About us

The purpose of the Coastal and Marine Research Group (CMRG) is to facilitate and undertake academic geographical research into the use and management of coastal and marine environments. The CMRG encompasses a range of coastal and marine topics that focus on the environment-development interface, including:

  • Coastal and marine geography
  • International and national management frameworks and policies
  • Legal aspects of coastal and marine management
  • Capacity building, pedagogy, education and training
  • Coastal and marine spatial planning
  • Coastal and marine development
  • The management of shipping, ports and harbours
  • Stakeholder involvement in coastal and marine decision-making
  • Maritime heritage and citizenship
  • Coastal and marine conservation
  • Coastal Processes

The CMRG is an academic network for coastal and marine researchers, practitioners and postgraduates. The establishment of the research group has its roots in the emergence, over the last two decades, of coastal and marine studies as a geographical research area and an academic field. It will facilitate collaborative research, discussion, and the publication of relevant research as books and/or journal special issues on coastal and marine themes.



Themed Sessions RGS-IBG Annual Conference 2018 #RGSIBG18

The RGS-IBG Annual Conference 2018 is being held in Cardiff Tuesday 28th August-Friday 31st August and has the theme Geographical landscapes / changing landscapes of geography.

Calls for papers have been published for a number of our themed sessions. If you would like to suggest a session for the conference follow this link for more information and to apply.

The Coastal and Marine Research Group themed sessions for RGS-IBG Annual Conference 2018:

This list will be updated as further themed sessions are confirmed.

Visualising seascapes: encounters with coastal and marine environments

Co-badged session between the Geography of Leisure and Tourism Research Group and the Coastal and Marine Research Group

Convenors: Jo-Anne Lester, University of Brighton and Tim Acott, University of Greenwich

Although the socio-cultural, ecological and economic significance of the sea has been extensively discussed (see Corbin 1994, Steinberg 2001, Klein 2002, Smith & Potts 2005, Mack 2011, Anderson & Peters 2014,) there is now considerable effort to frame the importance of the sea to diverse stakeholders and the public. Initiatives ranging from the Blue Planet to Blue Growth build new perspectives around the values and importance of the ocean and create new narratives of meaning for coastal and marine environments. These narratives help shape individual and collective identities alongside particular experiences and encounters with the ocean and liminal environments where land and water meet.

This session will explore how the meanings of coastal and marine environments are created with a particular focus on the mediating power of the ‘visual’ and its role in shaping particular understandings and relationships with the sea. Encounters with visual stimuli may often be regarded as routine, yet it is the banality of such that can be so influential. This session approaches the ‘visual’ in terms of a range of visual discourse (e.g. art, sculpture, architecture, film, television, photography etc.) and that of visuality (e.g. sensory seeing, notions of the visible and invisible, spectacle, imaginings etc.).

From the perspective of coastal and marine environments and associated activities (e.g. transport, fisheries, coastal and marine tourism/ leisure etc), this session invites papers and dialogues that embrace the ‘visual’ in exploring and shaping the meanings of coastal spaces and seascapes. The following offers some, but not exclusively, themes for consideration:

  • Representations / non-representations of seascapes
  • Coastal identities: communities, tourists, leisure-seekers
  • Seascape imaginings: spaces for commerce, tourism, leisure
  • Visual topographies of the coastline: natural and built
  • Sense of place & place attachment: residents, workers, visitors
  • Mapping histories: connecting the past to the present
  • Maritime heritage: installations and visual interpretations

Please send expressions of interest/ abstracts of no more than 250 words, and a title to: Jo-Anne Lester by 31st January 2018.


Geographies of the Coastal Commons; landscapes of challenge and response

Coastal communities around the global face a series of unprecedented challenges in relation to climate change, storm surge, depletion or disruption of fish stocks, pollution, development pressures and more (Armitage, Charles and Berkes, 2017). Communities are responding by seeking to protect their coastal commons within a wider frames of recognition that sustaining our coastal commons is now a priority in national and international governance. There is a heritage of considering the coastal zone in geography, and thinking about the edge of the land, the edge of the sea, the littoral areas and ‘landscapes’ these make up (Ryan 2012). There is particular concern for, and interest, in the fate of highly dynamic areas such as soft coastlines and deltas /estuaries and other large inter-tidal zones. These quintessentially liminal spaces have long been valued for their common resources by local communities and some have evolved innovative methods of bottom-up governance. These areas are critical for biodiversity as well as flood protection, storm surge absorption and many more benefits for human health.

This session seeks to explore current geographical thinking on the coastal commons and their future. We seek papers on any aspects of the coastal commons but particularly welcome ones which address the social geographies of deltas estuaries and tidal landscapes.

Please send abstracts of 250 words to Owain Jones, Natasha Bradshaw and Emma McKinley no later than January 31st 2018 for consideration within this Coastal and Marine Research Group session.

Reconceptualising Marine Space for Ecosystem-Based Approaches

Call for Papers, RGS-IBG Conference, 2018

Oceans cover more than seventy per cent of the surface of the Earth. But despite this near ubiquity, there is considerable disagreement about how the world’s oceans should be conceived. Institutional frameworks in law, science and governance typically conceptualise oceans in three ways: as a resource to be exploited; an object to be studied; and a wilderness to be protected. These epistemologies institutionalise oceanic environments as external to human societies—a backdrop to human pursuits. The result has been the development of maladaptive frameworks and practices in environmental law and governance—frameworks and practices that are anthropocentric, and that exclude the open-ocean and deep-sea from environmental governance. Further, when marine environments are included in governance frameworks, their inclusion is faulty. They are ‘terrestrialised’, viewed through and delineated by methods developed for land-based ecosystems.

This session will address the relationship between ocean epistemologies and environmental governance frameworks. Presentations will focus on how geographers can contribute to this project, which is ultimately one of negotiating different concepts of time, space, and movement.  The session responds two general questions: a) how should ocean communities that connect oceanic and terrestrial environments be represented in governance practices, instruments, and frameworks? and b) how should the underlying epistemologies that currently exclude the oceanic from science and governance frameworks be revised? Papers are invited on any of the following themes:

  • Critical evaluation of eco-system based approaches
  • The production of marine boundaries
  • The relationship between marine science and marine governance
  • The governance of open-ocean and deep-sea environments
  • The problem of anthropocentricity in environmental governance

Papers that contribute to debates around ecosystem-based approaches to adaptation governance are particularly encouraged, as are those criticising the scale of ecosystems conceived and represented in environmental governance more generally (e.g. the inclusion of open-ocean and deep-sea areas), and the challenges such a project would present for governance frameworks. If you are interested in presenting a paper, please submit an abstract of your work (up to 300 words) along with authors’ names, affiliations and contacts by Friday 9th February 2018 to Vanessa Burns.


Comparative Analysis of Marine Spatial Planning

Over 60 initiatives of marine spatial planning have been identified worldwide (WCMC, 2015), and efforts to govern the oceans have expanded dramatically over the last decade.  Attention is now turning to review the lessons learnt from these experiences and review the effectiveness of planning processes and the nature of planning outcomes.  These planning efforts occur in very diverse contexts.  A comparative approach allows for consideration of context, but also aims to develop insights about common challenges and success factors.  We welcome comparative approaches which consider the development of marine plans and planning systems across time, between nations, within regimes, or across jurisdictions.  Geographical thinking about the nature of scale, forms of environmental governance, or interactions between human institutions and the marine environment may be highly relevant to such analyses.

This session is open to papers comparing approaches to transboundary, national or regional marine planning.  The session is run in collaboration with the Marine Spatial Planning Research Network http://www.msprn.net/ and welcomes dialogue between other disciplines and coastal and marine geography.  The overall aim of the session will be to contribute to both theory building and professional practice in marine planning.

Proposal for ~4 papers within session.

Please send abstracts of 250 words to Dr Tim Stojanovic (tas21@st-andrews.ac.uk) no later than 5 February 2018 for consideration within this Coastal and Marine Research Group session.


RGS-IBG18 Call for sessions

The Coastal and Marine Research Group is now planning for RGSIBG18, and are looking for expressions of interest for themed sessions at the 2018 annual conference.
CMRG would welcome session proposals across marine and coastal geography, including but not limited to:

  • Changes in marine governance, planning and policy in the UK, Europe and around the world (e.g. blue growth, evidence based policy, global-local)
  •  Interactions between maritime livelihoods and sectors: fisheries, tourism, energy…
  •  Methods for valuing ecosystem services and other forms of valuation
  •  Relationships between coastal places, health and wellbeing, arts and culture,
  • Different forms and sources of knowledge for conservation, ecology and biodiversity.
  • Use of concepts of social and ecological resilience.
  •  Natural hazards and coastal processes: understanding vulnerability and disaster risk reduction

The theme for RGSIBG18 is ‘Geographical landscapes / changing landscapes of geography’.

The CMRG are able to sponsor up to a maximum of 12 sessions; each session lasts 1 hour and 20 minutes. As well as paper based sessions, we would also welcome expressions of interest for innovative sessions, including: focus groups, speed presentation sessions, discussion sessions. More details are available here:

Session proposals should be sent directly to Emma McKinley by Monday, January 15th. Additional themed sessions, and calls for papers, will be announced in early January 2018.