Scientific research into the seas is disorganised and underfunded despite its importance to human survival, MPs have warned.
Sea research could aid every industry, MPs say
Members of the Science and Technology Select Committee say the UK has the potential to be at the forefront of marine science.
It is an area of research that could contribute to nearly every industry, from healthcare to cosmetics, it says.
But funding has fallen in real terms over the past decade, the MPs report.
The marine science and technology sector received £5.4m less funding last year than in 2003/2004.
The oceans must be "explored, monitored, studied and understood more thoroughly than has been the case up to now", the MPs said.
This is because of their importance to climate, biodiversity, renewable energy resources, food supply and other services.
The committee called for the creation of a new marine agency to co-ordinate marine science and ocean monitoring.
It would also promote education in schools, universities and to the public, work with industry and oversee a national marine science strategy.
The MPs also urged the government to bring forward a draft Marine Bill without delay.
Committee chairman Phil Willis said: "We have been deeply disappointed at the apparent low regard in which marine science and the study of the sea is held by the government.
"This field of research lacks resources, attention, co-ordination and an official champion."