Ocean Health Index 2013: Low Score in Food Provision

The Ocean Health Index is the first assessment tool that scientifically compares and combines key elements from all dimensions of the ocean’s health - biological, physical, economic and social - to measure how sustainably people are using the ocean. It reveals that the Pacific Islands and Europe lead the way with healthy oceans, while coastal protection becomes a major concern for the future.

Bonn, 23 October 2013: On October 15th, researchers announced the 2013 update to the Ocean Health Index. A finding of concern from its first annual update was the low score, 33 of 100, for Food Provision, one of ten measured goals that comprise the Index. The Index also showed that Oceania (Western & Central Pacific) and Europe w​ere the two highest scoring regions in the world. Despite variation in scores between Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs), the cumulative score of the oceans globally was 65 out of 100, which is unchanged from 2012 and indicates there remains room for more effective management of the oceans in order to sustain the benefits they provide for human well-being. 

But not only food is important: Natural products, a measure of how well non-food ocean products such as sponges, ornamental fish, fish oil, shells, seaweeds and coral products are used, scored lowest with 31 out of 100. These scores indicate that fish and products from the ocean are harvested faster than they can be replaced; and that nations could obtain greater benefits by using resources more sustainably and fully. This provides a clear measure to enable policy makers to monitor their progress towards sustainable management of their coastlines.

"It's exciting to release this year's results because we can now, for the first time, start to see how overall ocean health is changing in each country, and for the whole planet”, said Ben Halpern, Professor at the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, UC Santa Barbara and the Index's lead scientist. "Already the United Nations, international organizations, and individual countries are recognizing how useful the Index can be in assessing how we are doing in managing our oceans and where we need to make changes. To have so much uptake in just over a year since we first launched the Index is really remarkable and very encouraging."

Some of the wealthiest nations as measured by GDP rank very low on the Ocean Health Index. Many of the ten lowest scoring countries -- of which Guinea Bissau scores the lowest, preceded by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Haiti, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Pakistan, Angola, Somalia and Nicaragua -- are poor or have a recent history of war, civil strife, ethnic conflict, dictatorship or poor governance.  Such conditions constrain resources or opportunities for taking the resilience actions needed to reduce social and environmental pressures on the ocean. 

The Ocean Health Index 2013 can be downloaded here. For more information, visit http://www.oceanhealthindex.org or read the full article here.
Tags: Ecosystem valuation | Fisheries | Food Industry | Water

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