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Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

Framing Matters for Ontological Politics of the Ocean: Contrasting European Union Policy Framings with Recreationists' Alternative Experiences of a Living Sea World

Leposa, Neva; Knutsson, Per


Several political and academic arenas have been turning their focus to the seas. In the EU, the need to govern and plan sustainable uses of the seas has primarily been expressed through the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) and Maritime Spatial Planning Directive (MSPD). This paper analyses the different sea worlds as well as conceptualizations of the sea, expressed by recreationists on one hand, who experience the sea in terms of connections and as unbounded and alive, and the marine management documents on the other, where the sea is portrayed as a passive utility in need of organization. It argues that using particular frameworks, the process of sea governance provides grounds for cognitive inequality. The paper contributes to ontological politics by empirically portraying how the 'protected sea' mingles with sea realities, such as 'free seas', and '(un)safe seas', whereas the latter two are underrepresented in the policy documents.


Marine governance; maritime spatial planning directive; marine strategy framework directive; ontological politics; recreation; sea

Published in

Society and Natural Resources
2024, Volume: 37, number: 5, pages: 752-768

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG14 Life below water
    SDG16 Peace, justice and strong institutions

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

    Publication identifier


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