Future of Our Oceans

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Imagine earth as a spaceship.

With the exception of solar energy, we are on a long duration mission without resupply.

7 billion passengers are on board.1
But our passenger list grows by 80 million passengers a year.2
How will we feed them? Provide resources for jobs and industry?
The ocean is the greatest supplier of essential resources in the world.3
Ocean natural services are worth $21 trillion a year.5
The ocean provides oxygen for 1 of every 2 breaths we breathe.4
Jobs for 350 million people.5,6,7
Industry worth US $1.2 Trillion.8
Major protein for 1 of every 3 people.9
Nearly 1 billion people are hungry today.9
In countries where hunger is the worst...9,10
...fish is often an important food source.9,10
By 2050 we will need 70% more food than today, and yet each year we work harder to catch less.11,12
Fisheries that we depend on are at risk.
87% of measured species are fully exploited or collapsed.9

75% of coral reefs are threatened.14

Coral Reefs are critical as fish nurseries and are threatened by overfishing, coastal development, pollution, and global warming.

Never has it been more important to manage our ocean resources well, but you can't manage what you can't measure.

The World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Oceans is collaborating on two programs to measure and monitor ocean resources.

A single metric for policy.

How do we know how much we can take from the ocean?

The Ocean Health Index measures how well we are sustainably using ocean resources for 10 goals.15

For each goal (or ocean resource) we get a score 0-100, where 100 means we take the most we can sustainably.

  • 1


  • 2

    Artisanal Fishing Opportunities

  • 3


  • 4


  • 5


  • 6

    Sense of Place

  • 7

    Tourism +

  • 8


  • 9

    Clean Waters

  • 10


The Index gives scores to every country with a shoreline.15

While these scores are global, scores can be developed at any scale using local data.15





In the future, the index will be able to track scores from year to year.15

The Ocean Health Index can be applied at any scale – from a huge ocean to a tiny bay. We invite policy makers and business to use it. Contact: Info@oceanhealthindex.org

Seafood Traceability and Transparency of Supply Chains

“Traceability refers to the ability to track fish products back to the fisheries where they were caught, and the ability to know essential facts about how that fishing was conducted.”

Seafood supply chains have become long and more complex, and when a fish appears on your plate- it’s the last stop of what may have been a very long journey.16

“It’s not unusual that a fish is caught in the Bering Sea...”16
“...cleaned on a fishing boat...”16
“...landed and frozen in Russia...”16
“...shipped to China to be packaged...”16
“...then shipped to the USA where a wholesaler distributes small lots to the retailers...”16
“...who store it until cooking it.”16
Think these fillets are identical?

Think again.

It is estimated that 12-29% of wild-caught fish that reaches the worldwide market is illegally caught.17,18

Consumers cannot be sure of what is on their tables.19
In 120 samples labeled red snapper and bought for testing across the US, 28 different species of fish were found.19
The World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Oceans has called for the establishment of a global system for seafood traceability as a way to support:
Link responsible fishing to markets, and help the seafood industry meet its growing commitment to offer sustainable products.
Fair competition
End economic losses associated with illegal seafood entering the market.
Security of Supply
Prevent overfishing, and ensure a sustainable supply of seafood for generations to come.
Recent advancements in technology will help reduce the burden of traceability on industry by automating the process.
Vessel monitoring systems (VMS) use a satellite technology to track vessels in the open ocean.20
Once at a port, radio frequency identification or RFID tags record the location of seafood products in real-time and track their progress throughout the supply chain 20
Needed now is serious collaboration between business, policy makers, and conservation experts to help design and implement a system that is efficient, effective, and fair.

If we improve ocean resource management by using the Ocean Health Index and implementing Seafood Traceability, the potential benefits are huge.

$50 billion more in food could be harvested from wild catch management if we manage our fisheries well. 21
By 2030 5 billion people could enjoy ocean-related tourism, resulting in more jobs and expanded industry 22
Long term growth in marine industry could be supported by a sustainable supply chain.
This is the time to act.
“We need to act as if our lives depend on it...because they do.
-Sylvia Earle, on managing our oceans


  1. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 2012. Undernourishment around the World in 2012. Rome.
  2. http://www.census.gov/population/international/data/worldpop/table_population.php
  3. Costanza, Robert et al., The value of the world’s ecosystem services and natural capital NATURE |VOL 387 | 15 MAY 1997.
  4. http://earthsky.org/earth/how-much-do-oceans-add-to-worlds-oxygen50%
  5. Teh, Lydia & Sumaila,UR 2011. Contribution of marine fisheries to worldwide employment. FISH AND FISHERIES, Blackwell Publishing.
  6. Dyck, A & Sumaila, UR, 2010. Economic impact of ocean fish populations in the global fishery. Journal of Bioeconomics, 12:227-243.
  7. NOEP Economics 2009, Center for the Blue Economy, Monterey Institute of International Studies.
  8. Marine Industries Global Market Analysis, Marine Institute,Galway 2009. Technology Park,Parkmore,Galway, Ireland.
  9. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 2012. The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2012. Rome.
  10. World Food Programme. Hunger Map 2012.
  11. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 2009. How to Feed the World in 2050.
  12. Worm B, Branch TA (2012) The future of fish. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 27: 594-599.
  13. Myers and Worm, 2003.Rapid worldwide depletion of predatory fish communities. Nature 423, 280-283 (15 May 2003).
  14. Burke, Reytar, Spalding, Perry 2011. Reefs at Risk Revisited. 130 (World Resources Institute: Washington D.C.).
  15. Halpern et al., 2012. An index to assess the health and benefits of the global ocean. Nature 488, 615-520 (30 August 2012).
  16. Yasuda, T. & Bowen, R., 2006. Chain of custody as an organizing framework in seafood risk reduction. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 53(10-12), pp. 640-649.
  17. Agnew, D.J., Pearce, J., Ganapathiraju, P., Peatman, T., Watson, R., Beddington, J.R., Pitcher, T.J., 2009. Estimating the worldwide extent of illegal fishing. PLoS ONE, 4(2), pp. 1-8.
  18. http://reports.weforum.org/global-agenda-council-2012/councils/oceans/
  19. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/21/us/survey-finds-that-fish-are-often-not-what-label-says.html?ref=dining
  20. Thompson, M., Sylvia, G. & Morrissey, T., 2005. Seafood traceability in the United States: current trends, system design, and potential applications. Comprehensive reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, Volume 1, pp. 1-7.
  21. The World Bank, 2009. The Sunken Billions, the Economic Justification for Fisheries Reform, Washington DC.
  22. Kharas, Homi., OECD Development Centre Working Paper No. 285. 2010. OECD, Development Center, Paris France.

Council Members

  • Gavin van der Burgh Chief Executive Officer, Oceanfresh Seafoods (Pty) Ltd
  • Céline Cousteau Founder and Chief Executive Officer, CauseCentric Productions Inc.
  • Maria Damanaki Commissioner, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, European Commission
  • Nishan Degnarain Senior Economic Adviser, Ministry of Finance and Economic Development of Mauritius
  • Stephen J. Hall Director-General, World Fish Center
  • Tony Haymet Director, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego
  • Rupert Howes Chief Executive Officer, Marine Stewardship Council
  • Chris Knight Assistant Director, Sustainability and Climate Change, PwC
  • Liu Xiaobing Director, International Cooperation, Bureau of Fisheries, Ministry of Agriculture of the People's Republic of China
  • Michael Lodge Deputy Secretary-General, International Seabed Authority
  • Kenneth MacLeod Chairman, Stena Line UK Limited
  • Hans-Juergen Matern Vice-President, Head of Strategic Quality Management, METRO AG
  • Masanori Miyahara Deputy Director-General, Fisheries Agency
  • Pawan Patil Senior Economist, The World Bank
  • David Schorr Senior Fellow, WWF - World Wide Fund for Nature - USA
  • Greg Stone Executive Vice-President and Chief Scientist for Oceans, Global Marine, Conservation International

For more information on the Global Agenda Council on Oceans please contact Nathalie Chalmers, Council Manager: nathalie.chalmers@weforum.org

Very special thanks to

Devon O'Meara,
Research Associate
Marine Biology Research Division, Scripps Institution Of Oceanography

Debra Zeyen,
Sr Director Communications
Marine Global Division
Conservation International

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