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An index to assess the health and benefits of the global ocean

TitleAn index to assess the health and benefits of the global ocean
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsHalpern, BS, Longo, C, Hardy, D, McLeod, KL, Samhouri, JF, Katona, SK, Kleisner, K, Lester, SE, O/'Leary, J, Ranelletti, M, Rosenberg, AA, Scarborough, C, Selig, ER, Best, BD, Brumbaugh, DR, F. Chapin, S, Crowder, LB, Daly, KL, Doney, SC, Elfes, C, Fogarty, MJ, Gaines, SD, Jacobsen, KI, Karrer, LBunce, Leslie, HM, Neeley, E, Pauly, D, Polasky, S, Ris, B, St Martin, K, Stone, GS, U. Sumaila, R, Zeller, D
ISBN Number1476-4687
Keywordsconservation, marine protected areas, MPA, sanctuaries, health index, GIS and oceanography, Conservation International, Esri, COMPASS, National Geographic, Ocean GIS initiative, environmental science

The ocean plays a critical role in supporting human well-being, from providing food, livelihoods and recreational opportunities to regulating the global climate. Sustainable management aimed at maintaining the flow of a broad range of benefits from the ocean requires a comprehensive and quantitative method to measure and monitor the health of coupled human–ocean systems. We created an index comprising ten diverse public goals for a healthy coupled human–ocean system and calculated the index for every coastal country. Globally, the overall index score was 60 out of 100 (range 36–86), with developed countries generally performing better than developing countries, but with notable exceptions. Only 5% of countries scored higher than 70, whereas 32% scored lower than 50. The index provides a powerful tool to raise public awareness, direct resource management, improve policy and prioritize scientific research.

Alternate JournalNature