For millennia, human beings have taken advantage of ocean usage in multiple ways. The oceans serve as transport media, provide food and other resources, and serve as a sink for human waste. For several decades the oceans have also served as a source of fossil fuel exploitation, with gas hydrates exploration as one of the most recent developments. A severe problem with living ocean resources is their overuse. Due to ill-defined property rights and missing or insufficient rules and regulations, ocean resources and services are being used in an unsustainable way. Exploitation of common property resources under open access has led to over-harvesting and severe stock depletion of major seafood species. This kind of overuse calls for national or international coordination and agreements on limiting economic activities to sustainable levels and on associated management rules. This research proposal has therefore two main objectives: To explore the functioning and potentials of ocean resources on the one hand, and to develop improved management and governance rules, on the other. With respect to the resources, this proposal focuses on geological resources such as deep-sea ore deposits and methane hydrate accumulations, and biological resources such as fish and other living resources.
The aim of this research area is to better understand the formation and global distribution of geological seafloor resources and to evaluate the risks and benefits of their exploitation, to better understand the relationship between fishing practices and other human impacts on the genetic diversity and health of fish (and other seafood) stocks, and to define operational management rules and targets in the presence of common property and ill-defined property rights.