Supporting health and well-being
There is growing evidence that the health of the marine environment and human populations are inextricably linked
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There is growing evidence that the health of the marine environment and human populations are inextricably linked. These linkages encompass both risks and benefits. On the risks side, natural events such as severe storms, hurricanes and tsunamis can have devastating impacts on coastal populations, while pollution of the ocean by pathogens and toxic wastes cause illness and death. Conversely, the seas and global ocean provide humans with many benefits including nutritious, life-supporting food, clean water that is safe to bathe in and supports seafood that is safe to eat, regulation of the earth’s climate system, and reduction in effects of extreme weather such as flooding. The marine environment can also be the source of potential health benefits through the provision of novel pharmaceuticals and related products derived from marine organisms, as well as contributing to disease prevention through encouraging physical activity and enhancing psychological well-being.
To-date most of the research into oceans and human health has been conducted in high income countries and the ‘global north’. Blue Communities explored these issues in four low-middle income countries in Southeast Asia (SE Asia), specifically the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam.
A central component of the overall Blue Communities project was to build research capacity and capability among our partners in SE Asia. A survey of stakeholders and members of the coastal communities was co-created by researchers and stakeholders in the Philippines (coordinated by our partners at the Western Philippines University) and the UK over an intensive three-week period.
The survey collected data about human health and well-being, the health of the ocean and people’s interactions with the ocean. It was further refined, pilot tested and then administered with coastal communities in the four SE Asia countries with nearly 1600 respondents.
The key finding was that coastal communities in different locations across this geographical region are very different from each other. This is likely to have implications for health and well-being, as policies and management to protect the local marine environment need to be tailored to the health needs of each community.
Tools, findings and resources
List of publications
Azzeri et al. 2020,
A Review of Published Literature Regarding Health Issues of Coastal Communities in Sabah, Malaysia, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Dahlui et al. 2020,
Health status, healthcare utilisation, and quality of life among the coastal communities in Sabah, Medicine
Fleming et al. 2019,
Fostering human health through ocean sustainability in the 21st century, People and Nature
Fleming et al. 2021,
Ocean(s) and Human Health: Risks and Opportunities, part of the Encyclopedia of the UN Sustainable Development Goals book series
Maharja et al. 2022,
Sea swimming and snorkeling in tropical coastal blue spaces and mental well-being: Findings from Indonesian island communities during the COVID-19 pandemic, Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism
Morrissey et al. 2023,
The role of economic and ecosystem change on mental wellbeing: A case study of the Tân Hiệp island commune within Vietnam’s Cù Lao Chàm UNESCO biosphere reserve, Ocean and Coastal Management
Richter et al. 2023,
Addressing illegal practices: intergenerational transfer and creative engagement as a way to compensate boomerang effects, Frontiers in Communication
Zain et al. 2022,
What are the outcomes of marine site protection on poverty of coastal communities in Southeast Asia? A systematic review protocol, Environmental Evidence
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