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Ocean Health Index provides valuable data

By Dave Armstrong - 16 Aug 2012 5:4:59 GMT
Ocean Health Index provides valuable data

Ocean Health Index: The earth's oceans are at risk. Now we can assess the future for our water, our fish and ourselves, if we continue as we are; Yellow snapper image; Credit: © Shutterstock

Nature have published an earth-shattering or rather ocean-shattering index and report. It has triggered a new website and regular reports will be published on the Ocean Health Index. Benjamin S. Halpern and a flotilla of marine scientists launch this assessment of the health and benefits of the "global ocean."

Halpern and his colleagues quote, "The ocean plays a critical role in supporting human well-being, from providing food, livelihoods and recreational opportunities to regulating the global climate. Sustainable management aimed at maintaining the flow of a broad range of benefits from the ocean requires a comprehensive and quantitative method to measure and monitor the health of coupled human-ocean systems."

A video extols the uses of this very worthy new index as follows, with some wonderful photography. Glance at the ray sequence!

Credit: © Ocean Health Index

One of the most useful parts of the index is of course the scores for each country. Developed countries tend to be better than the undeveloped, but not always. The stars are Russia, Jordan, Australia, the Netherlands and Canada, with some, "uninhabited territories," making it near the top, for a reason I think we all could work out.

The US and UK both score the same in a disappointing mid-table position. Lowest are some Central American countries, then Israel, Lebanon, North Korea and Taiwan, Lithuania, and perhaps most awful of all, India, near the base. Professor Sylvia Earle, Ph.D explains the need for cleaner waters very carefully here:

Credit: © Ocean Health Index

Perhaps one figure that stands out more than others in this particularly complex pollution in so many ways is the 90% of untreated sewage that reaches the ocean from the developing countries. If any help can be given them, perhaps this would be one of the most pressing!

Benjamin Halpern is the first to point out any concentration on simple water. He explains in great detail what the Ocean Health Index (OHI) will concentrate on, as papers continue to focus on their aims: clean water, food provision, carbon capture, biodiversity, coastal protection, recreational opportunities, artisanal fisheries, support of local economies, and a "sense of place."

It does seem like sanity at last, but what an incredible amount there is to do!

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Topics: Oceans