International Waters learning Exchange & Resource Network

More engaged stakeholders to bring back ocean health reality

04 Jun 2019 | by khristine@iwlearn.org
Recent data from the Ocean Health Index (OHI), a comprehensive assessment of the world’s oceans took notice of high sea surface temperatures or areas that can fuel storms and hurricane activity and may suggest where water is too warm for fish or coral reefs to survive. And what is causing such an anomaly in the sea’s temperature? Data also points to two human activities: plastic pollution and human-caused climate change.

Every year 8m metric tonnes of plastic enter the ocean, and by 2050 there may be more plastic than fish in the ocean by weight, according to the World Economic Forum and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. This environmental stress from plastic pollution is causing undesirable conditions for sea life and water quality. 

Similar to the way a doctor treats a patient, a proper diagnosis of the latter’s sickness initially has to depend on understanding the patient’s existing health history This growing concern for ocean health has turned the spotlight anew to understanding available ocean data and using such data to really understand marine environment and ultimately bring about change. 

More interestingly, these efforts at gathering ocean data and understanding them has also started engaging people. For one, there is the Esri software which targets to connect not only scientists and government agencies on the platform, but also citizens, enabling them to act as collaborators in accessing and updating data.

One of these platforms is the Ocean Health Hubs, a recently announced joint effort of the OHI and Esri. Ocean Health Hubs, currently in development, is designed to display over 100 OHI global datasets along with local data for insights into regional ocean health. It is aimed for launch in 2020, in time for the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-30).

The goal is to make these information more accessible, more understandable, more engaging enough to help mankind really understand what is making their oceans sick, and with more urgency, to help people make oceans healthy not only for themselves, but for everything that is dependent on it.

Read more: Monitoring Ocean Health