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

  • Water bottles thrown by runners during the Mater Heart Run in Nairobi last year Photo: Nema Kenya

    National Steering Committee lay groundwork to tackle plastic pollution in Kenya

    15.01.2019

    In late November 2018, MARPLASTICCs’ Kenya National Steering Committee members came together for the first time in Nairobi, Kenya. The aim was to establish a strategic coalition, discuss project progress, review and adopt the 2018-2020 work plan, and decide...

  • Sustainable Blue Economy Participants, Nairobi, Kenya Photo: IUCN ESARO/ SIB-Kenya

    Building the global momentum on marine/aquatic plastics litter

    10.01.2019

    Along with over 18,000 participants from 180 countries representing government institutions, national agencies, academia and research, private sector, students, and plastic sector actors, IUCN joined the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference in Nairobi, Kenya,...

  • Western gray whale in Sakhalin Western gray whale in Sakhalin  Photo: Yuri Yakovlev

    IUCN seeks whale conservation experts to advise on energy development impacts

    14.12.2018

    IUCN seeks applications from qualified individuals to serve on its independent scientific and technical advisory panel to minimize impacts on western gray whales during offshore oil and gas development near Sakhalin Island in the Russian Far East....

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...
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.

 

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...

Quick reads

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

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...

Seamount conservation Seamount conservation Photo: IUCN

Seamount conservation

Seamounts are underwater mountains of volcanic origin that rise from the seafloor. Regarded as hotspots of biological diversity in the ocean, seamounts serve as spawning sites for many species....

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...

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