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United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development

Targets and Indicators



By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution


(a) Index of coastal eutrophication; and (b) plastic debris density



By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans


Number of countries using ecosystem-based approaches to managing marine areas



Minimize and address the impacts of ocean acidification, including through enhanced scientific cooperation at all levels


Average marine acidity (pH) measured at agreed suite of representative sampling stations



By 2020, effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing practices and implement science-based management plans, in order to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics


Proportion of fish stocks within biologically sustainable levels



By 2020, conserve at least 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, consistent with national and international law and based on the best available scientific information


Coverage of protected areas in relation to marine areas



By 2020, prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and refrain from introducing new such subsidies, recognizing that appropriate and effective special and differential treatment for developing and least developed countries should be an integral part of the World Trade Organization fisheries subsidies negotiation


Degree of implementation of international instruments aiming to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing



By 2030, increase the economic benefits to Small Island developing States and least developed countries from the sustainable use of marine resources, including through sustainable management of fisheries, aquaculture and tourism


Sustainable fisheries as a proportion of GDP in small island developing States, least developed countries and all countries



Increase scientific knowledge, develop research capacity and transfer marine technology, taking into account the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission Criteria and Guidelines on the Transfer of Marine Technology, in order to improve ocean health and to enhance the contribution of marine biodiversity to the development of developing countries, in particular small island developing States and least developed countries


Proportion of total research budget allocated to research in the field of marine technology



Provide access for small-scale artisanal fishers to marine resources and markets


Degree of application of a legal/regulatory/policy/institutional framework which recognizes and protects access rights for small‐scale fisheries



Enhance the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources by implementing international law as reflected in United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which provides the legal framework for the conservation and sustainable use of oceans and their resources, as recalled in paragraph 158 of "The future we want"


Number of countries making progress in ratifying, accepting and implementing through legal, policy and institutional frameworks, ocean-related instruments that implement international law, as reflected in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, for the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans and their resources

Progress and Info

Oceans cover over 70% of the Earth’s surface and play a crucial role in providing food and livelihoods for more than 3 billion people as well as combating the effects of climate change. Yet, alarming trends from declining fish stocks, marine pollution, ocean acidification and habitat destruction threaten marine ecosystems and the livelihoods of coastal communities worldwide. Urgent action is needed to address these challenges and ensure the long-term health and sustainability of the ocean through sustainable fishing practices, marine conservation efforts, pollution reduction and global cooperation to safeguard marine life and ecosystems for future generations.

Target 14.3: Ocean acidification is increasing and will continue to do so if carbon dioxide emissions do not stop rising. An increasing number of countries and stations (from 178 stations in 2021 to 638 in 2024) highlights the growing capacity of countries to observe the continued decline of ocean pH in the global ocean as well as the strong regional differences in the pace of change.

Target 14.6: Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing threatens the social, economic and environmental sustainability of global fisheries, hindering countries’ abilities to manage their fisheries effectively. The first binding international agreement to specifically target IUU fishing, the Agreement of Port State Measures, now has 102 States covered under the Agreement (from 25 in 2016), covering 63% of the world’s coastal States. States have made good overall progress with close to 75% scoring highly in their degree of implementation of relevant international instruments in 2022 compared to 70% in 2018.