Executive summary

Share section


Oceans and Human Health (OHH) is a meta-discipline exploring the complex and inextricable links between the health of the ocean and that of humans.

It is our vision that OHH will be recognized as a core component of the Planetary Health concept, with OHH awareness spreading through all relevant fields and communities. This will help build the required OHH research capacity to understand the links between ocean health and human health, in order to optimize the outcomes for both.

This Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) presents the necessary OHH research that will enable fundamental questions to be answered, evidence to be provided to policy, and OHH literacy to be increased in Europe and beyond.

This SRA focuses on three main target action areas (see Figure 1): Sustainable seafood and healthy people; Blue spaces, tourism and well-being; and Marine biodiversity, biotechnology and medicine. It also outlines policy, relevant research needs, public and stakeholder attitudes, and capacity and training requirements in relation to these three areas, as well as OHH more generally.

We believe that an initial focus on these three key topics will cement OHH as a meta-discipline in Europe:

  1. Sustainable Seafood a Healthy People: Our vision for food from the oceans is for fish and seafood to be healthy, nutritious, safe and accessible to all, whilst ensuring sustainability of fisheries and aquaculture;
  2. Blue spaces, tourism and well-being: Our vision is for improved individual and community physical and mental health and well-being through enhanced interactions with healthy blue spaces that are sustainably managed;
  3. Marine biodiversity, medicine and biotechnology: Our vision is a more targeted approach to explore, identify and obtain what marine biodiversity can provide to biotechnology, medicine and disease prevention, whilst demonstrating the critical importance of marine biodiversity and its protection.
Three large icons denoting the target areas for research

Figure 1. Main target action areas of the SRA



Share section

Overall recommendations

In addition to providing resources to explore these three main target areas, the following main priorities and overarching recommendations emerge from this Strategic Research Agenda:

  • A formal transdisciplinary forum and/or platform should be established to encourage collaboration between researchers from all OHH-relevant fields, building on the community established within this project;
  • The research community should develop best practice guidance on collaboration with stakeholders and citizens in relation to OHH research;
  • Systematic reviews and longitudinal studies should be conducted to better understand the state-of-the-art in OHH research, and to identify gaps in understanding linkages;
  • The benefits of designated marine protected areas (MPAs), to human as well as ocean health, should be demonstrated;
  • Inter- and transdisciplinary training and education programmes should be developed at different academic levels to support the development of OHH research;
  • Appropriate mechanisms for youth contribution and engagement should be established;
  • Advice should be provided to policymakers regarding the additional data collection and monitoring needs for both marine and health parameters to support the understanding of interactions and to develop a body of evidence to demonstrate these interactions. This should also consider issues of accessibility and usability of existing data and monitoring systems, and propose relevant indicators and indices.


The webinar below provides an overview of the three action areas and their importance.

Share section

Measuring success

We will know that we have achieved our vision of recognition when we have:

  • Best practice guidelines for collaboration and engagement of stakeholders in OHH research;
  • A set of OHH-specific indicators that Member States are required to monitor and report on, supported by cross-policy coordination;
  • Development of a dedicated OHH community platform that can be used to initiate contacts and launch collaborations, as well as provide access to data sources and products;
  • Organization of a dedicated interdisciplinary conference series and/or similar forum to present and discuss this research;
  • Research calls and subsequent jointly-funded interdisciplinary and international projects which require participation from several relevant backgrounds including at least marine science, medicine and/or public health; and
  • An interdisciplinary OHH-specific module(s) offered to all graduates on marine and health-related university courses, either in-house or as a massive open online course (MOOC).