Global ocean health scores an average of 76 on both clean water and coastal protection goals, according to the index (Photo courtesy: UNEP)
Global ocean health has scored 67 out of 100 in the Ocean Health Index for 2014, based on its performance on a number of goals and factors. This score represents the average health of all oceans and high seas for the first time since the index came to be calculated.
The index which includes people as part of the ocean ecosystem assesses the ocean based on 10 widely-held public goals such as food provision, coastal livelihoods and economies, carbon storage, coastal protection, clean waters, biodiversity and tourism.
While global ocean health scored well on biodiversity and livelihood goals, it fared badly on food production and natural products.
Unlike in past years when the index considered data only from the coastline to the boundaries of exclusive economic zones (EEZs) of coastal countries and territories, this year’s index took into account Antarctica, the southern ocean and 15 high seas outside national jurisdictions.
Antarctica and the southern ocean region had an overall score of 72, higher than the global average, with a perfect score on clean waters and near perfect scores on coastal protection and biodiversity.
“Antarctica and the southern ocean are protected by distance from many of the threats caused by human populations such as chemicals, excessive nutrients, pathogens and trash – that’s why we see a very high score in a goal like clean water,” said Greg Stone, chief scientist and executive vice-president of the Moore Center for Science and Oceans at Conservation International in an official release. “Fishing is still having an impact in this region, despite improved monitoring, successful efforts to reduce by-catch and new management of krill fisheries. This is also a region where illegal, unreported and unregulated fisheries (IUUs) still persist,” he added.
The western Indian Ocean and eastern-central Atlantic Ocean scored highest overall at 79 and the north-western Pacific Ocean scored lowest at 53. Seas around the Indian peninsula scored 61, with clean waters and coastal protection scoring just above the halfway mark. They display high levels of contamination by trash, pathogens and chemicals as well as deterioration in the ability of habitats to protect the coasts against storm waves and flooding.
The scores are based on the present status of oceans, trends and the balance between pressures and resilience.
The Global Ocean Health Index is a collaboration of the National Centre for Ecological Analysis and the Synthesis at the University of California, Santa Barbara; the University of British Columbia’s Sea Around Us project, Conservation International, the National Geographic Society and the New England Aquarium.
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