Ocean accounts organise ocean data (social, environmental and economic) into a common framework, using the same structures as found in existing national accounts of national statistical offices or finance ministries. The integration of these data mean ocean accounts go beyond the gross domestic product (GDP) headline indicator of national accounts, measuring ocean contribution to society and progress in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. Ocean accounts provide a common information infrastructure for ocean policy, marine spatial planning, environmental management and international reporting. Pilot projects around the world suggest that they can be compiled incrementally using existing data, with modest investment in cross-government collaborations and international sharing of lessons learned. African coastal countries are increasingly turning to their oceans to foster economic growth and resource security. Acceleration of ocean-resource uses requires careful monitoring – beyond the scope of existing national accounting systems – to ensure the sustainability and inclusivity of ocean economies.