Ocean governance is the conduct of the policy, actions and affairs regarding the world's oceans. Within governance, it incorporates the influence of non-state actors, i.e. stakeholders, NGOs and so forth, therefore the state is not the only acting power in policy making. However, ocean governance is complex because much of the ocean is a commons that is not ‘owned’ by any single person or nation/state. There is a belief more strongly in the US than other countries that the “invisible hand” is the best method to determine ocean governance factors. These include factors such as what resources we consume, what price we should pay for them, and how we should use them. The underlying reasoning behind this is the market has to have the desire in order to promote environmental protection, however this is rarely the case. This term is referred to as a market failure. Market failures and government failures are the leading causes of ocean governance complications. As a result, humankind has tended to overexploit marine resources, by treating them as shared resources while not taking equal and collective responsibilities in caring for them.
Effective ocean governance requires robust international agreements. In short, there is a need for some form of governance to maintain the ocean for its various uses, preferably in a sustainable manner. Over the years, a number of international treaties have been signed in order to regulate international ocean governance. Current international policy goals to create more sustainable relations with the ocean are captured in Sustainable Development Goal 14 "life below sea".