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World - Three Ways to Secure the Ocean's Survival

Humanity must change its relationship with the ocean, a shared global commons, to stave off a collapse of the world’s marine environment and resources, says a new paper, “A transition to sustainable ocean governance”, published in Nature Communications.

The Nature Communications article is a summary of a Blue Paper compiled by the authors under the commission of the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy (Ocean Panel for short), an initiative of 14 serving world leaders to build a sustainable ocean economy, based on effective protection, sustainable production and equitable prosperity.

Three pathways

Over 70% of the earth’s surface is ocean, and humanity is reliant on a healthy ocean for the renewal of freshwater; the paper describes an integration of three pathways to ensure its sustainability.

The first is re-configuring governance, including top-down and bottom-up local and international perspectives, informed by a shared vision. The second is empowering people who depend on the ocean commons through knowledge sharing for adaptive learning and conferring rights to the ocean as a public good. The third is reforming ownership in stewardship terms through mechanisms such as certification and pre-competitive collaboration, which will provide incentives and help build accountability. Here examples such as the Marine Stewardship Council’s fishery certification system and rights-based fishery reforms like catch shares are promising innovations.

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