December 11, 2018

109 Countries Experienced Improvements in Ocean Health, 2018 Index Finds

News Source: SDG Knowledge Hub

Author(s): Catherine Benson Wahlén

4 December 2018: The Ocean Health Index (OHI) released its seventh assessment of global ocean health. The 2018 assessment finds that ocean health is relatively stable but additional improvements are needed to achieve a sustainable future.

The National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) and Conservation International developed the OHI to analyze the benefits people derive from the ocean. OHI draws on information from over 100 global datasets to analyze ecological, economic, physical and social dimensions of the ocean’s health and evaluate the benefits that oceans provide to people.

Island nations, including Aruba and New Caledonia, scored among the highest for ocean health.

The 2018 OHI finds the average score of our ocean’s health is 70 out of 100. The OHI tracks changes in ocean health over time. In 2017, nearly two-thirds of assessed countries experienced decreases in ocean health. In 2018, 111 countries experienced decreases and 109 countries experienced increases in ocean health. Island nations, including Aruba and New Caledonia, scored among the highest for ocean health. Germany was the only country in the top 17 scorers with a population over one million people. Countries that scored 50 or below included seven countries in Africa, one in Central America and two Middle Eastern nations.

NCEAS Director and OHI lead scientist, Ben Halpern, said the assessment provides an annual comprehensive diagnostic for the world’s oceans that supplies decision makers with information and knowledge to “implement effective actions for improved sustainable ocean management.” Halpern stressed that the OHI’s seven years of data has enabled “deeper insights into how healthy our oceans are through time and space.”

Also on ocean health, Esri announced a partnership with the OHI to produce an online tool titled, ‘Ocean Health Hubs,’ which will enable ocean managers to use data to better understand regional ocean health. Through the partnership, Esri and OHI have integrated OHI scores as a data layer in Esri’s ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World.

OHI Director, Eva Schemmel, explained that Ocean Health Hubs “will streamline data management, target setting and communication into one tool” that multiple collaborators can access and update. By enabling government agencies, scientists, managers, non-governmental organization (NGO) staff and citizens to use the hub together, Schemmel said engagement can be “more efficient and effective.” [Ocean Action Hub Press Release on OHI Assessment] [Ocean Action Hub Press Release on Partnership] [OHI Website]