Friday, May 18, 2018

Week in Review May 18, 2018: Bumble Bee Tuna Sting, Trawling Termination on Trial, and More

1. Bumble Bee Tuna CEO Charged with Fixing Prices



The CEO of Bumble Bee canned tuna, Christopher Lischewski, has been charged with fixing canned tuna prices from November 2010 to December 2013.  He allegedly “conspired with others in the industry to eliminate competition.” “Three other people, including a former StarKist tuna company executive, have previously been charged. Stephen Hodge, a former senior vice president for sales at StarKist, pleaded guilty last year to price-fixing.” Two other executives at Bumble Bee have pleaded guilty and paid a $25 million fine.

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2. Pacific Council Protects Critical Ocean Habitat


Red Gorgonian Whip Coral, Deep Sea TrawlingIn April, the Pacific Fishery Management Council voted to close an area roughly twice the size of Washington State to bottom trawling. Some 140,000 square miles off the coasts of California, Oregon, and Washington will be protected, including the "sensitive corals, sponges, and rocky reefs in a region known as the Southern California Bight." For the first time in a fishery management plan, methane seeps are protected as important fish habitat.
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Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/environment/article210157954.html#storyli

3. Vanuatu First Country to Ban Plastic Straws

Vanuatu Cascade Waterfall, first country plastic straw ban
Vanuatu, an island nation in the Pacific Ocean, is the first country in the world to ban plastic straws. They will also end the use of single-use plastic bags and polystyrene takeout boxes by July. “Each year at least 8 million tonnes of plastic makes its way into our ocean," and there are "at least 51 trillion pieces of microplastics already in our ocean with warnings that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in our ocean.”
 

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4. Massive Wave Is Southern Hemisphere Record


New Zealand, Campbell Island, Massive Record WaveThe largest wave ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere was measured off of  New Zealand. The 78 foot (23.8 m) wave was measured by a buoy off New Zealand's Campbell Island in the Southern Ocean on Tuesday. “The ‘eight-storey high’ wave was generated by a deep low pressure system and 65-knot winds, said Meteorological Service of New Zealand senior oceanographer Dr. Tom Durrant. He said that "surfers in California can expect energy from this storm to arrive at their shores in about a week's time."
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5. New Zealand Woman Collects 10,000 Cigarette Butts, Pushes for Beach Smoking Ban

A New Zealand woman who collected 10,000  cigarette butts from Queenstown beaches is pushing for a smoking ban. Over 30 days Liz Smith collected 10,527 cigarette butts from Queenstown Bay and Frankton Beach and photographed the result to make a "visual statement". She posted her final photo on Facebook  and asked for "yes" responses to show support. More than 3,700 people have responded. Sea Save Editorial Addition: Documenting pollution makes a difference!  #GetTrashy
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6. Lawmakers want plastic-straw ban to fight litter


At Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Katy Tang introduced new legislation that would ban the distribution of plastic straws and some other non-biodegradable odds and ends, in another City Hall drive to clean up San Francisco’s chronic trash problem.


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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, May 11, 2018

Week in Review May 11, 2018 - Warming Oceans Threaten Polar Species, California Offshore Wind Farm Turf War, and More.

1. Do Warming Oceans Threaten Polar Species with Extinction?

Ocean warming will wipe out iconic polar species like the polar bear and penguin by the end of the century if we don’t reduce climate change, according to a new study in Nature Climate Change. “Much current marine life will be unable to tolerate ocean temperatures that are projected to increase by 2.8 degrees Celsius on average, according to the study.” The ocean is absorbing 90 percent of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases, study co co-author Richard Aronson told CBS news, and warming is happening fastest at the poles. "We have to take bold steps individually and as a society to control emissions,” he said. “Shifting away from our dependence on fossil fuels would be a major step in the right direction."
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2. Offshore Wind Farms Coming to California, But Where?

Offshore wind farms are coming to California, but if the U.S. Navy has its way, all of Southern California—from Big Sur to the Mexican border—will be off limits. The Navy, which wants to protect its sprawling base and offshore activities north of San Diego, is in talks with proponents who say the wind turbines are an important part of a “multi-pronged strategy” to help the state meet its ambitious clean energy goals. “There’s a lot at stake here.” California’s offshore wind farms could eventually generate 13 times more energy than all land-based wind farms nationwide.
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3. Marine Protected Areas Won’t Save Oceans from Climate Change

The creation of marine protected areas over the past decade is a rare bright spot in ocean news. These sanctuaries preserve pockets of resilience against over-fishing and other impacts. “The trouble is that, though MPAs will help in the short term, they aren’t going to save the oceans from the threat of climate change,” according to a new study in Nature Climate Change. Even under the most optimistic scenarios, with a rise of 4.5°C by 2100, “the oceans undergo radical changes that are likely to be too much for marine life to adapt.” Yes, we need more, and larger, marine protected areas, say researchers. But “those protections will be for naught if we don’t address the systemic problem of climate change.”
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4. Great Pacific Garbage Patch Plastic Removal Invention Ready to Launch

Eighteen-year-old Boyan Slat captivated TEDx audiences—and investors—in 2012 with his idea for a floating device to clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Now the young Dutch inventor is ready to turn his words into action. Later this year his company plans to deploy a 600-meter device between Hawaii and the U.S. Northwest, and by 2020 it hopes to launch 600 systems. But physical oceanographer Kim Martini is concerned that the device will inadvertently attract fish and marine life to “an area of the ocean with the biggest plastic problem on earth.” What’s more, she says, the device only targets the upper layer of water, even though plastics are mixed throughout the water column. The company still has its eyes on the prize: an ambitious goal to clean up 50 percent of the garbage patch within five years.
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5. Scientists Discover 100 Species in a New Ocean Zone

Marine scientists from Oxford University have found a new ocean zone with 100 new species in the waters off Bermuda. The new zone, which extends from 226 to 984 feet, harbors tiny crustaceans called tanaids, dozens of new algae species, and 6-foot-tall black wire coral. “The discovery of a whole new ocean zone, teeming with life, shows that there could be far more ocean species, and of greater variety than previously thought,” says Alex Rogers a professor of conservation biology at Oxford University. What’s next for this exploration team? The Seychelles, the Maldives, Mauritius, Andaman, and Sumatra, where no doubt untold ocean treasures await.
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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, May 4, 2018

Week in Review, May 4, 2018: Hawaiian Legislation Bans Sunscreen Harmful to Coral Reefs, Mangrove Carbon Sinks, Australia to Spend $379 Million on Great Barrier Reef, and More

1. Hawaiian Legislation Bans Sunscreen Harmful to Coral Reefs

To protect its coral reefs, Hawaii is the first state to pass legislation banning sunscreens that contain ingredients known to harm coral. It is now up to Gov. David Ige to sign the bill into law. The two chemicals, oxybenzone and octinoxate, can trigger coral bleaching and act as endocrine disruptors. Skin-care companies object to the proposal, which would force them to reformulate their sunscreens. “Overwhelming scientific evidence shows that excess sun exposure without effective sunscreen increases the risk of developing skin cancer in both adults and children,” said an industry statement. “Banning oxybenzone and octinoxate — key ingredients in effective sunscreens on the market — will drastically and unnecessarily reduce the selection of safe and effective sunscreen products available to residents and visitors.” Consumers don’t need to wait for the debate’s results to protect coral; see Vogue magazine’s guide to shopping for coral-safe sunscreen here.
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2. Mangroves Store More Carbon Than Previously Thought

A new study found that mangrove forests store more carbon than researchers realized. Mangrove soil stored around 6.4 billion metric tons of carbon in 2000. Mangroves cleared between 2000 and 2015 — often for fish farms or wood fuel —released up to 122 million tons of carbon. “Protecting, enhancing and restoring natural carbon sinks must become political priorities,” says Jonathan Sanderman of the Woods Hole Research Center. “Mangrove forests can play an important role in carbon removals because they are among the most carbon-dense ecosystems in the world, and if kept undisturbed, mangrove forest soils act as long-term carbon sinks.” Add climate change mitigation to the list of mangroves’ estimated $2.7 trillion in environmental services, along with storm surge protection and serving as fish nurseries.
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3. Australia to Invest $379 Million to Protect Its Great Barrier Reef

The Australian government has announced that it will make its biggest investment yet to help the besieged Great Barrier Reef. “The Great Barrier Reef is a natural wonder of the world, supporting tens of thousands of jobs through Queensland,” wrote environment and energy member for this soil is long-term Josh Frydenberg in an April 29 op-ed announcing the measure. The funds will be directed toward efforts to reduce agricultural runoff, research coral resilience and adaptation, and control coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish. Australian scientists applaud the move, but some are concerned that it targets less-than-successful approaches.
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4. Plastic Straw Bans: Is the Travel Industry Missing the Boat?

Bans on plastic straws are gaining momentum around the world, but some travel companies are lagging. “Plastic straws kill marine life and choke reefs and beaches, never decomposing completely, but instead breaking into bits of microplastics, which eventually enter the food chain. And so the straw — ubiquitous in most restaurants, bars, cruise ships and luxury resorts — has become a prime example of how tourism can have a deeply negative effect on the environment.” Many independent hotels and some chains like the Four Seasons, have banned the straws. Marriott, the world’s largest hotel chain, has launched an ambitious program that will eliminate plastic shampoo bottles as well. With much of the $7 trillion global travel industry dependent on clean oceans, it’s a no-brainer for travel companies to jump onboard.
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5. Miami’s Vice: Shark Fin Imports

Miami’s glittering image as a cosmopolitan international hub is being tarnished by its new dubious ranking: it’s the nation’s top importer of shark fins. Twelve other U.S. states, including two with competing ports, New York and California, have banned the imports. “Although the practice of slicing shark fins off at sea — called shark finning — is outlawed in the U.S., shark fins can still be legally harvested from sharks brought onshore or imported from countries without finning bans. It's also likely that lax regulations in Malaysia and Hong Kong, which import more than 350 times as many fins as the U.S., mean fins from endangered sharks are winding up in American markets.” The conservation groups are pushing for a federal ban on the imports.
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6. “Missing” Shark Species Found by DNA Water Sampling

Scientists working in New Caledonia have detected the presence of six shark species feared gone from the archipelago, including great hammerhead and bull sharks, by simply sampling the water. “By testing samples of water collected from the region, the scientists detected six shark species that had previously been missed by nearly 3,000 dives and 400 baited video traps.” The scientists were able to use DNA left behind in feces, mucus, and skin scraps. This breakthrough could change the way biologists assess —  and protect — marine species at risk.
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Friday, April 27, 2018

Week in Review April 27, 2018: Plastic Straw Reduction Bill Examined By CA Committee, Record Numbers of Plastic Fragments Found in Arctic Sea Ice, and More

1. Plastic Straw Reduction Bill Examined by California Committee



rainbow plastic straws, plastic straws, California straw banOn April 23 a bill that would result in the reduction of plastic straw usage in California, AB1884, was examined by the Assembly Natural Resources Committee. The hearing was live streamed from the Sea Save Facebook page. The committee is made up of 9 members. The vote was 5-3 in our favor, but we need a 2/3 majority for the bill to move forward. Only 8 members voted, which leaves the vote "on-call." The 3 members who voted against AB1884 were Acosta (R), Flora (R), and Melendez (R). Multiple environmental organizations showed up to express support.  The Sea Save Foundation posted a campaign urging committee members to support the bill. We will keep you posted with future updates.
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2. Record Numbers of Plastic Fragments Found in Arctic Sea Ice


arctic ice sampling, plastic in Arctic ice“Up to 12,000 pieces of microplastic particles were found per litre of sea ice in core samples taken from five regions on trips to the Arctic Ocean – as many as three times higher than levels in previous studies.”  Researchers “found fragments of packaging, paints, nylon, polyester and cellulose acetate which is commonly used in making cigarette filters.” Previous studies estimated there are 1 trillion plastic pieces frozen in the Arctic Ice, a concentration higher than that of the well-known Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
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3. A Thousand Tropical Islands to Become Uninhabitable by Mid-21st Century


Marshall Islands, Kwajalein Atoll, sea-level rise, climate changeMost tropical island atolls will be uninhabitable by the mid-21st century because of sea-level rise, which would lead to “upending the populations of some island nations and endangering key U.S. military assets.” Sea-level rise will inundate the islands, and the larger waves crashing onto the islands will contaminate their freshwater resources. The study, commissioned by the Pentagon, took place on the Marshall Islands, where the United States has a military base.
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4. Surprisingly, Bottlenose Dolphins Found Off of British Columbia

British Columbia, West Coast Vancouver Island, Bottlenose DolphinsBottlenose dolphins and false killer whales, species normally found in temperate and tropical waters, have been sighted off of the cooler waters of British Columbia's Vancouver Island. The marine ecologist who spotted over 200 dolphins and 70 false killer whales said it was likely they were there due to warming waters caused by climate change. The scientist also documented a loggerhead sea turtle and a swordfish in the cool waters of British Columbia. 
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5. Tropical Fish Swim Down to Cooler Waters Due to Climate Change


deep sea corals, NOAA Ocean Exploration and ResearchAs coral reefs begin to disappear due to coral bleaching and pollution, scientists have found that tropical fishes move down a few feet to cooler waters. This behavior may be important to their survival as it is estimated that up to 90 percent of tropical coral reefs could disappear in the next 30 years. Scientists have named this new zone – from 400 to 1,000 feet below the ocean's surface the "rariphotic zone." “It’s possible that this 'new' zone has actually been around for a long time, providing refuge for surface fish during times of environmental turmoil.”
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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.