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Genevieve Quirk
Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security

The maritime space is vital to international peace and security and the functioning of the global ecosystem. Global environmental interdependence requires States to find new diplomatic solutions to balance their sovereign rights and international duties for the protection of the marine environment. The marine ecosystems of Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs) are at the vanguard of adverse impacts from global drivers of ocean change like climate change, ocean acidification, and deoxygenation. The ensuing crisis to the marine life in our oceans threatens the functions integral to the economy, diverse cultures and food security of Oceania. Today ocean change demands a governance architecture of sufficient scale for coherent interventions to preserve ecosystem integrity.

The Pacific’s vast cradle of marine life presents a unique challenge for oceans governance. The UNSG’s newly appointed Special Envoy for the Oceans emphasizes the need for solutions to address human-induced ocean change to reverse the cycle of ocean decline.  This research responds to this challenge by focusing on the important role of Oceania’s regional scale of governance in promoting coherence in oceans governance. The PICTs evolved collective governance to reframe their stewardship over a common ocean space they label the ‘Blue Pacific Continent’. As Oceania is ranked among the most coherent of regional oceans governance arrangements this region may provide insights into meeting the interdependent issues of ocean decline in the Anthropocene. Oceania’s regional-scale oceans governance, with its qualities of transcending national and sectoral interests is manifestly of value in an era of ocean change.

Genevieve Quirk MEL (ANU), DULF (Paris III), Bsc (UQ) is a PhD candidate in Law at the Australian National Center for Ocean Resources and Security and recipient of the Australian Postgraduate Award and the Global Challenges PhD Scholarship. Genevieve examines how the integration of regional oceans governance in Oceania contributes to the evolution of the law of the sea. Professionally, Genevieve has worked internationally in policy advising for oceans governance reform in the South Pacific, European Union (EU), Antarctica and Australia. In her most recent professional role she was based in Brussels coordinating campaigns and advocating for fisheries governance reform to the officials of the EU Commission, Council and Parliament. Genevieve is an Earth System Governance Project Research Fellow, was a visiting scholar at the East West Center in Hawaii and joined the Australian delegation to the United Nations on oceans governance relating to SDG14 and Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction.

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