Oceans make up 71 percent of Earth’s surface and account for over 99 percent of the living space on Earth. Oceans provide critical renewable and nonrenewable resources such as fish, oil, natural gas, minerals, and genetic materials and are crucial for globalized transport of goods. Oceans are home to an incredible diversity of organisms, many yet undiscovered. They are also an essential component of the global carbon cycle and are tightly entwined with the earth’s climate. The world’s marine habitat and biodiversity face growing threats from many sources including coastal development, commercial and recreational fishing, agriculture, aquaculture, energy production, and shipping. These human activities are leading to polluted and degraded habitats, collapsed fisheries, introduction of invasive species, loss of endangered species, altered food webs, and global climate change.
Our oceans act as a crucial life-support system for the planet and its inhabitants— soaking up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, providing a wealth of natural resources, nurturing incredible and mysterious sea creatures, and serving as a playground and place of cultural heritage. Covering 71 percent of Earth's surface and providing 99 percent of its living space, the ocean often seems invincible. Yet human activity threatens to diminish the myriad services that the ocean provides. To address these threats, ELI's Ocean Program focuses on three major groups of management issues:
As part of its education and outreach efforts, ELI also hosts an Ocean Seminar Series that highlights key issues in ocean and coastal governance.