Marine Ecosystem Governance in the Making : Planning for petroleum activity in the Barents Sea-Lofoten area

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Marine Ecosystem Governance in the Making : Planning for petroleum activity in the Barents Sea-Lofoten area


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Title: Marine Ecosystem Governance in the Making : Planning for petroleum activity in the Barents Sea-Lofoten area
Author: Knol, Maaike
Date: 25-Mar-2011
Type: Doctoral thesis; Doktorgradsavhandling
Abstract: Expanding petroleum activity in the Barents Sea-Lofoten area has worked as a catalyst for the development and introduction of the first integrated, ecosystem-based management plan in Norway. This plan sets the framework, in particular, for further petroleum activities. Building on Science and Technology Studies (STS) this thesis provides an analysis of the practices and instrumentation of marine ecosystem governance, which encompasses the broader dynamics around the introduction of integrated, ecosystem-based management. It follows processes of co-production at the science-policy interface and analyzes how scientific knowledge is mobilized and translated into governance practices and policy instrumentation for the regulation of oil and gas activities and their related risks and uncertainties. While the thorough expert processes are characterized by a focus on integrated natural scientific knowledge production, the political implementation of marine ecosystem governance is characterized by the introduction of rather general, rigid policy measures. This comes to light when studying the two main instruments for the regulation of petroleum activity in the Barents Sea-Lofoten area: a zoning arrangement and a zero discharge regulation. These instruments function as the obligatory passage points for the expansion of petroleum activity into the Barents Sea area. Apart from designing durable and mobile instruments, the design processes for ecosystem governance are directed at building in responsiveness to environmental change. This, however, does not necessarily provide guidance to governance intervention when the critical limits of the ecosystem are within reach. Since risk is a central organizing concept in the governance of oil and gas activities, this thesis looks into the governance of risk related to normal petroleum operations, as well as to events of acute pollution. It demonstrates the relevance to study risk assessment and management as a part of a complex process that includes politics as much as science. This thesis emphasizes the centrality of uncertainties and knowledge gaps in marine governance practices, and develops the argument that the focus on knowledge gaps illuminates the dominant framings of risk. Although the production of more knowledge can lead to a refinement of the very notion of risk, this thesis emphasizes that scientific and social indeterminacy are constant challenges to be dealt with.
Description: The Papers in this thesis are not available in Munin:
1.Knol, Maaike: 'Scientific advice in integrated ocean management : The process towards the Barents Sea plan', Marine Policy 34 (2): 252-260 (publishers' restriction). Available at
2. Knol, Maaike: 'Mapping ocean governance : From ecological values to policy instrumentation' (accepted manuscript version). Published version: Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, Vol. 54, No. 7, September 2011, 979–995, available at
3. Knol, Maaike: 'Constructing knowledge gaps in Barents Sea management : How uncertainties become objects of risk', MAST 9(1): 61-79 (Publishers' restriction).
4. Knol, Maaike: 'The uncertainties of precaution : Zero discharges in the Barents Sea', Marine Policy Volume 35, Issue 3, 2011, Pages 399-404 (Publishers' restriction). Available at
Publisher: Universitetet i Tromsø; University of Tromsø

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