The ocean is vital to life on earth; it regulates the climate, provides food, medicine, and economic opportunity for billions, and carries profound cultural significance. Unfortunately, decades of overexploitation, marine pollution, and a changing climate have thrown the ocean into a cycle of decline, threatening the future of marine ecosystems and human welfare. Recognizing the need to improve ocean stewardship, the global community has come together to declare 2021-2030 the "U.N. Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development." The Ocean Decade provides an opportunity for the global community to support sustainable development of our shared ocean.
Essential to realizing the vision of the Ocean Decade is a robust ocean governance regime. In particular, ocean governance must facilitate the conduct of critical scientific research and ensure that science is translated into sustainable and equitable law and policy decisions. To this end, Berkeley's Law of the Sea Institute, in partnership with the Korean Institute of Ocean Science and Technology
, hosted the conference "Governing Science at Sea: The Legal Framework for Marine Scientific Research" in Busan, South Korea in July 2019.
The conference brought together scientists, policymakers, and lawyers to engage in interdisciplinary dialogue related to marine scientific research governance. Conference participants identified challenges within the existing legal framework and explored potential solutions. Key topics included enabling participation in marine scientific research, managing and disseminating scientific data, protecting biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction, balancing state sovereignty with the freedom to conduct scientific research, and defining ocean science.
The conference revealed that
the Ocean Decade offers a unique opportunity for the global community to transform how we govern the ocean. Stay tuned for a collaborative publication, which will build upon the conference to provide tangible recommendations for science-driven ocean governance.
Conference participants gather for a group photograph at conference close.