Sustainable development (SDG) 14* provides a vision for the world’s oceans; however, the management interventions that are needed to achieve SDG 14 remain less clear.

This study assessed the potential contributions of seven key area-based management tools (such as fisheries closures) to SDG 14 targets. For this purpose, a systematic review of 177 studies was conducted, together with an expert opinion survey to identify evidence of the ecological, social and economic outcomes from each type of tool.

The results demonstrate that a combination of tools with diverse objectives and management approaches will be necessary to achieve all of the SDG 14 targets. The authors highlight that some tools, including fully and partially protected areas and locally managed marine areas, may take stronger contributions to SDG 14 compared with other tools.

The study also identified gaps in the sustainability of these tools to some targets, particularly targets related to pollution and acidification, as well as evidence gaps for social and economic outcomes. It is concluded that the findings provide operational guidance to support progress toward SDG 14.

*SDG 14: Life Below Water amins to conserve and sustainably use oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development.

Reimer et al. (2020) Benefits and gaps in area-based management tools for the ocean sustainable development goal. Nature Sustainability doi: 10.1038/s41893-020-00659-2