The ocean ecosystem is an enormous economic asset and source of livelihood for many people across the globe. Hundreds of millions of people work in mariculture ports, tourism, shipping, offshore energy, and cosmetics, among many other sub-economies supported by the ocean (Stuchtey et al., 2020). Data shows that 90% of the world’s goods are traded across the ocean (Sumaila et al., 2020). The ocean, as an asset, thus presents an enormous potential; however, the resources can only be enough if ocean areas are protected and sustainable solutions are adopted to avoid degradation and exhaustion of the resources. Case in point, scientists have shown that if sustainable practices are not embraced in the management of ocean wastes, marine life may be adversely affected and beaches dotted with plastic and other non-biodegradable wastes. These will hurt the economic lifeline of many people who depend on the ocean for economic activities.
Sustainable ocean management can contribute to the ocean generating food six-fold and renewable energy 40 times more than the current state (Costello et al., 2020). Besides, effective and sustainable ocean management can reduce about one-fifth of the greenhouse gas emissions that can keep the world within the 1.5ºc temperature rise limit as projected by the Paris Agreement by 2050 (Hoegh-Guldberg, 2019). The ocean ecosystem is diverse and thus requires integrated and evidence-based approaches to ensure continuity. This calls for the use of (a) science and data analytics to drive the decision-making process regarding the management of the ecosystems and wastes, (b) ensuring that ocean-related activities are based on goal-oriented planning, (c) lobbying companies to use circular economies, (d) stopping land-based pollution, (e) engaging the communities to understand the value of the ecosystems, and (f) action of laws and regulations to safeguard and direct how ocean wastes are managed. The listed initiatives serve as building blocks that can change the perception and behaviour of people and thus positively influence the way people interact with the oceans.
Costello, C., Cao, L., Gelcich, S., Cisneros-Mata, M.Á., Free, C.M., Froehlich, H.E., Golden, C.D., Ishimura, G., Maier, J., Macadam-Somer, I. & Mangin, T. (2020). The future of food from the sea. Nature, 588(7836), 95-100. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-020-2616-y.
Hoegh-Guldberg, O. (2019). The Ocean as a Solution to Climate Change: Five Opportunities for Action. Washington, DC: World Resources Institute. https://oceanpanel.org/sites/default/files/2019-10/HLP_Report_Ocean_Solution_Climate_Change_final.pdf.
Stuchtey, M., A. Vincent, A. Merkl, M. Bucher ,M. (2020). Ocean Solutions That Benefit People, Nature and the Economy. Washington, DC: World Resources Institute. www.oceanpanel.org/ocean-solutions.
Sumaila, U.R., Walsh, M., Hoareau, K., Cox, A., Abdallah, P., Akpalu, W., Anna, Z., Benzaken, D., Crona, B., Fitzgerald, T. & Heaps, L. (2020). Ocean finance: Financing the transition to a sustainable ocean economy. World Resources Institute: Washington, DC, USA.