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UCSB researchers create first regional Ocean Health Index
Date:4/3/2014

With one of the world's longest coastlines, spanning 17 states, and very high marine and coastal biodiversity, Brazil owes much of its prosperity to the ocean. For that reason, Brazil was the site of the first Ocean Health Index regional assessment designed to evaluate the economic, social and ecological uses and benefits that people derive from the ocean. Brazil's overall score in the national study was 60 out of 100.

The findings from that study conducted by researchers from UC Santa Barbara's National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology (EEMB) and the Bren School for Environmental Science & Management, in collaboration with scientists from Conservation International appear today in the science journal PLOS ONE.

The index assesses ocean health with respect to the benefits and services it provides to people both now and in the future. Using a scale of 0-100, the index produces scores for each of 10 categories Artisanal Fishing Opportunities; Biodiversity; Carbon Storage; Clean Waters; Coastal Protection; Food Provision; Livelihoods & Economies; Natural Products; Sense of Place; and Tourism & Recreation referred to as goals. By assessing Brazil's coastal states, the research team was able to incorporate more detailed data not available at the global scale and provide more specific weighted information based on the relevance and importance of each goal to Brazil.

"This is the first time we've been able to gather in a single index the environmental, social and economic goods and services provided by the ocean specific to Brazil," said lead author Cristiane Elfes, an EEMB graduate student at UCSB. "We hope to make the Ocean Health Index a program led by Brazilian institutions to monitor the status of the oceans in the long term."

The first Ocean Health Index global assessment was published in 2012, with the first annual update issued in 2013.
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Contact: Julie Cohen
julie.cohen@ucsb.edu
805-893-7220
University of California - Santa Barbara
Source:Eurekalert  

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