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Dr Mike Obrach



Expertise: Marine Affairs and Policy


Professor of the Practice of Marine Affairs and Policy, Duke University, Orbach's experience lies in applications of social science, environmental policy and management. He works in marine fisheries, integrated coastal management, public involvement and participatory action in environmental policy. He has been the President of the Coastal Society and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Surfrider Foundation. He is also an active waterman (fishing, surfing, sailing) with interests, and involvement, in grassroots conservation movements.

"For the last 500 years humankind has acted as if the ocean is an inexhaustible environment and resource, and the ocean, especially in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJs), is still today the 'last frontier' where 'freedom of the seas' is the cultural and legal standard.  This must change.  Our objective should be the "policy enclosure of the world ocean", by which I mean that no human activity or impact should go uncontrolled and unregulated under some form of internationally-accepted policy and management framework.  Significant steps towards this have been taken under the Law of the Sea Convention, and in particular the International Seabed Authority, under which seabed minerals in ABNJs are considered to the the "common heritage of humankind" and their extraction closely regulated.  Still, much work remains to change the culture of the 'freedom of the seas' to one of 'responsible, sustainable use of the seas', and to develop the law and policy frameworks to implement that new attitude."

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