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2018 global scores for ocean health

OCEAN HEALTH INDEX RELEASES 7TH ANNUAL GLOBAL OCEAN HEALTH ASSESSMENT SCORE, 70/100

Today the Ocean Health Index (OHI) released its seventh assessment of global ocean health. Like the previous two years, the 2018 average score for our oceans was 70 out of 100. This highlights that while ocean health is remaining relatively stable, improvements are still needed to achieve a sustainable future.

Flowerplot of the 2018 Ocean Health Index scores.

The Ocean Health Index, a tool developed by the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) and Conservation International, evaluates the benefits people derive from the ocean. As the first and only existing ocean assessment tool to scientifically compare and combine key elements from all dimensions of ocean health – biological, physical, economic, and social – OHI equips managers and policymakers with meaningful vital signs that can help them manage oceans sustainably.

“An annual, comprehensive diagnostic for the world’s oceans provides decision makers with information and knowledge they can use to implement effective actions for improved sustainable ocean management,” noted Dr. Ben Halpern, lead scientist for OHI, Director of NCEAS, and Professor at the Bren School at University of California Santa Barbara. “With seven years of OHI data, we are gaining deeper insights into how healthy our oceans are through time and space.”

By conducting annual assessments, OHI provides a comprehensive view of how well the marine system and the people who depend on it are faring and changing through time. This year, 109 countries experienced an increase in ocean health, up 27 from 2017.  

Map of ocean health trends from 2012 - 2018.

While ocean health is often covered in a negative light in the news – from dying coral reefs and collapsing fish stocks to drowning in plastic – there is still reason for hope for our oceans. Over the last couple years, OHI scores have remained relatively stable around 70 out of 100 and countries around the world are continuing to make commitments towards a sustainable ocean future. Since the first assessment in 2012, there have been significant increases in some ocean health components, such as the designation of marine protected areas, growth of the mariculture sector, and increase in sustainable tourism.

Amongst the highest scoring in 2018, at 80 or above, were island nations, such as Aruba in the Caribbean and New Caledonia in the south Pacific, or uninhabited islands. Germany was the only one of these 17 high scorers with a population exceeding one million people. On the other end of the spectrum, 10 regions scored 50 or below, including seven African, one Central American, and two Middle Eastern nations.

For further exploration of this year’s scores, read the summary of findings, visit our website, or explore our StoryMap.

2018 also marked the expansion of the OHI community, with the inaugural cohort of OHI Fellows and independent assessments completed in Hawaii, Samoa, Bali, Kenya, Tanzania, and the Arctic.

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The Ocean Health Index scores, calculated every year since 2012, provide a measure of how well 220 countries and territories are sustainably managing our ocean resources. By providing an annual comprehensive database baseline for global ocean health, OHI offers all coastal countries, at any level of capacity, a starting place for assessing the status of their marine resources and environments and utilizing an ecosystem-based approach toward management.