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

The world’s oceans and seas continue to struggle against increased acidification, eutrophication and plastic pollution, which are endangering the planet’s largest ecosystem and the billions of livelihoods depending on them. The pandemic has not eased that burden, as an estimated 25,000 tons of plastic waste has steadily entered the global ocean owing to an increase in single-use plastic primarily from medical waste. Owing to the initial lockdowns arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, most countries experienced a 40–80 per cent decline in fish production, with small-scale fisher communities hardest hit. The pandemic also led to a dramatic reduction in tourism, causing substantial income losses for coastal and island communities.

The satellite-derived eutrophication indicator shows an increasing trend from 2016 to the present. While the COVID-19 pandemic may have caused some reduction in coastal pollution in certain areas owing to reduced tourism and activity, the pandemic does not appear to have globally reduced eutrophication. In fact, there was an increase of over 23 per cent in the peak values of the indicator for the 2020 and 2021 calendar year average, compared with the mean value for previous years.

Ocean acidification is the consequence of uptake of atmospheric CO2 by the ocean, resulting in a decreasing pH level and increasing acidification of the ocean, thereby negatively affecting marine organisms and ocean services. Data collected from 308 stations of 35 countries in 2022 highlight 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.

Between 2018 and 2022, the average degree of implementation of international instruments to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing as measured by the indicator has improved across the world. In this period, the global aggregated indicator has risen from 3 to 4 (out of a maximum score of 5). Countries have thus made good overall progress with close to 75 per cent scoring high in their degree of implementation of relevant international instruments in 2022 compared with 70 per cent in 2018.

In the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture 2022, the level of adoption of regulatory frameworks supporting small-scale fisheries and promoting participatory decision-making has improved worldwide. The average global score has risen to 5 out of 5 in 2022, up from 4 out of 5 in 2020 and 3 out of 5 in 2018.

Overall, many States have ratified or acceded to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (168 parties) and its implementing agreements (Agreement relating to the Implementation of Part XI of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982: 151 parties; and Agreement for the Implementation of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks: 91 parties). While many States have implemented those instruments through legal, policy and institutional frameworks, this remains an area for further progress in several developing countries, in particular least developed countries.


Source: Progress Towards Sustainable Development Goals- Report of the Secretary-General 

For more information, please, check: https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/report/2022/