A Blue Call to Action

The ocean sustains all life on our planet and is fundamental to human survival and well-being. Now is the time to RISE UP in its defense.

Coral reef die-offs, collapsing fish populations and species extinctions are evidence of the escalating ocean crisis brought about by overfishing, ocean heating, acidification, pollution and multiple other stressors. They are eroding the ocean’s ability to function as our life support system. Defending its capacity to produce oxygen, sequester carbon and provide food and livelihoods for billions of people is vital.

Thriving coastal areas, a resilient deep ocean, abundant nature and protected high seas will help sustain all humankind and support the culture and well-being of Indigenous peoples and coastal communities. A healthy ocean is fundamental to a healthy planet, and makes a hopeful future for current and future generations possible.

At most, we have 10 years to stay below the 1.5°C heating threshold and avoid the existential risks to nature and people that crossing it will bring. We have a choice: either we continue to follow a destructive, extractive economic model that will take us ever faster towards environmental, social and economic disaster; or we choose transformative change that respects and bolsters our ocean, its resources, its biodiversity, and the global community that rely on it.

We need to drive bold, fair actions to set the ocean on a course to recovery.

The conditions are ideal for governments and other stakeholders to take action. There is a globally agreed SDG14 framework, the inescapable science of the IPCC’s Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, the IPBES Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, and a rising wave of citizen engagement.

Young people in particular are getting involved: we need to listen to our youth, as their lives will be shaped by the actions we take now.

Some measures to address the ocean crisis have been adopted but they have not been fully implemented. They must be actioned immediately – and we need to go much further. We the undersigned are committed to ensuring a healthy blue future. We call on governments and businesses to join us and RISE UP for the ocean.

Download the call to action:

Restore Ocean Life


(i) sustainably manage the world’s fisheries and safeguard the livelihoods they support; (ii) stop overfishing and destructive fishing; and (iii) protect and restore threatened and endangered species, habitats and ecological functions.

Priority actions

Urgently restore depleted fisheries and sensitive habitats (such as coral reefs), and protect threatened and endangered species.

Within territorial seas, prioritize access for sustainable small-scale fishing, prevent industrial threats, and recognize and promote community-based management.

Prohibit damaging fishing, such as destructive bottom-trawling and blast fishing, and promote gears and techniques that minimize the catch of non-target species.

Prohibit new or expanded exploitation of krill, mesopelagic and deep-sea species.

Ensure transparency in all fisheries through the collection and public disclosure of information such as registration, catch, vessel tracking, licensing and other data, to deter illegal and unreported fishing, prevent human rights abuses, improve decision-making and combat corruption.

Adopt registration, licensing and monitoring systems to address unregulated fisheries.

Invest Immediately in a Net-Zero Carbon Emissions Future


(i) minimise greenhouse gas emissions to ensure we meet the Paris Agreement’s target to keep heating below 1.5°C; and (ii) restore the ocean’s full natural capacity to sequester and store carbon through nature-based solutions.

Priority actions

Immediately ban all new offshore oil and gas exploration and production, and rapidly phase out current offshore oil and gas extraction.

Target 100 percent decarbonization of all shipping by 2035, and immediately ban heavy fuel oil use in the Arctic.

Invest in nature-based solutions to maximize marine carbon sequestration and storage potential (e.g. protecting and restoring wetlands, mangroves and seagrass beds, and rebuilding wildlife).

Invest in low-impact ocean-based renewable energy sectors.

Commit to new and more ambitious national climate plans (NDCs) in 2020 that include the ocean (e.g. blue carbon storage, reduced emissions from ocean sectors, enhanced environmental and social resilience, adaptation benefits from ocean ecosystems), and accelerate their implementation.

Speed the Transition to a Circular and Sustainable Economy


(i) invest more in innovation and development to rapidly transition to a circular economy, including by moving to a sustainable and inclusive blue economy; and (ii) phase out destructive ocean activities to ensure that economic growth does not continue to degrade the marine environment.

Priority actions

Transition to a new, more sustainable and inclusive blue economy focused on: (i) low-impact offshore renewable energies; (ii) environmentally-friendly aquaculture and marine biotechnology; (iii) green shipping; (iv) ocean monitoring and surveillance technologies; and (v) sustainable fisheries.

Redirect finance flows to drive investment in support of this agenda, creating innovative finance and insurance products that enhance the ocean’s natural capital and resilience.

Immediately incorporate the ocean’s value into economic decision-making, through natural and social capital accounting and in cost-benefit analysis.

End all harmful exemptions and subsidies for fossil fuel, oil and gas drilling, and detrimental fishing and agricultural practices.

Eliminate all non-essential single use plastics and reduce plastic production by implementing zero-waste strategies by 2025.

Stop any further development of new activities which harm ocean health, such as seabed mining.

Empower and Support Coastal People


(i) strengthen the ability of local coastal communities, Indigenous peoples and small-scale fishers and fishworkers, especially women and youth, to conserve biodiversity, safeguard food security, build climate resilience and eradicate poverty.

Priority actions

In compliance with their free, prior and informed consent, ensure full and effective participation in the governance and management of biodiversity and natural resources.

Promote food security and poverty eradication through the immediate implementation of the FAO Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Small-Scale Fisheries.

Recognize, protect and secure legitimate tenure rights to marine resources important for livelihoods and sociocultural wellbeing.

Recognize the critical importance of ancestral, Indigenous and local knowledge and ensure it is incorporated in decision-making.

Unite For Stronger Global Ocean Governance


(i) establish effective and equitable global governance to protect the ocean, and ensure the participation of Indigenous and coastal communities in these processes.

Priority actions

In 2020, adopt a new legally-binding UN agreement on high seas biodiversity that ensures robust protection including the rapid establishment of a network of fully protected MPAs, and enhances cooperation among global, regional and sectoral bodies.

Adopt an international agreement to significantly reduce nutrient, sediment, plastic and chemical pollution of the ocean by industry, agriculture, waste management and sewage.

Convene a Heads of State conference by 2023 that reviews the implementation of this call to action and adopts fully financed solutions that guarantee oversight and integrated, accountable global ocean governance.

Protect At Least 30 Percent of the Ocean by 2030


(i) establish a global network of effective and representative marine protected and Indigenous Peoples and Local Community (IPLC) conserved areas that are fully or highly protected to provide climate, food security, livelihood and biodiversity benefits; and (ii) ensure these areas are sufficiently funded and that agreed protection plans are fully implemented.

Priority actions

Adopt the 30 percent protection by 2030 (30×30) target into the new 2030 Global Deal for Nature by the Convention on Biological Diversity in 2020.

Accelerate progress to ensure that this network of fully or highly protected and conserved areas cover at least 30 per cent of the global ocean by 2030.

Immediately protect or conserve pristine marine areas.

Develop ambitious global financial instruments to implement and enforce existing and new MPAs, particularly for small island and developing states; and promote capacity-strengthening for MPA managers, Indigenous peoples and local communities.

Recognize the biodiversity contributions of protected and conserved areas of all governance types, including marine areas conserved by IPLCs as traditional owners of their territories of life.