Despite notable successes in helping to protect the ocean, the scale of actions is simply not now meeting the overriding scale and nature of the ocean’s problems that confront us. Moving into a post-COVID-19 world, new policy decisions will need to be made. Some, especially those developed prior to the pandemic, will require changes to their trajectories; others will emerge as a response to this global event.

This viewpoint paper explores the issues from an ocean perspective that have led us to this precarious position with nature and the planet in the first place, this paper sets out an evolution of the narrative to put the ocean centre stage in such recovery processes.

This narrative adopts a “One Health” approach to protecting the ocean, addressing the whole Earth ocean system for better and more equitable social, cultural, economic, and environmental outcomes at its core. The authors highlight that speaking with one voice through a narrative that captures the latest science, concerns, and linkages to humanity is a precondition to action, by elevating humankind’s understanding of our relationship with “planet Ocean” and why it needs to become a central theme to everyone’s lives.

The authors conclude: “We have only one ocean, we must protect it, now. There is no “Ocean B”.

Laffoley et al. (2020) Evolving the narrative for protecting a rapidly changing ocean, post-COVID-19. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems. DOI: 10.1002/aqc.3512