In this project we argue that to understand geopolitical challenges in a changing Arctic, we need to understand the dynamics of emerging spatial disputes over maritime space and related marine resources. 

The past decade's rapid technological changes and the growing preoccupation of states with maritime space are prompting a rethink of how we view conflicts and dispute management at sea. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Arctic. Examples include overlapping continental-shelf claims, marine protected areas, the status of Arctic sea lanes, and the distribution of transboundary fish stocks.  

However, research on maritime disputes tends to be case-oriented and is rarely seen in relation to inter-state conflicts, international law and political geography. Moreover, maritime disputes have often been dismissed as peripheral in the conflict literature or treated on a par with disputes on land.

What determines the emergence and evolution of disputes over marine resources and maritime space in the Arctic? What factors prompt changes in these dynamics? What can this tell us about conflict management and resolution more generally in the maritime domain?

In this project we examine disputes within several jurisdictional areas of coastal-state ocean space: exclusive economic zones, continental shelves and the high sea. Combining various branches of social studies - international relations, international law, political geography and conflict studies - we take an innovative approach to explaining the geopolitical and geoeconomic dimensions of emerging maritime disputes among Arctic states. 

The findings will not only have relevance for the Arctic, but also for other maritime domains experiencing rapid environmental, economic and political change.


Project period: 2020-2022


WP I – EEZWP II – Continental ShelfWP III – High Seas
Lead: Dr Andreas Østhagen (FNI/HNC)
Prof. Arild Moe (FNI)
Dr Svein Rottem (FNI/Bjørknes)
Prof. Clive Schofield (WMU/ANCORS)
Ms Emily Tsui (UofT/TAI)
1: North Atlantic/Barents fisheries
2: Maritime boundarie
Lead: Prof. Øystein Jensen (FNI)
Dr Signe V. Busch (UiT: Arctic Univ. of Norway)
Dr Natalia Andreassen (High North Center)

1: CLCS claims
2: Svalbard Zones
Lead: Prof. Olav Schram Stokke (FNI/UiO)
Prof. Suzanne Lalonde (Univ. Montreal)
Dr Christian Prip (FNI)

1: Arctic MPA
2: Arctic Ocean Fisheries


Synthesis track I – Arctic disputesSynthesis track II – Ocean governance and spatiality
Lead: Dr Svein V. Rottem (Fridtjof Nansen Institute)
Dr Berit Kristoffersen (UiT: Arctic Univ. of Norway)
Prof. Frode Mellemvik (High North Center)
Dr Dmitriy Tulupov (Saint-Petersburg State Univ.)
Prof. Gunhild Hoogensen Gjørv (UiT: Arctic Univ. of Norway)
Dr. Mike Sfraga (Wilson Center)
Lead: Dr Andreas Østhagen (Fridtjof Nansen Institute)
Prof. Philip Steinberg (Univ. Durham)
Dr Kimberley Peters (Univ. Liverpool)
Prof. Olav Schram Stokke (FNI/UiO)
Prof. Michael Byers (Univ. British Columbia)





  • The Research Council of Norway