Oceans and the Law: breakfast roundtable series

Lectures, talks and seminars

Old Government Buildings GB 238 (Socrates Room), Pipitea campus


The Oceans are a continuous body of saltwater that covers more than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface. They hold about 1.34 billion cubic kilometres of water, which is roughly 97 percent of Earth's water supply. Oceans currents govern the world’s weather and contain a kaleidoscope of life—from tiny single-celled organisms to the gargantuan blue whale, the planet's largest living animal. Despite having been explored since the beginning of time, more than 80 percent of the oceans are unmapped and unexplored.

In a three-part breakfast roundtable seminar series experts will explore different legal aspects as they pertain to the oceans: from maritime boundaries to the impact of climate change and environmental degradation on the oceans, and lastly the oceans as important facilitators of trade.

This series has been organised by the New Zealand Branch of the International Association of Law, the Institute of Small and Micro States, the New Zealand Association of Comparative Law, and the New Zealand Centre of International Economic Law.

This series will be held in person at the Faculty of Law, and also will be run via Zoom.

Download the programme, including speaker biographies (PDF).

Maritime boundaries

8–9.30 am, Tuesday 15 June 2021

Clearly defined maritime boundaries are essential for good international relations and effective ocean management, yet many coastal states have not agreed to all of their maritime boundaries with their neighbours. This seminar will discuss pertinent issues that have arisen in regard to maritime boundaries.

Chair: Associate Professor Joanna Mossop, Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington
Where: Socrates Room and via Zoom


  • Robert Volterra, University College London and Kings College London and Partner at Volterra Fietta
  • Dr Martins Paprinskis, Associate Professor at University College London
  • Sujieo Seam, EU Ambassador to the Pacific Islands.

Oceans and the Environment

8–9.30 am, Tuesday 6 July 2021

The impact of climate change, pollution and other environmental wrongs on the oceans will be discussed in the second seminar. The panelists will canvass inter alia the impact on fisheries, the importance of a binding instrument on the conservation and use of marine biodiversity in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction, and the use of blockchain to allow the revenue of greenhouse gas emissions trading schemes to be distributed to small (island) states to allow them to adapt and to mitigate the impact of climate change.

Chair: Professor Petra Butler, Director, Institute of Small and Micro States, Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington
Where: Socrates Room and via Zoom


  • Professor Alberto Costi, Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington
  • Dr Björn-Oliver Magsig, Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington
  • Dr Johanne Fischer, former Secretary General South Pacific Regional Management Fisheries Organisation
  • Eden Charles, Chairman of the Advisory Board of the UK Research and Innovation Global Challenges Research Fund One Ocean Hub, University of Strathclyde

Oceans and Trade

8–9.30 am, Tuesday 13 July 2021

The last breakfast roundtable seminar in this series is dedicated to trade, and will discuss matters relating to international sales and business transaction as well as international rules and policies. This will include force majeure and hardship in business-to-business contracts, the law as it relates to the carriage of goods on the oceans, the UNCITRAL texts in implementing the e-commerce chapters of CPTPP and RCEP and the Digital Economy Agreements, and PACER Plus.

Chair: Dr Michelle Zang, Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington
Where: Socrates Room and via Zoom


  • Professor Stefan Kroell, Bucerius Law School
  • Dr Pierre-Jean Bordhandy, Associate Professor at the University of the South Pacific
  • Dr Edwini Kessie, Director of Agriculture and Commodities Division at the World Trade Institute
  • Dr Luca Castellani, United Nations Commission on International Trade Law

Whether you are attending in person or online, we encourage you to RSVP. Email lawevents@vuw.ac.nz with the subject line ‘Oceans and the Law: breakfast roundtable series’.