Polar Oceans Governance in an Era of Environmental Change, edited by Tim Stephens and David L. VanderZwaag, published by Edward Elgar, 2014, 384pp., £90.00, hardback.

Date01 April 2016
AuthorSigne Veierud Busch
Published date01 April 2016
Book Reviews
Polar Oceans Governance
in an Era of Environmental
Change, edited by Tim
Stephens and David L.
VanderZwaag, published by
Edward Elgar, 2014, 384pp.,
£90.00, hardback.
Over the last decade or so, scholars
have turned their attention to polar
issues, and a number of publica-
tions have been produced on the
subject. Climate change and ocean
acidif‌ication are inf‌luencing the
polar oceans to a greater and faster
degree than other parts of the globe.
Although processes commencing in
the Polar Regions may have impacts
on other global areas, the strategic
interest of the polar oceans should
not be underestimated. Environ-
mental changes are projected to
open the polar oceans for new and
exploratory f‌isheries, exploitation
of major oil and gas resources,
increasing tourism and transporta-
tion. As Stephens and VanderZwaag
put it in the introductory chapter of
Polar Oceans Governance in an
Era of Environmental Change:Cli-
mate change and globalization pres-
sures have placed the spotlight on the
adequacy and adaptability of gover-
nance arrangements for managing
human use of, and impacts on, polar
seas(p. 5).
Polar Oceans Governance in an
Era of Environmental Change
offers an interesting angle to exist-
ing polar law research by adopting a
so-called bipolarapproach. The
Arctic/Antarctic perspectives are
subject to comparative analysis
from the perspectives of Canada
and Australia, representing the two
Polar Regions. Based on experi-
ences from their own jurisdictions,
selected researchers provide
insights into the challenges of
balancing coastal State interests
and international community
as resource management, environ-
mental issues, sovereignty and
This book is the third output from
the Australia Canada Oceans Research
Network. In f‌ive distinctive parts,
the editors have brought together
several polar researchers, who sys-
tematize and analyze Australian
and Canadian experiences in polar
oceans management.
In Part I, the authors focus on
physical and biological changes in
the polar oceans resulting from
climate change. Haward and Jabour
address the effects of climate
change in Antarctica, in particular
the Southern Ocean, and ask
whether current environmental and
resource governance arrangements
will be able to adapt to the changing
circumstances. It seems inevitable
that climate change will modify the
seasonal pattern of the freezethaw
cycle in the Southern Ocean and
inf‌luence the extent, thickness and
duration of sea ice which yet again
has a critical role in both the climate
system and the Southern Ocean
ecosystem. With this starting point,
Haward and Jabour undertake an
analysis of the adaptive capacity of
the management of Antarctic mar-
ine living resources through the
Convention on the Conservation of
Antarctic Marine Living Resources,
and put forward a number of sug-
gestions to help strengthen this
Kriwoken raises a similar question
for the Arctic, and sets out to exam-
ine and assess the extent of environ-
mental change in that region.
Kriwoken addresses several areas
that are particularly vulnerable to
environmental change, such as
freshwater systems, terrestrial and
marine ecosystems, human popula-
tion and the atmosphere. In partic-
ular, Kriwoken suggests that the
health and livelihood of indigenous
people will be threatened.
Part II deals with geostrategic
dynamics in the polar oceans, ana-
lyzing the power politics in the
Polar Regions. Huebert observes
that there are two major geopoliti-
cal trends in the Arctic that are
increasingly in conf‌lict with each
other. On the one hand, he observes
that there is a political and public
effort that the Arctic shall continue
to develop as a zone of peace and
cooperation, but at the same time
the Arctic States are developing
their national security instruments
to protect their interests. The secu-
rity situation and power politics in
the Antarctic region seem to be of a
different nature.
Weber observes that the dynamics
and power politics within the
Antarctic governing regime must be
examined both on a State level and
as part of a broader system of inter-
national governance. The Antarctic
is currently managed by a small
number of States in the interests of
all, and the Antarctic Treaty System
(ATS) accordingly relies on the
international communitys accep-
tance of its authority. Weber asserts
that the ATS and hegemony of
power held by the key Antarctic
States is currently stable and unli-
kely to be immediately challenged,
but it may be strategically under-
mined in the long term for exam-
ple, due to the participation of new
and less traditionalStates who will
bring new values and interests to
the organization.
The contributing authors in Part III
raise questions of resource manage-
ment, environmental protection,
sovereignty and jurisdiction. Kadir
raises the overall question of
ª2015 John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK and 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA.
RECIEL 25 (1) 2016. ISSN 2050-0386 DOI: 10.1111/reel.12107
Review of European Community & International Environmental Law

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