HYDRO 2016 Paper K1

Ocean governance and hydrography

Peter Ehlers


The seas are gaining in importance as part of a healthy economy. They satisfy elemental needs, e.g. for food, natural resources and energy supply. As transport routes, they are a fundamental basis for the worldwide exchange of goods. However, the increasing use of the seas is associated with environmental threats which cannot be ignored.

"Blue growth" can only be accepted if the principles of sustainable development are applied. That requires balancing the economic and sociopolitical needs and the capacities of the natural systems to meet the needs and aspirations of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. A sustainable and comprehensive ocean governance system is urgently needed. For improving ocean governance international cooperation has to be enhanced including a system for financing the conservation and sustainable use of the seas. The law of the sea has to be further developed in particular with regard to marine biological diversity, the designation of marine protected areas, fisheries activities on the high seas and the introduction of large scale marine spatial planning. Capacity building has to be intensified focussing on ocean policy and management. Sufficient knowledge about the oceans and the seas is an indispensable perquisite for ocean governance. In this context hydrographic survey and services play a fundamental role going far beyond the traditional needs of maritime shipping, but covering geospatial data for all marine purposes.

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