As one who has taught international ocean law and management at the graduate level for almost twenty years, I have been surprised repeatedly by the lack of knowledge of the historical context of ocean policy on the part of students and even professionals in the field. A number of current concerns of ocean policy such as overfishing and protection of stocks of marine mammals have a relevant past which may be instructive for contemporary observers. Further, it is important to note that marine policy, like all policy, emerges through an evolutionary process rather than as a whole cloth developed by some group of omniscient specialists without reference to historical context.
The purpose of this work is to examine the evolution of ocean use management efforts from the period of Hugo Grotius to the present, through an examination and analysis of the interplay of changing perceptions and scientific understanding of the oceans and its resources, the quantitative and qualitative changes in ocean uses, altered human expectations of the oceans, new technologies, and the consequent evolution of legal arrangements for the management of ocean space as attempts are made to accommodate new imperatives.
The book proceeds chronologically and at each stage considers the contextual mix of societal concerns, technological capability, scientific understanding, and public perception. It examines the interplay of such forces and considers how they contribute to the ongoing development at the international level of the legal framework and institutional arrangements for ocean use management. Moreover, without being all-inclusive, it seeks to provide an historical context in which to evaluate future options.