An aerial view of the ocean and waves. YAYIMAGES.

Scientists Want Earth’s Oceans to be Recognized as a Living Being With Inherent Rights

Scientists believe the ocean deserves the kind of rights, respect, and reverence that we take for granted as individuals. In other words, scientists are calling for the oceans to be recognized as a living being with its own rights.


Earth is a blue planet, with over 70 percent of its surface covered by oceans and seas. In addition to providing us with food and oxygen, the oceans regulate our climate. Tourism, fisheries, international shipping, and other sectors of the world’s economy rely on them. Although the oceans are highly significant, human activity is threatening them in unprecedented ways. Plastic waste ends up in the oceans yearly, an estimated 8 million tonnes. As a result of climate change, coral reefs and other vital ecosystems are suffering. Fish stocks are threatened by overfishing. Dead zones are being created by nutrient pollution. Nearly 80 percent of wastewater is discharged without treatment.

The importance of oceans

On a global scale, the oceans are relatively underrepresented when it comes to environmental conventions. Our oceans are vital. Despite this, oceans are relegated to footnotes in international agreements aimed at uniting our world on sustainable practices. Despite their enormous importance, we act almost as if the oceans were not so crucial. We ignore them. Just as we ignore nature in general. But this needs to stop, according to experts. A fundamental change in our relationship with the oceans must be made if we are to move beyond token efforts. We must develop guidelines that will ensure future generations can reap the benefits of functioning marine ecosystems. A team of researchers argues for a framework aimed at doing just that in an editorial published in PLOS Biology.


Keeping environmental laws as they are is equivalent to legalizing the destruction of nature, argues an article written by ocean policy researchers. “International law must reflect the Ocean’s inherent rights to flourish, regenerate, and exist. They added that “the health of the ocean is the health of the human race.” Also, rather than viewing our natural environment as a separate exploitation domain, the authors assert that this recognition is rooted in a philosophical approach. An imperative component of the emerging field of law of the Earth is this concept of “mutual enhancement,” which encompasses a set of principles aimed at recognizing how humans and their environments are interdependent through various institutions and laws.

The law of the Earth

In this regard, the right to exist is an immediately recognizable legal framework. Around the world, it is an ethical principle that underpins the development of laws. As a result of the law of the Earth, the Rights of Nature recognize that nature has value simply because of its intrinsic value. This value is a part of the body of the law of the Earth. In other words, not because it can provide a property or a resource for exploitation, but because it is a “living thing.” A focus on Ocean-centered governance is built on Earth law and the rights of nature understandings, in which the authors argue that law, policy, and institutional action should be based on the needs of the Ocean.


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Written by Ivan Petricevic

I've been writing passionately about ancient civilizations, history, alien life, and various other subjects for more than eight years. You may have seen me appear on Discovery Channel's What On Earth series, History Channel's Ancient Aliens, and Gaia's Ancient Civilizations among others.

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