Skip to main content
Image
The ocean with waves and a blue sky.
“Wherever you live, the Ocean has an impact on you. Wherever you live, you have an impact on the Ocean,” says Sam Dupont, marine researcher at the University of Gothenburg.
Photo: Jonathan Havenhand
Breadcrumb

Scientists call for global plan to save our oceans and our health

Published

Scientists have proposed the first steps towards a united global plan to save our oceans, for the sake of human health. The paper highlights 35 steps for action by different groups and individuals, including policy-makers, businesses, and individual citizens.

“We can all play our part and contribute to a healthier ocean and our own health,” says Sam Dupont, marine researcher at the University of Gothenburg, and one of the scientists behind the paper.

Focus on human health

An interdisciplinary European collaboration with researchers from nine different countries, including Sam Dupont from the University of Gothenburg, has outlined the initial steps to protect the largest connected ecosystem on Earth: Our ocean. In a paper published in the American Journal of Public Health the researchers call for the current UN Ocean Decade to remind us that ocean health is intricately linked to human health.

Image
Sam Dupont, marine researcher in his lab.
Sam Dupont, marine researcher at the University of Gothenburg.
Photo: Sam Dupont

 “Money is classically used to valuate marine ecosystem services, giving the wrong impression that we can compensate the damages caused by human activity by paying for the costs. However, money cannot buy health and if we truly want to drive actions to protect the Ocean, it is time to change currency and focus on human health,” says Sam Dupont, marine researcher at the University of Gothenburg.

List of 35 steps

The paper suggests a list of possible first steps to a wide range of groups, such as policy-makers, businesses, tourism operators, and also individual citizens, who can influence ocean health, emphasising that holistic collaboration is essential to make an impact. For example:

Individual citizens can:  

  • take part in ocean-based citizen science
  • participate in clean-up activities
  • encourage school projects on sustainability

Businesses can:  

  • review their impact on ocean health
  • share best practice
  • review and act on the impacts of supply chain, waste, and other activities

Policy-makers can:  

  • Include the interdependencies of environment and health in all policy development
  • Prioritize the work on awareness across different directorates

Listen to the researchers

The paper point to our huge reliance on our global ocean as a source of food and economic income internationally, as well as a precious resource that research shows benefit our mental and physical health.

The paper calls on planners, policy-makers and organisations to understand and share research into the links between ocean and human health, and to integrate this knowledge into policy.

“The devastating COVID-19 pandemic, climate and other environmental change, and the perilous state of our seas, have made clear that we share a single planet with a single global ocean. Our moral compass points to addressing the myriad threats and potential opportunities we encounter by protecting and providing for everyone, both rich and poor, while learning to sustain all ecosystems,” says first author Professor Lora Fleming, University of Exeter.

“Wherever you live, the Ocean has an impact on you. Wherever you live, you have an impact on the Ocean,” says Sam Dupont, marine researcher at the University of Gothenburg.

FACT

Read more about the 35 steps in the paper, entitled ‘The Ocean Decade— Opportunities for Oceans and Human Health Programs to Contribute to Public Health’, published in the American Journal of Public Health.

The interdisciplinary European collaboration Seas Oceans and Public Health In Europe (SOPHIE) Project is managed by the University of Exeter and funded by Horizon 2020.