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UNHEALTHY DEFINITIONS: No matter where in the world we live, our lives are directly affected by the health of our oceans. But our oceans are sick, and have been for a while.
So what’s keeping them from bouncing back to full health? It’s partly down to no one agreeing on what a healthy ocean looks like, making it hard to settle on the best course of action.
Although there are several accepted ways of measuring ocean health, they each have a different focus. None get to grips with the intricacies of how human health and well-being are linked to and influence the preservation of these giant bodies of saltwater.
In a perspective paper recently published in One Earth, centre researcher Thorsten Blenckner together with an international team of colleagues unpack the confusion surrounding the term “ocean health”.
They call for a wider definition of the term in order to move forward with measures that can restore a healthy ocean and protect human health and well-being.
Only with a clear ocean health concept together with transdisciplinary research we can restore healthy oceans.
Thorsten Blenckner, co-author
Current understandings used to guide policies to protect ocean health only partially capture the broader social components of our relationship with the ocean.
“There are tough decisions to be taken,” says Blenckner.
“Do we actively intervene with controversial conservation measures to stop coral reefs bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef? We can only make these kinds of decisions when we agree on a definition and a target of a healthy ocean that goes beyond jobs and livelihoods to integrate ethical values, human health and well-being, along with traditional marine ecosystem services.”
Franke, A., Blenckner, T., Duarte, C.M., et.al. 2020. Operationalizing Ocean Health: Toward Integrated Research on Ocean Health and Recovery to Achieve Ocean Sustainability. One Earth, Perspective, Vol. 2, Issue 6, P557-565, June 19, 2020
For more information about the study, please contact co-author Thorsten Blenckner:
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