Accessing and sharing ocean data

Without adequate and accessible data about the ocean, our ability to make informed policy decisions and responsible investments, ensure the sustainable development of marine resources, and protect the ocean’s health from harmful activities is impaired.

The great majority of the ocean is a 'data desert' about which we have little or no conclusive knowledge. We know more about the surface of the moon than the floor of our own ocean, despite the fact that they constitute 70 percent of the surface of our planet. Without adequate and accessible data about the ocean, our ability to make informed policy decisions and responsible investments, ensure the sustainable development of marine resources, and protect the ocean’s health from harmful activities is impaired. 

The scale and technical challenges that the ocean presents make the collection of data challenging, even assuming we are able to prioritise efforts around the data we most urgently need. A number of ocean-based industries, from commercial fisheries to offshore energy, already collect data and are beginning to make it available to government databases. But greater coordination and quality control is needed if we are to build a common database that can support wise decisions about our ocean. 

The challenge: How can we access and share high-quality data on the ocean in order to better manage the activities that depend on and affect it?