Friday, February 16, 2018

Week in Review February 16, 2018: California Declares War on Single Use Plastics, Costa Rica Intensifies Hammerhead Debates, Marine Mammal Commission to Be Eliminated and More

1. Malibu Declares War on Plastics

plastic straws, plastic colored straws, plastic straw banMalibu, California has banned the distribution and use of single-use plastic straws and plastic utensils starting June 1, 2018.  It is estimated that “an estimated 500 million plastic straws are used (in the United State) and discarded every day—enough to wrap around the earth 2.5 times per day.”  It costs approximately $0.01 cents more per paper straw, but the increased costs of eco-friendly cutlery is unknown.
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2. Straws, Only for Those Who Ask, Under Proposed California Bill

A California bill proposes that restaurants give out straws only to those that ask.  This is in order to curb the use of the single-use straws, many which end up the ocean and in waterways and endanger wildlife.  “AB 1884 is not a ban on plastic straws. It is a small step towards curbing our reliance on these convenience products, which will hopefully contribute to a change in consumer attitudes and usage,” says Assemblyman Ian Calderon, D-Whittier, who introduced the bill.
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3. Costa Rica Discussions about Hammerhead Fishing Intensify

A Costa Rican lawyer asked the Dispute Tribunal to ban the hammerhead shark fishing in the country. Walter Brenes, from the Energy Law Firm, resorted to the National System of Conservation to make his request.
“SINAC and the Costa Rican government have acted passively when it comes to addressing such an important issue like the protection of our biodiversity. It is necessary to take immediate action before the damage becomes irreversible” cited Brenes. Read More
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4. Marine Mammal Commission Proposed for Elimination


Marine Mammal CommissionFor about one penny per American per year, the Marine Mammal Commission has protected marine mammals for over 40 years.  Now it is being proposed for elimination by the Trump Administration for fiscal year 2019.  The Marine Mammal Protection Act has “firmly placed the United States at the forefront of marine mammal and marine ecosystem conservation. It has supported coastal economies that generate significant revenues and jobs from healthy populations of marine mammals. As mandated by the MMPA, the Marine Mammal Commission has, for nearly half a century, provided independent, science based oversight of federal activities and programs affecting marine mammals—a function performed by no other agency.”

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5. Decline in Krill Threatens Survival of Antarctica Wildlife

Antarctic krill, krill, krill decline“Researchers and environmental campaigners warn that a combination of climate change and industrial-scale fishing is threatening the krill population in Antarctic waters, with a potentially disastrous impact on larger predators (such as whales, penguins and seals).”  A new study warns that penguin populations could be down a third by the end of the century due to less krill availability.  It also warns that climate change could bring down the krill population by 40% in some areas of Antarctica’s Scotia Sea.  Krill populations are down 80% since the 1970’s.
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6.
California Bill to Cut Down Illegal Poaching in Marine Protected Areas

fishing boat equipment“California State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher has introduced a bill that would crack down on illegal poaching by commercial fishing operations in protected marine areas, an important step in preserving the delicate ecosystem in these spots.”  The bill would increase the fines and penalties.  “Under this bill, a business that violates the law could be fined $5,000 to $40,000 and face up to a year in jail on a misdemeanor conviction. Penalties for a second violation would be a loss of fishing license, a fine of $10,000 to $50,000 and up to a year in jail on a misdemeanor conviction.”
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Be sure to "LIKE" http://facebook.com/SeaSave to ensure our "Week in Review" is delivered to your newsfeed every Friday. 

Sea Save Foundation is committed to raising awareness of marine conservation. The Week in Review is a team effort produced by the Sea Save staff to provide a weekly summary of the latest in marine research, policy, and news.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Week in Review February 9, 2018: California Fights Offshore Drilling, Coral Tourism, a $36 Billion Industry Threatened and More

1. California Fights Offshore Drilling Plan


oil rig, offshore oil drilling

“California’s plan to deny pipeline permits for transporting oil from new leases off the Pacific Coast is the most forceful step yet by coastal states trying to halt the biggest proposed expansion in decades of federal oil and gas leasing.”  “I am resolved that not a single drop from Trump’s new oil plan ever makes landfall in California,” says Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, chair of the State Lands Commission and a Democratic candidate for governor of California.
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2. Coral Reef Tourism Threatened


coral reef tourism, coral reef, USFWS“Coral reef tourism has a global value of US $36 billion per year, according to a scientific study mapping the global value and distribution of coral reef tourism. This study, published in the Marine Policy journal in August 2017, concluded that 30 percent of the world’s reefs are valuable to tourism.”  Coral bleaching, ocean acidification, and sea level rise leading to coastal erosion and pollutants entering coral reefs are some of the threats to coral reefs (and their tourism value) today.
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3. States Choose Wind Energy Over Offshore Drilling

windmills, wind energy

Atlantic states that are protesting Trump’s plans for more offshore drilling are increasingly turning towards wind energy. “New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced that his state will aim for 3,500 megawatts of installed offshore wind by 2030, enough to power 1 million homes. Massachusetts has a goal to build 1,600 MW of offshore wind power by 2027, and New York has committed to 2,400 MW by 2030.”
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4. Whales and Sharks at Risk From Microplastics
plastic whale, whale, Greenpeace

Filter feeding marine animals such as baleen whales and whale sharks are increasingly at risk from microplastic pollution a new study says.  “Taking in microplastic can block their ability to absorb nutrients, and may have toxic side-effects. Microplastic contamination has the potential to further reduce the population numbers of these species, many of which are long-lived and have few offspring throughout their lives.”
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5.
Giant Manta Ray Listed As Threatened Under Endangered Species Act

giant manta ray, endangered species act

The National Marine Fisheries announced that the giant manta ray is now listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.  The giant manta ray can have a wingspan of up to 29 feet and is a gentle giant that feeds only on plankton.  They are highly migratory and slow to grow and reproduce.  One of their main threats is fishing for their gill rakers, which are used in a controversial formula of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
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Be sure to "LIKE" http://facebook.com/SeaSave to ensure our "Week in Review" is delivered to your newsfeed every Friday. 

Sea Save Foundation is committed to raising awareness of marine conservation. The Week in Review is a team effort produced by the Sea Save staff to provide a weekly summary of the latest in marine research, policy, and news.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Week in Review February 2, 2018: Chile Creates Five New National Parks, Deep Sea Coral Protected Off New England and More

1. Private Donation Manifests In Creation of Five Chilean National Parks



national parks Chile, PatagoniaChile has created five new national parks as part of “a new 17-mile park route that stretches from the southern spine of Chile to Cape Horn.” This was made possibly by a generous private land donation made by the late Douglas Tompkins and his wife and partner-in crime Kris McDivitt Tompkins. After founding and building The North Face and Esprit, they cashed out and used their fortunate to purchase some of the most pristine wilderness left on Earth. Their donation consitutes much of the ocean border park land.
The new protected areas include miles of wild coastline. The move crowns the environmental legacy of Chilean president Michelle Bechelet, who last year signed into law established one of the world’s largest marine protected areas off the coast of Easter Island.
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2. New England - Deep Coral Protected from Trawlers


deep sea coral, NOAAThe New England Fishery Management Council voted to protect deep-sea coral in Georges Bank, a fishing ground off the U.S. Atlantic Coast. The move protects more than 25,000 square miles of seafloor from destructive fishing gear that trawls the ocean bottom. Conservation groups applaud the move but wanted stronger protections than those offered by this compromise bill. Georges Bank was a thriving cod fishery for centuries until overfishing and coral-killing bottom trawling led to its collapse in the 1980s.
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3. Microplastics in Antarctic Waters

Antarctica, microplasticMicroplastics have been discovered in one of the world’s most pristine places: Antarctica. Samples collected near the Antarctic Ice Exclusion Zone during the Turn the Tide on Plastic sailboat race was found to contain four particles per cubic meter of microplastics. Although that number is smaller than those found in waters elsewhere, the discovery is a shocking reminder that plastics have made their way to the most remote corners of our planet.
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4. Plastic Pollution Increases Coral Disease


plastic bag, coral reefA new study in the journal Science adds plastic garbage to the list of stressors besieging coral reefs. Researchers found that “where plastic was present on reefs around Southeast Asia—home to more than half the world’s coral reefs—the likelihood of seeing one of the key coral-killing diseases rose from 4 to 89 percent.” Fortunately, some nations are acting quickly to curb plastic pollution. “Indonesia, which just declared a ‘garbage emergency’ on the beaches of tourism-dependent Bali, has drawn up a National Action Plan on Marine Plastic Debris to curtail the amount of waste it sends into the ocean.”
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5.
Shaken, Not Stirred


plastic straws, colored plastic strawsDoes news about ocean plastics make you want to reach for a stiff drink? Now, at least, that drink may not come with a plastic stirrer. In one of the world’s first industry-wide moves, the Scotch Whisky Association has “urged its members to phase out plastic straws and stirrers.” The group joins a growing chorus—from the U.K. to Seattle—calling for an end to polluting single-use plastic straws. Need some comic relief with that cocktail? Watch Lonely Whale’s #stopsucking campaignvideo.
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6.  Fishing Bans Help Penguin Chicks


African penguins, fishing bans
Even modest fishing restrictions can bolster penguin chick survival, according to a new survey off the coast of South Africa. The study provides some of the first evidence that fishing bans can help other marine species, which isn’t surprising, since fish-catching species compete for food and drown in fishing nets. Although penguin chick survival rates rose only 11 percent, “computer simulations show that the fishery closures reduce the risk that these colonies would decline” to numbers that threaten their survival.
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Be sure to "LIKE" http://facebook.com/SeaSave to ensure our "Week in Review" is delivered to your newsfeed every Friday. 

Sea Save Foundation is committed to raising awareness of marine conservation. The Week in Review is a team effort produced by the Sea Save staff to provide a weekly summary of the latest in marine research, policy, and news.

Friday, January 26, 2018

"Week in Review" January 26, 2018: Climate Change: Losing the Battle, Should Evidence of Endangered Animals in Bycatch be Made Public? and More

1. Fighting Climate Change? We’re Not Even Landing a Punch

Climate Change, Climate March
Following major world conferences on climate change (1988, 1997, 2016), carbon emissions have actually gone up--from 30 billion tons in 1988 to 50 billions tons in 2016. The earth's average temperature has risen from half a degree to 1.1 degrees Celsius over that of the last two decades of the 19th century. The New York Times suggests that leaders are ignoring the climate change numbers and that current approaches to reining in emissions are not working.   

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2. New Zealand Debates Access to Bycatch Footage

fishing by-catch

Bycatch of unintended species, like sea birds, dolphins, penguins and sea lions, is a major problem in fisheries around the world. New Zealand proposes putting cameras on fishing boats. But that move is controversial because fisheries don’t want the footage shown to the public. Existing rules require fishing companies to report their own bycatch and sometimes have observers onboard. It’s probable that those reporting their own bycatch are grossly underestimating the amount and species they catch.  
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3. Vancouver Aquarium Will No Longer Keep Cetaceans in Captivity
Vancouver Aquarium, Pacific white-sided dolphin
Bowing to public pressure, the Vancouver Aquarium has announced that it will no longer keep whales and dolphins in captivity. Last May the Vancouver park board voted to ban the aquarium from keeping any new cetaceans in captivity. The Vancouver Aquarium is still fighting that ban in court because they want to use one of their facilities as a rehabilitation center for injured cetaceans.
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4. Increasing Number of West Coast Fishermen Use Innovative Gear to Reduce Bycatch

deep-set buoy gear, west coast fishermen
Swordfish are caught off the West Coast of the United States primarily with drift gillnets. But an increasing number of fishermen have applied for permits to use deep-set buoy gear. This method "is far less destructive to whales, sea turtles, and porpoises than drift gillnets," says Pew Charitable Trusts. Buoy gear makes 90 percent of the catch marketable, compared to just 40 percent of gillnet catch.
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5.
Scientists Using Bioluminescent Deep Sea Animals to Fight Cancer


fireworks jelly, E/V Nautilus
Researchers are using enzymes from glowing deep sea creatures to test the effectiveness of immunotherapy cancer treatments. “But threats to the ocean from climate change and exploitation threaten marine life and its medicinal potential.” Currently cancer researchers use radioactive chromium to trace cancer cells, which has a number of problems. “The enzymes that cause sea life to glow, called luciferases, have been used in a number of other applications for years, but Dr. Preet M. Chaudhary of the University of Southern California says this is the first time they have been used as an immunotherapy test, or assay.” 
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6.  Marine Vegetation Can Mitigate Ocean Acidification


tide pool

A new study from the University of California at Irvine has found that marine vegetation in shallow coastal ecosystems can help mitigate the effects of ocean acidification. The marine plants reduce acidity in their surrounding environment through photosynthesis. That could mean good news for shellfish. The shellfish industry is being hit hard from acidification, which weakens the shells of shellfish. The industry “contributes over $1 billion annually to the U.S. economy while providing more than 100,000 jobs.”

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Be sure to "LIKE" http://facebook.com/SeaSave to ensure our "Week in Review" is delivered to your newsfeed every Friday. 

Sea Save Foundation is committed to raising awareness of marine conservation. The Week in Review is a team effort produced by the Sea Save staff to provide a weekly summary of the latest in marine research, policy, and news.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Week In Review January 19, 2018: National Park Board Revolt, 136,000 Ton Oil Spill, and More

1. National Park Board Members Resign in Protest


Sea Save Note: Writer and historian Wallace Stegner called national parks "the best idea we ever had. We have marine national parks and also national parks that with an oceanic border. For that reason, we believe this news is critical to Sea Save “Week in Review” A majority of the members of a National Park Service advisory board (nine of twelve) resigned their posts Monday in protest of how Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has treated them, according to a new report. The board is made up of “citizen advisors chartered by Congress to help the National Park Service care for special places saved by the American people so that all my experience our heritage.”
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2. Belize Ends National Oil Drilling Activity - Recognizes Economic Risk to Lucrative Tourism

In a move to protect the fragile Belize Barrier Reef, UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Belize government has announced bold legislation to end oil activity in all of its waters. This new law will protect the second-largest reef in the world. It is home to 1,400 species, including endangered hawksbill turtles, manatees, rays and six threatened species of shark. “Legislation to stop offshore oil drilling in Belize is an extremely wise decision,” said Ralph Capeling, co-owner of Splash Dive Center in nearby Placencia. “The economic potential of the reef clearly exceeds the value of any potential discoveries.”
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3. China Oil Spill Threatens Marine Life
oil spill, oil tanker. light crude oilAn Iranian tanker collided with a Hong Kong cargo ship on January 6, catching on fire and then sinking off the coast of Shanghai. The Sanchi tanker caused a massive spill of condensate, a light crude oil. “The condensate that leaked into the water could potentially wreak havoc on local fish spawning grounds, and the Sanchi sank in the migratory path of the humpback whale, according to Greenpeace.” This latest spill raises alarms about the potential risks of new drilling proposed by the Trump administration off formerly protected U.S. coasts.

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4. Switzerland Deems Lobster Boiling Inhumane - World First to Recognize Crustacean Pain

Switzerland's ban against boiling lobsters alive is one of the world's first. The law, which takes effect in March, requires that lobsters be stunned before they are cooked. Lobsters and other crustaceans must also be kept in a natural environment rather than on ice or in ice water. Animal rights groups applaud the move, which follows years of debate about whether lobsters can actually feel pain. A 2013 study in the Journal of Experimental Biology seems to put that notion to rest.
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5. Thorny Debate Over Australia’s Starfish Control Program




Australia, crown-of-thorns-starfishThe voracious crown-of-thorns starfish is gobbling up coral on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The starfish is devastating a reef already reeling from two mass bleaching events in recent years. Now a review of the government’s starfish control program asserts “a serious case of negligence” in a program that will likely fail.

The government disputes that charge. "Managing the crown-of-thorns starfish is a significant challenge given the Great Barrier Reef covers an area larger than the size of Italy," says federal environment and energy minister Josh Frydenberg. “He adds that ‘solid progress’ had been made in tackling the natural predator with more than 500,000 of the starfish killed by divers.”

Udo Engelhardt, who conducted the review, is calling for an immediate halt to the $14.4 million program until a full review is completed. “We've suspected for a long time there's no hope that we can control the population level of the crown-of-thorns starfish by killing them one at a time," he says.
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6.  Ringed Seals Adopt Landlubber Survival Strategy

The ice on Norway’s Svalbard archipelago is shrinking—and some areas are now completely devoid of ice. Conservationists are concerned about the effect on ringed seals, who depend on sea ice to rest and molt. The seals also build lairs on the ice to shelter their pups until they grow enough blubber to survive the icy waters. Now a new study reveals a seal survival strategy: they are spending more time on land. The adaption is a good sign, but time will tell how ringed seals will survive the rapid changes transforming their world.
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7. Say Goodbye to Seagrass?


seagrass, climate change, carbon sink
Seagrass, along with mangroves and salt marshes, stores “up to 100 times more carbon than tropical forests at 12 times the speed. Vast prairies of sea grasses stretch for kilometers along the seafloor, storing enough carbon to rival the world’s forests.” But warming oceans threaten that critical carbon sink. “We can see that the coasts of Australia, Polynesia, and Hudson Bay will lose seagrass if ocean temperatures rise 1.5°C,” says Orhun Aydin, a researcher at the Environmental Systems Research Institute in California. “The species Zostera marina only grows in these areas and will become extinct.” That's bad news for all of us. “Global warming is actively destroying mechanisms for storing carbon dioxide. This means increasing temperature will not be a linear process; intuitively, I’d say it will be exponential.”
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8. Venomous Sea Snake Found Off California- Signaling Warming Waters


The yellow-bellied sea snake has the widest range of any snake on the planet. And if the last few years are any indication, its range might be getting even bigger—thanks to climate change.
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Be sure to "LIKE" http://facebook.com/SeaSave to ensure our "Week in Review" is delivered to your newsfeed every Friday. 

Sea Save Foundation is committed to raising awareness of marine conservation. The Week in Review is a team effort produced by the Sea Save staff to provide a weekly summary of the latest in marine research, policy, and news.