Oceans and society

6. Oceans and Society

Feedbacks between human and ocean health


The concentration of human population along coastlines has far-reaching effects on ocean and societal health. The oceans provide benefits to humans such as food, coastal protection and improved mental well-being, but can also impact negatively via natural disasters. At the same time, humans influence ocean health, for example, via coastal development or through environmental stewardship. Given the strong feedbacks between ocean and human health there is a need to promote desirable interactions, while minimising undesirable interactions. To this end, we articulate two scenarios for 2030. First, Business-as-Usual, named ‘Command and (out of) Control’, focuses on the anticipated future based on our current trajectory. Second, a more sustainable scenario called ‘Living and Connecting’, emphasises the development of interactions between oceans and society consistent with achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. We describe a potential pathway to achieving the ‘Living and Connecting’ scenario, centred on improving marine citizenship, achieving a more equitable distribution of power among stakeholders, and more equitable access to resources and opportunities. The constituent actions of this pathway can be categorised into four groups: (i) improved approaches to science and health communication that account for society’s diverse values, beliefs and worldviews, (ii) a shift towards more trusted relationships among stakeholders to enable two-way knowledge exchange, (iii) economic incentives that encourage behavioural changes necessary for achieving desired sustainability outcomes, and (iv) stronger regulations that simultaneously focus on ocean and human health. We contend that these changes will provide improved outcomes for both oceans and society over the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science.


Lead Investigators


Dr Kirsty Nash

Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies / CMS

Dr Ingrid van Putten

CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere / CMS


Dr Joanna Vince

School of Social Sciences, University of Tasmania / CMS


Meet our fellow team members who contribute to the success of this project.

Anna Farmery

Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security, University of Wollongong / CMS
Jenn Scott

Jenn Scott

School of Psychology, University of Tasmania

Karen Alexander

Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies / CMS

Kimberley Norris

School of Psychological Sciences, University of Tasmania

Delphi Ward

Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies / CMS

Sierra Ison

Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies / CMS

Linda Murray

Massey University
Chris Cvitanovic

Chris Cvitanovic

Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science, Australian National University / CMS

Rachel Kelly


Silvana Bettiol

University of Tasmania, Medical Science
Lucy Robinson

Lucy Robinson

Oceans Institute & Oceans Graduate School, The University of Western Australia / CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere
Mary Mackay

Mary Mackay

CSIRO Oceans & Atmosphere / CMS

Emily Flies

School of Natural Sciences, University of Tasmania

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FUTURE SEAS is a unique collaboration , spear-headed by the Centre for Marine Socioecology, of over 100 researchers from the University of Tasmania (UTAS), the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and other institutions
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