Quantcast

Ocean Health Gets 'D' Grade in New Global Index

The health of Earth's oceans is still ailing although slightly improved, says the latest edition of the Ocean Health Index, issued this week. It gave the planet's waters a score of "D," saying it could be worse and that conservation and protection measures are having a positive effect. The goal of the study, say its authors, is "to encourage decisions that create a healthier ocean and to track progress toward that goal."

The index, which updates the ones issued in 2012 and 2013, calculates an annual global score for ocean health in 221 coastal regions and 15 sectors of the high seas, based on dozens of the best scientific sources available.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

"Oceans nourish us, provide livelihoods and sustain life on earth, but we no longer can take ocean benefits for granted," they say. "The Ocean Health Index provides a useful framework and instrument to help us manage our oceans more thoughtfully and sustainably."

The index, which updates the ones issued in 2012 and 2013, calculates an annual global score for ocean health in 221 coastal regions and 15 sectors of the high seas, based on dozens of the best scientific sources available. It monitors pollution, overfishing and the impacts of climate change, among other things. It assigns individual scores to each regions, with scores for factors such as biodiversity, carbon storage, coastal protection, clean waters, natural products and coastal livelihoods & economies. It even assesses tourism and recreation and "sense of place."

The Index assigned the oceans an overall score of 67, with the waters off Canada's Prince Edward Island and Australia's Heart and McDonald Island the top scorers at 93, with the largely uninhabited wildlife preserves of Howland Island and Baker Island in the equatorial Pacific scoring 92. On the low end were countries like Somalia, Eritrea, Guinea Bisseau, Pakistan, Grenada and Angola, which scored 48-49. Both the High Seas,which it included for the first time this year, and the coastal territories were assigned the score of 67 while Antarcctica, also graded for the first time, got 72.

"Certainly the score of 67 needs to be much higher if the ocean is sustainably to help meet the needs of our rising human population," said the study. "Although there is much room for improvement, some people might have expected an even lower score given all the news reports about ocean acidification, oil spills, plastic trash, dead zones, overfishing and others—serious impacts that will become worse if their causes are not reduced or eliminated."

The index authors noted that scores were slightly higher overall from the previous two years, improving in areas like biodiversity, coastal protection, and sense of place, and they projected slightly higher scores in upcoming years.

"Humans and our activities are part of the ocean, and the human-ocean system is healthier if it delivers the most benefits for us that it can without jeopardizing the future health or function of the web of life that the ocean contains," they conclude.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

Sea Shepherd Founder to Bill Maher: ‘If Oceans Die, We Die'

How Acidification, Overfishing and Plastics Threaten the World's Oceans

World Oceans Day: 10 Spectacular Places Worth Protecting

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Natural Resources Defense Council

By Emily Deanne

Shower shoes? Check. Extra-long sheets? Yep. Energy efficiency checklist? No worries — we've got you covered there. If you're one of the nation's 12.1 million full-time undergraduate college students, you no doubt have a lot to keep in mind as you head off to school. If you're reading this, climate change is probably one of them, and with one-third of students choosing to live on campus, dorm life can have a big impact on the health of our planet. In fact, the annual energy use of one typical dormitory room can generate as much greenhouse gas pollution as the tailpipe emissions of a car driven more than 156,000 miles.

Read More Show Less
Kokia drynarioides, commonly known as Hawaiian tree cotton, is a critically endangered species of flowering plant that is endemic to the Big Island of Hawaii. David Eickhoff / Wikipedia

By Lorraine Chow

Kokia drynarioides is a small but significant flowering tree endemic to Hawaii's dry forests. Native Hawaiians used its large, scarlet flowers to make lei. Its sap was used as dye for ropes and nets. Its bark was used medicinally to treat thrush.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Frederick Bass / Getty Images

States that invest heavily in renewable energy will generate billions of dollars in health benefits in the next decade instead of spending billions to take care of people getting sick from air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels, according to a new study from MIT and reported on by The Verge.

Read More Show Less
Aerial view of lava flows from the eruption of volcano Kilauea on Hawaii, May 2018. Frizi / iStock / Getty Images

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be gearing up for an eruption after a pond of water was discovered inside its summit crater for the first time in recorded history, according to the AP.

Read More Show Less
A couple works in their organic garden. kupicoo / E+ / Getty Images

By Kristin Ohlson

From where I stand inside the South Dakota cornfield I was visiting with entomologist and former USDA scientist Jonathan Lundgren, all the human-inflicted traumas to Earth seem far away. It isn't just that the corn is as high as an elephant's eye — are people singing that song again? — but that the field burgeons and buzzes and chirps with all sorts of other life, too.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A competitor in action during the Drambuie World Ice Golf Championships in Uummannaq, Greenland on April 9, 2001. Michael Steele / Allsport / Getty Images

Greenland is open for business, but it's not for sale, Greenland's foreign minister Ane Lone Bagger told Reuters after hearing that President Donald Trump asked his advisers about the feasibility of buying the world's largest island.

Read More Show Less
AFP / Getty Images / S. Platt

Humanity faced its hottest month in at least 140 years in July, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said on Thursday. The finding confirms similar analysis provided by its EU counterparts.

Read More Show Less
Newly established oil palm plantation in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Rhett A. Butler / Mongabay

By Hans Nicholas Jong

Indonesia's president has made permanent a temporary moratorium on forest-clearing permits for plantations and logging.

It's a policy the government says has proven effective in curtailing deforestation, but whose apparent gains have been criticized by environmental activists as mere "propaganda."

Read More Show Less