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Ocean Health Index for the year 2014 released

Oct 9, 2014 14:39 IST

Ocean Health Index (OHI) 2014 was released by the National Centre for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) at UC Santa Barbara, Califronia, US on 30 September 2014. The Index, third in the series, was released in partnership with Conservation International.

As per the OHI 2014, the overall health score of the Oceans of the world stands at 67 out of 100.

The third annual OHI for the first time includes scores for Antarctica and the Southern Ocean plus the 15 other ocean regions beyond national jurisdiction (high seas areas).

Together with the 220 Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) measured in 2012 and 2013, the OHI 2014, now measures all of the oceans on planet Earth.

OHI 2014 and High Seas

  • For the assessment of the Ocean Health of the High Seas, three goals and sub-goals were assessed. There are: Fisheries, Iconic Species, and Biodiversity (measured as the threat of extinction to all assessed Species).  
  • The overall score for global EEZ is 68 in 2014
  • The Western Indian Ocean and Eastern Central Atlantic Ocean scored the highest overall score of 79 and the North-western Pacific Ocean scored the lowest score of 53
  • The Eastern Central Atlantic Ocean had a Fisheries score of 81 out of 100, followed by the Western Indian Ocean with 80, making them the highest-scoring sectors for fisheries.
  • At 7, the North-western Pacific Ocean had the lowest Fisheries score because, among other things, its stocks were farthest from the biomass that provides maximum sustainable yield.

OHI 2014 and Antarctica & the Southern Ocean

  • Antarctica and the Southern Ocean region scored 72, however Antarctica’s biodiversity score was 94 out of 100.
  • The OHI score of eight goals assessed for Antarctica are: Food Production (55), Natural Products (29), Economies and Livelihoods (83), Tourism and Recreation (55), Sense of Place (46), Coastal Protection (99), Clean Water (100) and Biodiversity (94).
  • The high score for Antarctica on Clean water, Coastal protection and Biodiversity goals highlight the fact that it is protected by distance from many of the threats caused by human populations such as chemicals, excessive nutrients, pathogens and trash.
  • However, the low Fisheries score of Antarctica highlights the fact that fishing is still having an impact in this region, despite improved monitoring, successful efforts to reduce by-catch and new management of krill fisheries.
  • The report also highlights that many historically overexploited species in Antarctica are recovering. These are blue whale and Antarctic fur seal, the Southern right whale, and humpback whale.
  • However, 38 species in the Antarctica and Southern Ocean are decreasing. These include iconic species such as Southern bluefin tuna, basking shark, porbeagle, Gentoo penguin, and the Tristan, wandering and black-browed albatrosses.
  • Two of the species found in these Oceans are critically endangered, seven are endangered, 14 are vulnerable and 15 are near threatened according to the IUCN Red List.
  • In terms of Sense of Place, Antarctica scored 46. As proxy measures, this goal assesses the status of iconic species, which scored 90, and special places, which only scored 1, because just a tiny percentage of Antarctica’s near shore waters and coastline is protected compared to the target of 30 percent.
  • In Antarctica, as elsewhere, low scores in Food Provision, Natural Products, Sense of Place and others point to things to improve so that we can maintain the health of ocean habitats, wildlife and economic species and still help meet the needs of our growing human population.

About the Ocean Health Index (OHI)

The Ocean Health Index (OHI) is the first assessment tool that scientifically compares and combines key elements from all dimensions of the ocean’s health – biological, physical, economic and social.

The Ocean Health Index was developed with the contributions of more than 65 ocean experts including the National Centre for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis and the University of British Columbia’s Sea Around Us project.

The founding partners of the Index are Conservation International, National Geographic, and The New England Aquarium.  The Founding Presenting Sponsor of the Ocean Health Index is the Pacific Life Foundation. The founding grant was provided by Beau and Heather Wrigley.

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