About Apolimer

The Apolimer network studies social-ecological systems at the confluence of air, land, and sea. Social-ecological systems studies reject the separation between humans and nature, highlighting the need to study together politics, economics, ecology, climate and other sciences in order to fully understand or manage a system. Within this perspective, Apolimer is dedicated to the study of the power relations in the governance of seas and oceans, particularly on the management of marine resources, both biological and mineral, and in the current context of global change.

Apolimer’s first goal is to shed light on the governance of seas and oceans, in order to put forward the social and ecological conditions for true sustainable management, beyond greenwashing, calls to sustainability, or declarations of intentions. Its second goal is to provide guidelines for concrete transformations towards a sustainable future for marine environments and the people who depend upon them. To that end, the network seeks levers to initiate or recover social-ecological modes of management, in awareness of the power relations and the diverging interests that often cause resistance.

Balance of power

Apolimer studies what the rise in power of the paradigm of sustainability does to political regimes, institutions, and both public and private stakeholders who intervene in the regulation of access and use of spaces and resources at sea. Who manages the sea, and how? Who makes decisions, and given which criteria? To whom do the spaces and resources belong? Who collects the retributions of their uses? Apolimer notably decrypts the balance of power, the conflits and coalitions that spread tensions between conservation and exploitation around current stakes related to the appropriation of seas and oceans. Apolimer researchers thus work on the biological resources, including fishery, which are emblematic of relations between science, politics, economy, ecology, industry and traditional practices, and also study political stakes around mineral resources, fossil fuels and rare earth elements.

Bâtiments ex-communistes sur la côte de Tiksi
Tiksi, on the coast of the Laptev Sea, republic of Sakha, Russia, 2014.

Interdisciplinarity is at the heart of the network. Apolimer seeks to gather academic forces to analyze together the ways in which nature is governed and resources are regulated. Whereas interdisciplinarity is often organized within the same science group, Apolimer brings together the natural and engineering sciences while interacting with other representatives of society (e. g. managers, elected officials, activists, fishermen, or shipowners). Long missions are thus favored, allowing close interaction with local actors and a rebalancing of power. This approach revives the tradition of field anthropology on human / nature relationships, a great divide that Apolimer studies in order to overcome it.

Sustainable development

Born in 2013, the network was developed by the anthropologist of politics Camille Mazé and the biogeochemist Olivier Ragueneau. Supported by the University of Western Brittany (UBO) and the Laboratory of Environmental Marine Sciences (LEMAR, Brest), Apolimer then became a certified international interdisciplinary thematic network (RTPi) of the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), linked to the Institute of Ecology and Environment (INEE). Apolimer is now hosted by the Littoral Environment and Societies laboratory (LIENSs) at La Rochelle University. Apolimer is currently funded by the CNRS, of which it is an international interdisciplinary thematic network (RTPi), hosted by the Littoral Environment and Societies laboratory (LIENSs) at La Rochelle University. Apolimer is also supported by La Rochelle University’s Research Federation for Environmental Issues and Sustainable Development (FREDD).