Oceans are rising rapidly on the EU and international agenda. Growing recognition for the crucial role of the ocean as a life support system for our planet has led to its inclusion in the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – as Sustainable Development Goal 14 – amongst others. However, over-exploitation of ocean resources risks overriding environmental concerns, as the global push for growth of the blue economy is leading to ever more human activities at sea. A strong and coordinated international governance is therefore essential to keep human activities such as fishing, aquaculture and shipping within environmental limits, and to move away from endless growth. Truly integrated maritime policies and successful implementation of ecosystem-based Maritime Spatial Planning are important means to achieving a sustainable blue economy that respects and adapts to the ecosystem it operates in.

The pressures on the ocean are intense and growing. We need coherent management of human activities to make sure their cumulative impacts will not add to the pressure of climate change on the ocean. Because a healthy ocean is the basis of a sustainable blue economy.

Monica Verbeek, Executive Director at Seas At Risk.