Overall, the companies generated $1.1 trillion in revenues in 2018, which represents 60% of the total. Commenting on the findings, Henrik Osterblom, who co-authored the paper published in the journal Science Advances, said that "there is muck talk about the need for sustainable oceans, but there’s very rarely a conversation about who it is that needs to do the job."

The team of researchers focused on eight sea-based industries ranging from container shipping to seafood production and offshore wind.

The “Ocean 100” list was topped by offshore oil and gas giants including Saudi Aramco and Brazil’s Petrobras, with only one firm from outside the industry, Danish shipping company A.P. Moeller-Maersk, making the top 10.

Credit: Science Advances

Namely, the biggest industry in the Ocean 100 was offshore oil and gas, whose TNCs accounted for approximately 65% of the total revenues, followed by shipping (12%), shipbuilding and repair (8%), maritime equipment and construction (5%), seafood production (4%), cruise tourism (3%), and port activities (2%).

The new paper also aims to inform government policies as well as direct environmental groups seeking to push business towards greener practices, Osterblom said.

One of our biggest challenges is to sustain healthy ocean ecosystems as economic use increases and climate impacts accelerate

stated Daniel Vermeer, director of Duke University’s Center for Energy, Development, and the Global Environment.

He also added tha the study confirms that a relatively small number of companies will be central to this challenge, and have a real opportunity for leadership.