HOW HEALTHY ARE OUR OCEANS?
THE OCEAN HEALTH INDEX PROVIDES THE MEASURE
Will a newly developed “Dow Jones“ metric allow us to gauge the condition of oceans around the world? “Absolutely,” says Steven Katona, Ph.D., of Conservation International and the managing director of the Ocean Health Index, a new tool developed to measure the health of oceans worldwide. “The ocean covers 70 percent of the planet. Most people now live within 100 kilometers of the ocean and so everything we do by necessity influences it.” He describes the Ocean Health Index, developed by Conservational International, the National Geographic Society and the New England Aquarium, as a new world standard for gauging ocean health – a measuring stick to show whether our efforts to improve ocean governance and health are successful.
The Marine Environmental Research Institute (MERI) is proud to announce that Dr. Katona, an acclaimed biologist and for 13 years president of the College of the Atlantic, will deliver the June 14 lecture in the 2012 Rachel Carson Lecture Series, speaking on The Ocean Health Index: Evaluating The Human-Ocean Connection. The lecture begins at 7 p.m., preceded by a reception at 6 p.m. All lectures in the series are held in the MERI Center, 55 Main St., Blue Hill, and are free and open to the public.
According to Dr. Katona, we ask a lot from the world's oceans: renewable energy, bountiful seafood, thriving coastal communities, and livelihoods across the planet. But reaping these benefits involves tough choices in how to use and protect the increasingly threatened ocean. To achieve a sustainable future in the face of climate change and other stressors, the founders of the Ocean Health Index involved scientists from leading laboratories and universities worldwide to develop a tool to proactively evaluate the impacts of our actions and policies.
Says Katona, “Until this initiative, there has been no consensus on what determines ocean health and no common metric to measure it.” Using indicators that measure the intensity of the most urgent ocean stressors, including climate change, ocean acidification, chemical contamination and plastics pollution, overfishing, habitat degradation, invasive species, loss of biodiversity, and eutrophication, the Ocean Health Index measures the status and trends of ocean health around the world – country by country, aggregating complex data into a single, numerical score for each. Approximately 100 metrics compile the index, which will be updated annually.
The bottom line, according to Katona, is that 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 Blue Hill, Benidorm or Brisbane, you will be able to see how well or how poorly the ocean closest to your home is faring, and learn how your actions can improve the ocean’s ability to support thriving marine ecosystems and the human communities that depend on them.
The Marine Environmental Research Center (MERI) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the marine environment and human health through scientific research, education and advocacy. For information about our research and educational programs, please visit MERI online at www.meriresearch.org, e-mail email@example.com, or call 207.374.2135