Ocean governance and the aporias of 'accounting' and 'accountability'

Bernadette Snow, David Anthony Pittaway, Andrea Hurst, Joanna Botha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Ocean Accounts Framework (OAF) developed by The Global Ocean Accounts Partnership for Sustainable Development, following a ‘blue economy model’, includes social and ecological value in its framework of accounts. It is hoped that this novel mode of accounting will improve ocean governance, which should contribute optimally (with the greatest possible justice) to ethical accountability, understood as sustainable human engagement with the ocean. As a work in progress, the OAF drafters acknowledge that more needs to be done to enhance its principles and particularly its social accounts. In this paper we aim for a philosophical critique of this laudable aim in the Kantian sense of an appraisal of its limits.Drawing primarily from Jacques Derrida’s conception of aporias in his essay ‘Force of Law’ we argue that the limits (restrictions and ‘chances’) of the OAF are due to the aporetic complexity of key, interrelated fundamental commitments to: ‘production and resources’, ‘inclusivity’, ‘optimal and just governance’, and ‘sustainable development’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-166
Number of pages29
Publication statusPublished - 29 Oct 2021


  • ocean governance
  • ocean accounts frameworks
  • complexity
  • aporia
  • ethical accountability
  • inclusivity
  • sustainable development


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