The ocean plays a critical role in supporting human well-being, from providing food, livelihoods and recreational opportunities to regulating the global climate. Sustainable management aimed at maintaining the flow of a broad range of benefits from the ocean requires a comprehensive and quantitative method to measure and monitor the health of coupled human–ocean systems. We created an index comprising ten diverse public goals for a healthy coupled human–ocean system and calculated the index for every coastal country. Globally, the overall index score was 60 out of 100 (range 36–86), with developed countries generally performing better than developing countries, but with notable exceptions. Only 5% of countries scored higher than 70, whereas 32% scored lower than 50. The index provides a powerful tool to raise public awareness, direct resource management, improve policy and prioritize scientific research.
Access optionsAccess options
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $3.90 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Rent or Buy article
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
B. Wrigley and H. Wrigley provided the founding grant. Additional financial and in-kind support was provided by the Pacific Life Foundation, Thomas W. Haas Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, the Oak Foundation, Akiko Shiraki Dynner Fund for Ocean Exploration and Conservation, Darden Restaurants Inc. Foundation, Conservation International, New England Aquarium, National Geographic, and the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, which supported the Ecosystem Health Working Group as part of the Science of Ecosystem-Based Management project funded by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. We would like to thank L. Bergen, J. Bort, B. Bronson, C. Costello, N. Crone, A. Dickson, J. Francis, A. Ghermandi, R. Haskell, L. Kaufman, K. Law, L. Madin, P. Nuñes, D. Obura, L. Onofri, J. Packard, R. Portela, N. Rao, J. Regetz, S. Running, K. Selkoe, L. Speer, B. Spitzer, P. Stevick, H. Tallis, H. Tausig, S. Troeng and D. Zeyen for helpful discussions and logistical support during development of the index. Individual authors also acknowledge additional support from NSF, NASA, NOAA, Stanford’s Center for Ocean Solutions and the Jaffe Family Foundation. K.K., D.P., U.R.S. and D.Z. thank the Sea Around Us Project, with support from the Pew Charitable Trusts. Data reported in this paper are tabulated in the Supplementary Information and archived at http://ohi.nceas.ucsb.edu/data. Results can be explored and visualized at http://oceanhealthindex.org.
This file contains Supplementary Text and Data, Supplementary Tables 1-33, Supplementary Figures 1-9 and Supplementary References. The Supplementary Methods provide detailed descriptions of the general framework for calculating the index, goal-specific methodologies, and details about each data layer used. The Supplementary Results present sensitivity analyses on each of the key parameters in the index model. Supplementary Tables 1-33 give comprehensive information on data used and complete results for each country for each goal and sub-goal, and for certain sensitivity analyses. Supplementary Figures 1-9 include visualizations of how the index is calculated maps for sub-goal results, and a variety of outputs from correlation and sensitivity analyses. This file was replaced 23 January 2013.
About this article
Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change (2018)