Majority of ocean revenue is dominated by just 100 companies

The majority of the revenue extracted from the world’s oceans belongs to just 100 transnational corporations, according to new analysis conducted by researchers at Duke and Stockholm University.

Dubbed the ‘Ocean 100,’ the 100 companies collectively generated $1.1 trillion in revenues in 2018.

According to the researchers, if the group were a country, it would have the 16th-largest economy in the world, roughly equivalent to the gross domestic product (GDP) of Mexico.

To focus the analysis, the researchers looked at eight core industries in the ocean economy: offshore oil and gas, marine equipment and construction, seafood production, container shipping, shipbuilding repair, cruise tourism, port activities and offshore wind.

They found that offshore oil and gas dominated the Ocean 100 list with a combined revenue of $830bn.

They also found that there was a consistent pattern across all eight industries where a small number of companies accounted for the bulk of revenues.

On average, the 10 largest companies in each industry took 45% of that industry’s total revenue. The highest concentrations were found in cruise tourism (93%), container shipping (85%) and port activities (82%).

Lead author of the study, John Virdin, director of the Ocean and Coastal Policy Program at Duke University, said: ‘Now that we know who some of the biggest beneficiaries from the ocean economy are, this can help improve transparency relating to sustainability and ocean stewardship.

‘The small number of companies that dominate these industries likely reflects high barriers to entry in the ocean economy. A lot of expertise and capital are needed to operate in the sea, both for the established industries and emerging one such as deep-sea mining and marine biotechnology.’

Co-author of the study Henrik Österblom, science director at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, added: ‘Senior executives of these few, but large companies, are in a unique position to exercise global leadership in sustainability.

‘The fact that these companies are headquartered in a small number of countries also illustrates that concerted actions by some governments could rapidly change how the private sector interacts with the ocean.’

‘Oceans will be increasingly central to the global economy in the 21st century.

‘One of our biggest challenges is to sustain healthy ocean ecosystems as economic use increases and climate impacts accelerate. This study confirms that a relatively small number of companies will be central to this challenge, and have a real opportunity for leadership.’

Photo Credit – Pixabay


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