Oceans and the Global Economy

People in coastal countries depend on healthy oceans and fisheries for their livelihood. But fishing subsidies and other economic policies may distort incentives and spend public money on practices that are unsustainable and otherwise unprofitable. Nevertheless, gross global revenue from marine fisheries during the past decade is estimated at $80 billion to $85 billion annually. When indirect effects on related industries that depend on fisheries, such as boat manufacturing and canning, are incorporated, the total global value is approximately $240 billion annually—nearly three times the value of the catch alone. 

Healthy marine ecosystems support ecotourism, such as diving and whale-watching, which is one of the fastest-growing global sectors. Marine systems also provide habitat for commercially important juvenile fish, help with carbon sequestration, and offer coastal protection — all of which generate substantial economic benefits that become tangible costs when they are lost. Pew supports economic research to understand the value of the world’s marine resources, the reasons they are at risk, and economic approaches to conserve them.

Additional Resources

One Minute Dive

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Sea Otters vs. Urchins in Canada's Kelp Forests