Persistent problems in Australian attempts at integrated ocean management (IOM)

Fullbrook L1,2

1Center of Marine SocioEcology (CMS),

2School of Social Sciences, College of Art, Law & Education, University Of Tasmania (UTAS)


Our oceans are becoming a final frontier for natural resources. This is in response to continued global population growth, increasing per capita consumption in many parts of the world, and a rapidly changing climate. This has led to ‘Blue Growth’ through expanding activities beyond shallow coastal areas and rapid technological advancement, meaning exploitation of previously inaccessible resources is becoming not only feasible, but imminent. As a result, the ocean space is becoming increasingly crowded and complex with different aims and objectives for resource use. Integrated Ocean Management (IOM) has regularly been proposed as a potential solution to challenges arising from Blue Growth – as an important component of sustainable development agendas and as a pathway to advancing ocean governance. It has become a key part of many management tools and approaches  increasingly used around the world. However, despite successful IOM representing an ideal scenario, in reality, attempts have often fallen short of original aspirations. In this presentation, I bring the concept of ‘persistent problems’ from the study of governance transformations and apply it to IOM in Australia. I identify some of the persistent problems which continually hamper Australian IOM attempts, and which are likely to affect future management of ‘Blue Growth’. I also discuss the need to establish the root causes and underlying features which create and change these ‘problems’, arguing that for successful IOM we may be required to take a step back and identify why these problems exist.


Originally from Ireland, I previously studied Marine Science at the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG), and Environmental Engineering and Conservation of the Environment at the University of Southampton (UoS). I subsequently spent several years working in a variety of roles, including science communication and knowledge transfer, research in ecology and conservation and as marine field consultant in a high-level UK consultancy. These experiences allowed me to develop an understanding of the multiple perspectives and uses of our oceans and the complexity around managing them.  I am currently working on a PhD at UTAS focusing on management of Australia’s oceans and how current management regimes and approaches may be inadequate for both current and future challenges.