The definition of maritime boundaries has been a drawn-out affair, full of conflict even before the arguments over the concept of “the free sea” (Grotius 1609) and “the closed sea” (Selden 1635) were adopted by contesting States for control of maritime trade. Compromise led to the development of customary international law based on the territorial and high seas system which was later codified by the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea. However, the realization that a wealth of resources lay hidden within and below the waters has led adjacent States to claim wider ribbons of the marine environment, with the increasing definition of continental shelves and exclusive economic zones (EEZs), and variations therein. The sectoral and fragmented governance regime for the high seas and the area beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) allows competent States and organizations to appropriate a greater share of the natural resources (Hart 2008). If these regions are to be equitably and sustainably used, a balance needs to be found between the common heritage principle and the open access regime (Balgos et al. 2008; Molenaar & Oude Elferink 2009). While the governance of the high seas and the ABNJ are ongoing international debates, resource conservation and disputes between neighboring States is generally considered a domestic issue, and the focus of this review. Ideally, coastal States will create marine spatial plans (MSPs) to manage their maritime space (Pomeroy 2009; Agardy 2010). As MSPs develop, neighboring States will need to coordinate management where ecosystems extend and migratory species roam across international boundaries to effectively control these shared common regional resources (Brunner 2003). Does this increasing appropriation of the marine environment hinder conservation? Or is there an opportunity to advance goodwill between States and achieve conservation targets simultaneously?
Globalization and the rise of regional cooperation, particularly in peace and economic cooperation, have contributed to the development of transboundary initiatives (Katerere et al. 2001). The latest United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) inventory includes 227 transboundary conservation areas (TBCAs) worldwide (Lysenko et al. 2007). Although the appeal of these initiatives is gathering momentum seeking to combine two or more States for conservation can be a complex undertaking (Westing 1998). This is unless there are other advantages that provide for social, economic, or political gain which may stimulate and maintain governmental will and interest.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) provides separate definitions for transboundary protected areas and peace parks. Although a transboundary protected area refers to a region straddling international or subnational boundaries dedicated to the protection and maintenance of biological diversity, natural and cultural resources, a peace park specifically adds the concept of promoting of peace and cooperation between States (Sandwith et al. 2001). In this review, transboundary marine conservation initiative will be used as an overarching term to describe these areas, unless the terms peace park or protected area are applied to specific initiatives.
Regardless of the definition, all transboundary initiatives require cooperation. The concept of combining conservation and politics to benefit in harmony, rather than at the expense of one another, should be attractive to both environmentalists and politicians (Hammill & Besançon 2007). Where relations are good between States, political boundaries may be fluid allowing parks to develop cooperation at management level. This is illustrated by the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park dedicated in 1932 as a symbol of peace and cooperation between the United States and Canada (Lieff & Lusk 1990). The management teams of the two parks collaborate on research, wildlife management, search and rescue, visitor services, and other partnerships (Prato 2003). Although cooperation is informal, its long-term nature has led to a high degree of institutional memory and trust (Tanner et al. 2007). This marks the positive end of the cooperative spectrum. At the other end of the spectrum is the conflict on the Korean Peninsula. The buffer zone between the two States has been a de facto wildlife refuge since their separation in 1953 (Thorsell & Harrison 1990). Despite the ongoing conflict the Korean demilitarized zone is now being promoted as a potential UNESCO World Heritage Site (Lee 2010). At various other points along the cooperative spectrum sit the other 225 TBCAs recognized by UNEP.
As with most conservation measures, work on transboundary initiatives has been dominated by the terrestrial environment (Ali 2007; Lysenko et al. 2007). Yet the ecological dynamics and legal ambiguity of the marine environment may lend itself to the concept more readily than on the land (McDowell 1998). Although borders may be defined on paper, they are blurred on the sea by the absence of clear physical boundaries, leading to disputes over “ownership” (Blake 1998). Biogeographical complexity and difficulties in undertaking direct observation make the marine environment inherently uncertain. Connectivity makes all forms of borders more permeable, enabling the free movement of groups and individuals of animal and plant species, as well as humans (Carr et al. 2003). Yet, as technology allows greater exploration and exploitation of marine resources, and maritime States declare governance over wider swaths, there will be increasing conflict. Cross border conservation initiatives are increasingly being proposed in the marine environment with some, at least partially, having nonconservation dimensions such as promoting peace, resolving shared problems, or creating shared opportunities.
A review of the available literature, including peer-reviewed texts, NGO reports, and official memorandums and agreements initially provided 20 potential case studies. After reexamining these sites, nine State-sanctioned initiatives were selected and are considered in this article. These sites were selected due to the presence of a governmental agreement or statement of intent to give institutional justification for the development of the initiatives (Table 1). This article summarizes the essential elements of these initiatives and their level of success. In addition, six concept proposals are listed and referenced in an attempt to highlight the growing interest in this phenomenon. In this manner, the article aims to provide insights and stimulate further debate to the role of these initiatives in the marine environment.
|Wadden Sea Area (WSA)||1982: Joint Declaration on Protection between Denmark, Germany, and Holland|
|International Marine Park of the Mouths of Bonifacio (IMPMB)||1992: Adoption of bilateral protocol for protection between France and Italy|
|Red Sea Marine Peace Park (RSMPP)||1994: Trilateral agreement between Israel, Jordan, and the United States|
|Turtle Islands Heritage Protected Area (TIHPA)||1996: Bilateral agreement between Philippines and Malaysia|
|Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System (MBRS)||1997: Declaration for establishment of protection between Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras|
|Pelagos Sanctuary for Mediterranean Marine Mammals||1999: Trilateral agreement between Monaco, Italy, and France, enters into force 2002|
|Marine Conservation Corridor of the Tropical Eastern Pacific (ETP)||2004: The Declaration of Establishment by Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, and Ecuador|
|Marine Peace Park Korea||2007: Joint Declaration of Intent between North Korea and South Korea|
|Coral Triangle (CTI)||2009: Regional Declaration and Plan of Action endorsed by the six nations in the Coral Triangle|
The Wadden Sea Area (WSA) is one of the largest wild marine intertidal ecosystems in Europe. After the Second World War, scientists from Denmark, Germany, and Holland documented the importance of this region, which was also promoted for conservation by regional NGOs (Enemark 2005). The WSA hosts important wild bird populations, marine mammals, and fish species in addition to protected habitats (Commission of the European Communities [CEC] 2007). Cooperative management for the Trilateral Wadden Sea Cooperation Area is based on the Wadden Sea Plan (1997) with the overall objective to protect, conserve, and manage the area while allowing sustainable use (Enemark 2005). The Common Wadden Sea Secretariat (CWSS) is tasked to coordinate management, develop common targets, and provide for shared monitoring. Of particular importance for future cooperation of the area as an ecological unit is the application of European Union (EU) legislation. The latest Wadden Sea Plan (2010) incorporates all the relevant EU directives into management (CWSS 2010). The CWSS is funded by direct contributions from the three States with specific projects funded from various other sources, including EU funds. Finally, political commitment to the area remains high as recognized by the trilateral reaffirmed joint declaration on protection in 2010.
The trinational Pelagos Sanctuary for Mediterranean Marine Mammals was designated to protect the Ligurian permanent frontal system which supports cetacean foraging and breeding habitats (Notarbartolo di Sciara et al. 2009). In 1991, the area was promoted by local and national NGOs, with personal interest and support from Prince Rainier of Monaco and the then Ministers of the Environment for France and Italy (Notarbartolo di Sciara et al. 2008). An informal agreement was made for French support of the Pelagos initiative; in return Italy supported the French proposal for the International Marine Park of the Mouths of Bonifacio (IMPMB) (Notarbartolo di Sciara et al. 2009). The development of the initiative took advantage of the favorable political climate, high public opinion, and developing international agreements which resulted in rapid advances in the proposal. Yet although the Pelagos agreement was signed in 1999 and entered into force in 2002, there is no clear governance arrangement. The contracting parties meet on a triannual basis to develop the political resolutions for the area, but there is no defined management board. As such the Agreement Secretariat, which is understaffed and underfunded, acts as a surrogate management body (Notarbartolo di Sciara 2009). The change from the initial “visionary” stage of the proposal to the mundane administrative stage has also led to a decline in political will for the project (Notarbartolo di Sciara et al. 2009). Partially located within the boundaries of the Pelagos sanctuary is the IMPMB. This area is coordinated by the Office for the Environment of Corsica and Maddalena National Park, Sardinia. The IMPMB has funding and commitment from both governments, recognition as part of the EU Natura 2000 network and appears to be establishing a long-term partnership (Chevalier 2004).
The Red Sea Marine Peace Park (RSMPP) was initiated as part of the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan in 1994. It provides for the sustainable use and conservation of the shared coral reefs of the region. Specifically, threats from increasing shipping had the potential to undermine tourism development based on diving and marine resources (Crosby et al. 2002). Jordan and Israel, with the support of the United States, agreed to develop a binational Marine Peace Park facilitated through the RSMPP Project. The Project, managed by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), had a primary objective of initiating cooperative research and monitoring in the region (Crosby 2003). Although the primary objective was fulfilled and some cooperative programs are ongoing, the RSMPP has failed to accomplish other goals, such as the development of a joint management institution (Portman 2007).
The Turtle Islands Heritage Protected Area (TIHPA) is an initiative developed in a region with a long-term maritime border dispute between Malaysia and the Philippines (Guerreiro et al. 2010). The conservation aim of the TIHPA is to protect regionally important rookeries for endangered turtle species (Esteban 2008). The memorandum of agreement was signed in 1996 between Malaysia and the Philippines; however ongoing work in the region, associated with the Sulu–Sulawesi Seas program of the WWF, is promoting the expansion of the area to include the Derawan Islands of Indonesia (Trono & Cantos 2002). The initiative aims to coordinate information, establish monitoring programs, and develop appropriate ecotourism. Although there is a joint management committee, composed of representatives from both States and a framework for cooperative management, the areas are currently managed separately according to State jurisdictions (Esteban 2008).
The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System (MBRS) is the second largest barrier reef system in the world, stretching from Mexico through Belize and Guatemala to Honduras (Kramer et al. 2002). The system includes important habitats, such as reefs, mangroves, and sea grass meadows, many of which are included in the 60 MPAs registered in the region (Agudelo 2007). The Mesoamerican Barrier Reef initiative was declared by the party States in 1997 with the large international conservation NGOs, including WWF, the Nature Conservancy, the World Resources Institute, and the Coral Reef Alliance, playing a fundamental role in identifying priorities, obtaining funding and engaging with stakeholders (Kramer et al. 2002; Arrivillaga 2007). Later in 2001 the World Bank sponsored MBRS Project prioritized strengthening of the existing MPAs in the region, especially in transboundary locations (World Bank 2007). In addition, the project has established two transboundary park commissions with an aim to aid consultation, coordination, and management (Guerreiro et al. 2010). The project has had high levels of political support and broad stakeholder participation. Results include the institutional strengthening of MPA sites, training of personnel for public awareness and education, and equitable transparent project management (World Bank 2007). However long-term sustainability is dependent on securing further funding and the establishment of a permanent coordinating institution (World Bank 2007).
The Marine Conservation Corridor of the Eastern Tropical Pacific (ETP) is an area of high endemism and biological diversity, and important for the convergence of major marine currents (NOAA 2006). Originally, envisaged to connect the Galapagos, Malpelo, Cocos, and Coiba regions, the initiative has expanded to cover habitats including coastal zones, island archipelagos, and oceanic EEZs of Costa Rica, Panama, Columbia, and Ecuador (Bensted-Smith & Kirkman 2010). The aim of the initiative is to coordinate planning and management of the region, including the conservation of migratory species and the enhancement of capacity for MPA administration (NOAA 2006). The governments of the region committed to the agreement in 2004 with facilitation being undertaken and funded by large international conservation NGOs. Concern exists over securing long-term international funding, development of sustainable governance structures, and opposition to the concept by some Ecuadorian stakeholders (Bensted-Smith & Kirkman 2010).
Korean peace parks have been the subject of discussion for several decades (Thorsell & Harrison 1990). However, it has only been recently that the concept was extended into the marine environment. At the 2007 Korean Summit, the intent to create a Special Peace and Cooperation Zone along the disputed border of the West Sea was declared (Nam et al. 2007). The maritime border has been disputed and has been the scene of armed conflict, particularly, over fishing rights and the sovereignty of the islands (Kotch & Abbey 2003). The objectives of the zone are peace settlement and benefit sharing of the West Sea, specifically to address the mutual problem caused by illegal Chinese fishing (Nam et al. 2007). To implement this agreement, both North and South Korea have formulated a joint committee to create the zone. However, relations remain tense between the two States and little further cooperation has developed.
Although the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) is in the early stages of development there have been numerous projects in the region. The CTI does however represent the first collaborative project to be undertaken between the six States of Indonesia, the Philippines, East Timor, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, and Malaysia (Knight & Newman 2010). The area incorporates over 5 million square kilometers and is highly diverse with around 75% of the world's coral species present (Pitcher et al. 2007). Within its boundaries are numerous MPAs, including the TIHPA. The scale of the initiative has two advantages: it covers transboundary ecological processes and has the capacity to attract large-scale investment from funders (Bensted-Smith & Kirkman 2010). The CTI is considered as being a successful initiative by the partners due to three main factors: the open and transparent working environment, the development of alternative employment opportunities, and availability of microfinancing measures. However, concerns remain over the financial sustainability and the development of long-term governance arrangements (Bensted-Smith & Kirkman 2010).
In recent years, several other marine peace park or marine transboundary protected area concepts have been promoted and documented, but as yet have not received political commitments by the States involved. These include the Spratly Islands International Marine Peace Park (McManus 1992; McManus et al. 2010), Kuril Islands Peace Park (Lambacher 2007), the East Africa transboundary MPA Network (Guerreiro et al. 2010, 2011), the transboundary MPA for the Northern Adriatic (Mackelworth 2010), the Wider Caribbean (Ogden 2010), and the Mediterranean Marine Peace Parks (CIESM 2011). The development of these proposals indicates the growing interest in transboundary conservation initiatives in the marine environment. However, due to various issues including: the emergent status of these initiatives; the lack of a trigger, such as an imminent mutual economic opportunity or environmental threat; or the absence of a high level advocate, has limited their development at the current time.