PHOTO(S): © Marco Carè/Marine Photobank
OHI+ assessments are conducted by independent groups to measure ocean health in their regions, countries, states, and communities. These assessments can be used by managers to incorporate local information and priorities at the spatial scale where policy and management decisions are made.
Independent assessments use the same framework as the global assessment, but can explore the variables influencing ocean health at the smaller scales where policy and management decisions are made. Goal models and targets are created using higher resolution data, indicators, and priorities, which produce scores better reflecting local realities. This enables scientists, managers, policy makers, and the public to better and more holistically understand, track, and communicate the status of local marine ecosystems, and to design strategic management actions to improve overall ocean health.
The reasons for conducting an assessment vary from context to context. Perhaps you want to better understand ocean and coastal health in your region, or you are actively engaging in ecosystem-based management, or you are facilitating a multi-stakeholder collaborative planning and target setting process. Regardless of your reasons, conducting your own assessment will establish a baseline estimation of the status of ocean health in your study area, that can be used to determine how well you are achieving goal targets.
Assessments provide an opportunity engage multiple stakeholders in a collaborative process. In our experiences engaging with various countries around the world, the process of conducting the assessment was just as valuable (if not more) than the final results. This is because the assessment process serves as a forum to engage stakeholders from multiple backgrounds (scientific, civil society, government, private sector, NGOs, etc.) to discuss local preferences and priorities, understand the interactions between various activities, and collaboratively establish management targets.
Conducting a local OHI+ assessment is also valuable because it results in a synthesized collection of data, scientific findings, and management efforts.