Thursday, November 15 , 2018, 2:19 pm | Fair 73º

 
 
 
 

Ocean Health Index Shows Food Provision Remains an Area of Great Concern

In the 2013 Ocean Health Index — an annual assessment of ocean health led by Ben Halpern, a research associate at UC Santa Barbara's National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis and professor at the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management — scientists point to food provision as the factor that continues to require serious attention.

Halpern
NCEAS researcher Ben Halpern. (UCSB photo)

The 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 score of 65 out of 100 demonstrates the ongoing need for more effective management of this precious resource.

"I'm encouraged because people, organizations and governments are paying attention to the Ocean Health Index and what they can learn from it," Halpern said. "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 was named by the World Economic Forum as one of two endorsed tools for helping achieve sustainable oceans."

Goal scores out of a possible 100 for categories that make up the OHI 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).

With a score of only 33 out of 100, food production from wild harvest and mariculture (cultivation of marine organisms in the open ocean) was the second-lowest-scoring goal and one of the most important resources from the sea for people around the world. A score of 100 is given for wild-caught fisheries if the biomass of landed stocks at sea is within plus or minus 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.

"Seafood is a major source of protein for one-third of the world's population, and it is estimated we will need 70 percent more food by 2050 to feed the growing population," said Daniel Pauly, principal investigator of the Sea Around Us project and leader of the University of British Columbia team of science contributors to OHI. "The score of 33 out of 100 for food provision indicates we are not ready to meet that challenge."

The 2013 OHI also assessed coastal protection, giving it a score of 69 out of 100 and indicating that further declines are likely. Coastal habitats — including mangrove forests, sea-grass beds and salt marshes, coral reefs and sea ice — protect coastlines from storm surges and coastal flooding. Forty-five countries that sit in the annual path of tropical cyclones had an average score of 52 out of 100. A score below 100 indicates a decline in area and condition of key natural habitats that protect shorelines from storms.

Among those cyclone-prone countries with a population exceeding 10 million people, the average coastal protection score is only 51 compared to the global average score of 69. The score was down slightly (-0.2 percent) from 2012 and the OHI calculates that the likely future status will decrease by 1 percent in the coming five years.

"Restoring natural protective habitats in storm-prone regions, in combination with sensible coastal planning and creative civil engineering, is essential," said Greg Stone, a leading authority on marine conservation policy and ocean health issues and executive vice president at Conservation International's Betty and Gordon Moore Center for Science and Oceans.

Wealthy countries have the greatest impact on industry and policy so their performance on the OHI is important to ocean health, but there was little correlation between their economic performance as measured by gross domestic product and their OHI scores. The average score of countries with the 15 highest GDPs was 65 — higher than the global average, but still not optimal.

"In its second year now, the OHI demonstrates that the areas with the least human impact have healthier oceans, but it also shows that nations who manage their resources better achieve higher OHI scores," Halpern said. "We depend on the health of the ocean for many benefits, such as food, livelihood and tourism, and the OHI indicates that the condition of these benefits needs to be improved in order to provide a healthy thriving ocean for our children and their children."

The OHI is a collaborative effort, made possible through contributions from more than 65 scientists/ocean experts and partnerships among organizations including UCSB's NCEAS, Sea Around Us, Conservation International, National Geographic and the New England Aquarium. The full set of scores for each country can be found online by clicking here.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >

Meet Your Realtor Sponsored by Village Properties

Photo of John Sener
John Sener
"I am known for tenacity, diligence, honesty, and sound decision making with the ultimate goal of closing every transaction to the satisfaction of all involved parties."

Full Profile >