The Myth of Mermaids and Stewardship of the Seas

14 Pages Posted: 18 Aug 2020

See all articles by Emily Barritt

Emily Barritt

The Dickson Poon School of Law

Date Written: February 4, 2020


Mermaids have become increasingly present in popular culture. At the same time as this mermaid renaissance, states have been negotiating a new international legally binding instrument on the sustainable use and conservation of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction. Faced with increased pressures on ocean ecosystems – fisheries depletion, ocean acidification and plastics pollution – urgent action is required to remedy gaps in the current regime. However, the new agreement is bound by a commitment not to undermine the existing framework. From the perspective marine biodiversity protection this is problematic, the existing framework is based on a fictionalized account of ocean space that does not accurately reflect the ecological complexities of the seas. Through the mythology of mermaids, I seek to establish a more ecologically sensitive narrative of the seas that will better protect marine biodiversity both within and beyond areas of national jurisdiction.

Keywords: Ocean Governance, Mythology, Stewardship, Public Participation, Marine Rights, BBNJ

Suggested Citation

Barritt, Emily, The Myth of Mermaids and Stewardship of the Seas (February 4, 2020). Transnational Legal Theory, 2020, King's College London Law School Research Paper Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Emily Barritt (Contact Author)

The Dickson Poon School of Law ( email )

Somerset House East Wing
London, England WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

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