Keeping Our Oceans Healthy and Productive
Our most valuable resources on this globe are our oceans. Our lives depend upon the ocean and the food we fish from it. Never before have we had to worry about harming this resource to such an extent that it limits our food production. However, we have begun to “fish out” our world’s oceans, which causes great problems since our population is only growing and our demand for resources is also growing. Some major corporations such as McDonald’s and Wal-Mart have begun to take steps towards sustainable fishing.

McDonald’s has announced that the packaging for their fish items on the menu will carry a blue eco-label provided by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). This label guarantees that 99% of all McDonald’s fish will come from MSC approved sources. Wal-Mart has created a Sustainability Index to measure 70% of its suppliers by 2017. While these corporations are leading the way for businesses to practice sustainability, it is just the beginning for better awareness of our oceans.

On June 8, the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Oceans agreed upon two new initiatives that will guide the management of our oceans in the future: the Ocean Health Index and “Seafood Traceability.”

Until now, we have never had a way to measure the health of our oceans. With the Ocean Health Index, we can rate the sustainability of our oceans on a scale of 0-100. It measures the oceans against 10 goals including coastal protection, clean tourism and recreation, and food provision. Not only can the Ocean Health Index be used on a global scale, but it can be used on a regional scale as well. It gives policymakers the ability to make informed decisions about the productivity of the water.

The second initiative, seafood traceability, will provide necessary information to manage seafood resources worldwide. This initiative will help businesses trace back fish products from the fisheries where they were caught and learn essential information about how the fish was caught. Without this, it would be impossible to regulate and control illegal fishing habits.

The ocean is our largest asset that generated almost $72 trillion GDP in 2012. By taking steps like McDonald’s is taking or learning how to monitor our oceans better we are keeping them healthy and productive.

– Catherine Ulrich
Source: WE Blog,Ocean Health Index
Photo: Robin Jones Gunn