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Relevance of a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area to the Bering Strait Region: a Policy Analysis Using Resilience-Based Governance Principles

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Type: Journal Article
Author: Hillmer-Pegram, Kevin; Robards, Martin D.
Journal: Ecology and Society
Volume: 20
Date: 2015
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/9786
Sector: Wildlife
Region: North America
Subject(s): protected areas
arctic regions
Abstract: "The Bering Strait, separating the North American and Asian continents, is a productive social–ecological marine system that is vulnerable to increasing maritime traffic. In other parts of the world, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), an agency of the United Nations, has designated similar marine systems as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA) in an effort to protect vulnerable resources from international shipping. We present information about the 14 existing PSSAs around the world and the political process by which designation is achieved. We examine specific characteristics of the Bering Strait system that are relevant to a PSSA application; these include vulnerable resources such as marine mammals and their contribution to the food and cultural security of indigenous communities, threats to these resources from shipping activities, and the viable mitigation options to reduce these threats. We then use five criteria derived from empirical research on resilience-based governance to analyze whether a PSSA designation would promote the resilience of marine mammal populations and indigenous communities to increased maritime activities. Despite the elusiveness of a definitive answer, we conclude that although the designation is not a perfect fit from a theoretical standpoint, it still holds the potential to benefit marine mammals and indigenous communities in terms of resilience. We conclude by identifying critical challenges and trade-offs that practitioners would need to negotiate when attempting to apply theoretical governance principles via real-world policy tools."

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