Protecting marine ecosystems and livelihoods

Our global ocean is the ‘blue beating heart’ of our planet.

The ocean drives the systems that make our world habitable: regulating climate and temperature, supplying oxygen and clean water, determining weather patterns and precipitation. It is home to between 500,000 and 10 million marine species, many of which have yet to be identified.

The ocean keeps our climate stable, absorbing around one-quarter of humanity’s CO2 emissions and 90% of the heat generated from excess greenhouse gas emissions. It gives us every second breath - producing around half of the world’s oxygen, more than all of the world’s forests.

Over three billion people depend on food from the sea as a major protein source. 200 million jobs are linked to the seafood sector alone and the ocean contributes an estimated US$1.5 trillion to the global economy.

But human activities are putting this irreplaceable ecosystem under extreme pressure. Since industrial fishing began in the early 1950s, 90% of the world’s large ocean fish – such as sharks, cod and swordfish – have been lost. Over a third of the planet’s fish populations are now overfished. As profits plummet, human rights abuses and ‘seafood slavery’ within fishing fleets have proliferated.

Precious marine habitats including mangroves, coral reefs and kelp forests are under acute threat and an estimated 75 to 199 million tonnes of plastic are found in the ocean. Deep-sea mining has emerged as a new threat to the ocean’s depths and the species that inhabit it.

EJF campaigns to protect the global ocean, its biodiversity and the livelihoods that depend upon it by:

Securing legal, sustainable and equitable fisheries. Our investigations, community monitoring and international collaborations gather the evidence that compel decision makers to act, creating transparency and ending illegal, destructive fisheries.

Creating plastic-free seas. Our Net Free Seas programme helps communities to remove and recycle plastic from the sea, and Bottle Free Seas is pioneering ways to reduce the production and consumption of plastic bottles.

Protecting the deep sea. Industrial deep-sea mining could cause irreversible devastation to our ocean, its rich biodiversity and ability to counter climate change. EJF works to convince governments of the need to protect this pristine ecosystem.

Creating marine protected areas that benefit biodiversity, climate and grassroots communities and empowering people to protect their own marine environment and ‘blue carbon’ ecosystems.

Throughout our global ocean programme we aim to strengthen grassroots environmental defenders, empowering the next generation of journalists, campaigners and advocates for our blue planet.

Our Ocean campaigns