The Global Pandemic Has Shown We Need an Action Plan for the Ocean

Figure above: Schematic illustrating the main elements of an Action Plan for the Ocean.

Authors: Eugene J Murphy, Carol Robinson, Alistair James Hobday, Alice Newton, Marion Glaser, Karen Evans, Mark Dickey-Collas, Stephanie Brodie, Marion Gehlen

The COVID-19 pandemic is the first serious test of how science can inform decision-making in the face of an immediate global threat, yielding important lessons on how science, society and policy interact. The global societal and economic impact of COVID-19 has shown that we need to assess, plan and prepare for potential future changes. These insights are particularly important for the ocean science community because of the global connectivity of the ocean and its crucial role in the Earth’s climate system and in supporting all life on Earth. The importance of the ocean in the Earth’s climate system, influencing weather patterns and affecting sea level, is now recognized by governments and increasingly so by the public. Less well-appreciated is the central role of the ocean in maintaining ecosystems and biodiversity and in supporting human systems. An Action Plan for the Ocean is needed that develops a comprehensive global understanding of and plan for dealing with multiple ocean risks, that is flexible and adaptive as knowledge expands and new threats arise. 

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