In the last five years, the area of the oceans under protection doubled, a welcome development but still, less than 1% of the oceans are protected, woefully inadequate considering the barrage of threats they face including climate change, over-fishing, pollution, invasive species and oil and gas exploration.

Concrete steps

But all is not lost. Many practical and concrete steps can be taken to reduce these threats. Worldwide initiatives by IUCN and its Members and partners are leading to better ocean protection and management. Significant advances are being seen in areas such as marine-based measures to tackle climate change, sustainable fisheries management, the creation of marine protected areas and the development of stronger marine laws and regulations.

Increased awareness

IUCN provides decision makers with concrete examples of how sustainable management of marine and coastal ecosystems can both reduce carbon emissions and help people adapt to the impacts of climate change such as extreme weather. All over the world coastal communities are valuing and protecting their critical ecosystems such as coral reefs and mangroves.

Clean must be green

Offshore energy installations may cause some significant environmental threats but can also bring important benefits, both to nature and to society. Knowing that clean does not always mean green, IUCN is working with the private sector to highlight the importance of safeguarding biodiversity while developing these renewable energy sources. Careful management and monitoring are necessary to maximize the benefits and minimize the risks.

More than ever, people are aware that the oceans need our help if we want them to continue delivering the goods and services that we’ve enjoyed for generations. With sound planning and management, many of the potential negative impacts on the oceans can be avoided.

Our May Focus highlights the enormous potential the oceans offer in meeting human challenges such as tackling climate change and finding clean, renewable energy sources. Read the opinions of IUCN experts, learn some interesting facts about the oceans, browse our marine photo gallery, and test your knowledge of marine issues by having a go at our quiz.