NAIROBI — Governments should increase investment in ocean science research to deepen knowledge of water bodies that support fishing, tourism, shipping and energy generation among other economic benefits, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has urged.

“We need to get countries to invest more in developing marine scientific research strategies,” Julian Barbiere, UNESCO Head of Section, Marine Policy and Regional Coordination, told IPS. “About six percent of all investment in natural science is going to ocean science and this is not enough.”

In a bid to increase international coordination and cooperation in science research, the U.N. last year designed 2012 to 2030 as the ‘Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development’.

UNESCO was appointed to lead the global campaign also aimed at improving scientific programmes to better manage ocean and coastal zones resources and to reduce maritime risks.

“Only about 5 percent of the ocean floor has been mapped,” Barbiere told IPS. “This information is needed to come up with a plan to exploit off shore resources. The level of investment that countries are putting into ocean science is minimal. One of the goals of this decade is for countries to highlight the importance of ocean science by investing in it.”

At the Sustainable Blue Economy Conference today, the Canadian government announced 9, 5 million dollars in funding to support the activities of the Decade of Ocean Science.

“Canada is proud to be an oceans leader and is ready to lend its support for stronger ocean science and sustainable management,” Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard said during the announcement. “We remain committed to taking action and working with our global partners on ocean protection and governance.”

Oceans cover 71 percent of the earth but have not been extensively explored to understand unique ecosystems that support life through the provision of food and other resources. Oceans are also the largest carbon sink in the world, storing some 93 percent of carbon dioxide in algae, vegetation, and coral under the sea.