The ocean provides a diversity of services, which range from food, minerals, energy and transportation to biodiversity and cultural services such as tourism and heritage. Achieving a balance between harnessing these services to support social and economic development and protecting the resource base remains a challenge.For example, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reports that the percentage of stocks fished at biologically unsustainable levels increased from 10% in 1974 to 33% in 2015. According to the Ocean
Health Index, natural products, coastal protection and carbon storage at a global level all saw steady declines between 2012 and 2016. The South Atlantic Ocean is described by the International Hydrographic Organization as stretching from the
equator in the north to the Antarctic continent in the south, and is broadly bound by South America to the west and Africa to the east. According to the Ocean Health Index, South Africa, bordering the South Atlantic in the east, is ranked 45th (out of 221) on the overall score, whereas Brazil and Trindade on the other side of the South Atlantic are ranked 126th. South Africa’s highest ranking (21st) is on the ‘Carbon storage’ metric and its lowest ranking (144th) is on the ‘Clean water’ metric, whereas Brazil and Trindade’s highest rankings (26th) are on the ‘Sense of place’ metric and their lowest rankings (162nd) are on the ‘Livelihoods’ metric. With the UN General Assembly Resolution 71/312 calling for, among others, action to ‘Develop comprehensive strategies to raise awareness of
the natural and cultural significance of the ocean, the above metrics provide guidance on areas of strength on which to build and areas in which to improve.
World Wildlife Fund South Africa reports that 14% of South African linefish species are overexploited and that the stocks of 52% of linefish species have collapsed. This proportion is significant, as small-scale fisheries in South Africa
support the livelihood of more than 28 000 households directly, whereas indirect employment is provided by the commercial fisheries to more than 100 000 employees. In Brazil, catches peaked at just more than 950 000 tonnes in 1985, whereas sharp declines on the abundance of the main target stocks caused catches to drop to around 600 000 tonnes/annum between 1990 and 1999, before recovering to just more than 700 000 tonnes in 2016.Sustainable management of ocean resources is a global issue that requires cooperation. The strongest
recognition of this need is the inclusion of a Sustainable Development Goal on the need to strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise partnerships (SDG 17) in the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.Research and innovation are key areas where partnerships can play a crucial role to sustainably manage resources to support the aspirations of the present generation and maintain the development potential for future generations.