Oceans in the Anthropocene - and Rules of the Holocene

Munich, Deutsches Museum Verlag, 2015, pp. 56-59.

This chapter briefly reviews the development of the Law of the Sea towards its current legal framework, the 1982 UNCLOS, and inquires into the ways the Anthropocene could change our approach to the oceans and, accordingly, the regulation of maritime uses and human activities at sea. It is argued that the Anthropocene poses fundamental challenges to the current law-of-the-sea concepts and, given the phenomena such as sea level rise, even to the present architecture of the Law of the Sea. With the Earth in the Anthropocene, the oceans will have to be ruled under laws created for the conditioons of the new, and not the previous geological epoch, the Holocene. It is concluded that, to respond to the profoundly different conditions of the Anthropocene, fundamental changes for the Law of the Sea may be on the horizon; and some of these are outlined.

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