Ocean Health Index

OCEAN HEALTH INDEX (from Conservation International website)

A “Dow Jones” for ocean health. We know the ocean’s health is under threat…but how bad is it? And how will we know if our actions to help the ocean are working?

Until now, there has been no consensus on what determines ocean health and no common metric to measure it. The Ocean Health Index focuses on goals articulated in four decades of ocean treaties and high level national and intergovernmental reports. Using indicators that measure the intensity of the most urgent ocean stressors, including climate change, ocean acidification, overfishing, habitat degradation, invasive species, loss of biodiversity, pollution and eutrophication, the Ocean Health Index will measure the status and trends of ocean health and its components. The index will also assess trends in remedial actions taken to conserve marine habitats. Finally, the index will relate trends in ocean health to benefits provided to people and human well-being.

The Goals:

Establish a new world standard for measuring ocean health

Influence decision-makers and raise global awareness to generate positive and dramatic

Why It’s Needed

The ocean is huge, and efforts to improve its condition tend to be scattered and uncoordinated geographically, politically and temporally The Ocean Health Index, and other ambitious projects underway, will provide the common ground needed to focus and integrate restorative actions. A scientifically solid and globally respected Ocean Health Index that reveals variations and trends in ocean health will consolidate public, political and corporate commitment to improve ocean health in places where it is poor or in decline, leading the way to a more enlightened, sustainable future.

The Ocean Health Index and human well-being

The Ocean Health Index will help people in communities worldwide understand and appreciate the seriousness of ocean health decline and what it means for them and their families. Whether you live in Fiji, Finland or Florida, you will be able to see how well or how poorly the ocean closest to your home is faring, and learn ways for you and your leaders to choose actions that will steadily improve the ocean’s ability to support thriving marine ecosystems and the human communities that depend on them.

What It WIll Do

The Ocean Health Index will be a new world standard for gauging ocean health – a measuring stick to show whether our efforts to improve ocean governance and health are successful. . It will guide decision makers in the actions they take and raise global public awareness and support for ocean conservation.

The Strategy

Founded by CI, the National Geographic Society, and the New England Aquarium, the Ocean Health Index now includes collaborators from leading ocean and research institutions such as Coastal Oceans Research and Development in the Indian Ocean (CORDIO), Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea (COMPASS), Fondazioni Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM, Venice, Italy), International Geophysical-Biophysical Program, Monterey Bay Aquarium, National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), Natural Resources Defense Council, Sea Around Us project at the University of British Columbia, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, World Conservation Monitoring Centre (WCMC) of the United Nations Environmental Program(UNEP), Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Zoological Society of London, and ocean-related industries such as Darden Restaurants.

The development of the index will be guided by an Advisory Committee and Steering Committee of ocean experts, and assisted by 12 scientific staff. The first complete global Ocean Health Index is currently scheduled to launch February 2012. Indicators will be recalculated annually, or whenever new data become available. In partnership with other large-scale projects focused on ocean health in the United States and elsewhere, the Ocean Health Index will chart a new path toward regaining a healthy, prosperous ocean.

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