News / Africa

Oceans Get a Health Check

Scientists call oceans the world's most important resource. (Conservation International)
Scientists call oceans the world's most important resource. (Conservation International)

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua
A new system has been developed to assess the health of the world’s oceans. Scientists say it will change the way we think about oceans and how they affect our lives. It’s called the Ocean Health Index and it’s going to tell us if anything’s wrong with the oceans and what can be done about it.



“The Ocean Health Index is the first global, totally scientific and transparent measure of ocean health that we’ve ever had. It’s meant to guide policymakers and the public to the underlying importance that oceans are the life support systems of the Earth and that we’d better take care of them if we are to survive on this planet,” said Greg Stone, executive vice-president and chief ocean scientist for Conservation International and vice-chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Oceans.

Stone spoke to VOA from the Cook Islands in the South Pacific, where 16 island nation leaders are meeting to find a common agenda for caring for the ocean. He described oceans as the world’s most important resource.

Liberian fishing boat. (Conservation International)Liberian fishing boat. (Conservation International)
x
Liberian fishing boat. (Conservation International)
Liberian fishing boat. (Conservation International)


“You can’t manage anything that you can’t measure. So like any good portfolio investments, if you want to make sure you’re prospering and you’re taking care of your investments – and believe me, the health of our planet is no greater investment that there could be – you need a metric in order to measure it and see that we have a sustainable relationship with this resource on an ongoing basis,” he said.

The Ocean Health Index, Stone said, will help end a lot of ignorance and confusion.

“You may have heard from one source or another that, oh, hey, the oceans are in trouble and you say – why are they in trouble? And then somebody says, well, the coral reefs are dying. And then the next day someone will tell you that the tuna fish are all gone or the haddock are all gone or the halibut are all gone. And you say, OK, I hear that. And then someone else will say the oceans are turning acidic, which they are. It’s been a very confusing landscape of information,” he said.

Whether you live along a U.S. coastline or in the middle of Africa, Stone said, you should care about what happens to the oceans.

“Most of the oxygen that you breathe comes from the ocean. The oceans are the primary climate adaptation system. They absorb carbon. Hey, listen, if you want to know what the Earth would be like without an ocean you’ve got plenty of examples in our solar system. All those hot, dusty, dry, cold inhospitable places are basically that way because they do not have a liquid ocean to provide all these benefits, including food. One out of four people on the planet get their daily source of protein from the ocean,” he said.

The Ocean Health Index is made up of about 200 separate indicators. Once a year scientists will use it to announce whether the oceans passed their physical.

You May Like

Video Obama Announces Plan to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obama details troop deployment and other pieces of US plan More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid