Last week, CI and a large group of partners and ocean experts launched the Ocean Health Index, the first holistic tool that measures the health of our oceans in terms of the benefits they provide to humans.
How? The Index gauges the health of the ocean based on 10 goals for a healthy ocean. Scores for 171 countries and territories show how well the oceans will be able to continue to deliver a range of benefits that people rely on. Here are the global scores — out of a possible top score of 100 — for these 10 goals.
One in 7 people on our planet rely on seafood as a daily source of protein, making seafood a fundamental benefit we receive from the ocean. The Food Provision goal measures the amount of seafood harvested for human consumption and how sustainable it is using two sub-goals: wild-caught fisheries and mariculture.
Small-scale fishing represents 50% of seafood harvested globally, and provides local communities with an immense range of benefits. The Artisanal Fishing Opportunities goal focuses on the opportunities for artisanal fishing, rather than the amount of fish caught, by evaluating the political and economic conditions that support artisanal fishing.
Ornamental fish, seaweeds, sponges, shells and other products we extract from the sea can support coastal industries and provide economic benefits to local communities. The Natural Products goal measures a country’s harvest against 65% of the historic sustainable harvest achieved in the area.
Earth’s coastal ecosystems cover a relatively small area but store disproportionately large amounts of carbon. The Carbon Storage goal assesses the condition of three coastal habitats: seagrass meadows, mangroves and salt marshes.
In addition to storing carbon, our coastal habitats are also key for protecting us against flooding, erosion and storm damage by acting as natural buffer zones. The Coastal Protection goal assesses the condition of coral reef, mangrove, seagrass, salt marsh and sea ice ecosystems.
Marine industries are growing rapidly, and can compose a significant part of a nation’s economy. Globally, it has been estimated that 350 million jobs are linked to the ocean, with economic activities — including shipping, boating, tourism and fishing — valued between US$ 3 to 6 trillion. The Coastal Livelihoods and Economies analyze these key industries using two subgoals: Livelihoods and Economies.
If done correctly, tourism and recreation can contribute to the health of the oceans and the livelihoods of coastal economies. Ecotourism industries help local economies and attract international tourists, thus providing incentives to protect species and ecosystems. The Tourism and Recreation goal looks at international tourism entry data in each country.
For people across the globe, protecting a local species or place that has strong spiritual, cultural and personal value can be enormously important. The Sense of Place goal captures this value through two sub-goals: Iconic Species and Lasting Special Places.
9. Clean Waters
A marine environment free of pollutants and toxins means better human health, recreation, livelihoods and ecosystems. Contamination of waters by oil, eutrophication, pathogens and trash come from a wide range of sources. The Clean Waters goal assesses the amount of pollution that enters our marine systems.
People rely on the enormous diversity of species and habitats in our oceans. A biodiverse ecosystem means a high number of species and healthy habitats. The two sub-goals of the Biodiversity goal — Species and Habitats — measure the status of marine species and the status of the habitats that support those species.
Tina Lee is CI’s Ocean Health Index coordinator. Learn more about these scores, and share them by “pinning” our graphic below to Pinterest.