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Global Tuna Catching Regions Ranked On Ocean Health Global, August 24, 12

It’s the beginning of a new school year and already the world’s main tuna fishing regions have received passing grades in a global health study of oceans.

Seychelles’ waters ranked fourth healthiest in the world with a score of 73 out of 100, while Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) member countries, which control 25% of the World’s tuna stocks, scored an average of 57.

Last week, over 65 experts from a range of conservation, academic and government institutions unveiled the Ocean Health Index, the first global measurement of ocean health that includes people as part of the ocean ecosystem. It scientifically compares and combines ecological, economic and social factors to evaluate the water controlled by 171 coastal countries.

The exclusive economic zones (EEZs) are graded against 10 public goals for a healthy ocean: food provision, artisanal fishing opportunities, biodiversity, coastal livelihoods and economy, clean waters, tourism and recreation, coastal protection, sense of place, natural products, and carbon storage. These criteria represent the wide range of benefits that a healthy ocean can provide and each country’s overall score is the average of its respective goal scores. The Index defines a healthy ocean as one that “sustainably delivers a range of benefits to people now and in the future.”

Separately, the eight Pacific island countries that make up the PNA received scores ranging from 50 (Papua New Guinea) to 64 (Kiribati); Marshall Islands, Nauru and Palau ranked 57th in the world, sharing an equal score of 59. However, each score was arrived at differently depending on the scores of the individual components. Palau, for instance, scored higher in food provision and clean waters, while Marshall Islands scored better in natural products and carbon storage.

The PNA countries, which are home to the world's largest sustainable tuna purse seine fishery, had an average score of 14 under food provision. The food provision goal measures the amount of seafood harvested in small-scale fisheries for human consumption and how sustainable the catch is. Both Papua New Guinea and Maldives, in the Indian Ocean, scored a 0 in this category.

Maldives - which has a pole-and-line skipjack fishery currently being assessed for sustainability - received an overall score of 55.

In the Eastern Pacific Ocean, Ecuador ranked 51st with a score of 60, while Spain in the Atlantic region, scored a 58. The Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, and India scored in the low 50s.

Japan, on the other hand, ranked 11th and scored a high 69. Ghana was near the bottom of the spectrum, scoring a low 40.

The global average of all the countries, or the 2012 Ocean Health Index score, is 60, which means there is plenty of room for improvement in managing the world’s ocean resources. The highest score of 86 belonged to Jarvis Island, a tiny
uninhabited island about halfway between Hawaii and the Cook Islands in the South Pacific. Sierra Leone, a West African country bordering the Atlantic Ocean, was in last place with a score of 36.

Leading organizers of the Index include the National Center for Ecological Analysis and the Synthesis at the University of California, Santa Barbara; the University of British Columbia’s Sea Around Us project, Conservation International, the National Geographic Society and the New England Aquarium.