Saturday, April 21, 2018

Week in Review April 20, 2018: Elegy for the Great Barrier Reef?, Dangers of Deep Sea Mining, and More

1. Elegy for the Great Barrier Reef?


coral reef bleaching, coral bleaching, Great Barrier Reef coral bleachingThere’s no denying it: “Global warming has already radically — and possibly permanently” — transformed the Great Barrier Reef, according to a new study in the journal Nature. “Rising temperatures in 2016 ‘cooked’ swathes of corals, the scientists found, causing the catastrophic die-off of almost 30 percent of the world’s largest coral reef system.” In some of the worst-affected areas, 90 percent of corals died. “It’s catastrophic,” Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick, a New South Wales-based climate researcher who was not involved in the new study, told Australia’s ABC News after reviewing the research. “There might have been a glimmer of hope that it wasn’t as bad or might recover faster than we thought. But this paper made the reality very present. The bleaching will forever change the Barrier Reef.”
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2. Dangers of Deep Sea Mining


deep-sea mining, Papua New GuineaThe latest gold rush — in the deep sea — is proceeding just as carelessly as mining on land, according to a recent article in Harvard Environmental Law Review. “Proponents argue deep-sea mining could yield far superior ore to land mining —  in silver, gold, copper, manganese, cobalt and zinc — with little, if any, waste product.” Not so fast, say the authors. Deep-sea mining could have devastating effects on oceans and indigenous people. It creates large sediment plumes, discharges waste and tailings, and destroys hydrothermal vents, which are key carbon sinks. The authors argue that governments should reform international seabed rules “to reflect modern developments in law and science, and to protect potentially vulnerable communities. They should recognise the risks of operating in an unknown environment, fully embrace the precautionary approach, and protect and conserve the ocean for the benefit of current and future generations.”
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3. New Zealand Bans New Offshore Oil Exploration


offshore oil exploration ban, New Zealand, Jacinda ArdernNew Zealand has halted issuing new permits for oil exploration off its coast. “Prime minister Jacinda Ardern announced the move as part of the nation’s plan to transition towards a carbon-neutral future.” Greenpeace New Zealand called the announcement a “historic moment” for the country and “a huge win for our climate and people power.” Kevin Hague of the conservation group Forest & Bird adds, “Half the world’s whale and dolphin species visit or live in New Zealand waters, from the critically endangered Maui’s dolphin to giant blue whales. Today, these sensitive creatures are made safer from the threat of oil spills and the sonic barrage of seismic testing. Keeping New Zealand’s oil and gas in the ground reduces everyone’s risk, and tells the world we’re serious about reducing our contribution to climate change.”
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4. Deep-Sea Trawling: All Pain, No Gain


orange roughy, deep-sea trawl, New Zealand, destructive fishingA new study of 65 years of deep-sea trawling fishing found that the practice “can be extremely destructive for fish populations, while providing minimal economic benefits.” The new study, published in Frontiers in Marine Science, reports that “many of these fisheries followed a 'boom and bust' pattern, with fish harvests first thriving, then quickly crashing.” “Certain deep-sea fisheries, such as the orange roughy in New Zealand, are highly valuable for a very small number of companies, in this case maybe two or three,” said co-author Les Watling, professor of biology at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. “But the environmental damage is extensive so we have to wonder whether those few companies should be allowed to benefit when the damage is so severe.”
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5. Historic Tapan Zee Bridge Yields Six New Artificial Reefs for Long Island


Tappen Zee Bridge, Long Island, Artificial ReefWhat do sunken ships, subway cars, and abandoned oil rigs have in common? They are teeming with fish in their new lives as artificial reefs. In the latest version of reef madness, New York will build six new artificial reefs off the North Shore of Long Island out of sections of the demolished Tappan Zee Bridge. Governor Andrew Cuomo calls the project New York’s largest ever expansion of artificial reefs. The reefs will provide habitat for fish and lobsters, a boon for Long Island’s recreational and sport fishing industries.
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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, April 13, 2018

Week in Review April 13, 2018: 10-year-old Spearheads Successful Straw Ban, Gulf Stream Current Weakest in 1600 Years and More

1. 10-year-old, Spearheads Straw, and Single Use Plastic Phase-out


plastic straw ban, plastic straws, Australia, Queensland, CairnsA ten-year-old Australian girl has convinced the Cairns Regional Council (in Queensland) to phase-out straws and single-use plastics. Cairns girl Molly Steer has been running her "Straw No More" campaign for about a year and has already convinced more than 90 schools in Australia and overseas to do away with drinking straws.”  Americans use 500 million plastic straws a day and they cannot be recycled. Many end up in the ocean and harm wildlife there.

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2. Gulf Stream Current Weakest in 1600 Years

Amoc, ocean currentThe Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (Amoc) current is being affected by climate change.  Its usual circulation is to bring warm water north to the Arctic, and there the water cools and sinks.  But with the influx of freshwater from melting ice caps, and the warmer seawater due to climate change, the Amoc current is weakened.  This could bring extreme winters to Western Europe and sea levels would rise fast on the East Coast of the United States and “disrupt vital tropical rains.”
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3. NOAA & EPA Budgets Protected by Congress


Capitol Building, CongressNOAA and EPA program budgets have been saved by Congress. "NOAA would receive $5.9 billion under the legislation, and includes $1 billion for the National Weather Service and $883 million for NOAA Fisheries operations, research and facilities.  U.S. EPA is funded at $8.1 billion in the bill, which is equal to current funding levels, despite White House calls to slash it by nearly one-third. That amount includes $2.9 billion for the Clean Water and Drinking Water state revolving funds, as well as $1.15 billion for the Superfund program."
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4. The Tide is Turning for San Francisco Bay



San Francisco Bay, Cargill Salt PondsIn June of 2016, San Francisco Bay Area voters approved Measure AA which would raise $500 million for “wetlands restoration, flood control and wildlife projects."  $18 million is now being voted on for projects in 6 counties. “The projects range from $7.4 million to restore former Cargill industrial salt evaporation ponds in Mountain View, Alviso and Hayward, to $450,000 to restore sand dunes, build a trail and clean up debris along Alameda’s shoreline.”
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5. Moby Dick, Killed By Plastics


A recent necropsy of a young sperm whale that washed ashore in southern Spain has found 65 pounds of plastic trash inside the whale’s stomach and intestines.  Debris included “dozens of plastic bags, chunks of mangled rope and glass, a large water container and several "sacks of raffia (a fiber derived from palm trees).”  The whale died from peritonitis, an abdominal infection. The whale could not excrete all the plastic it had accumulated. Plastics in the ocean is a huge issue, and it is estimated that there are 5 trillion pieces of plastic in the oceans now.
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6. Longer and More Frequent Marine Heatwaves Over the Past Century


coral bleaching, marine heatwaves
Climate change not only affects air temperatures, but it affects the ocean too.  Marine heatwaves are happening more frequently and are lasting longer. “A study published yesterday in Nature Communications suggests that there’s been a 54 percent increase in the number of annual ‘marine heatwave days’ since the 1920s.  Overall, heat waves are lasting about 17 percent longer than before, and their frequency has increased by about a third.”
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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, April 6, 2018

Week In Review April 6, 2018: Indonesia Oil Spill Spreads "State of Emergency" Declared, Four New Marine Protected Areas in Brazil, and More

1. Indonesia Has Declared a State of Emergency as Borneo Oil Spill Spreads

Borneo, Oil Spill, Indonesia“Indonesia declared a state of emergency Tuesday April 3 after a deadly oil spill off the coast of the island of Borneo continued to spread, the BBC reports.”  Four fishermen were killed when the oil erupted in flames. there is an “overpowering stench” over the city of Balikpapan, a city of over 700,000 people. Indonesia's state-owned oil company Pertamina has finally admitted it is responsible for the major oil spill.  “The slick, which now covers an area of seven sq. mi., also threatens fishing waters off the tropical island.”
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2. Brazil Creates Four Marine Protected Areas

Trindade, Martin Vaz, archipelagos, Brazil“Brazil will soon have four vast marine protected areas (MPAs) in the Atlantic Ocean, covering an area of more than 920,000 square kilometers (355,200 square miles). The new designation will increase the coverage of Brazilian MPAs from 1.5 percent to about 24.5 percent of the country’s waters, exceeding the international target of protecting at least 10 percent of marine areas by 2020.”  Two of the four will be off limits to human activity and include one MPA in the vicinity of the archipelago of Trindade, Martin Vaz and Mount Columbia and the other MPA in the São Paulo archipelago. 
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3. Warm Seawater Melting Antarctica Ice From Below

Antarctica ice sheet, Antarctica, ice sheet, melting, sea level riseA new study used satellite information and found that the warming seawater due to climate change is melting Antarctic ice from below.  “The scientists found an area of underwater ice the size of Greater London had melted within the space of five years. The most alarming change was seen in West Antarctica, where over a fifth of the entire ice sheet had retreated rapidly across the sea floor – outpacing the rate of overall melting.”
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4. Success! Mumbai Beach Goes From Dump to Sea Turtle Hatchery in Two Years

Mumbai beach, olive ridley sea turtles, sea turtles, beach clean-upA beach in Mumbai, which 2 years ago was shin-deep in trash, has undergone what the UN calls the “world’s largest beach clean-up.”  Now 80 Olive Ridley sea turtles have made their way to the Arabian sea from a nest guarded by volunteers. A lawyer, Afroz Shah has led the clean-up efforts and worked with the local communities to reduce waste upstream.
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5. Oil Discovery - New Rules Endanger Whales and Dolphins

dolphins, dolphin pod“The push to overhaul seismic survey rules has not attracted the same public attention as the Trump administration's interest in opening coastal waters to dozens of new drilling leases or downsizing protected marine areas. But it too could have wide implications beyond enabling new oil operations.”  Environmentalists warn that the Congressional bills are “thinly veiled oil industry wish list that would upend established protections and fast-track the permitting process for oil exploration off the Atlantic, much of Alaska and even California.”
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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, March 30, 2018

Week in Review March 30, 2018: UK - Deposit on All Single Use Drink Containers, Sustainable Shark Trade Bill and More

1. UK Plans Plastic Bottle Charge to Tackle Pollution


plastic bottles, deposit plastic bottles, charge plastic bottlesThe British government has announced plans to put a “charge on plastic, glass and metal single use drinks containers sold in England.”  Britain uses 13 billion plastic containers a year, many of which end up in the oceans. "It is absolutely vital we act now to tackle this threat and curb the millions of plastic bottles a day that go unrecycled," said environment minister Michael Gove. The actual deposit scheme may resemble those already in place in Denmark, Sweden and Germany.
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2. Sustainable Shark Trade Bill Offers Science-Based Solutions for Overfishing and Finning

shark fin, shark trade bill“A new bipartisan bill,  Sustainable Shark Fisheries and Trade Act of 2018, introduced in U.S. Congress this month encourages a science-based approach to significantly reduce the overfishing and unsustainable trade of sharks, rays and skates around the world and prevent shark finning.  The Act would require that shark, ray and skate parts and products imported into the U.S. be permitted only from countries certified by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as having in place and enforcing management and conservation policies for these species comparable to the U.S.  A comparable prohibition on shark finning — the wasteful and inhumane practice of cutting off a shark’s fins and discarding the carcass at sea — would also be required.”
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3. Washington State Bans Atlantic Salmon Farms


atlantic salmon farming, atlantic salmon farm penAfter three decades of Atlantic salmon farming, Washington state signed into law “restrictions on non-native fish farms.”  This is in response to the accidental release of 250,000 Atlantic salmon into Puget Sound eight months ago. “The state's remaining Atlantic salmon farms, all owned by Cooke Aquaculture, could be gone by 2022, once their existing leases with the Washington Department of Natural Resources expire.”
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4. Great Pacific Garbage Patch Plastic Pollution is Larger Than Thought and ‘Growing Exponentially'


Great Pacific Garbage Patch, abandoned fishing gear, marine plastic pollutionA new study shows that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch has 16 times more trash than previously surveyed.  There is 78,000 tons of trash spread over an area of 1.6 million square kilometers. “Most of the mass was made up of pieces larger than 5 centimetres. While microplastics, which account for about 8 percent of the mass, made up a bulk of the estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic floating in the patch.”  Previous sampling estimated the patch at 4,800 tons of trash. Half of the larger debris was made up of fishing gear.
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5. Prince Albert II of Monaco Visits Malpelo Island

Malpelo Island, Prince Albert II of MonacoThanks to Sea Save’s strategic partner, Columbia Dive Adventures, Prince Albert II of Monaco visited Malpelo Island, Colombia aboard the Ferox.  Research topics discussed with the Colombian Navy included oceanography, biology and the marine sciences. Malpelo Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  There are many species of shark present, including schools of hammerhead and silky sharks.
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6. Fisherman Lawsuit Against Atlantic Marine Monument Moves Ahead


Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National MonumentFishermen groups are suing to “challenge the creation of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument created by President Barack Obama in 2016. It’s a 5,000-square-mile area off of New England that contains fragile deep sea corals and vulnerable species of marine life such as right whales.”  If won, the suit would open the marine monument to commercial fishing. Environmental organizations are concerned the fishing would interfere with “preservation efforts.”
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7. In Court, Big Oil Rejects Climate Denial


big 5 oil companiesThe cities of San Francisco and Oakland have sued the big 5 oil companies.  During the case, Chevron’s lawyer stated, “From Chevron’s perspective, there is no debate about the science of climate change.”  Chevron accepts the 97% expert consensus that climate change exists due to human influences. “If even Big Oil (with 40 years of research) accepts the reality of human-caused climate change when pressed in court, it’s difficult for anyone else to deny it from here forward.”
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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.