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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

Destructive trends in ocean health have not abated. The ocean, the world’s largest ecosystem, continues to be endangered by rising acidification, eutrophication, declining fish stocks and mounting plastic pollution. While there has been some progress in expanding marine protected areas and combatting illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing over the years, more concerted efforts and acceleration are urgently needed. Urgent and coordinated global action is needed to continue to advance towards SDG14.

  • Target 14.1: The global trend of elevated coastal eutrophication continued in 2022 above the 2000-2004 baseline conditions, though different in magnitude from recent years. The highest rates are in the Arabian Sea. 
  • Target 14.3: Ocean acidification is increasing and will continue to do so if CO2 emissions do not stop rising, threatening marine ecosystems and the services they provide. Today, the ocean's average pH is 8.1. This means that the ocean today is about 30% more acidic than in pre-industrial times.
  • Target 14.4: Fishery resources continue to be threatened by overfishing, pollution, poor management and other factors, including illegal fishing. More than a third (35.4%) of global stocks were overfished in 2019, an increase of 1.2% since 2017. Despite ongoing deterioration, the rate of decline has decelerated in recent years. However, the trend continues to deteriorate from the 2020 target to restore fish stocks to biologically sustainable levels.
  • Target 14.6: By the end of 2022, the Agreement on Port State Measures, targeting illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, reached 74 Parties, (including the European Union) or effectively 100 States. In the 2018-2022 period, there has been some progress at the global level in implementing instruments to combat IUU fishing. The new WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies, adopted in June 2022, marks a major step forward towards ocean sustainability.
  • Target 14.b: Globally, the degree of application of frameworks that recognize and protect access rights for small-scale fisheries in 2022 was at the highest level based on available data, reaching a maximum score of 5 out of 5. However, this score conceals a reduced number of countries that contributed to the reporting.
  • Target 14.a: Even though the ocean covers more than 70% of the surface of our planet and contributes to 2.5% of the world gross value added, on average, between 2013 to 2021, only 1.1% of national research budgets were allocated for ocean science.