Smart Oceans: Artificial intelligence and marine protected area governance

TitleSmart Oceans: Artificial intelligence and marine protected area governance
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsBakker, K
JournalEarth System Governance
Keywordsartificial intelligence, Environmental sustainability, Governance, Machine learning, Marine protected areas

This article analyzes a novel example of emerging digitally-driven earth system governance in the field of marine biodiversity conservation: Artificial Intelligence-enabled, mobile marine protected areas (MMPAs). MMPAs are geographically dynamic, with mobile boundaries which change position as endangered species migrate through the ocean. This real-time, mobile, and potentially spatially ubiquitous form of ocean governance relies on digital hardware that collects data from various sources (e.g. nano-satellites, drones, environmental sensor networks, digital bioacoustics, marine tags, deep sea UAVs), combined with analytics such as machine learning algorithms, computer vision and ecological informatics techniques. MMPAs are justified on the basis of their ability to enable responsive, real-time adaptation to environmental variability, species mobility, and disturbance dynamics; hence, scientists and regulators are increasingly recommending the deployment of these AI-powered computational systems in the world’s oceans.