The utilisation of marine and coastal spaces and resources is characterised by growing diversification and intensification. The oceans, and inshore waters in particular, are used for an increasing variety of purposes. These include fishing, aqua-culture and navigation; mineral exploration and exploitation; shell, sand and gravel dredging; discharge of effluents; disposal of urban, domestic, agricultural and industrial waste; land reclamation and coastal construction; housing; seaside and aquatic tourism and recreation. Multiple use has brought about competition and conflicts between various interest groups, stakeholders and claimants over access to, allocation of and control over coastal space and resources.
In addition to multiple use, intensification has negatively affected marine ecosystems and exacerbated resource management problems. The coastal zone is a common pool resource, where exclusion of access is difficult and joint use involves subtractibility. As the number of resource users and the types and extent of resource use multiply, interdependencies increase and conflicts of interest emerge: different uses may be mutually incompatible; one activity may be damaging to some interests but beneficial to others; some activities cause effects elsewhere and are themselves affected by different activities; others cause effects without themselves being interfered with; still other activities only suffer interference without themselves causing any effects on others; and different uses of different user-groups are regulated through different management regimes. Moreover, these issues typically transcend nation-state boundaries and an array of local, national and international actors have defined themselves as stakeholders with regard to use rights over marine spaces and resources.
MARE’s Research Programme seeks to understand the ways in which people, resources and institutions in multiple use and multi-stakeholder contexts are embedded within webs of economic, social and cultural relations. MARE aims to contribute to knowledge on the ways in which people who are embedded in specific socio-economic and cultural structures relate to, and exert claims over, marine and coastal commons, how they interact with other categories of marine resource users and stakeholders and how they adapt socially and culturally to changes in ecological, economic, legal, political and ideological systems.