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Unveiling the Ocean Health Index

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Unveiling the Ocean Health Index

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Unveiling the Ocean Health Index
Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - 4:30pm

Originally published on Sept. 26, 2012
Author: Heather Tausig, The New England Aquarium

How can we know what impact we are having on the oceans? How long will we be able to rely on all that the ocean provides? The just-released Ocean Health Index (OHI) will help us answer these questions with a comprehensive look at how integrated humans are with our ocean ecosystems and the benefits that the oceans provide.

Just a few weeks ago, I looked out the window of an airplane as I took off over the Atlantic Ocean from Boston, turned west, crossed the United States, and landed in Vancouver on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. Seeing both oceans from the air, I was struck again by how vast the oceans seem, how small the fishing boats appear, and how tiny the man-made structures are that dot the coast. While occasionally we may think about how we as individuals make a daily impact on the oceans, we often don’t think about all the important benefits the oceans provide to each of us. As just one person, I can minimize my impact on the oceans by thinking proactively about the seafood I choose to feed my family, what I do with my trash (or recycling) and how much energy I use.  All of these actions add up.

Yet, if we are going to really protect our oceans and productively manage our oceans’ resources, we need better tools for our business leaders and policy makers to make informed decisions. The OHI is one such tool – one that will allow us to build ocean health awareness and guide priorities among these decision-makers. By articulating the threats to our oceans and the interrelatedness of the goals for a healthy ecosystem, we can make more informed decisions which will help us create a more sustainable relationship with our oceans.