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Estimating the pelagic ocean’s benefits to humanity can enhance ocean governance

December 13, 2021

The human footprint on the global ocean is ever-increasing, particularly with new ways to grow food in the ocean, new technologies in marine energy production as a way to resolve climate change, and transport and commerce expanding across the ocean. Yet, human activities in the ocean have long been managed using a sectoral approach (e.g., fisheries, biodiversity protection, energy production, shipping) rather than a holistic integration of sector interactions, trade-offs, costs, and benefits. Coordination across sectors is now more critical than ever, not only because of the expanding human footprint but also because of climate change impacts on the ocean. Sustainable global ocean use can support the Blue Economy while also reversing negative climate impacts on the ocean. Advancements in science and technology, along with increasing momentum on global commitments to sound ocean governance, and science diplomacy internationally can support sustainable ocean use with accurate and timely information about the status and trends in the ocean’s ecosystem services (benefits) to society. Near-real time information about ecosystem services’ dynamics is critical to policymaking for a sustainable Blue Economy that works for nature and people in an ever-changing ocean. Here, we propose seven principles for ecosystem service assessments, essentially to international science diplomacy, for consideration by global marine policy communities.