Seychelles ranks highly in global ocean health rankings
Aerial view of the Seychelles island of Fregate (Gerard Larose, STB)
(Seychelles News Agency) - In an annual global assessment on ocean health, the territorial waters of the Seychelles have been ranked as one of the world’s most pristine ocean environments.
The country received a total index score of 83 out of a possible 100, an improvement of one percent from the previous year, and researchers at the Ocean Health Index have predicted that Seychelles’ score will rise by as much as nine percent next year.
Seychelles, an archipelago of 115 islands off the eastern coast of Africa, is ranked 9th globally behind the Prince Edward Islands (South Africa), Heard and McDonald Islands (Australia), Howland Island and Baker Island (United States), Kerguelen Islands (France), Crozet Islands (France), Jarvis Island (United States), Malta and Greenland.
In Africa, Seychelles is placed second behind South Africa’s Prince Edward Islands ocean territory, which received the highest score of 93 percent. Mauritius follows Seychelles in third place (32nd overall) with a score of 76 percent.
Seychelles, which has an Exclusive Economic Zone measuring around 1.5 million square kilometres of ocean, was scored on various ecological, social, economic and political yardsticks, including food production (79), natural products (100), coastal protection (85), economies and livelihoods (85), tourism and recreation (100), sense of place (64), clean water (72) and biodiversity (90).
|Butterfly fish swim in the crystal clear waters of the Seychelles, which has been ranked as one of the most pristine ocean territories in the world. (Olivier Cochard-Labbé/Flickr) Photo License: CC BY-SA 2.0|
“The score of 100 that is set as a target for each goal reflects a status that is feasible to achieve and can sustainably produce maximum benefits now and in the future,” explained Steve Katona, Managing Director for the Ocean Health Index in an interview with the UC Santa Barbara Current.
“Any score below 100 means there is room for improvement.”
A mediocre world score
The world’s oceans on average got a ‘D’ score on its report card, according to Conservation International, who prepared the 2014 Ocean Health Index with help from researchers at various institutions, including the University of California, Santa Barbara, the University of British Columbia and the New England Aquarium.
The global average score of 67 percent was largely due to problems associated with overfishing, pollution, climate change and inadequate protection. However, the researchers have said that the overall score is not only a slight improvement on previous years, but also a better performance than expected.
Since the index began to publish its results in 2012, it has this year added all the high seas in the oceans to the 220 EEZs that were measured before. Scientists now hope that the EEZs together with the high seas, Antarctica and the Southern Ocean assessments will begin to provide a much more comprehensive summary of the health of the world’s oceans.
“I think many people are surprised that the score is that good, because people hear all the bad news about overfishing, pollution, death of coral reefs, climate change, and so on,” said Katona to the National Geographic.
“If you come home with a paper from school, your parents aren't real happy if it's a 67, but most people expected a score for the ocean that was worse.”
The United States scored 72 percent this year, an improvement of nine percent from 2012. China also improved its score from 53 in 2012 to 65.