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Reviewed by:
  • Globalization and the World Ocean
  • Barbie Bischof
Jacques, Peter . 2006. Globalization and the World Ocean. Globalization and the Environment Series. Lanham, MD: Alta Mira Press.

In Globalization and the World Ocean, Peter Jacques addresses the connections between our knowledge about and use of ocean space, and the social, political and economic institutions and philosophies that guide these efforts. This book, a political ecology of the ocean, provides an excellent overview of the economic and political links to the physical state of our seas. First, Jacques explains how globalization has shaped our world, economically, politically and environmentally, emphasizing how oceans affect and have been affected by this phenomenon. In the subsequent chapters Jacques explains his approach, defines necessary terms, and presents a general picture of what we understand about fisheries, coral reefs, and global climate change and its effects. By linking the creation and use of scientific knowledge with the resulting governance structures and economic policies, he demonstrates that current neoliberal philosophies of maximum extraction are simply not sustainable in what he calls the "World Ocean."

Jacques argues that the guiding principles of post-colonial neoliberal capitalism, based on the open use and a-territorial status of ocean space rooted in the Atlantic trade networks of the sixteenth century, continue to reproduce inequitable power relationships and generate non-sustainable uses of marine resources. He focuses on three very different regions that all have equally deep spatial, cultural, economic connections to marine space: the South Pacific, the Caribbean, and Southeast Asia. Jacques borrows from E. M. Borgese's approach to sustainability, defined as the evolution of nonviolent interdisciplinary governance accountable to multiple levels of human organization, guided by global human material equity, and supported by productive ecologies. He connects dominant paradigms about marine and atmospheric science to the human responses to direct them through economic, political and social organizations. Jacques concludes that despite distinct regional differences, the failure to deviate from the existing trends of globalization in the oceans will likely lead to intensifying and increasingly destructive marine ecosystem exploitation, increasing disparity of wealth and poverty, land loss for low-lying coastal states [End Page 138] through sea-level rise, continued climate change, and heightened conflicts among stakeholders on all levels.

Jacques filters his regional descriptions through three main theoretical lenses: complex systems theory (CST), hermeneutics, and critical theory. CST provides clarification through its ability to deconstruct connections and relationships within a complex and ever-changing network. Hermeneutics offers an approach by which to construct global comprehensive narratives on ocean space. Critical theory dissects power hierarchies and associated economic structures that inform global connections of trade and governance. Through these approaches, Jacques shows how the reach of economic globalization institutionalizes economistic and neo-liberal tenets and inevitably results in an unsustainable use of the World Ocean. He demonstrates that the hapless, short-term perspectives on fisheries, marine ecosystem health, and climate change fostered by the institutions designed to function within our neoliberal global economy fortify power hierarchies and make challenging the status quo more and more difficult. For example, although the depletion of world fisheries is clearly linked to overfishing, it is the historic investments and intense overcapitalization of the fishing industry and the institutions it generated that inhibit collective governance to reduce fishing pressure, while small-scale stakeholders are hit the hardest by any regulatory efforts given their limited access to governance and management institutions.

Globalization and the World Ocean provides a poignant critique of the application of neo-liberal politics, and its associated economic structures, in ocean space. Jacques reveals how current economic and socio-political philosophies remove the institutional restraints necessary to slow the steady march towards marine habitat destruction and ominous atmospheric change. He demonstrates how wealthy states can undermine democratic efforts of distributional justice and doom legitimate long-term social and environmental programs of coral reef and fisheries health by placing economics, trade, and maximum resource extraction as the universal objective for economic growth and development.

Yet the book hits on a subtle but potentially hopeful development. In every regional analysis, Jacques points out, research showed an increase in the production of local knowledge-building based on information from traditional, tribal, artisanal (or other such...


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pp. 138-139
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