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Territorial dynamics of the world maritime system

Final Report Summary - MARITIME SYSTEM (Territorial dynamics of the world maritime system)

The ERG project "Maritime Systems" initially aimed at providing new analyses of maritime networks and their territorial linkages. Maritime networks were in fact poorly studied on a world scale and with appropriate methods used elsewhere (i.e. graph theory, social and complex networks). Although a few publications from other researchers have been produced exactly during the ERG project, our research outcomes remain original and novel in several ways. In addition to the analysis of maritime networks a number of parallel and complementary works were performed by the fellow, such as publications about related topics and participation to related research networks.
A number of papers has focused on the application of state-of-the-art network analytical methods to maritime flows in order to a) compare the structure of maritime networks with other (transport) networks; and b) better highlight regionalization processes and port hierarchies as well as spatial dynamics taking place on various geographic levels. The two following figures represent the top maritime inter-port links of the world (left) as well as the tree-network polarized by Asian ports (right) in 2006 based on container flows. Other works have also revealed the importance of geographic distance in the global distribution of maritime flows and in the connectivity of seaports, whereby a majority of maritime links occur on short distances and larger ports tend to connect longer distances on average. The application of many global level measures from network analysis has been done in relation with wider researches on networks through the creation of a research group on network analysis in Paris (monthly meetings) and the publication of a synthesis online in a transport geography website . The work on networks through the case of maritime transport has also allowed many dialogues with the network research community, such as the participation to cross-disciplinary meetings and the affiliation to more specialized research groups on transport research .
One important dimension of the ERG project is the search for local specificities in the distribution and evolution of port traffics and maritime flows. Therefore, many monographs and case studies have been published about: Tangier port city (Morocco), the Maghreb port system, Incheon port city (South Korea), North Korean ports, the East Asian maritime corridor, the Northeast Asian port system, European port cities, the Atlantic liner shipping network, the Seine axis, besides analyses on a worldwide level. We have learned from such studies that there are important invariants in the evolution of port systems and port cities, as suggested in classic models, but also numerous diversions due to historical path-dependency and policies.
Maritime flows have also been studied in relation to other elements of the transport and value chain, such as through the joint analysis of air and sea flows, the interdependence between port traffic diversity/specialization and local/regional socio-economic characteristics, and the integration level of transport and logistics activities around port areas. The ESPON-TIGER project realized in parallel with the ERG project notably allowed for an empirical analysis of 189 port regions in Europe, Japan, and the United States based on 21 port traffic and regional socio-economic indicators.
Finally, the results have insisted on the need to analyze long-term dynamics of maritime flows and networks, but these have not yet been published as they just have been submitted to journals. However the following figures were made during the ERG project and can attest for the quality and relevance of the work performed.