Marine resources are particularly important for people living in coastal communities, who represented 37 per cent of the world population in 2010. Oceans provide livelihoods, subsistence and benefits from fisheries, tourism and other sectors. They also help regulate the global ecosystem by absorbing heat and carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. However, oceans and coastal areas are extremely vulnerable to environmental degradation, overfishing, climate change and pollution.
Fish is the main animal protein for more than 1 billion people. Average worldwide fish consumption is about 20 kilograms per person per year.
Sustainably capturing and farming seafood
Since the 1980s there has been a rise in aquaculture (fish, shellfish, and seaweed farming), which now accounts for nearly half of seafood production (figure 14a). East Asia and Pacific dominates capture fisheries and aquaculture production, where it accounts for over 90 percent of output. Capture fisheries have generally stagnated since the early 1990s, and many governments have implemented subsidy schemes to protect local fish supplies and employment in the sector. Subsidies to fisheries total approximately $10 billion a year, driving continued fishing despite decreasing catch value and profitability. Ensuring the effective regulation of fish harvesting along with stopping overfishing and illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing practices (target 14.4) can support the sustainability of the fishing industry, aquatic habitats, and biodiversity.
Protecting and conserving the oceans
As of 2014, approximately 2 percent of the global oceans are designated as marine protected areas, with various levels of actual control of access.5 Target 14.5 seeks the conservation, by 2020, of at least 10 percent of coastal and marine areas. According to the country-level data available, by 2014 South Asia had the lowest share of marine protected areas in its territorial waters. But all regions have achieved at least some progress over the previous two decades (figure 14b)