived space, where territory is constructed through everyday practices, moving beyond marine/riverine/coastal divides. However, the collective territorial rights granted to Afro-descendant communities in Colombia since 1993 only recognised their rights over the land, reproducing the spatial logics of the colonial period. Conflicts between coastal communities and the deep-water shrimp and tuna industrial fisheries have escalated since the 1990s due to the impacts of overfishing and excessive bycatch. These conflicts cannot be reduced to threats to coastal food security or access to fishing resources; they are an important part of coastal dwellers’ efforts to defend their marine social spaces and authority over the sea.

The marine protected area

With the support from conservation NGOs, and informed by their local aquatic epistemologies, these communities are navigating the state institutional apparatus. They have used formal institutional mechanisms to claim their marine rights through the creation of a marine protected area. The process has been centred on the conservation of fishing resources, relegating the socio-cultural dimensions of their marine claims to the background.

The creation of the marine protected area on the Gulf of Tribugá involved the scaling up of local aquatic epistemologies. This has enabled Afro-descendant territorial struggles to reach national negotiation arenas, transforming relations of authority at sea. The marine protected area emerges as a space of resistance that subverts the lack of legal mechanisms to assert the marine territorial rights of coastal people. These spaces are, however, still dominated by the interests of the fishing industry.

Although this process contests marine empty-yet-full imaginaries, the creation of marine protected areas remains centred on access and control over fishing resources. We emphasise the importance of developing legal instruments that overcome marine coastal divides and recognise the relevance of marine social spaces as part of indigenous and afro-descendant peoples’ territorial rights.

About the authors: Paula Satizábal is a PhD Candidate at the School of Geography, University of Melbourne, and Simon P J Batterbury is Professor of Political Ecology at the Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University.

References

60-world2 Alexandersen A, Juhl S, Munk Neilsen J 2017 Ocean grabs: fighting the ‘rights-based’ corporate take-over of fisheries governance The Ecologist 21 November 2016 http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2988355/ocean_grabs_fighting_the_rightsbased_corporate_takeover_of_fisheries_governance.html 

books_icon Bridge G 2001 Resource triumphalism Environment and Planning A 33 2149–2173.

60-world2 Jarvis R and Bennett N 2017 Ocean conservation needs a Hippocratic oath – we must do no harm The Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2017/jun/28/ocean-conservation-needs-a-hippocratic-oath-we-must-do-no-harm 28 June 2017

books_icon Oslender U 2016 The geographies of social movements: Afro-Colombian mobilization and the aquatic space Duke University, United States.

60-world2 Ota Y and Cisneros-Montemayor A 2017 For indigenous communities, fish mean much more than food The Conversation https://theconversation.com/for-indigenous-communities-fish-mean-much-more-than-food-70129 30 January 2017 

books_icon Satizábal, P. and Batterbury, S. P. J. (2017), Fluid geographies: marine territorialisation and the scaling up of local aquatic epistemologies on the Pacific coast of Colombia. Trans Inst Br Geogr. doi:10.1111/tran.12199

60-world2 Silver Herrera J 2015 Los pescadores del Chocó que se empeñaron en cuidar su mar http://www.eltiempo.com/archivo/documento/CMS-15474539 (Spanish)

60-world2 Smiths M, Beal D, Lind F, Portafaiz A, Chaundry T 2017 The Economic Imperative to Revive Our Oceans Boston Consulting Group https://www.bcg.com/en-au/publications/2017/transformation-sustainability-economic-imperative-to-revive-our-oceans.aspx

Relational Geographies: Sea – shore and the Super-rich

by Fiona Ferbrache

Super yachts at St Tropez (author's own image)

Super yachts at St Tropez (author’s own image)

In 2012, the Economist noted that even in troubling economic times it was still possible to discern rich people, alongside the poor. It then asked “will there also be the really rich, the super-rich?”.

There seems to be substantial evidence for the category ‘super-rich’. Geographer Danny Dorling notes that the (super-)richest 1% in Britain (“people with a pre-tax household income of at least £160,000”) are growing wealthier and that the gap is increasing between them and the remaining 99%. In 2013, “Geographies of the Super-rich” (authored by Professor Iain Hay) was introduced to bookshelves and identified a class of individuals with investable assets in excess of $1 million. In recent weeks, the British media have reported on the super-rich overseas buyers of prime London addresses who buy properties as investments and then leave them empty; drawing Kensington and Chelsea nearer the top of the ranking, alongside northern towns such as Blackpool and Bradford, of areas with the highest number of empty homes.  Another article reported that for those coming to visit their London investments, the most popular mode of travel is private jet.

As the above examples demonstrate, the lives and mobilities of the super-rich are being opened up to enquiry. Contributing to this trend, a paper by Spence, in Area, explores leisure activities of super-rich mobility along the Cote-d’Azur – “between sea, super-yacht and the shore” (and air, via private jets) (p.203). While examining the leisure activities of the super-rich on board luxury yachts, Spence also provides insight to the lives of the crew catering to them through a relational framework spanning sea, shore and ship. Spence uses this case study to argue for a more-than-sea approach to maritime geographies, which plays on the idea of more-than-human geographies and indeed captures the relationality of human and non-human materialities.  A more-than-sea geography aims to promote a perspective from the sea, to incorporate the land, rather than the other way around. Spence achieves this by discussing cabin fever, seasicknes and the meaning of going ashore. Here, the experiences of the super-rich (guests, tourists and yacht owners) and the necessary supporting and waiting crew, differ in a cyclical series of relations between sea, shore and ship, as the yachts move into and out of port.

Spence’s paper offers two key insights: a conceptual framework for exploring geographies of the sea, and which complements earlier works by authors such as Peters (2010) and Hasty and Peters (2012); and micro-geographies of the super-rich that help to flesh out media representations and existing geographical knowledge of this group.

books_iconSpence, E. 2014. Towards a more-than-sea geography: exploring the relational geographies of superrich mobility between sea, superyacht and shore in the Cote d’Azur. Area 46(2): pp.203-209
books_iconHasty, W. and Peters, K. 2012. The ship in geography and the geographies of ships. Geography Compass 6: pp.660-676
books_iconPeters, K. 2010. Future promises for contemporary social and cultural geographies of the sea. Geography Compass 4: pp.1260-1272

60-world2Danny Dorling on the super-rich

60-world2The super-rich will always be with us (and so will the repo man). The Economist

60-world2A passage to Mayfair: India’s super-rich elite are colonising the heart of the former British empire. The Economist
60-world2The ghost town of the super-rich: Kensington and Chelsea’s ‘buy-to-leave’ phenomenon. The Evening Standard

Pirates of the Web or the Waves: A Conundrum of Governance

by Jen Turner

At the end of October, The Finnish Supreme Court rejected a case from an Internet Service Provider (ISP) fighting an enforced ban of file-sharing website The Pirate Bay.  The BBC reported that the ruling signaled the end of a long court battle between ISP Elisa and copyright bodies in the country.  The Pirate Bay, which offers links to pirated content, has caused controversy in other areas too.  The website is now also banned in the UK, the Netherlands, and Italy.

However, internet rights groups say the bans represent a worrying rise in levels of net censorship – a concern which is shaped by changes in the management of the World Wide Web. Control of the internet and its logistical arrangements stems from agreements made under the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a specialist UN agency that dates back to 1865.  Now, the ITU is suggesting new proposals which would mean internet companies like Google paying generous fees to local telecoms companies.  These plans would disrupt the balance between the US internet giants and telecom firms across the world.  Administration and organisation of the internet has been dominated by the US since Arpanet, the precursor to the modern internet, was established between four US universities in 1969, and a handful of US-controlled authorities followed.

Google has battled hard in campaigns surrounding the open web and the media-genic issues of free speech and-anti censorship that other ITU proposals allude to. However, as Jemima Kiss reports, for a company worth £150bn, taxes to telecom firms would be payable on every interaction with its 700 million or so daily users.    Perhaps this challenge to Western dominance is an important one, raising issues about how these seemingly placeless entities are controlled.

In similar vein, Kimberley Peters’ recent article in Area explores governance outside of territorial boundaries in political discussion of the geographies of the sea.  Using the example of offshore broadcasting stations such as Radio Caroline, Peters explains the ramifications that ‘pirate’ stations had on the governance of sea-space.  By explaining actions carried out within Britain’s borders, and the international space of the ‘high seas’, this paper recognises how this response challenged Britain’s long-held ideology of maritime freedom.

If we consider both the web and the waves in light of their non-territorial character, we can find similarities in the challenges for regulating them – acknowledging the conundrum for governing these kinds of spaces.

Kimberley Peters, 2011, Sinking the radio ‘pirates’: exploring British strategies of governance in the North Sea, 1964–1991Area 43 281-287

Jemima Kiss, Who controls the internet?The Guardian, 17 October 2012 

Pirate Bay appeal is rejected by Finnish supreme court, BBC News Technology, 30 October 2012

Aesthetic, Social and Cultural Geographies of the Sea

By Kate Botterill

‘The ocean is imbued with mystery’ says Jason de Caries Taylor, Artistic Director of the new Cancun National Marine Park whose new exhibition is a collection of ‘underwater sculptures’ submerged 10 metres under the sea. The sculptures explore the relationship between art and the environment and between human creation and the sea through their submerged position and interaction with the natural environment. Through the creation of artificial reefs and the use of sculpted materials that encourage the colonisation of marine life, de Caries Taylor’s work is concerned with transformative life worlds whereby ‘the figures are transformed over time by their environment, and conversely as this happens so they change the shape of their habitat’. The ecological and geographical message of interconnectedness, transformation and regeneration is central to developing understanding of our relationship with the ocean and contributes to what Lambert refers to as ‘imaginative, aesthetic and sensuous geographies of the sea’ (cited in Peters,2010).

Recent work in social and cultural geography has revived interest in the geographies of the sea. In an article for Geography Compass, Kimberley Peters reviews the current work and future prospects of this line of enquiry arguing against ‘land locked’ studies in geography that view the sea as marginal to the land. The sea, she argues is a vital space with rich social and cultural meaning and implicit to everyday life – “even though oceans and vessels may seem disconnected to everyday life, or appear as slow and irrelevant methods of moving, they remain fundamental to the flow of trade, to the reaping of resources (fish stocks, natural gas and oil) and as sites of terror and for the undercover movement of peoples. They are fundamental therefore for geographers to examine in a contemporary light”. Peters traces literatures of the sea from historical approaches, the exploration of maritime spaces and practices to ‘mobilities’ research and tourism geographies. She ends by making a case for an examination of ‘underwater’ geographies and the sea as a ‘site of recreation’, both of which are central to de Caries Taylor’s evolving exhibition.

 See pictures and a video of Jason de Caries Taylor’s underwater exhibition

 Read Peters (2010) Future Promises for Contemporary Social and Cultural Geographies of the Sea in Geography Compass