16 Aug 2012:
Ocean Health Index Evaluates
State of Waters Around the Globe
An international team of researchers has released a new tool that evaluates the state of the world’s oceans
, a so-called Ocean Health Index that its creators say provides the first comprehensive assessment of the relationship between the planet’s marine regions and human communities. While previous assessments
of ocean health were based on the level of “pristineness,” this index is framed in terms of the benefits humans derive from the oceans and the extent to which communities maintain a sustainable marine environment. Using a wide range of criteria — including water quality, marine biodiversity, and the condition of coastal areas — the researchers ranked ocean areas worldwide on a scale from 0 to 100. According to their analysis, the global ocean received an overall score of 60, while scores for individual areas ranged from 36 to 86. The waters around Jarvis Island, near Hawaii, ranked highest
; the waters off the West African nation of Sierra Leone ranked lowest. Researchers hope the index will help human communities better assess their marine management strategies. “Whether we like it or not, people are key,” said Steve Katona, managing director of the Ocean Health Index and one of the lead authors of the study published in the journal Nature
. “If thoughtful, sustainable use of the oceans benefits human well-being, the oceans and their web of life will also benefit.