Defending our oceans

Seen from space the Earth is covered in a blue mantle. It is a planet on which the continents are dwarfed by the oceans surrounding them and the immensity of the marine realm. It could be called Planet Ocean.

A staggering 80 percent of all the life on Earth is to be found hidden beneath the waves and this vast global ocean pulses around our world driving the natural forces which maintain life on our planet.

The oceans provide vital sources of protein, energy, minerals and other products of use the world over and the rolling of the sea across the planet creates over half our oxygen, drives weather systems and natural flows of energy and nutrients around the world, transports water masses many times greater than all the rivers on land combined and keeps the Earth habitable.

Without the global ocean there would be no life on Earth.

It is gravely worrying, then, that we are damaging the oceans on a scale that is unimaginable to most people.

We now know that human activity can have serious impacts on the vital forces governing our planet.  We have fundamentally changed our global climate and are just beginning to understand the consequences of that.

As yet largely unseen, but just as serious, are the impacts we are having on the oceans.

A healthy ocean has diverse ecosystems and robust habitats.  The actual state of our oceans is a far cry from this natural norm.

A myriad of human pressures are being exerted both directly and indirectly on ocean ecosystems the world over. Consequently ecosystems are collapsing as marine species are driven towards extinction and ocean habitats are destroyed.  Degraded and stripped of their diversity, ocean ecosystems are losing their inherent resilience.

We need to defend our oceans because without them, life on Earth cannot exist.

Dead oceans, dead planet

We need to defend them now more than ever, because the oceans need all the resilience they can muster in the face of climate change and the potentially disasterous impacts this is already beginning to produce in the marine world.

The Greenpeace Defending our Oceans campaign sets out to protect and preserve our oceans now and for the future by setting aside swathes of the global oceans from exploitation and controllable human pressure, allowing these areas the respite they so desperately need for recovery and renewal.

Building on a protection and recovery system established to manage land based over-exploitation, Marine Reserves are the ocean equivalent of national parks.

Marine Reserves are a scientifically developed and endorsed approach to redressing the crisis in our oceans which work alongside a range of other measures designed to ensure that the demands we make of our oceans are managed sustainably.

Beyond Marine Reserves we need to tackle a great many threats to the oceans' viability and find better ways of managing their resources.  To this end, while Greenpeace campaigns for Marine Reserves, we also campaign against the acts which have brought the oceans to this point - we expose the countless pressures, reveal the threats, confront the villains and point to the solutions and measures necessary to create sustainable oceans.

The latest updates


Vaquita porpoise takes centre stage at Whaling Commission meeting

Blog entry by Willie | October 28, 2016

Big news for a little porpoise. Something big just happened for the  tiny vaquita porpoise  at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting. The diminutive porpoise was the subject of a resolution, passed by all the countries...

Kiwi cycles the Philippines coasts to raise awareness about ocean plastic

Blog entry by Abigail Aguilar | October 3, 2016

Anna Dawson is no stranger to Philippine coastlines, having lived and worked in the country since 2008. However, her next challenge will be one of the biggest yet. From September to December 2016, the New Zealander is cycling 2,000km...

Brent Spar: The sea is not a dustbin

Blog entry by Rex Weyler | September 24, 2016

In August 2016, Prestel Books published  Photos That Changed the World , including this image of the Greenpeace Brent Spar campaign, captured by David Sims on 16 June 1995. Greenpeace approaches Brent Spar, 1995, dodging a...

Emma Thompson speaking truth to power at the UN

Blog entry by Sofia Tsenikli | September 15, 2016

Words are powerful, especially when they speak the truth and come straight from the heart. That’s why Oscar-winning actor and writer Emma Thompson’s plea to UN delegates to do what is right for the oceans moved so many of us. She...

The cat’s out of the bag! Mars puts Thai Union under pressure

Blog entry by Kate Simcock | September 7, 2016

Give yourself a massive pat on the back!  After constant pressure from cat, tuna and ocean lovers alike, calling on global food giant Mars, and its brand Whiskas, to face up to human rights abuses in the supply chain of seafood...

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