Ocean Health Index for 2013 Identifies Food Provision as Area of Most Concern

The Ocean Health Index (OHI) issued the updated scores for 2013 and identified food provision as the factor that continues to require the most attention. OHI defines a healthy ocean as one that sustainably delivers a range of benefits to people now and in the future based on 10 diverse public goals. The 2013 global score of 65 out of 100 matches last year’s inaugural assessment and demonstrates the ongoing need for more effective management of this precious resource.

Each of the 10 goals is scored out of a possible 100 and this year ranged from a low of 31 for natural products to a high of 95 for artisanal fishing opportunities. Other categories include food provision (33), carbon storage (74), coastal protection (69), coastal livelihoods and economies (82), tourism and recreation (39), sense of place (60), clean waters (78) and biodiversity (85).

For the second year running, the low score of 33 for the category of food provision from wild harvest and mariculture (cultivation of marine organisms in the open ocean) stands out because one-third of the world's population depend on seafood for protein, and it is estimated that by 2050, we will need 70 percent more food to feed the growing population. A score of 100 is given for wild-caught fisheries if the biomass of landed stocks at sea is within ±5 percent of a buffered amount below the biomass that can deliver maximum sustainable yield. For mariculture, the number of tonnes of product per coastal inhabitant living within 31 miles of the coast is calculated for each country, and all countries above the 95th percentile receive scores of 100. Countries that have never had mariculture are not scored.

While there is significant room for improvement, OHI lead scientist, Ben Halpern is optimistic. “I’m encouraged because people, organizations and governments are starting to pay attention to the Ocean Health Index and what they can learn from it,” said Halpern who is a research associate at UC Santa Barbara’s National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) and Professor at the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management. “Not only has the OHI been adopted as an indicator to gauge how well countries are meeting their biodiversity conservation targets, but it is beginning to inform the United Nations World Ocean Assessment and the World Economic Forum has named OHI as one of two endorsed tools for helping achieve sustainable oceans.”

UCSB Press Release

OHI 2013 Report

Following is a sample of the media coverage of this study:

National GeographicEconomic prowess not translating to healthier oceans
NBC News Science: Ocean health suffers from overfishing, Index finds 
Live Science: Ocean health suffers from overfishing, Index finds   
Huffington Post Science: From gut feeling to science: Ocean health index releases annual scores  
Blue and Green Tomorrow: Ocean health index indicates food security could be at risk  
Conservation International: 2013 Ocean health index reveals low score in food provision  

More information on Ocean Health Index


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Posted on October 15, 2013