Submitted by admin on Tue, 09/17/2013 - 03:44
September 17, 2013 by admin
General News
On the 16th of September a side event hosted at the 3rd Pacific Environment Forum featured Steven Katona as a guest speaker. This event was a partnership between Conservation International and SPREP.

Human well-being depends on key benefits that the ocean provides, including food and non-food products, climate regulation, coastal protection, tourism and recreation, jobs and revenue, as well as cultural and spiritual benefits. Nowhere are these benefits more important than in Pacific Island nations. This side event introduced a new definition of ocean health 'A healthy ocean sustainably delivers a range of benefits to people now and in the future' and a quantitative, scientific method to evaluate and score it, the Ocean Health Index.
nice island pic lui
Island in the Pacific Ocean, photo courtesy of Lui Bell

Attendees learned about the Index's conceptual background, construction and how each country was given a score from 0 to 100, where 100 represented fully optimal and sustainable receipt of 10 ocean benefits. Evaluations used globally available and comparable data. The Index's transparent and flexible methods and sensitivity to change make it a useful tool for planning, policy making and scenario testing. The preliminary 2013 scores for the 21 SPREP member states were presented.

An invitation was extended to nations to incorporate high-quality local data that they may possess to create their own country-level Index with improved resolution and greater utility to local managers. This exercise has recently been carried out in Fiji with results of their refined score to be shared early next year after analysis is completed. A computerized Toolbox is being produced which will also help nations carry out such analyses. It will be available on the Index Web site, www.oceanhealthindex.org, in 2014. The presentation also welcomed any suggestions for improvements and offered assistance and training, as possible, to Pacific Island nations that desire to use the Index.

Important questions asked and discussed were:
• Why the Index was created?
• How the Index can help decision makers?
• What data are used and how many data points are there in each EEZ ?
• How data gaps are resolved?
• How countries have reacted to their scores?
• What might be the personnel and financial costs for doing a country-level Index study?

An important question raised was, 'How does the Ocean Health Index relate to other ongoing ocean studies in the Pacific Region?' The Index could both compliment and benefit from the many such projects underway. Data and scores from the Index may inform such projects; and results from those projects could provide important data for use by nations undertaking their own country-level Ocean Health Index studies.

While responding to the question about why the Index was created, presenter Steve Katona said,
"It's a lot like sailing. If you don't specify where you want to go, you can be pretty sure the wind will blow you somewhere, but you may not like where you end up. That's why it's important to define and measure ocean health. If we don't, there is little chance that we will achieve it."