Indicators of ocean health and human health: Developing a research and monitoring framework

Anthony Knap, Éric Dewailly, Chris Furgal, Jennifer Galvin, Dan Baden, Robert E. Bowen, Michael Depledge, Linda Duguay, Lora E. Fleming, Tim Ford, Fredricka Moser, Richard Owen, William A. Suk, Umit Unluata

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


We need to critically assess the present quality of the marine ecosystem, especially the connection between ecosystem change and threats to human health. In this article we review the current state of indicators to link changes in marine organisms with eventual effects to human health, identify research opportunities in the use of indicators of ocean and human health, and discuss how to establish collaborations between national and international governmental and private sector groups. We present a synthesis of the present state of understanding of the connection between ocean health and human health, a discussion of areas where resources are required, and a discussion of critical research needs and a template for future work in this field. To understand fully the interactions between ocean health and human health, programs should be organized around a "models-based" approach focusing on critical themes and attributes of marine environmental and public health risks. Given the extent and complex nature of ocean and human health issues, a program networking across geographic and disciplinary boundaries is essential. The overall goal of this approach would be the early detection of potential marine-based contaminants, the protection of marine ecosystems, the prevention of associated human illness, and by implication, the development of products to enhance human well-being. The tight connection between research and monitoring is essential to develop such an indicator-based effort.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)839-845
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Health Perspectives
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Biologic effects
  • Biomarkers
  • Contamination
  • Human health
  • Indicators
  • Ocean health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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