Working Group 5

Regional coordination and transboundary conservation

The European continent shares marine waters with the African and Asian continents and hence maritime governance is a highly complex socio-political issue. Numerous states cohabit this region with multiple borders and border disputes. Most of these political boundaries do not coincide with ecological boundaries. The connective nature of the marine environment further complicates this situation. This WG will look at the potential for the development of coordinated conservation across international marine borders. It will explore the conditions for the development of successful transboundary conservation in a region of multiple states. It will seek to analyse how regional agreements can successfully apply international conventions for marine conservation. In addition it will study the role of the EU as a catalyst and facilitating organisation and in particular the role of EU legislation and policy diffusion into third states. It will consider the role of conservation as a means to facilitate other objectives, such as conflict resolution, engaging with the relevant stakeholders and authorities.


  • T5.1 Review the current maritime laws and agreements applicable to the European and contiguous waters. This includes the application of UNCLOS in the region, the development of bilateral and multilateral treaties, EU directives and policies, and European and International Court decisions and arbitrations. In addition this task will analyse the role of ‘soft’ agreements, such as Memorandums of Understanding and other forms of informal agreements at work in the region.
  • T5.2 Review of the ongoing maritime and terrestrial border disputes between adjacent countries. Combining the data from the other ongoing WGs, this task will develop a conflict conservation framework for the ongoing maritime disputes in the region. Taking international relations data, it will analyse these disputes and identify areas of mutual interest and potential cooperation.
  • T5.3 Application of framework to three pilot areas. Selection of three maritime areas where disputes over the demarcation of the borders occur. Take a deeper look at the underlying conflict and analyse the potential for conservation conflict resolution.


  1. Desk study on the formal and informal rules in place, and the role of transnational institutions in developing transboundary conservation.
  2. A series of workshops will be held within the body of the main COST Action, bringing together an interdisciplinary group of researchers; short training across disciplines to ensure understanding and compatibility.
  3. Site visits and short term scientific missions to successful transboundary protected sites for the elaboration of best practice measures, such as Wadden Sea Area and Strait of Bonifacio.


  • M5.1 Two Workshops (Years 1 and 2).
  • M5.2 Short Term Scientific Mission in the Wadden Sea (Year 2).
  • M5.3 Short Term Scientific Mission in the Strait of Bonifacio (Year 3).
  • M5.4 Presentation of framework (Year 4).


  • D5.1 Policy document identifying all of the relevant formal and informal rules and agreements.
  • D5.2 Paper identifying the opportunities for the development of transboundary conservation sites in the region and presentation at international conference or congress.
  • D5.3 Trans-WG paper utilising the interdisciplinary knowledge of the COST Action formulating a framework for conservation conflict resolution and international presentation.
  • D5.4 Shadow policy documents for the three pilot areas identified in T5.3.