Oceans and seas cover more than two-thirds of the earth’s surface and contain 97% of the planet’s water. They provide us with an important source of food and other natural resources, including medicines, biofuels and other products. The marine environment is, therefore, an important source of jobs (fishery, tourism, etc.) and coastal areas are great places for living and recreational activities. However, oceans, seas and marine resources are increasingly being degraded by human activities that harm marine life, undermine coastal communities, and negatively affect human health. SDG 14 aims to conserve oceans and ensure their sustainable use by implementing international law and developing activities to safeguard marine and coastal ecosystems, as well as prevent and reduce marine pollution.

Even if we don’t live close to the sea, we all contribute to the degradation of life below water: our waste is found in massive floating garbage islands in several parts of the ocean, our behaviour as seafood consumers can contribute to overfishing, our choice in tourism destinations and activities can impact marine habitats. Becoming aware of and understanding the links between human activities and marine ecosystems can help to limit human impact: we can buy only sustainably harvested fish, we can reduce our use of plastics, we can select our holiday destination and take part in beach cleaning. There are many ways to get involved!

Action Areas

  • Plastic dependency

    Plastic dependency

    One of the objectives of SDG14 is to reduce marine pollution by 2025. Plastic is one of the main waste products that end up in the oceans, dumped directly into the sea (e.g. from ships, fishing equipment) or coming from land and sewage water ending into the sea. Each year, an estimated 8 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the ocean. Plastic objects and microplastics have a major environmental and economical impact. Birds, fish, and other sea organisms which ingest them can injure or kill themselves or reduce their reproduction due to toxicity. From microorganisms to humans, the whole food chain is impacted. We have to rethink our plastic dependency if we want to save seas and oceans!
  • Sustainable seafood

    Sustainable seafood

    Conservation and sustainable use of oceans, seas and marine resources also require halting overfishing and destructive or illegal fishing practices. It is estimated that 33% of the world’s fisheries are overfished while 60% are fished to their maximum capacity. The EU condemned illegal fishing which “depletes fish stocks, destroys marine habitats, distorts competition, puts honest fishers at an unfair disadvantage, and weakens coastal communities”. As consumers, we can take part in the implementation of laws that prohibit illegal fishing, overfishing, and other destructive fishing practices! On a local level, we should make ocean-friendly choices when buying products or eating food derived from oceans and consume only what we need. Learning which species are endangered or selecting certified products is a good place to start!
  • Sustainable coastal tourism

    Sustainable coastal tourism

    Many local communities and many economic sectors are connected to the sea, including tourism. Coastal and maritime tourism rely on healthy marine ecosystems. The question is, therefore, how to combine marine and coastal ecosystems protection with tourism development? Mass tourism means infrastructure (ports, airports, hotels and other tourism infrastructures) and ecological impacts (seasonal waste production, high water and energy consumption, local transport, etc.) which jeopardise fragile marine and coastal ecosystems. It also impacts social, cultural and economic patterns of the local communities. It is under the responsibility of tourism developers and professionals, but also of each of us as visitors, to reduce the impact of coastal tourism and limit wildlife disturbance.
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