The need for better governance of human activities in the ocean space has been widely recognized for years and current frameworks do not consider the effects of climate change. The upcoming UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021–2030) is a prime opportunity for a new framework to be adopted. Modern research has found that integrated ocean management (IOM) would be a useful overarching approach for achieving a sustainable ocean economy and includes six opportunities:
- Establish knowledge sharing amongst stakeholders. UNESCO estimates there are currently 784 marine stations and over 300 research vessels currently in use, yet ownership is concentrated in only a small number of countries.
- Establishing partnerships between public and private sectors. Private sector investment in ocean research could potentially unlock new ocean science technologies.
- Involve local communities. Over 3 billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods, valued at approximately 5% of global GDP.
- Develop consistency in scientific and regulatory skills in ocean management. There are an estimated 7 million ocean science researchers around the world publishing in around 25,000 separate scientific journals per year. This means that best practise is constantly evolving.
- Commitment to implement regulatory frameworks. Inadequate coordinated management of subsidies alone are costing the global fisheries sector an estimated US$50billion per year in lower fish yields.
- Flexibility built in to the design of the framework to meet the uncertainty presented by climate change. Oceans absorb about 30% of carbon dioxide produced by humans, buffering the impacts of climate change, yet an estimated 40% of the oceans are now heavily impacted by human activity.