The world’s oceans, through their temperatures, chemistry, currents and biodiversity, support important global systems that make the Earth habitable for humankind. Our management of this vital resource is essential for humanity’s survival, but also provides a unique opportunity to counterbalance the effects of climate change.
Oceans are essential in the absorption of around 30 percent of human carbon dioxide emissions. In addition, over 3 billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods. However, approximately 30 percent of the world’s fish stocks are overexploited, impacting the ability of aquatic ecosystems to recover and produce sustainable yields to meet human consumption needs. There has been a 26 percent rise in ocean acidification since the beginning of the industrial revolution.
Moreover, marine pollution is reaching alarming levels; the average square kilometer of ocean contains 13,000 pieces of plastic, with the vast majority originating from land-based sources. How we manage such critical issues will determine the future sustainability of global aquatic ecosystems.
This SDG aims to sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems from pollution, while simultaneously addressing the impacts of ocean acidification. Achieving such objectives will require improving public knowledge on the sustainable use of ocean-based resources, while also supporting conservation efforts through the enactment of international law. Through such holistic strategies we will be better able to mitigate the challenges facing our oceans today.