Thursday 23rd October 2014                 Change text size:

Ocean Health Index indicates food security could be at risk



Ocean fish By Swaminathan via Flickr

If countries fail to take action to sustainably harvest fish, food security could be at risk, the Ocean Health Index has found.

The index scored food provision just 33 out of 100 globally. The goal measures how well we are sustainably producing seafood, including wild catch fisheries and mariculture.

The low figures suggest that food security could be at risk and will particularly have an impact on parts of the world that depend on seafood as a critical source of high quality protein. Some 37 countries or territories recorded a score of 10 or below.

The index measures the oceans health across 10 goals: artisanal fishing opportunities; biodiversity; costal livelihoods and economies; clean waters; carbon storage; costal protection; sense of place; tourism and recreation; natural products; and food provision.

The cumulative score of the oceans globally stood at 65 out of 100, unchanged from the 2012 index. The results suggest that there is room for improvement for more effective management of the oceans.

Sylvia Earle, explorer-in-residence at National Geographic, said, “The Ocean Health Index provides a quantitative scientific assessment of the human impact on our oceans.

“It reveals the areas that must be improved in order to provide our children and their children a healthy thriving ocean. This must be done as if it’s a matter of life or death – because it is.”

The UK ranks 106 in the Ocean Health Index with a score of 64. This puts the it behind other European nations such as France, Germany and Spain, which scored 73, 68 and 66 respectively.

Ben Halpern, professor at the Bern School of Environmental Science and Management at UC Santa Barbara and the Index’s lead scientist also commented on the findings.

He said, “It’s exciting to release this year’s results because we can now, for the first time, start to see how overall ocean health is changing in each country, and for the planet as a whole.”

Further reading:

Cleaning up our oceans: a journey from waste to wear

Study: plastic pollution not limited to oceans

Declining health of oceans of ‘gravest concern’ to life on Earth

Survey could confirm 80% coral reef decline in Caribbean

Marine conservation could be worth ‘billions’ to UK economy


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