Friday, August 17, 2018

Sea Save Week in Review: We Gather News; You Stay Informed

1. Whale Hunt in Faroe Islands Turns Sea Red With Blood



The Faroe Islands are located in the North Atlantic between Norway and Iceland and are made up of 18 tiny islands. Pilot whale meat and blubber are a food source that will help feed the 50,000 Faroese through winter. Locals have been carrying out the annual hunts for centuries, but the gruesome images will likely shock many outsiders. Mr. Ward said he had been stunned by the sheer number of whales in the bay.

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2. War on Sharks: How Rogue Fishing Fleets Plunder the Ocean’s Top Predator

MANTA, ECUADOR — It was billed as the biggest poaching bust in history, a monumental win for conservationists. An Ecuadorian Navy patrol vessel, guided by advanced radar and a small plane, bore down on a ship the length of a football field making a beeline across the Galápagos Marine Reserve — probably the most fiercely protected waters in the world. Filling the freighter’s freezers: 150 tons of dead sharks, most of them endangered and illegal to sell. Only small pieces of those 6,000 carcasses were actually of much value. The fins.

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3. State Effort to Put a Stop to Offshore Oil Threats

So some in Sacramento now are trying to lock those pledges into law — safeguarding the coast from offshore drilling no matter the whims of future administrations. Despite decades of lawsuits and regulations, the state’s ability to block offshore drilling hinges largely on who’s in power in the state Capitol. Even with staunch opposition by Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown and pledges from both candidates vying to be the next governor, future leaders could still allow new drilling if they choose.

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4. New Ploy to Undermine Species Act

Just two days after President Trump issued an utterly uninformed tweet about the causes of the California wildfires, his ulterior motives began to come into focus. That happened through an order issued Wednesday by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to the National Marine Fisheries Service and its parent agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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5. Sharks Have A New Enemy: Magnets

Forget the old "shooting the scuba tank" trick. The next time you need to ward off a shark, try wearing a giant magnet. Researchers at Australia's University of Newcastle have found that attaching magnets to commercial fish traps can successfully ward off sharks and rays, meaning fewer sharks are caught as bycatch. The study, published in Fisheries Research, found that run-of-the-mill magnets could reduce bycatch rates by 30 percent, and lead to a corresponding increase in fish being caught by commercial fish traps.

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6. Florida Declares a State of Emergency as Red Tide Kills Animals and Disrupts Tourism


Florida’s governor this week made official what residents of southwest Florida already knew: The bloom of toxic algae that has darkened gulf waters is an emergency. The red tide has made breathing difficult for locals, scared away tourists, and strewn popular beaches with the stinking carcasses of fish, eels, porpoises, turtles, manatees and one 26-foot whale shark. Gov. Rick Scott (R) late Monday declared a state of emergency in seven counties stretching from Tampa Bay south to the fringe of the Everglades. Scott promised $1.5 million in emergency funding.

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7. Tubbataha: Reefs for Keeps in Palawan

Back in 1981 when diver Angelique Songco first went to the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (TRNP), she was mesmerized by its beauty but was also worried by the rampant use of illegal fishing methods that were destroying its marine environment. In an interview with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Global in 2015, Songco said in the years she was going back and forth to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, she had observed fishermen using dynamite and cyanide, and poaching turtles and birds and their eggs. Some of the fishermen came from as far as Quezon province, which is 600 km. away from Palawan.
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8. New Caledonia Restricts Tourism and Bans Fishing to Protect Huge Swathe of Coral Reefs in Major Breakthrough

New Caledonia agreed Tuesday to tougher protections around a huge swathe of some of the world's last near-pristine coral reefs, in a move conservationists hailed as a major breakthrough. The Pacific nation, a French overseas territory, is home to a rich array of wildlife including 2.5 million seabirds and over 9,300 marine species, such as dugongs - marine mammals related to manatees - and nesting green sea turtles, many of which thrive in and around remote zones off the island nation's coast.

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9. Poachers in Marine Protected Areas go Unchallenged by Their Peers

In a new survey of fishers conducted by researchers at James Cook University, nearly half of all respondents admitted to having witnessed poaching inside marine protected areas. Of those who witnessed their peers poaching, the majority ignored the illegal act. "Enforcement capacities are often limited, so managers are trying to encourage fishers to help out when they see someone breaking the law," Brock Bergseth, researcher at James Cook's ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, said in a news release. "But until now, we were uncertain about how fishers respond when they witness poaching."

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10. 'Most Brazen': Last-ditch Bid to Halt Roll-Back of Marine Protection

Labor and the Greens are hoping last-minute pitches by billionaire Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest will prompt crossbench senators to join them in blocking a reduction of protection in Australia's marine parks. Five disallowance motions will go to a vote in the Senate on Thursday on the Turnbull government's plan to retain 3.3 million square kilometers of Australia's protected offshore regions but allow commercial fishing and other activities in new areas.

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11. Apathy Towards Poachers Widespread in World's Marine Protected Areas


A new study has found that nearly half of fishers from seven countries had witnessed someone poaching in marine protected areas in the past year and most of them did nothing about it. Dr. Brock Bergseth from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University led the study. He said poaching is widespread in the world's marine protected areas, and that fishers have the potential to make or break a marine protected area.
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12. US Senators Learn How Sharks Might Help Cure Cancer


Genetic analysis of 9,200 shark fin by-products in Hong Kong reveals that several threatened shark species are still common in the fin trade after being listed on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Hong Kong is one of the world's largest importers of shark fins, which are used to make the delicacy shark fin soup. 
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13. We Know West Antarctica is Melting. Is the East in Danger, Too?


Along the coast of West Antarctica, glaciers are retreating at alarming rates, crumbling as warm waters chew at their fragile edges.
But for years, scientists thought that the glaciers of East Antarctica—the hulking ice sheet on the other half of the continent, nearly three miles thick in some parts—were stable. Recently, though, evidence has emerged that shows that some of the East Antarctic glaciers have also started on a slow, inexorable backward march that could eventually lead to the loss of even more ice than exists in all of West Antarctica.

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14. From Starbucks to McDonald's, These Huge Businesses are Taking Action on Plastic Pollution

From rivers to oceans and forests to city streets, the issue of plastic waste is a serious one. Europeans, for example, produce 25 million tons of plastic waste per year, according to the European Commission. Less than 30 percent of this is collected for recycling. 2018 has seen a raft of big companies make pledges on their use of plastic. Here, CNBC's "Sustainable Energy" takes a look at some of the most high-profile.
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15. Extreme Temperatures 'Especially Likely for Next Four Years'


The world is likely to see more extreme temperatures in the coming four years as natural warming reinforces manmade climate change, according to a new global forecasting system. Following a summer of heatwaves and forest fires in the northern hemisphere, the study in the journal Nature Communications suggests there will be little respite for the planet until at least 2022, and possibly not even then.

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16. Colorful New Seahorse is the Size of a Grain of Rice


Meet the Japan pig, a newfound species of pygmy seahorse discovered in Japan. Only the size of a grain of rice, these colorful creatures inhabit shallow waters and blend in well with the algae-covered rocks where they live. They’re easy to overlook, as their color makes them look like little bits of floating seaweed. Their coloration is “very special,” says Kevin Conway, associate professor and curator of fishes at Texas A&M University. “It's like a seahorse wearing a paisley pattern.”

Read more... 
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17. New Zealand Becomes the Latest Country to Ban Plastic Bags


New Zealand will ban single-use plastic shopping bags next year, the government announced today. Retailers will be given six months to phase out the bags or face fines of up to NZ$100,000 (£52,000). In a press conference, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that plastic was the single biggest subject school children wrote to her about. “We’re taking meaningful steps to reduce plastics pollution so we don’t pass this problem to future generations,” she said.

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18. A High Seas Treaty to Protect Marine Biodiversity Could Benefit Fisheries

A biennial report released by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in July has stark implications for the world’s ocean: Ninety-three percent of fish stocks are fully fished or overfished, with more than a third of stocks taken at unsustainable levels. The news wasn’t necessarily a surprise. Global stocks have been continuously overfished since the mid-1970s. And as more people rely on fisheries for their food and livelihoods, stocks are expected to continue to decline, a trend that will be exacerbated by ocean acidification and other impacts of climate change.

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19. Ocean Temperature Off San Diego Coast is Warmest in 102 Years of Measurements


Last week, the water off the San Diego coast was the warmest it has been since measurements began. On Thursday, the temperature of the Pacific Ocean at Scripps Pier was 78.6 degrees. That, in itself, was a record. Then it broke the record again Friday when it climbed to 78.8 degrees. Scripps scientists maintain sea-surface temperature records back to August 1916. Before last week, the warmest temperature on record was 78.4 degrees in July 1931. A blog post on the Scripps website describes that period as being “unusually warm.”

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20. Scientists Trace Atmospheric Rise in CO2 During Deglaciation to Deep Pacific Ocean

Long before humans started injecting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels like oil, gas, and coal, the level of atmospheric CO2 rose significantly as the Earth came out of its last ice age. Many scientists have long suspected that the source of that carbon was from the deep sea.
But researchers haven't been able to document just how the carbon made it out of the ocean and into the atmosphere. It has remained one of the most important mysteries of science.

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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.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Ocean Week in Review: Loophole Could Halt Offshore Drilling, H.R. 200 Update, Commonwealth Unites to Fight Plastics and more

1. InnovativLoophole - Could Block Future Offshore Oil Exploration and Drilling



House lawmakers in both parties are hoping to use a spending bill to block offshore oil and natural gas drilling in the waterways off their states’ coasts. A handful of lawmakers, mainly from coastal states, are sponsoring proposed amendments to the annual appropriations bill for the Interior Department and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that would block Interior funding to allow drilling in particular areas. The full House is set to vote on the funding measure this week.

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2. Glaciers are Melting and Temperatures Rising: Faster than Expected

Glaciers in Canada are melting more rapidly in a shorter period of time, and researchers warned it’s evidence of accelerated global warming. In a study of nearly 1,800 glaciers along Ellesmere Island in Canada’s High Arctic, more than 1,350 glaciers shrank as average temperatures in the area rose more than 3 degrees, according to a study published in the Journal of Glaciology. Six percent of all glaciers were lost between 1999 and 2015. Most of them won’t re-accumulate lost ice as global temperatures increase more rapidly now than they have in the last several decades.

Read more: Journal of Glaciology...

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Read more: Newsweek...              
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3. Sea Levels Must Rise to the Top of the Agenda in Washington

In the past year, there has been about $300 billion in damages due to environmental and climate disasters, strongly fueled by the series of hurricanes that struck the east coast of the United States. And this is just the beginning. When climate change and its consequences were first extensively discussed in the 1990s, sea level rise was presented as a potentially devastating outcome. But early reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change downplayed the magnitude of likely sea level rise, allaying public concerns and giving rise to climate change deniers.

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4. In the Ocean's Twilight Zone, Tiny Organisms may have Giant Effect on Earth's Carbon Cycle

Deep in the ocean's twilight zone, swarms of ravenous single-celled organisms may be altering Earth's carbon cycle in ways scientists never expected, according to a new study from Florida State University researchers. In the area of 100 to 1,000 meters below the ocean's surface -- dubbed the twilight zone because of its largely impenetrable darkness -- scientists found that tiny organisms called phaeodarians are consuming sinking, carbon-rich particles before they settle on the seabed, where they would otherwise be stored and sequestered from the atmosphere for millennia.
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5. Atlantic Ocean Circulation is Not Collapsing – But as it Shifts Gears, Global Warming Will Reaccelerate

A huge circulation pattern in the Atlantic Ocean took a starring role in the 2004 movie “The Day After Tomorrow.” In that fictional tale, the global oceanic current suddenly stops and New York City freezes over. While many aspects of the movie are unrealistic, oceanographers are concerned about the long-term stability of the Atlantic Ocean circulation, and previous studies show that it has slowed dramatically in the past decade

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6.  Conservation Loss: Final House Vote Tally for H.R. 200


Final Roll Call for Vote to Overhaul United States Fisheries Laws in House of Representatives - H.R. 200
This bill, if passed, will "sink" many ocean conservation regulations.


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7. Florida to Restrict Shore-Based Shark Fishing
The controversial fishing practice of catching large sharks from shore could be banned from many of Florida’s public beaches, restricted to nighttime hours or subjected to other limits, under options being considered to protect both swimmers and the sharks. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission voted last April to impose limits on shore-based shark fishing, an activity that produces dramatic Instagram photos and YouTube videos of anglers reeling in 12-foot hammerheads and tiger sharks. Nine workshops have been scheduled around the state, with specific proposals tentatively scheduled to go to the commission in December.

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8. Commonwealth Countries Join Forces To Fight Ocean Plastic Pollution

Four more countries have signed up to a Commonwealth effort to tackle ocean plastic, Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey has announced. The UK and Vanuatu-led Commonwealth Clean Oceans Alliance [CCOA] aims to 'unite countries around the Commonwealth so they can work together to turn the tide on plastic entering the marine environment'. Under terms of the Alliance, each country will pledge to take action to eliminate avoidable plastic waste – be this by a ban on microbeads, a commitment to cutting down on single-use plastic bags, or other steps.

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9. Tun Mustapha: Malaysia’s Conservation Experiment


It’s a dark night, the moon providing little illumination on the unusual procession making its way along a pristine beach on a remote island in Malaysian Borneo. Our guide and local wildlife warden, Absan Saman, pauses occasionally, searching for clues in minor indentations in the sand or behind the crowded treeline.
Tailing behind, trudging in pairs with M16s firmly gripped in their hands, a police escort follows on what seems a tame mission. Their presence is a necessity in the piracy-stricken region. Joining tonight and taking up the rear are Saman’s mentors from the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
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10. US Senators Learn How Sharks Might Help Cure Cancer


It might seem odd that U.S. senators just held a hearing about "innovations in shark research and technology." But when it comes to public health, sharks might have a lot to offer us, humans. Experts told the Senate commerce committee sharks are an important lab animal, even if they are a little unorthodox. They say sharks' biology could teach us things we can't learn from lab monkeys or mice. Sharks are one of the only animals with immune systems that can fight cancer with few or no side effects. Researchers say shark cells could help us understand cancer responses in humans — or someday even fight human cancer in clinical trials. 
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11. Ditching Plastic Straws is a Good Start, But Much Work Remains to be Done



Many Environmentalists praised Starbucks’ announcement this week that it will stop using plastic straws within two years, and it’s indeed a laudable move. It also barely makes a dent in the global trash crisis. This is the part of our gotta-have-it consumer culture that people would rather not think about — what to do with the mountains of waste generated by our need to possess the best, the latest, the most buzzed-about products. Simply put, we’re running out of places to safely throw stuff away, and we’ve turned our oceans and waterways into sludge buckets for some of the most toxic materials imaginable.
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12. Newly Discovered Shark Species Honors Eugenie Clark


Eugenie Clark was a pioneer in shark biology, known around the world for her illuminating research on shark behavior. But she was a pioneer in another critical way, as one of the first women of prominence in the male-dominated field of marine biology. Fondly labeled the "Shark Lady," Clark, who founded Mote Marine Laboratory and continued studying fishes until she passed away in 2015 at age 92, will now be recognized with another distinction: namesake of a newly discovered species of dogfish shark.
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13. Everything You Need To Know About All The Upcoming Plastic Straw Bans


Plastic straws have been a big topic of discussion as of late. It's no surprise that they're not great for the environment, but if a switch to plastic lids (à la Starbucks) is making you scratch your head, here's what you need to know. Because of their size, plastic straws can literally slip through the cracks when going through the recycling process. They often end up in the ocean, where they can do damage to sea creatures who mistake them for food. And when they're not recycled, they wind up in landfills. Plastic lids, while not ideal, are much easier to recycle.
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14. Polar Oceans are Hot Spots for New Fish Species

The fastest rates of species formation have occurred at the highest latitudes and in the coldest ocean waters, according to a new analysis of the evolutionary relationships between more than 30,000 fish species. Tropical oceans teem with the dazzle and flash of colorful reef fishes and contain far more species than the cold ocean waters found at high latitudes. This well-known “latitudinal diversity gradient” is one of the most famous patterns in biology, and scientists have puzzled over its causes for more than 200 years.

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15. Nature-Rich ‘Wonderlands’ in Antarctic Waters Given Protection


Wildlife-rich areas of the seas around Antarctica which were identified in recent submarine dives have been approved for special local protection. Research in the waters of the Gerlache Straight along the Antarctic Peninsula and in the Antarctic Sound, carried out during an expedition by Greenpeace to the region in January, identified four “vulnerable marine ecosystems”. Video evidence of the seafloor, collected by Dr. Susanne Lockhart, of the California Academy of Sciences, during trips in a submersible, reveals an underwater world rich in corals, sponges, ice fish, starfish and sea squirts.

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16. Leading the UAE Challenge to Beat Plastic Pollution


Plastic waste is leaking into the environment at an alarming rate. In a 2018 report published by the United Nations, “Single Use-Plastics — A Roadmap for Sustainability”, it states that 400 million tons of plastics are produced every year, 36 percent of which is plastic packaging intended for a single use, with an estimated eight million tonnes entering the world’s oceans. The explosion, since the 1950s, of disposable plastic packaging designed for a single use is driving the growing volumes of plastics entering our environment in an uncontrolled way.

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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.