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Our Ocean

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The ocean covers almost three quarters of our planet and is critical to maintaining life on earth. It regulates the climate and weather, generates 50 per cent of the oxygen we breathe, and absorbs excess carbon. No matter where people live, they depend on the ocean for the food they eat and the air they breathe.

Chile to Host Our Ocean 2015 Conference

The United States is very excited that Chile is hosting the next Our Ocean conference on October 5-6, 2015, and is working closely with them to keep momentum from the first conference rolling. Website»  

Challenges Facing Our Ocean


Date: 2015 Description: Still of ''Sustainable Fisheries'' Video. Text Reads: Over 3 billion people rely on our ocean for animal protein - State Dept Image

Date: 2015 Description: Text Reads: The oceans are changing faster than almost any time in earth's history, and we are the agents of that transformation.  - State Dept Image

Date: 2015 Description: Text reads: ''Only humans create waste that nature can't digest'' - State Dept Image

Sustainable Fisheries

The oceans face serious challenges that threaten the sustainability of marine fisheries. Catches of many types of fish in the ocean are declining while demand continues to increase. Overfishing harms the ecology of the ocean, while also reducing the long-term potential of fish stocks to provide food and jobs for the future. Harmful fishing practices have unintended impacts on species of birds, marine mammals, sea turtles and non-target fish stocks. Learn more

Marine Pollution

An estimated 80 per cent of marine pollution originates on land – pollutants that threaten wildlife and the health and safety of humans. Nutrients, coming from sources such as agricultural runoff, sewage and wastewater discharges, create “dead zones” where fish and other marine life cannot thrive. There are an estimated 500 dead zones in the world.

Marine debris, such as trash and other solid material, enter ocean and coastal waters and threaten wildlife and the health and safety of humans. Plastics consistently make up a significant portion of all marine debris. We can combat the marine debris problem through proper collection, handling and recycling or disposal of trash, as well as by reducing consumption and packaging. Learn more

Ocean Acidification

As the ocean absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, it becomes more acidic. Many marine organisms are unable to adapt to the new conditions. Today, the ocean is 30 per cent more acidic than it was before the Industrial Revolution. And, the chemistry of the ocean is changing ten times faster than at any other time in the past 50 million years. Learn More


Solutions to Help Protect Our Ocean

  • President Obama announced a commitment to protect some of the most precious U.S. marine landscapes.
  • The U.S. Presidential Task Force on Combating Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing and Seafood Fraud, announced by the President at the Our Ocean Conference, has launched an ambitious plan to improve the sustainability of seafood consumed in the U.S. Learn more:
  • The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing (the Agreement) was adopted in 2009 to combat IUU fishing through the implementation of port-sate measures that require parties, in their capacity as port States, to refuse port entry or access for landing IUU-caught fish or servicing the ship. The agreement could potentially become ratified in the future. Learn more:
  • The United States, in collaboration with /tone™ and GSM Association, launched the mFish public-private partnership, a new initiative to provide mobile devices to small-scale fishers in developing nations with apps designed to access market and weather information and more easily report catches to fisheries managers.
  • Read more about the commitments announced at the 2014 Our Ocean conference:

Our Ocean Conference 2014

In June 2014, the Department of State hosted the first “Our Ocean” Conference in Washington, D.C. Individuals, experts, practitioners, advocates, lawmakers, and the international ocean and foreign policy communities from nearly 90 countries were brought together to gather lessons learned, share the best science, offer unique perspectives, and demonstrate effective actions. Themes of the two day conference included sustainable fisheries, marine pollution, and ocean acidification. At the end of the conference, Secretary Kerry outlined an action plan of policy goals, best practices, and benchmarks aimed at translating the initiatives developed at the conference into a unified global ocean policy.

The conference was a great success and resulted in new partnerships and initiatives valued at more than $800 million to conserve the ocean and its resources, as well as new commitments on the protection of more than 3 million square kilometers of the ocean.

For more information about the 2014 Our Ocean Conference, click here.


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