The Lasting Special Places sub-goal measures how well we are protecting the locations that contribute to marine-related cultural identity.
The global movement to protect at least 30% of our blue planet by 2030 motivates the reference point for this goal. A score of 100 would mean that all countries are protecting at least 30% of their coastal area.
The Ocean Health Index focuses on the protection of coastal areas located 3 nm offshore and 1 km inland because this is the part of the ocean most people interact with and directly value. This differs from most agencies which measure protected areas throughout the ocean or within exclusive economic zones (EEZ, i.e., 200 nm offshore). As of 2022, nearly 27% of land located within 1km of the coastline is designated as a protected area, and nearly 22% of ocean located within 3nm of the coast is protected. If we look at EEZ areas, just over 7.8% of the EEZ area is protected.
Currently, 72 of the 220 coastal countries and territories protect at least 30% of their coastal areas. This has been a substantial improvement since 2012, when we started the Index, when 46 coastal countries and territories had met this goal. This demonstrates the remarkable effectiveness of programs encouraging conservation.
A great example of management being realized in the LSP subgoal score is Seychelles. Prior to 2021, Seychelles received a score of 53 for LSP, however, in 2021, the status score jumped to 100. This is because Seychelles completed its commitment to increase its marine protection to a full 30% of its EEZ in 2020. This major accomplishment is realized in the 2021 OHI LSP status score.
Similarly, Pitcairn’s score has increased dramatically over the past 11 years. Until 2015, Pitcairn did not have any protected areas in its surrounding areas, and received a score 0. However, in 2015, the United Kingdom government implemented the largest single marine reserve in the world (at the time), and its score jumped to 100 in 2016.
At some point we would like the scores to reflect hope to incorporate into the scores a metric that describes how well these marine protected areas are regulated. Currently, the UN says we have protected about 8% of the world’s oceans, but “experts caution that only 2.2 percent of the world’s oceans are fully off limits to commercial activity, and only 4.8 percent is actively managed.” (National Geographic, 2019)