Marine and Polar

The ocean covers 70% of the Earth’s surface and supports an extraordinarily diverse world. Only a fraction of it has been discovered so far and much of ocean life remains a mystery which IUCN experts are striving to unveil.  

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Oceans need our care

 

Coral

375 billion

US $ each year estimated for coral's resources and services

Plastics

8 million+

tons of plastic end up in oceans each year

Protected areas

7%

of the ocean is protected


How we engage

IUCN works to ensure that coastal, marine and polar ecosystems are restored and maintained, and that any use of their resources is sustainable and equitable. IUCN also makes sure that the conservation of these ecosystems is integrated into national climate change mitigation and adaptation policies.


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  • In the spotlight:

    Ocean Risk Report

    May 2018 saw the release of Ocean Connections, a new report that examines the impacts of rising ocean temperatures and other stressors such as ocean acidification – the decrease in pH of the ocean – and deoxygenation – a reduction in the amount of oxygen dissolved in the ocean – on the marine environment and human life, and their potential consequences for society.  The report was released at the Ocean Risk Summit in Bermuda as part of a collaboration with XL Catlin global (re)insurance company.

  • In the spotlight:

    Ocean Warming Report

    Explaining Ocean Warming: Causes, scale, effects and consequences was released to the world’s media in September 2016 at the IUCN Congress in Hawaii.  This 460-page publication offers a comprehensive and up-to-date look at the effects of ocean warming from the perspective of major ecosystems and species groups.  Drawing on the work of over 80 scientists from 12 countries, it sets out the likely nature and scale of changes to come and also looks at the probable economic consequences ocean warming poses as well as associated risks to human health and well-being.

News

  • Western gray whale and salmon set nets near Sakhalin Island Western gray whale and salmon set nets near Sakhalin Island Photo: No attribution

    Western gray whales at great risk from salmon nets – IUCN-backed study

    11.10.2018

    Gland, Switzerland (IUCN) - A new IUCN-backed scientific article published today finds that threatened western gray whales are at “very high risk” of entanglement in coastal salmon nets near Russia’s Sakhalin island, which often leads to their injury or death...

  • Western gray whale in Sakhalin Photo: David Weller

    IUCN seeks whale conservation expert to lead advise on industry development impacts

    27.09.2018

    IUCN invites applications for the Chair of its Western Gray Whale Advisory Panel (WGWAP) to provide objective independent advice on the impacts to whales and their marine habitat during offshore oil and gas development and beyond. The position will run for...

  • Acoustic monitoring, Bontosua Island, Indonesia Acoustic monitoring, Bontosua Island, Indonesia. Photo: Alicia McArdle Photo: Alicia McArdle

    Reef Futures Looking Up! Large Scale Coral Reef Restoration is Possible

    30.08.2018

    Needing to change our visual and professional perspective was the common theme behind several promising low-cost technical solutions reviewed at a recent Coral Reef Restoration Workshop. The workshop sponsored by the International Union for Conservation of...

Publications

Learn more

Dog Island, Anguilla Dog Island, Anguilla Photo: James Millet

EU overseas

From the poles to the tropics, the European Union (EU) includes 34 overseas entities: 9 Outermost Regions (ORs) and 25 Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs). They are linked to 6 European Member States: Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom. Found in...
Marine plastics on beach Photo: Peter Charaf

Marine Plastics

Every year, over 300 million tons of plastic are produced, half of which is used to design single-use items such as shopping bags, cups and straws. At least 8 million tons of plastic end up in our oceans every year and make up 80% of all marine debris from surface waters to deep-sea...
New Coral Growing on Old Photo: Henry Wolcott

Climate Change and Oceans

Climate change is severely and rapidly impacting species, ecosystems and people around the globe. Climate change and ocean acidification are jeopardizing food security, shoreline protection, the provision of income, livelihood sources and sustainable economic development. IUCN's work...
Sargasso Sea Photo: Don Kincaid

International ocean governance

IUCN's work on ocean governance covers many of the issues relating to the sustainable use and management of coastal, transboundary and international waters from large marine ecosystems to the high seas.

 

Quick reads

Aimed at policy-makers and journalists, IUCN Issues Briefs provide key information on selected issues in a two-pager format.

Thumbnail_Ocean acidification_issues brief Photo: IUCN

Ocean acidification

Ocean acidification is a direct consequence of increased human-induced carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations in the atmosphere. The oceans absorb over 25% of all anthropogenic emissions from the...

Thumbnail_Oceans MPA issues brief Photo: IUCN

Marine protected areas and climate change

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) – areas of the ocean set aside for long-term conservation aims – are the only mainstream conservation-focussed, area-based measure to increase the quality and extent of...

Issues brief: Coral reefs and climate change Photo: IUCN

Coral reefs and climate change

Anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions have caused an increase in global surface temperature of approximately 1°C since pre-industrial times. This has led to unprecedented mass coral bleaching events...

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