Global marine governance and oceans management for the achievement of SDG 14.

Author:Vierros, Marjo

Over the decades, human activities in and near the world's oceans have increased exponentially, resulting in serious negative consequences for the state of our marine environment. Scientists are seeing greater and faster change, with more rapid declines in ocean health than had been previously anticipated. Today we live in an age of a changing climate, and no part of the ocean is unaffected by human influence. Some areas, particularly those near large population centres, are strongly affected by multiple pressures. The threats facing the oceans are many and include unsustainable and destructive fishing practices; illegal and unreported fishing; pollution from both land-based and ship-based sources; habitat destruction; the introduction of invasive species; ocean noise; ship strikes (collisions between cetaceans and vessels); the mining of minerals; and the extraction of oil and gas. The adverse impacts resulting from these activities act cumulatively with the effects of ocean acidification, ocean warming, shifting currents, reduced mixing and decreasing oxygen levels. While marine ecosystems and species might be able to withstand one type or intensity of impact, they are much more severely affected by a combination of effects.

The total impact can often be greater than the sum of its parts. The declining health of the oceans has dire consequences for people, their livelihoods and entire economies, with the poorest communities that rely on ocean resources often being the most affected.

The multiple human pressures affecting the oceans have real bearing on how effective governance should be undertaken. The governance of marine and coastal areas in many countries and in international waters is primarily sectoral, with fisheries agencies regulating fisheries catches; environmental agencies dealing with pollution prevention; and other specialized agencies regulating shipping, mining, and oil and gas extraction. Strategies and policies for biodiversity and the environment, fisheries, climate change and poverty reduction are also often developed and implemented by a diverse set of agencies. And herein lies the problem. Cumulative impacts cannot effectively be managed in isolation. Multiple stressors call for integrated management, which means that we need to urgently develop a more holistic approach to ocean governance. The sectoral management of old will not be enough to address the increasing degradation of the oceans. The need to understand and...

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