Ocean grabbing and its responses: a contemporary legal pluralist perspective

@ATREE auditorium at 3.45 pm on 7th December 2015


The ‘grabbing’ of marine and coastal resources, which is a topic of contemporary scholarly and policy concern, has clear connotations of legal pluralism. After all, the ‘grabbing’ of resources by powerful external parties is frequently legitimized by reference to law that differs from the norms and values of those from whom resources ‘are grabbed’. One-sided appropriation is thus the result of the asymmetrical interaction of legal systems and their adherents. Who are the grabbers, and who the victims? How can we understand the dynamics involved?
This paper considers the theory of ocean grabbing against the backdrop of intensified global usage of these geographical fringe zones. Examples are drawn from the conflict taking place in the Palk Bay between semi-industrial fishers from Tamil Nadu and their small-scale fisher colleagues in northern Sri Lanka.


Maarten Bavinck is professor in the Department of Human Geography at the University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and special professor at the University of Tromsø, Norway. He is founder/co-director of the social-science Centre for Maritime Research (MARE), and president of the international Commission on Legal Pluralism. He has authored a large number of articles and books on fisheries governance, with a focus on South Asia.