I’ll bet that for most people, the Ocean Health Index is not well-known or often referenced. The Index was founded in 2007 to raise awareness about ocean quality and sustainability. It rates the health of ocean waters bordering 133 coastal countries and territories.
Is ocean quality and sustainability important for us to understand? The National Ocean Service (NOS), an agency within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) puts US coastal waters into perspective.
“America’s coasts stretch along more than 95,000 miles. That’s a lot of ground (and water) to cover. And each area of the coast is unique…the coast of Florida is a lot different than the coast of Maine or Alaska.
Because we rely on coastal areas as places to live (more than half of us live along the coast), visit, get food from, and transport goods through, we need to manage and protect these areas. That’s a pretty big job.
NOS also highlights the impact that five (5) human activities are having on coastal waters.
- Climate Change
- Energy Facility Siting
- Public Access
- Habitat Protection
- Water Quality
The NOAA site puts global oceans into their proper perspective:
“Oceans cover 71 percent of the Earth’s surface and contains 97 percent of the planet’s water, yet more than 95 percent of the underwater world remains unexplored. The ocean and lakes play an integral role in many of the Earth’s systems including climate and weather. The ocean supports the life of nearly 50 percent of all species on Earth and helps sustain that life providing 20 percent of the animal protein and five percent of the total protein in the human diet.”
I’d say ocean health and sustainability is very important.
I recommend you look through the OHI site for interesting and detailed information about its mission and focus – for example, Components.
“‘Components are the factors used to evaluate a goal’s four dimensions: Status, Trend, Pressure, and Resilience. Each may be comprised of one or more data layers, depending upon the relevant goal and dimension. Individual components are frequently used to calculate dimensions for several goals, but are often ascribed different weights (i.e. importance) for each goal.”
To determine OHI scores, there are 10 Goals under evaluation.
“The Ocean Health Index evaluates the condition of marine ecosystems according to 10 human goals, which represent the key ecological, social, and economic benefits that a healthy ocean provides. A healthy ocean is one that can sustainably deliver a range of benefits to people now and in the future.
The Food Provision Goal…measures the amount of seafood harvested for human consumption and how sustainably it is. Sustainable harvest means that seafood was caught or captured in a renewable way given the marine ecosystem’s productive potential.
This is important because seafood is a fundamental component of our diet, helping to serve the basic protein needs of more than half of the world’s population.”
Each of the OHI goals are important and informative. The more informed we are about our impact on the health of global oceans, the better the likelihood that the oceans will continue to sustain human nutritional and recreational needs for future generations.
We must do a better job of HARVESTING SEAFOOD SUSTAINABLY!
The Ocean Health Index is an important step in understanding the importance of the world’s coastal maritime regions.