The human side of marine ecosystem-based management (EBM): ‘Sectoral interplay’ as a challenge to implementing EBM

K. A. Alexander*, M. Haward

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Although ecosystem-based management (EBM) has been adopted by many management organisations in principle, operationalising EBM has been problematic. A mismatch in institutional arrangements, created by the traditional sectoral focus of marine environmental and resource management, may be one factor acting against EBM implementation. To investigate this potential issue, this study focused on ‘sectoral interplay’ the challenges and tensions that prevent ‘whole of government’ cooperation, political consensus among conflicting user and interest groups, and collaboration between government and stakeholders that preconditon implementation of EBM. Four key challenges/tensions to sectoral interplay in marine EBM were found, including: governance structures and mechanisms, communication and sharing, participation and exclusion and fragmentation. Several ways in which these challenges/tensions could be addressed are proposed such as creating co-ordinating structures which operate across sectors and clarifying mandates and precedence between decision-making agencies. There are myriad case study examples from which to learn how to manage, and how not to manage, sectoral interplay in marine governance, and this should be the focus of future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-38
Number of pages6
JournalMarine Policy
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


  • Ecosystem based management
  • Governance
  • Institutional fit
  • Marine
  • Sectoral interplay

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • General Environmental Science
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Law


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