Nadège LEGROUX, French Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD), Agence française de développement (AFD), France
Estienne RODARY, French Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD), France
The offshore ocean is experiencing an unprecedented transformation. While historically constructed as a space beyond frontiers where only merchants, military and fishermen used to wander (1), the identification of potentially fixed spatial objects pushes global frontier dynamics far away from its shores. In this recent scramble for the sea (2), new spatiality is being devised, constructed and shaped within boundary objects such as marine protected areas, trade and geopolitical routes, libertarian seasteads or offshore exploitation sites (3). While these often remain disputed projections, they contribute to framing the way societies see, use and eventually wish to govern the distant ocean, in the realm of global capitalism’s imagined futures.
The Thermal Dome in the Central American Pacific is an example of such imagined offshore spaces. A recent biophysical discovery, it has been identified by NGOs and international agencies for the protection of high seas marine biodiversity. Both within and beyond this environmental discourse, it however appears as persistently elusive to most stakeholders.
The communication offers to analyze how the dome, through the interplay between knowledge, narratives, practices and physicality, is emerging as an imagined space for high seas conservation. It explores how this projection of the dome for the future of the ocean, both at regional and global scales, frames it in the present as a geographical object, and focuses on how boundaries participate in the construction of the dome as a frontier for science, conservation, diplomacy. As such, this case study aims to question how the extension of environmental concerns towards the high seas positions itself within the broader ocean frontier dynamics.
Mots clés : ocean|space|marine biodiversity|high seas|Eastern Pacific