Inequality is one of the key major social challenges of our time, with far-reaching ramifications for human well-being. Our oceans, which produce vital food, enable jobs and economic activities, and provide opportunities to shape cultures and identities of people, face unprecedented cumulative pressures from human activities and climate change due to industrialization of the seas. Although some researchers have explored ocean equity, significant gaps remain. Firstly, interdisciplinary approaches combining ecological and social sciences are fundamental to induce transformative changes towards ocean equality, but lacking. Secondly, there is a clear lack of data on different inequalities at seas for both small-scale and commercial fisheries. Thirdly, more than 4.3 billion people globally rely on fish as their major source of protein, but social, cultural and health factors which explain oceans inequalities remain largely unknown. Consequently, there is an urgent need for an interdisciplinary approach that addresses asymmetric social power relationships and concentration of capital assets and ownership of fishing rights focused on the most vulnerable groups. EQUALSEA will (a) develop a new transformative adaptation framework for ocean inequality, (b) identify multiple critical drivers which induce social tipping points dynamics and transformative changes across space and time, and (c) contribute to monitor progress towards ocean equity for local communities and top international organizations. To do this, I will combine modelling and simulation techniques and cross-case comparison to develop a typology of different inequalities tested in 20 MPAs and implemented for 3 in-depth case studies across Africa, Europe and Latin America. Together, the ontological framework and integration of modelling methods will significantly advance research on ocean inequality, developing the necessary tools to deliver sustainable impacts towards achieving equity for economies and societies.
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