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The 2017 Ocean Health Index scores are available for the same 220 Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) that were measured in 2012-2016. New to the Index in 2014 were scores for the Antarctica and the High Seas.
The 2017 Ocean Health Index global score for the EEZs is 70 out of 100. Below are a few of the key findings.
The 2017 Global Ocean Health Index
The 2017 study assessed the marine waters under national jurisdiction, the coastlines, and oceans (out to 200 nautical miles), of 220 coastal countries and territories. These regions total 40% of the ocean and provide most benefits to people, but also incur the most pressures from human activities
The overall score, 70, is unchanged from 2016 but has decreased one point from 2012 - 2015. Rapid change in year-to-year global level scores is not expected, since change in most conditions usually cannot take place that quickly.
The overall score sends a message that the ocean isn’t ‘dying’ as many people may think. However, the score remains far from 100, indicating that marine life would fare better and we would gain more benefits if we used the ocean in more sustainable ways.
Trends in goal scores vary among regions, however, at the global scale we observed an increase in the Lasting Special Places sub-goal and Artisanal Fishing Opportunities. The increase in Lasting Special Places was due to the designation of new large scale Marine Protected Areas in many areas.
Overall, scores declined for Clean Waters, Coastal Protection, Tourism and Recreation, and Natural Products. Declines in scores for Coastal Protection were primarily driven by the substantial loss of coastal sea ice in sub-Arctic coastlines.
Goal scores from lowest to highest:
Natural Products (45);
Tourism & Recreation (47);
Food Provision (52) - subgoals: Fisheries (51) and Mariculture (28);
Sense of Place (62) - sub-goals: Iconic Species (66) and Lasting Special Places (59);
Clean Waters (74);
Artisanal Fishing Opportunities (78);
Carbon Storage (79);
Livelihoods & Economies (82) - sub-goals: Livelihoods (77) and Economies (88);
Coastal Protection (87);
Biodiversity (90) - sub-goals: Species (90) and Habitats (91).
The lowest scoring sub-goal was Mariculture (28) which contributed to the low score for Food Provision. The Biodiversity score (90) is deceptively high, since the decline in current extent and condition of assessed habitats has occurred over only about three decades.
Regional scores ranged from (42) to (92).
In total, eighteen regions scored 80 or above, many of which are remote islands with few or no human inhabitants.
Regions with highest average scores:
South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (92)
Crozet Islands (88)
Howland Island and Baker Island (88)
Heard and McDonald Islands (87)
Kerguelen Islands (87)
Germany (82) was the only regions with a population exceeding one million to score 80 or above.
In total, twelve regions scored 50 or below, with 9 of these in Africa, and one in Central America, Middle East, and the Balkans.
Regions with lowest average scores:
Ivory Coast (42)
Sierra Leone (46)
Democratic Republic of the Congo (46)
As observed in previous years, regions with stable and effective governance tended to score much higher than regions where corruption, dictatorship, civil strife, war and poverty have been chronic. This underscores that improving ocean health will require efforts from all sectors to promote peace, justice, gender equality, socially-responsible business and other aspects of civil health, because progress in those areas makes it much easier for communities and nations to improve the environmental and economic conditions needed to boost ocean health.