As evidenced by Goal No. 14 of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, the importance of oceans governance as a matter of global policy can hardly be overstated. The unsustainable uses of their resources could lead to serious consequences, not only for coastal communities, but remote landlocked countries as well. This special section aims to take the international community's clarion call for effective norms, institutions, and multi-stakeholder cooperation back to the oceans through three topical case studies. Each in its own way illustrates humanity's high stakes in blue growth, offering recommendations on how states and governments must craft coherent, effective, and actionable policies to make sustainable oceans governance a reality. Claire van der Geest's article opens the special section with a focus on the Indian Ocean and the need to redesign its fisheries governance. Hongzhou Zhang and Fengshi Wu subsequently investigate two of the most significant structural shifts of China's marine fisheries sector in the past decades, namely, going outward and focusing on high market value species. James Malcolm concludes the special section by switching attention to small island developing states, arguing that sustainable oceans governance for them represents not ‘only’ an environmental or economic concern, but indeed a matter of national security.