Inner Space Update: New Marine Index Assesses the Ocean

What is the global score for the ocean today? According to marine researchers who measure ecological health we are barely getting a passing grade.

The measures assess the following ten criteria. Our current scores are shown in brackets:

  1. Food harvested from fisheries and mariculture (24%)
  2. Traditional fisheries (87%)
  3. Natural products (40%)
  4. Carbon storage (75%)
  5. Coastal protection (73%)
  6. Tourism and recreation (10%)
  7. Livelihoods and economies (75%)
  8. Sense of place including iconic species (55%)
  9. Clean water (78%)
  10. Biodiversity including habitats and species (83%)

Researchers created a marine health index for 171 countries with exclusive economic zones extending to 200 nautical miles offshore. The global results:

Overall ocean health at 60%.

1/3 of countries with scores below 50%.

1/20 of countries scoring above 70%.

Global fisheries receiving a score of 24%.

The index is not limited to scoring the ocean purely on the basis of environmental health. It looks at the economics and policies of the countries as well in calculating its results.

For the most part the countries that score highest in the index are those in the Developed World. Germany ranks fourth. Canada and the Netherlands are ranked 9th. The United States is ranked 26th. The highest score of 86% goes to Jarvis Island, an uninhabited 4.5 square kilometer (1.75 square mile) coral island in the South Pacific.

Global Ocean Health Index

Jarvis Island, seen at the top left, scores highest in the Ocean Health Index. Once mined for guano the island is uninhabited today. The remaining pictures going clockwise illustrate biodiversity with a sea otter pup in Monterey Bay, mangroves on the coast of Madagascar providing storm protection for the coastline, local fishermen in coastal Brazil, harvesting seaweed in Indonesia, and newly hatched iconic turtle species on Turtle Island.    Source:


Len Rosen lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He is a researcher and writer who has a fascination with science and technology. He is married with a daughter who works in radio, and a miniature red poodle who is his daily companion on walks of discovery. More...