Healthy Oceans | Marine@Ugent

Healthy Oceans

The UN Sustainable development goal 14 focusses on life below water. Ocean acidification, overexploitation of marine resources and pollution due to human activities are threatening our oceans and seas. At the same time, oceans play a vital role in our society through human health, food and economic activities. At Ghent University, we study the impact on our marine ecosystems and focus on developing solutions to create and maintain healthy oceans.

Healthy oceans, seas, coastal and inland waters are vital for our societies and the future of our planet. They are the lungs of our planet, producing half of the oxygen we breathe. They are a source of healthy food, contributing 16% of the animal protein we eat. They are the planet’s largest carbon sink and have absorbed 26% of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. They are home to the richest biodiversity on our planet. They are the source of all life on Earth and our planet’s life-support system. They supply freshwater, renewable energy and provide benefits associated with our well-being, cultural values, tourism, trade, and transport.

Marine communities are more and more under pressure from direct or indirect human impacts. Today, there is scientific consensus that environmental tipping points are being crossed, and many species are adapting (or failing to adapt) to novel climatic and environmental conditions. Predictions of change in marine biodiversity have raised substantial concerns over the consequences of biodiversity loss, or the appearance of invasive species on ecosystem processes functioning and services. When biodiversity loss jeopardizes the provision of ecosystem goods and services, it may ultimately affect human well-being.

Therefore, improving insights into the complexities of marine resources and environmental management will allow us to provide guidance for sustainable value creation. Understanding the interplay between all stakeholders (policy, science, industry, and society) and underlying impacts of marine resource exploitation is key to a sustainable use of the sea.


We provide knowledge and expertise on a wide diversity of disciplines, including but not limited:

  • Marine biology
  • Pollution and remediation
  • Global change
  • Policy
  • Social Sciences
  • History and Archaeology
  • Deep sea exploitation
  • Tourism
  • Environmental law
  • Groundwater modeling


©picture: Sara Vandamme