Eight Urgent Steps for Our Ocean Planet

A scientific paper published in May 2019 states that eight urgent, simultaneous actions are needed to head off potential ecological disaster in the global ocean. The International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) report warns that failure to act within the next ten years to halt the damage caused by human activities could result in catastrophic change to how the world ocean functions and pose imminent threats to vital ocean ecosystems.

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Earthrise, NASA image AS08–14–2383, taken by astronaut William Anders during the Apollo 8 mission
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Photo by Joel Filipe
  1. Which three interventions would make the biggest positive impacts in arresting the trajectory of ocean decline?
  2. What one action should be taken within the next three years if we are going to make a difference in time, or what do we have to do now because delay will mean the negative impacts will be irreversible and catastrophic?
  3. Are there recent trends in ocean change that, in your view, are cause for concern and need more attention?
  4. If you had the power, what would you change or implement tomorrow?
  1. Secure a robust and comprehensive High Seas Treaty with a Conference of the Parties and a Scientific Committee;
  2. Enforce existing standards for effective Marine Protected Areas…and extend their scope to fully protect at least 30% of the ocean, including representation of all habitats and the high seas, while ensuring effective management to prevent significant adverse effects for 100% of the rest of the ocean;
  3. Adopt a precautionary pause on deep-sea mining to allow time to gain sufficient knowledge and understanding to support informed decisions and effective management;
  4. End overfishing and destructive practices including illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing;
  5. Radially reduce marine water pollution;
  6. Provide a financing mechanism for ocean management and protection;
  7. Scale up scientific research on the ocean and increase transparency and accessibility of ocean data from all sources.
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Photo by Matthew T Rader
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Dedicated to sharing information about ocean issues: climate to trade, culture to governance. The sea connects all things. Online at WorldOceanObservatory.org.

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