Recently, a number of important decisions with an impact on international maritime policy have been made. Despite international crises and increasing tension, a UN convention on the protection of the biodiversity of the high seas was reached. In addition, many other processes were continued or launched. The EU is revising its fisheries policy, negotiations are ongoing to limit marine litter, and the International Seabed Authority is discussing regulations for deep-sea mining. However, contrary to the extensive efforts to improve ocean governance and protection, on the other hand, their ecological status continues to deteriorate to a rapide rate.
The impacts of the climate crisis, overfishing, or even the destruction of coastal ecosystems are being observed all over the world. Scientific analyses predict extremely critical dynamics with regard to the future of the oceans. However, the hardest hit by these negative developments are the indigenous and local coastal communities in the Global South, as they are the most dependent on intact marine ecosystems. Their livelihoods are fundamentally threatened by sea level rise or loss of fishing grounds.
Thus, one of the crucial questions remains how to bring together environment and development in international ocean governance. Currently, competition for ocean space and resources is growing with the number of different stakeholders accessing the oceans and their coastal regions. However, for both sustainable use of the oceans and effective marine conservation, resolving these conflicts is a crucial prerequisite. For example, a global fisheries policy will be sustainable only if it succeeds in combating overfishing while at the same time preserving the livelihoods of coastal communities and stabilizing the contribution of fisheries to food security.
The German government’s marine strategy should take these interrelationships into account in its realignment. In the upcoming implementation of marine conservation conventions and subsequent programs, coherent design of the different areas of marine policy, including integration of their developmental aspects, will be crucial. Only a marine strategy that includes the environment, development and the people concerned, and whose formulation is transparent and participatory, is promising in the long term.