Ocean & Us

Who owns the ocean?

Who owns the ocean? How to advance global ocean policy in a fair and equitable way by respecting local coastal communities, their past and present culture and local knowledge? These questions have been at the forefront of Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) in the wake of the United Nation’s Convention on Biological Diversity (1992), its Nagoya Protocol (2010) and negotiations on marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) within the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
The St Kilda Diaries. The main street on the village of Hirta. Photographed by R Milne in 1907.
Copyright image © National Trust of Scotland.
The St Kilda Diaries. St Kilda woman at work. Photographed by R Milne in 1907. 
Copyright image © National Trust of Scotland.

A wide array of global and cross-disciplinary experts

This  RSE-funded 2-year research network builds on an existing RSE Saltire Workshop grant (2021-22), see https://www.skaje.uk/. It brings together a wide array of global and cross-disciplinary experts in law, philosophy of science, and marine science, working with local communities—from Scotland to South America and Oceania—and with a number of key policy stakeholders. Its aims are to build fair epistemological narratives about who owns the ocean, and in so doing to pave the way to more equitable ocean policy. 

Research Team

Principal Investigator (University of Edinburgh)

Michela Massimi is Professor of Philosophy of Science at the University of Edinburgh. She works on a range of topics in the history and philosophy of science and the epistemology of science, with a particular focus on realism and pluralism in science, perspectivism and situated knowledge. She was the PI of an ERC Consolidator Grant (2016-2021) and she is the author of the book Perspectival Realism (Oxford University Press, 2022). She was Vice-President of the European Philosophy of Science Association and she is President of the Philosophy of Science Association.

Co-Investigator (University of Aberdeen)

Abbe Brown is a Professor in Intellectual Property Law at the University of Aberdeen. Her research explores the intersection, or lack of it, between intellectual property and laws relating to other legal fields, to address key societal challenges. She is the co-author of Contemporary Intellectual Property: Law and Policy (OUP 2019) and the author of  Intellectual Property, Climate Change and Technology: Managing National Legal Intersections, Relationships and Conflicts (Edward Elgar 2019).  Abbe is a Senior Expert of the NERC’s Constructing A Digital Environment, a member of IUCN and DOSI and a member of the Technology Law and Practice Committee and the COP26 and Climate Change Working Group of the Law Society of Scotland.
Co-Investigator (University of Aberdeen)
Marcel Jaspars’ main expertise is in marine natural products which have potential for the discovery of new pharmaceuticals. His work is at the centre of the marine biodiscovery pipeline, and Marcel has frequent contact with people operating at all stages of this pipeline, from the collection and identification of the organisms to their testing in whole animal models. Marcel has been active at national and international levels to develop the science, its applications/industrial uptake and associated policy involved in marine biodiscovery and biotechnology. He provides scientific advice to the UK, EU and UN for global policy processes on ocean conservation via reports, papers and taking part in discussion meetings. More recently he has been involved in providing a definition of digital sequence information, a topic being discussed under the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Core Network Collaborators

Professor Rachel Ankeny (University of Adelaide, Australia)

Professor Rachel Ankeny  works at the intersection of history and philosophy of biomedical/biological sciences, science policy, and migration history. She is co-investigator on an Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC)  funded project entitled Improving Indigenous Research Capabilities: An Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Research Data Commons,  run by Prof Marcia Langton and the Indigenous Data Network (University of Melbourne).

Professor Margo Bagley (University, Georgia, USA)

Professor Margo Bagley is  Professor of Law at Emory University, Georgia, USA. She works on patents and biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and access to medicines, technology transfer, IP and social justice. Bagley serves on National Academies Committee on Advancing Commercialization from the Federal Laboratories. She is an expert technical advisor to the African Union and serves in WIPO Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore.

Professor Sabina Leonelli (University of Exeter)

Professor Sabina Leonelli is an expert in the philosophy, history and social studies of data-intensive science. Leonelli serves as Director of the Exeter Centre for the Study of the Life Sciences, and in 2016-2019 was a member of the Open Science Policy Platform of the European Commission and of the Global Young Academy, where she led the group preparing “Global Access to Open Software: The Forgotten Pillar of Open Science“, based on a survey in Ghana, Nigeria and Bangladesh.

Manuel Ruiz Muller (Independent consultant and researcher)

Manuel Ruiz Muller was Director and Principal Researcher of the Peruvian Society for Environmental law (SPDA) in Lima, Peru from 2000 to 2016. He is now an advisor to SPDA and independent consultant and researcher. He has participated in the Peruvian delegation in the CBD Conference of the Parties (access to genetic resources, intellectual property rights, biosafety, indigenous people’s rights). He is a consultant to the United Nations Development Programme, Andean Community, Food and Agriculture Organization, World Resources Institute and WIPO.