Why The Ocean Is Important To Humans: 14 Reasons

There’s a number of reasons the ocean is important to humans (in addition to the importance of the environment in general )

These reasons can be health/survival based, social, economic, environmental, cultural, and more.

Below is a list of 14 different reasons that cover each of these areas.

(Note – a complimentary guide to this one is this guide on the biggest problems facing oceans worldwide)


Summary – Why The Ocean Is Important To Humans

A summary of the 14 reasons:

1. Oxygen production

2. Carbon dioxide absorption and regulating the carbon cycle

3. Regulating climate and weather

4. We use the ocean for transportation and trade

5. We use the ocean for recreation

6. Value of the ocean to the economy and GDP

7. The ocean helps employ millions of people worldwide

8. We use the ocean for food production (and nutrients)

9. We use the ocean for ingredients or materials in other products

10. The ocean is home to a lot of biodiversity, animals and organisms

11. A % of the world’s population lives on ocean coastlines

12. Potential health and therapeutic benefits of the ocean for humans

13. Cultural significance of the ocean for some cultures around the world

14. The ocean is the biggest source of water in the world


1. It helps produce the oxygen we breathe

Some of the oxygen on Earth is produced by trees and other land based plants and vegetation

The majority of the rest of the oxygen is produced in the ocean

The ocean produces around half of the world’s oxygen (oceanservice.noaa.gov)

Sea plants, like Posidonia, produce 70% of the oxygen we breathe … [compared to rainforests at 28%] (theoceanpreneur.com)


2. It helps absorb carbon dioxide 

The ocean absorbs roughly 50% more CO2 than what the atmosphere does (oceanservice.noaa.gov)

Phytoplankton absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen (theoceanpreneur.com)

Read more about phytoplankton here


3. Helps regulate the climate and weather 

The ocean helps transport heat from the equator to the poles (oceanservice.noaa.gov)

[The ocean] soaks up the heat and transports warm water from the equator to the poles. [These currents make weather less extreme and make some regions more habitable. They also help regulate rain and droughts with most of the rain we have on land coming from the sea, and when the ocean absorbs carbon, it helps balance the carbon cycle] (theoceanpreneur.com)


4. We use the ocean for transportation (and trade)

Roughly 76% of all US trade involves ocean ocean transportation (oceanservice.noaa.gov)

In 2017, the U.S. maritime transportation system carried $1.6 trillion of cargo through U.S. seaports to and from our international trading partners (oceanservice.noaa.gov)

[About] 90% of world trade is made by the sea (theoceanpreneur.com)


5. We use the ocean for recreational activities

We use the ocean for recreational fishing, swimming, boating, and other recreational activities


6. Value of the ocean to the economy

The U.S. ocean economy produces $282 billion in goods and services (oceanservice.noaa.gov)

[Some estimates of global economic contribution to human welfare of both the open ocean, and coastal and shelf systems, go into the trillions per year] (sciencedirect.com)

Tourism and recreation account for 73 percent of the ocean economy’s total employment and 42 percent of its GDP. Offshore mineral extraction accounts for another 25 percent of the ocean economy’s GDP (oceanservice.noaa.gov)

oceanpolicy.com has some important statistics and information that outlines how important the ocean is to the US economy specifically


7. Number of people the ocean helps employ

Ocean-dependent businesses employ almost three million people (oceanservice.noaa.gov)

59.6 million people in the world were engaged in fisheries and aquaculture in 2016. [Overall] The ocean gives jobs to fishers, lifeguards, surf instructors, harbours, (free)diving schools, marine-based tour operators, water sports businesses, holiday accommodations, and, of course, ocean nomads! (theoceanpreneur.com)

By 2030, ocean-based industries will employ more than 40 million people worldwide (weforum.org)

For some people in some parts of the world, the ocean is their entire livelihood


8. We use the ocean for food production (and for nutrients)

Not only do we use the ocean for the production of seafood, but, we also use it for ingredients found in peanut butter and soymilk (oceanservice.noaa.gov)

People in some parts of the world use algae and sea plants for cooking and eating

A % of the protein and other nutrients we get comes from the ocean. 

[The ocean] is the number one source of protein for more than a billion people on Earth (oceanservice.noaa.gov).

[Seaweed contains several important nutrients, and, in the future we may look to the ocean for a more sustainable form of food production over beef production] (weforum.org)

Even farmed fish use a % of wild caught fish from the ocean in their feed


9. We use the ocean for other products

We use the ocean for ingredients found in medicinal products used to fight cancer, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and heart disease (oceanservice.noaa.gov)

The next generation of biofuels may also use algae


10. It is home to many of the Earth’s animal species and organisms (and has a lot of biodiversity)

From fish, to sharks, to whales, to algae, to coral, and more.

Some estimates say there is more than 300,000 different species underwater, [and they] play an essential role in the trophic chain of the ecosystems (theoceanpreneur.com)

While estimates on the number of species that live in the sea exist, no one knows with absolute certainty what that number is (weforum.org)


11. A large % of the world’s population lives near the ocean coastline

60% of the world’s population [is] living on the coastline (theoceanpreneur.com)


12. The ocean may have health and therapeutic benefits for humans

Some people get a lot of happiness from observing or interacting with the ocean and it’s inhabitants.

theoceanpreneur.com lists a few potential health and therapeutic benefits of the ocean such as the ‘mammalian diving reflex’, and reducing psychological stress and improving mood 


13. There’s a cultural significance of the ocean in some cultures

The ocean is very important or significant to some cultures around the world 


14. The ocean is the biggest source of water in the world

Roughly 96.5% of water on the Earth’s surface is ocean

Not only is this of significance for all the reasons listed above, but, it is significant for another reason too

Some parts of the world are using desalination technology to turn saline water into fresh water

The sheer quantity of water in the ocean makes technology and practices like this possible


Problems Facing The World’s Oceans, & Potential Solutions To These Problems

These two guides outline some problems facing the world’s oceans, and also what might be done to address issues facing the oceans.



1. https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/why-care-about-ocean.html#:~:text=The%20air%20we%20breathe%3A%20The,our%20climate%20and%20weather%20patterns.

2. https://www.theoceanpreneur.com/impact/ocean-education/seven-reasons-ocean-important/

3. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/08/here-are-5-reasons-why-the-ocean-is-so-important/

4. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0921800999000798

5. https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/oceaneconomy.html

6. http://oceanpolicy.com/about-our-oceans/oceans-impact-the-economy/

7. https://www.marine-conservation.org/media/shining_sea/theme_economics.htm

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