1.37 billion km² of water covering some 70% of the earth surface.

Ocean Space is a different world, which we even today, barely know. Life is everywhere; from microbes in watery cracks in the deep ocean floor to life in fresh water lakes and streams on the land filled with water temporary on loan from the ocean. It also is home to the greatest abundance and diversity of life in the world, and the known universe. It’s a weightless and mostly dark world, like outer space.

ocean space & human activities

views and perspectives

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“In a geographical view, ocean space is subdivided by the present oceans and seas.”

new lectures

 Jan Stel



“Will there be a focus on new technology or will sustainability of human activities be the focus?”


“Polar orbiting is highly important in a time when there are a lot of uncertainties how global warming will affect the Arctic and North Atlantic.”

Opening of the Arctic

“Again we are exploiting, as we did after James Cook’s ocean exploration in the late 18th century, an environment we hardly know.”

Something must be wrong

“We are investing so much money in the exploration of Mars, while we ‘forget’ to invest in Earth’s ocean space.”

Climate change

“For me, climate change is an environmental or earth system expression of global scale pollution by human activities.”


The notion of ocean space stands for a system science approach combined with thinking from the ocean, and the processes within it, towards the land. This includes both human activities that are influenced by ocean space, and human activities, like the exploitation of ocean resources and pollution, that affect ocean space.


Perceptions colour our view towards ocean space. Indian Ocean societies and China have viewed the sea as a special place of trade. It was considered as an area to be crossed as quickly as possible; not as territory for control, influence or social power. European societies, however, view ocean space in terms of ownership of resources and the freedom to trade.


Throughout our history, humans have had significant local to regional effects on the environment. But that has now changed. Since the British industrial revolution in 1750, and especially after the Second World War, humans and their rapidly increasing activities, have grown into a global force to be reckoned with.

Ocean States

UNCLOS led to the greatest ‘land grab’ in human history through the introduction of the concept of the Exclusive Economic Zone, EEZ. This is a marine zone of at least 200 nautical miles in which states have the right to exploit marine resources in a sustainable way. ... read more

The Earth: what’s in a name?

One might conclude that naming our planet ‘Earth’ was a mistake. But not in the early European Middle Ages when Germanic tribes invaded present day England and founded a number of small kingdoms. They formed a peasant society, and depended on their land for living. In... read more

Perceptual screens

Perspectives are defined (van Asselt, 2000) as perceptual screens through which people interpret the world (worldviews) and which guides them into acting (management style). These perspectives is contested, it is used widely to analyse different views on nature and... read more

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