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OHI Science | Citation policy

Compiled on Fri Aug 28 16:00:17 2020.

Effective management of marine systems requires quantitative assessments of ocean health. To assess the ocean condition of Palmyra Atoll a collaborative effort was undertaken between The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) Palmyra 4site team and the University of California, Santa Barbara’s National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS). The Ocean Health Index (OHI) framework was used to assess Palmyra Atoll. Palmyra is a mostly uninhabited island in the Line Islands Archipelago halfway between Hawaii and American Samoa. The island is a National Wildlife Refuge administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and was purchased by The Nature Conservancy in 2000. Specifically, we assessed the performance of 7 goals: Biodiversity, Clean Waters, Habitat Services, Research, Resource Access Opportunities, Sense of Place, and Tourism and Recreation. Using best available data and locally relevant reference points, each goal was scored on a scale of 0-100. Goal scores were then averaged to obtain an overall health score for the island. The overall score for Palmyra was 81, with goal scores ranging from 43 for the Habitat Services goal to 100 for the Research, Resource Access Opportunities, and Tourism and Recreation goals.

The Palmyra OHI+ Github repository contains all the data and scripts used to conduct the Palmyra assessment. Future researchers can use this resource to build upon this assessment as better data become available and goal models evolve to better assess the status of the marine and terrestrial environments around Palmyra. Furthermore, the repository promotes transparent and open research, as well as more streamlined collaboration (Stewart Lowndes et al., 2017).

1 Applying the Ocean Health Index (OHI) to Palmyra

The Ocean Health Index (OHI) is a scientific framework used to measure how healthy oceans are. Understanding the state of our oceans is a first step towards ensuring they will continue to benefit humans now and in the future. The Ocean Health Index was originally launched in 2012, with assessments conducted every year thereafter, to assess the condition of our global oceans. The global assessment describes how well 220 countries (and some territorial regions) are sustainably managing 10 goals which represent the full suite of benefits that people want and need from the ocean. These goals include: Artisanal Fishing Opportunity, Biodiversity, Carbon Storage, Clean Waters, coastal Livelihoods and Economies, Coastal Protection, Food Provision, Natural Products, Sense of Place, and Tourism and Recreation.

Each goal is scored from 0 to 100, and the full suite of goal scores are averaged to obtain an overall index score. Goal scores are calculated as the average of current status (current condition relative to a reference point) and likely future status. Likely future status is the current status modified by the following dimensions: pressures predicted to reduce status (e.g., increasing SST, fishing pressures, invasive species); resilience variables that mitigate pressures (e.g., effective fishing management, protected areas); and recent trends in status.

In addition to the global assessment, OHI assessments have been completed at smaller regional scales for over 36 countries and regions, referred to as OHI+ assessments. For more information about the philosophy of the Ocean Health Index and model development see http://ohi-science.org/ohi-global/.

To assess the condition of Palmyra Atoll’s ocean resources, an OHI+ assessment was conducted as part of a collaboration between The Nature Conservancy’s Palmyra 4site team and the University of California, Santa Barbara’s National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS). Here we report the conclusions from our analysis, and describe how we modified the goal models to reflect locally relevant management concerns.