Action is needed to conserve and manage the marine environment in order to maintain healthy ecosystems and human wellbeing. This is particularly true in a world with mounting anthropogenic threats, including overfishing, pollution, coastal population growth, biodiversity loss, habitat destruction and climate change. Yet in the push to rapidly increase marine management and conservation interventions, there is a real danger that the marine conservation community may promote actions that are socially unjust or inappropriate.

This paper issues a call to action and proposes a way forward to reduce the occurrence of poor governance and negative impacts in future efforts to achieve marine conservation objectives. The authors argue that there is a well-recognized gap and need for a code of conduct to guide the actions of all members of the marine conservation community.

The authors propose a draft set of objectives and recommendations to be considered in the development of a marine conservation code of conduct. The code of conduct draft proposal includes three broad objectives: 1. Fair governance and decision-making, 2. Socially just actions and outcomes, and 3. Accountable organizations and initiatives. It is emphasised that this draft set of objectives, recommendations and principles should be further tested and refined by a community of practice through time.

It is concluded that proactive attention to social considerations will pay dividends and help to avoid costly mistakes for conservation.

Bennett NJ, Teh L, Ota Y, Christie P, Ayers A, Day JC, Franks P, Gill D, Gruby RL, Kittinger JN, Koehn JZ, Lewis N, Parks J, Vierros M, Whitty TS, Wilhelm A, Wright K, Aburto JA, Finkbeiner EM, Gaymer CF, Govan H, Gray N, Jarvis RM, Kaplan-Hallam M, Satterfield T (2017) An appeal for a code of conduct for marine conservation. Marine Policy 81:411-418