Sunday, January 19, 2020

Sea Save Foundation "Ocean Week in Review" January 17, 2020: We Gather News; You Stay Informed

Shark fin now illegal in New Jersey, Pacific Ocean hot water killed one million seabirds, Florida stops Everglades oil drilling with land purchase, 1000 kg of poached marine life seized and more...

1. Possession, sale, trade, and distribution of shark fins now illegal in New Jersey

Governor Phil Murphy signed S2905, which will prohibit the sale, trade, distribution, or offering for sale of shark fins, as well as the possession of any shark fin that is separated from a shark that is caught and released. The law will prevent the highly cruel practice of separating shark fins from sharks and releasing them back into the water. “Shark fins are often obtained in a very inhumane manner that causes much suffering to the animal,” said Governor Murphy. “I am proud to sign this law that will prevent the catch and release of sharks for the purpose of cutting off their fins.” New Jersey also shot down an 18-month effort to pass one of the nation's most stringent sets of regulations to ban retail store bags, foam food containers, some utensils, and plastic straws appeared late Monday to fizzle out at the legislative deadline, with only one house voting on the measure.

Read more from the "Official Site of the State of New Jersey"
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Editorial and disclaimer: One of Sea Save Foundation's core 2019 campaigns was to raise awareness and to encourage New Jersey residents to contact representatives to push this critical bill.  We are pleased to announce this success.

2. Pacific Ocean hot water killed a million seabirds

The common murre is a self-sufficient, resilient bird. Though the seabird must eat about half of its body weight in prey each day, common murres are experts at catching the small “forage fish” they need to survive. Herring, sardines, anchovies and even juvenile salmon are no match for a hungry murre. So when nearly one million common murres died at sea and washed ashore from California to Alaska in 2015 and 2016, it was unprecedented — both for murres and across all bird species worldwide. Scientists from the University of Washington, the U.S. Geological Survey and others blame an unexpected squeeze on the ecosystem’s food supply, brought on by a severe and long-lasting marine heatwave known as “the blob.”

Read more from "University of Washington News"
Read more from "CNN"

3. Florida state purchased land to protect Everglades from oil drilling

A swath of land in the Everglades at the center of a fight between a family determined to drill for oil and a constellation of parties urging them not to might finally have a new future. The state has bought the 20,000-acre tract outright and halts the threat of oil drilling on the protected lands, Governor Ron DeSantis announced Wednesday. The seller, a Miami family who made their fortunes in real estate, won the right to drill for oil on their land last year, despite opposition from the state. This is the largest state land acquisition in a decade.

4. New Zealand: Six commercial boats and 1000 kilos of fish seized

A raid on a group of commercial fishers in Thames has resulted in the seizure of multiple fishing vessels, a large amount of cash and more than 1000 kilograms of fish suspected of being illegally caught. Fisheries officers with the Ministry of Primary Industries alleged the fishers under-reported catches and illegally supplied snapper to an Auckland fish supply business. The government agency has been investigating allegations into the unlawful trade of commercially caught fish from the lower Firth of Thames into Auckland. Last month, 45 fishery officers and the police executed searches at five locations, including three residential properties in Auckland and Waikato. Electronic devices including phones and computers were also seized and are undergoing analysis.

5. New satellites to launch will track will collect data and monitor rising oceans

Two new satellites will provide more detailed information about rising sea levels and other ocean changes on Earth. Launching in November, the Sentinel-6/Jason Continuity of Service mission (Jason-CS) will be the longest-running Earth observation mission dedicated to studying the rising oceans. The spacecraft will provide the most sensitive water level measurements as it reveals details about rising oceans, helping to build nearly 40 years of sea-level records. A joint U.S.-European satellite mission, S6 follows in the footsteps of a trio of missions (TOPEX/Poseidon and Jason-1, Ocean Surface Topography/Jason-2, and Jason-3) that have measured how sea levels have risen over the past 30 years. The preceding spacecraft revealed that Earth's oceans rose by an average of 0.1 inches (3 millimeters) in the 1990s, increasing to 0.13 inches (3.4 mm) today. 


6. Florida wades into the culture war over shark finning

Florida lawmakers are getting support for a pair of bills that would ban the possession, import, export, and sale of separated shark fins in Florida. The legislation, HB 401 and SB 680 are designed to discourage the controversial and inhumane practice known as “shark finning”. The act of finning is illegal in the United States, but fin possession is not.  Since finning is still practiced by other countries these animals can still be imported into the US via Florida ports. It involves pulling a live shark out of the water, cutting off its fin and tail, and tossing the live shark back in the water where it will either suffocate or be eaten alive by other animals.


7. Most comprehensive ocean cleanup legislation in United States history moves forward
On Thursday, the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to pass the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act, legislation introduced by Alaska’s Sen. Dan Sullivan, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., a release from Sullivan’s office states. Sullivan says he’s excited about the vote and that he worked on the bill for a whole year. “This literally is the most comprehensive legislation ever to clean up oceans,” he said. The act builds on the Save Our Seas Act that was introduced by Sullivan and Whitehouse and signed into law by President Trump in October 2018.

8. Ocean temperatures hit record high as rate of heating accelerates

The heat in the world’s oceans reached a new record level in 2019, showing “irrefutable and accelerating” heating of the planet. The world’s oceans are the clearest measure of the climate emergency because they absorb more than 90% of the heat trapped by the greenhouse gases emitted by fossil fuel burning, forest destruction and other human activities. The new analysis shows the past five years are the top five warmest years recorded in the ocean and the past 10 years are also the top 10 years on record. The amount of heat being added to the oceans is equivalent to every person on the planet running 100 microwave ovens all day and all night.

9. Alleged misallocation of climate research funding

The window of opportunity for mitigating climate change is narrow. Limiting global warming to 1.5°C will require rapid and deep alteration of attitudes, norms, incentives, and politics. Some of the key climate change and energy transition puzzles are therefore in the realm of the social sciences. However, these are precisely the fields that receive the least funding for climate-related research. This article analyzes a new dataset of research grants from 333 donors around the world spanning 4.3 million awards with a cumulative value of USD 1.3 trillion from 1950 to 2021. Between 1990 and 2018, the natural and technical sciences received 770% more funding than the social sciences for research on issues related to climate change. Only 0.12% of all research funding was spent on the social science of climate mitigation.

10. Rising sea levels and increased storms pose threat to coastal communities
The rate of coastal erosion around the UK is expected to increase substantially in the future, according to a new study by the University of Plymouth. The report, prepared for the Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP), highlights that 17% of coastlines in the UK and 19.9% in Ireland are being affected by a range of issues including sea-level rises and the increased frequency and intensity of extreme storms. England and Wales are the worst affected UK regions, with 28% of their 3700km of coast experiencing erosion greater than 10 cm per year, while more than three-quarters of Scotland’s coast is unlikely to erode at perceptible rates.


11. U.S. Presidential candidate Bloomberg says he'll cut carbon pollution 50 percent by 2030

Presidential candidate and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is pledging to slash carbon pollution by 50 percent in the U.S. economy by 2030, according to a climate plan unveiled Wednesday.  "Mike will cut carbon pollution economy-wide in the U.S. by 50% by 2030 and put us on the pathway to full decarbonization before mid-century," said a fact sheet outlining the plan.  "This includes immediately prioritizing a push for cleaner buildings in his first term, expanding programs to reduce energy costs for underserved households while simultaneously improving health and safety," it continued. 

Editorial Note:

Read more from "The Hill"

12. Formula 1 announces plan to be carbon neutral by 2030

Formula 1 has launched a plan to become carbon neutral by 2030. The intention is to wipe out the carbon footprint of activity at race tracks, including road and air transport of staff and equipment to the events. F1 says it will "move to ultra-efficient logistics and travel and 100% renewably powered offices, facilities and factories" and offset emissions that cannot be cut. F1 said as a first step it would begin carbon-reduction projects immediately. It added that it will make all events "sustainable" by 2025, including eliminating single-use plastics and ensuring all waste is reused, recycled or composted.


13. How nodules stay on top at the bottom of the sea

Rare metallic elements found in clumps on the deep-ocean floor mysteriously remain uncovered despite the shifting sands and sediment many leagues under the sea. Scientists now think they know why, and it could have important implications for mining these metals while preserving the strange fauna at the bottom of the ocean. The growth of these deep-sea nodules—metallic lumps of manganese, iron, and other metals found in all the major ocean basins—is one of the slowest known geological processes. These ringed concretions, which are potential sources of rare-earth and other critical elements, grow on average just 10 to 20 millimeters every million years. Yet in one of earth science’s most enduring mysteries, they somehow manage to avoid being buried by sediment despite their locations in areas where clay accumulates at least 100 times faster than the nodules grow.


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Sea Save Foundation is committed to raising awareness of marine conservation. The Ocean 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 10, 2020

Sea Save Foundation "Ocean Week in Review" January 10, 2020: We Gather News; You Stay Informed

Do the Australian fires impact the ocean? You bet they do.
Extinct - Chinese Paddlefish once swam alongside dinosaurs, grew up to 23 feet long, now gone. And more...

1. Do the Australian fires impact the ocean? You bet they do.

The enormity of the catastrophic fires currently ravaging Australia is hard to comprehend. Millions of acres of wilderness have succumbed to the flames in an extraordinary combination of factors that include severe weather conditions (drought, winds), human criminal activity (a number of fires have, allegedly, been deliberately set), and the more present than ever specter of climate change aggravating the conditions. Entire towns have been destroyed and millions of people in cities are being exposed to choking and unbreathable air. So far, over 18 million acres of wilderness have been affected by fire, including national parks and other protected areas. The tragic loss of life is unimaginable; already at least 24 people and over one billion mammals, birds, and reptiles have died (according to the January 8th estimate by University of Sydney ecologist Chris Dickman.) It is hard to measure the impact of climate change underwater, in a realm we can’t see.  But on land, where fires rage, we can’t ignore the impact. There is no getting away from the fact that the world is changing around us and will impact everything. But how does this affect oceans? 

Read more from "Save Save Foundation"

2. Chinese paddlefish, freshwater giants up to 23 feet long, declared extinct

Humanity has driven the Chinese paddlefish, one of the world’s largest freshwater species, to extinction, according to a new study. The Chinese paddlefish (Psephurus gladius) lived in the Yangtze River in China and could grow up to 23 feet long. The last known sighting of the species, named for its long, paddle-like snout, was in 2003, Mongabay reports. There is one other living species of paddlefish, native to North America. “Given that the Chinese paddlefish was one of the two extant species of paddlefishes, loss of such unique and charismatic megafauna representative of freshwater ecosystems is a reprehensible and an irreparable loss,” Qiwei Wei, co-author of the study, told Mongabay.

3. Earth posts second-hottest year on record to close out our warmest decade

The planet registered its second-hottest year on record in 2019, capping off a five-year period that ranks as the warmest such span in recorded history. In addition, the 2010s will go down in history as the planet’s hottest decade, according to the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S), a science initiative of the European Union. The service, which monitors global surface temperatures, determined Earth last year was a full degree warmer (0.6 Celsius) than the 1981-2010 average. This data provides the first comprehensive global look at the state of the climate in 2019, with U.S. agencies such as NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expected to announce similar results next week.

4. New study links daily weather patterns to climate change for first time

Scientists have for the first time linked human-induced climate change and global daily weather patterns in a new study. The report, released Thursday in Nature Climate Change, could mark a transformation in long-held beliefs about the separation between daily weather and long-term climate change. The study also suggests that measurements analyzing humankind’s role in producing incidents such as heatwaves and floods could underestimate the contribution people make to such extreme weather events. The study concludes that patterns of global temperature and humidity have human factors and are distinct from natural variability. It also determines that the long-term rise in global average temperature can be predicted with one day’s weather information worldwide.


5. Trump EPA has largest backlog of toxic waste cleanups in 15 years

The Trump administration has the highest number of unfunded construction projects at major hazardous waste sites of the last 15 years, according to data released by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the holidays. The figures released by the agency focus on projects at Superfund sites, highlighting a backlog of work designed to clean up dangerous contamination. In 2019, the EPA did not have funding to begin work on 34 Superfund sites, a number more than 50 percent above the highest figures from the Obama administration.


6. India suffers hottest decade on record

The last decade was India's hottest on record with the national weather office calling the impact of global warming "unmistakable" and extreme weather killing more than 1,500 people last year. India, home to 1.3 billion people, is at the forefront of climate change suffering devastating floods, dire water shortages, and baking temperatures. The southern city of Chennai last year declared "day zero" as taps ran dry. Temperatures between 2010 and 2019 were 0.36 degrees Celsius (0.65 degrees Fahrenheit) above the long-term average, the hottest decade since records began in 1901, the Indian Meteorological Department said on Monday.

7. Formation of a huge underwater volcano offshore the Comoros

A new submarine volcano was formed off the island of Mayotte in the Indian Ocean in 2018. This was shown by an oceanographic campaign in May 2019. Now, an international team led by the scientist Simone Cesca from the German GeoForschungsZentrum GFZ is illuminating the processes deep inside the Earth before and during the formation of the new volcano. It is akin to detecting a new type of signal from the Earth's interior that indicates a dramatic movement of molten rocks before the eruption. With their specially developed seismological methods, the researchers are reconstructing the partial emptying of one of the deepest and largest active magma reservoirs ever discovered in the upper mantle. The study is published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

8. Impulsive pile driving noise elicits alarm responses in squid

Exposure to underwater pile driving noise, which can be associated with the construction of docks, piers, and offshore wind farms, causes squid to exhibit strong alarm behaviors, according to a study by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) researchers published Dec. 19, 2019, in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin. “This study is the first to report behavioral effects of pile driving noise on any cephalopod, a group including squid, cuttlefish, and octopuses,” says lead author Ian Jones, a student in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology-Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Joint Program in Oceanography. 

9. Palau readies for marine sanctuary in 2020
Legislation for the sanctuary was passed four years ago to come into effect in 2020. The Palau National Marine Sanctuary will cover an area of about 500,000 square kilometers - the nation's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The sanctuary places a ban on any extractive activities, including fishing, mining, trans-shipment and shark finning, among others. President Tommy Remengesau said he was happy that the pioneering initiative would finally "come into fruition". "It is a very ambitious and worthy goal for Palau's future. "Hopefully the marine sanctuary will always stand as a reminder [that] we have to live and respect the environment because the environment is the nest of life, and without the next nobody in Palau can survive," Mr Remengesau said. Eighty percent of the designated zone will be a no-take marine protected area, but fishing will be allowed, under strict conditions in the remaining 20 percent.

10. Climate change: Arctic ice melt makes permafrost vulnerable

The absence of sea ice in the Arctic is closely connected to the melting of permafrost, according to a new study. Permafrost contains massive amounts of carbon which are likely to be released as climate change heats up the world. When this carbon enters the atmosphere as CO2 and methane gas, it will itself contribute to warming the globe. But scientists have now found a historical link between sea ice in the Arctic and the presence or absence of permafrost.


11. Trump administration sued for failing to protect green sea turtles from climate change

Several environmental groups filed a lawsuit Wednesday claiming several agencies in the Trump administration have failed to protect green sea turtle habitat as required by the Endangered Species Act. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, says the turtles' nesting beaches in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, as well as their ocean habitat, face threats from sea-level rise brought on by climate change and plastic pollution, according to a news release from the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the plaintiffs.


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Sea Save Foundation is committed to raising awareness of marine conservation. The Ocean 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