About the Observatory Apolimer

Photo A. Lambrechts ©

Apolimer is an international and interdisciplinary Observatory based on a network of researchers in natural and social sciences studying the governance of coastal and marine territories and resources towards (un)sustainability. Using the framework of social-ecological systems, it fosters adaptative management in order to develop pathways to sustainability. To this end, the network seeks to shed light on the balance of power in the governance of marine environments.

Built on three pillars (research, training and valorisation), Apolimer gathers members from several French research organisms as well as some foreign partners. Noticing that the social sciences of the politics are few represented in the study of « the seas and oceans governance », this Observatory aims to structure the researches and the actions to improve the sustainable management of the maritime areas, the marine environment and the biological and mineral resources. It echoes with the sustainable development objective n°14 (aquatic lives – UNO), which we analyse the foundations and the variations from international to local scales.

The group explores the contemporary fabrication of the different forms of governance of the seas with an attention to the marine resources management (halieutic, mineral, …) between exploitation and conservation. Mobilizing the social sciences (anthropology, political sciences, sciences studies), we are interested by the actors, groups and networks who « make » the governance of seas and oceans in the contemporary period.

The dispositions, resources and constraints, values, arguments and strategies are grasped with a social-anthropological approach and a consideration of ecological variables in the decision making and the collective action through permanently relationships between natural sciences researchers and environmental engineers. 

Apolimer has been funded by the UBO, the INEE French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and La Rochelle University’s Research Federation for Environmental Issues and Sustainable Development (FREDD). It is hosted by the Littoral Environment and Societies laboratory (LIENSs) at La Rochelle University and led by coordinators in the field of sustainability science based in La Rochelle at LIENSs and in Brest at LEMAR.

The Apolimer Observatory aims to provide long-term observational and integrated data on marine systems governance at the interface between climat, biodiversity and people. We explore the catgory of social-ecological systems as potential action and transformative catgory, from theory to pratctice. The concept of socai-ecological system or coupled human-environment system but above all, the principle of ecological solidarity in law appears to us  usufull too affirm the non separation between humans and nature. I.e. the need to go beyond the « great divide » between human and « nature », both from the point of view of the paradigms that we use to think about this relationship and from the point of view of our modes of action. Within this perspective, Apolimer is dedicated to the study of the power (un)balance 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. we diagnose the trajectories of socio-ecosystems towards sustainability – or unsustainability. We identify the social, economic, symbolic and ecological causes of blogging in the transformation towards sustainability in order to be able to propose concrete levers of action. To do this, we went systematically around the same objects and on the same action-research projects, disciplines in the perspective of global ecology, in order to help strengthen the utility and efficiency of the sciences of complex systems.
Action de Greenpeace sur le Binar 4, navire congélateur panaméen travaillant pour les flottilles de pêches chinoises qui oeuvrent au large des cotes africaines de Guinée, pêche pirate, poissons volés. STOLEN FISH. Port of Las Palmas, Spain. Greenpeace blocked for six days the unloading of the BINAR 4, a panamean reefer boat, because it was bringing into the european market 11 000 frozen boxes of fish caught in west africa waters by chinese trawlers. Greenpeace ship Esperanza had been previously to this direct action patrolling the area for 8 weeks and and managed to document many illegal operations. Las Palmas legal court accepted the evidence presented and fined the owner of the BINAR 4 the amount of 150 000 € and order the ship to be expelled from the Spanish national waters with its pirat cargo. This is a 2006 filler to my 2017 photo story Dark Nets

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 governance 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.