Ocean Governance

Ocean governance is a cross-cutting theme for much of the work we do at Marine Conservation Institute. For us, ocean governance includes making sure that fishing on the high seas (areas beyond national boundaries) is conducted in sustainable ways, that is without destructive bottom trawling, and international frameworks exist to prevent trade in illegal (IUU) seafood. It means creating a new international process to identify and designate especially sensitive places in the ocean as marine protected areas. The Global Ocean Refuge System, or GLORES, is our attempt to incentivize a change in ocean governance around the world that leads to 30% of the ocean – in representative ecoystems – being highly protected by 2030. To do this, we are creating a certification system for marine protected areas that rewards strong conservation efforts for important places. Through our partnerships with the High Seas Alliance and the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition, we are also working through the UN to bring protection to areas of the ocean controlled by no country.

At home, ocean governance means making sure that the US government spends enough to have robust programs in marine research, fish and marine wildlife conservation and recovery and habitat conservation. One important way we accomplish this as scientists is to synthesize vitally important scientific and policy information and provide it to decision makers so they can make better informed choices.  You can see the results of this work by our staff scientists in peer reviewed journals and whitepapers under News Room/Publications.

We organize marine scientists from time to time to communicate what accepted, peer reviewed science concludes about an issue. In 1998, over 1,600 marine scientists signed our call to action to protect marine life and ecosystems from overfishing, ocean pollution and habitat destruction. Notably, in 1998 the Call to Action referenced the damage from "global atmospheric change" on marine ecosystems and the rest of life. Recently, we organized a scientist letter to President Obama “call[ing] on the United States government to dramatically accelerate protections for U.S. waters. Protecting 20% of habitats across all biogeographic regions in no-take reserves will provide the resilience needed to ensure America’s ongoing interest in healthy ocean.” We do so on behalf of specific marine protected area proposals like the expansion of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument that dozens of scientists supported in 2015. Finally, we convene workshops of marine scientists to work on specific issues and resolve common understandings.

Our ultimate goal for improving ocean governance is healthier oceans that will sustain us and our children and resist the changes coming with ocean warming and acidification.