The Ocean Health Index, unveiled in August 2012, measures ocean health in terms of the benefits from the ocean that are enjoyed by people in a sustainable way. It provides a tool to policy-makers for making decisions in the future.
Conservation International, The National Geographic Society, the New England Aquarium and the Pacific Life Foundation unveiled the Ocean Health Index in mid-August 2012. According to the organisations, it is the first comprehensive measure of ocean health for 171 coastal regions worldwide. It has been designed to raise awareness of ocean issues, guide policy priorities, and facilitate a more inclusive and proactive approach to managing the oceans.
The new index is a quantitative measure of ocean health that considers human beings as part of the ocean's ecosystem. It assesses ocean health in terms of the benefits from the ocean, organised as ten goals that are enjoyed by people in a sustainable way.
Findings from the Ocean Health Index, published in the journal Nature, revealed a global score of 60 out of 100. Scores farther from 100 mean that we are either not maximising the benefits from the oceans or we are not accessing those benefits in a sustainable way. "The global score of 60 is a strong message that we are not managing our use of the oceans in an optimal way," said Bud Ris, president and CEO, the New England Aquarium and co-author of the paper in Nature.
By re-envisioning ocean health as a portfolio of benefits, the Ocean Health Index highlights the many different ways in which a coastal area can be healthy. Just like a diversified stock portfolio can perform equally well in a variety of market conditions, many different combinations of goals can lead to a high Index score. Consistent with this idea, the Ocean Health Index highlights the many options that exist for strategic actions to improve ocean health.