Two characteristics of the development of marine environmental policy that are also logistic and organisational difficulties to anyone engaged in this field are that it needs to encompass two dimensions that are not easily manageable in parallel:

(1) an issue-specific approach of marine environmental issues which focuses on understanding each issue (e.g. the impact of climate change, ocean acidification, marine plastics, underwater noise, sensitive areas and species, etc.). This approach includes an important component of marine sciences. Marine environmental issues are more often than not cross-sectoral by nature, meaning that they are not specific to one sector of activity at sea or one intergovernmental body. They also often extend beyond a particular regional ocean basin.

ACOPS WGs have been created to focus our contribution on our areas of expertise and particular interest.The marine environmental management of a regional sea area such as the Arctic, the North Atlantic, the Mediterranean Sea, the Caribbean Sea or the South China Sea also require a cross-sectoral and integrated approach to all activities at sea within this sea. ACOPS has been involved in the Arctic for decades through the Arctic Council. ACOPS’ Trustees and Friends are also involved through their research in other regional seas. For example, Youna Lyons has a particular interest on the management and protection of the marine environment in the seas of Southeast Asia. 

(2) a body-specific approach to the development of marine environment policy. This approach can be sectoral (i.e. IMO for shipping), regional (i.e. the Arctic Council and OSPAR) or topic specific (within the mandate of the body, i.e. the London Convention and its Protocol). A such, this approach focuses on developments under the auspices of intergovernmental bodies, each of which having its own mandate, rules of procedure, practices and idiosyncrasies and a specialised community. These are the subject of another tab of this website ‘The Making of Ocean Policy’.