World’s oceans given ‘health’ rating

Posted on 15 Aug 2012 — Science News


VICTORIA, British Columbia, Aug. 15 (UPI) — An international team of scientists has given the world’s oceans a health score of 60 out of 100, Canadian team members reported Wednesday.

Researchers at the University of British Columbia were part of the effort to make the first global quantitative assessment of ocean health and its benefits to people and created the Ocean Health Index, based on the ecological, social, economic, and political conditions for every coastal country in the world.

Within the global score of 60, those of individual countries varied widely, the researchers said, from Sierra Leone with a failing score of 36 to Jarvis Island, an uninhabited, relatively pristine island in the South Pacific with the highest score of 86, a UBC release reported.

Canada was given a score of 70 while the United States received 63 and Britain received 62.

“The Ocean Health Index offers an excellent framework to assess if things are getting better or worse in response to our actions,” study co-author Daniel Pauly said.

Whether the global average of 60 is good or bad is a matter of perspective, researchers said.

“Is the score far from perfect with ample room for improvement, or more than half way to perfect with plenty of reason to applaud success? I think it’s both,” lead study author Ben Halpern, an ecologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, said.

“What the Index does is help us separate our gut feelings about good and bad from the measurement of what’s happening.”

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