Main Issue

Intensifying human exploitation is pushing the world’s oceans to the limits of their ecological carrying capacity. More than 75 percent of world fish stocks are already fully exploited, overexploited, depleted or recovering from depletion. The situation is even more critical for some highly migratory species that are exploited solely or partly in the high seas.

Globally, the world’s oceans have been divided into 66 large marine ecosystems (LMEs). These are defined as near coastal areas where primary productivity is generally higher than in open ocean areas. To date, the GEF has supported sustainable governance of 23 LMEs in which multiple countries collaborate on strategic, long-term ocean governance of transboundary resources.

What We Do

The GEF’s role towards sustainable development of LMEs is second to none in the global arena. Our International Waters finance fills a crucial niche, catalyzing the development of transboundary Strategic Action Programs (SAPs) signed at the ministerial level. During implementation of the SAPs, the countries work toward long-term institutional and financial sustainability, potentially securing the coming into force of ground-breaking environmental treaties. Read more+


With GEF support, at least 124 countries are now working together on shared large marine ecosystems. Our projects have improved ecosystem health and monitoring, sustainable use of ecosystem services, as well as human well-being, through stronger governance at global, regional, national and local levels. They have helped reinforced the importance of working from ridge to reef and from village chiefs to cabinet ministers, illustrating how regional agreed frameworks produce global environment benefits. Read more+