Issue Brief: Ocean Hypoxia - 'Dead Zones'

15 May 2013


During the last few decades, anthropogenic inputs of excess nutrients into the coastal environment, from agricultural activities and wastewater, have dramatically increased the occurrence of coastal eutrophication and hypoxia. Worldwide there are now more than 500 ‘dead zones’ covering 250,000 km sq. with the number doubling every ten years since the 1960s. The economic costs to fisheries, tourism and other coastal livelihoods are already in the many tens of billions of dollars annually and will only continue to increase in the ‘business as usual’ scenario.

This Issue Brief looks at the causes, effects and solutions to hypoxia, drawing upon specific UNDP programmes addressing this problem, including coverage (with links to video and powerpoints) of the 2012 GESAMP-UNDP seminar: "Ocean Hypoxia and its impacts on ecosystems and economies".


  • Ocean Hypoxia defined - its causes and effects
  • Ocean Hypoxia - its impacts on ecosystems and economies
  • UNDP programmes addressing this problem
  • Links to video and powerpoints of Expert Discussion on the impacts of hypoxia on ecosystems and economies
Issue Brief: Ocean Hypoxia - 'Dead Zones'
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  • Hypoxia: Problems and Scientific Challenges by Dr. Randolf Wu
  • Nutrient Pollution of Coastal Waters: Trends, Drivers, and Potential Solutions by Dr. Robert Howarth
  • Distruption of fish reproduction in hypoxic coastal waters: potential impacts on coastal fisheries world-wide by Dr. Peter Thomas
  • Ocean Deoxygenation and Coastal Hypoxia in a Changing World by Dr. Nancy Rabalais
  • Reversing Ocean Hypoxia through Application and Scaling Up of Innovative Policy, Economic and Financial Tools by Dr. Andrew Hudson