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. 
Read more...  
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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.
Read more...  



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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.

Read more... 
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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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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, July 13, 2018

U.S. House Sinks Critical Ocean Protection Act, Critical Shark Fin Seizure, Blue Whale Harpooned and More.

1. House Passes Bill Unravels Standing Ocean Protection Act



On July 11, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill, on a close vote of 222-193, that jeopardizes significant gains made in U.S. fishery management in recent decades. If signed into law, H.R. 200 will increase the risk of overfishing in ocean waters, delay the rebuilding of depleted fish populations, and undercut the important role science plays in management decisions. Representatives added several amendments while debating the bill, but none fixed H.R. 200’s weakening of core fish conservation requirements.
and 
Read more from Huffington Post...                         
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2. Whalers are Accused of Killing Rare Blue Whale - First of its Kind to be Harpooned in more than 50 Years

Icelandic whalers appear to have killed an endangered blue whale before marketing it to be eaten as a delicacy in Japan. Photos of the massive mammal, which can grow to 33 meters long, were posted online by conservation groups claiming it was slain by Kristján Loftsson's whaling company. The huge carcass was seen being hauled into port by the Hvalur 8 ship while tied to the side of the vessel before being dragged on to the dock on Saturday evening. Blue whales were almost hunted to extinction last century and there are only 10,000 to 25,000 left alive. One has not been slaughtered for more than 50 years. 

Read more...              
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3. Shark Fin Seizures Soar in Hong Kong

Hong Kong, the global illegal shark fin trading hub, seized more than 1,263 kilograms of Oceanic whitetip shark fin in 2017 and 1,382.7 kg of Hammerhead shark fin, lawmakers were told today. The seizures by Hong Kong Customs exceeded that of 2016. The shipments seized in 2017, came from India, Egypt, Peru, Kenya, Senegal, Guatemala, Indonesia, Somalia, and the United Arab Emirates. Lawmaker Martin Liao notes in a question to the Environmental Secretary, Wong Kam-Sing that Hong Kong is the world’s largest trading center for shark fins. Food products made from of as many as 76 shark species are on sale in the local market, with nearly one-third of them belonging to endangered or vulnerable shark species. 

 Read more...
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4. Great Salmon Escape Threatens to Taint Chile's Fish Farms


A massive salmon “spill” at a fish farm in southern Chile last week is once again tainting an industry that earned the country more than $4 billion last year. About 900,000 salmon escaped from a Marine Harvest ASA farm during a storm on July 5, according to the Bergen, Norway-based company. The fish are not fit for consumption, Marine Harvest said in a press release. The company has recovered about 250,000 salmon and taken them to a nearby site, it said in a separate statement on July 9. About 680,000 fish are still missing and it is collaborating with the local Fisherman’s Federation to recover the remainder, Marine Harvest said.

Read more...

Ediotorial Note: A similar farmed salmon breach happened last year in Canada: Read more here...

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5. 35 Percent of Fish Caught for Food Never Eaten

As more countries depend on fish to feed their growing populations, waste from fishing operations is soaring, raising concerns over the sustainability of current fishing operations around the world. A third of the world’s fish stocks are overfished and about 35 percent of fish caught for food are never eaten. It's predicted that hotter temperatures around the world will also drive fish away from warm tropical waters, where nations rely on seafood, according to a report released Monday by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FA0) of the United Nations.

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6. Starbucks Will Stop Using Plastic Straws By 2020

Starbucks, which doles out more than 1 billion straws a year, says it will phase out single-use plastic straws from its stores by 2020. The coffee giant – the largest retailer to commit to eliminating single-use plastic straws – said Monday that it will replace the ubiquitous plastic straw with recyclable “strawless lids,” as well as straws made from biodegradable materials, as part of a no-plastic-straws movement that has gained momentum in recent years. Starbucks — which has more than 28,000 stores and generated $22.4 billion in annual revenue last year — said that more than half of its beverage sales come from cold drinks, which typically come with a plastic straw.

Read more...  
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7. More countries around the world turning to fish farms: UN 

More people than ever before are eating farmed fish and more countries around the world are turning to fish farms as a key source of sustainable protein, states a new report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). The biannual report on the state of the world’s fisheries, released on Monday, said fish farming is the fastest growing agricultural sector for the past 40 years and is largely responsible for making more fish available.

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8. A Running List of Action on Plastic Pollution

The world has a plastic pollution problem and it’s snowballing—but so is public awareness and action. Each year, an estimated 18 billion pounds of plastic waste enters the world’s ocean from coastal regions. That’s about equivalent to five grocery bags of plastic trash piled up on every foot of coastline on the planet. All that plastic is causing harm to the creatures that live in the ocean, from coral reefs smothered in bags, to turtles gagging on straws, to whales and seabirds that starve because their bellies are so jammed with bits of plastic that there’s no room for real food.

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9. Hong Kong’s Chinese White Dolphin Numbers Remain Critically Low 


The number of Chinese white dolphins in Hong Kong waters remains “critically low”, according to a new government report, with experts worrying that future reclamation and construction could lower it further. Just 47 of the pink sea mammals were spotted from April 2017 to March 2018, according to the latest report by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department. That is the same number as the local population sank to in 2016-17, the lowest since records began in 2003. There were 188 in 2003. That number plunged to 87 in 2014-15, and 65 in 2015-16.
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10. Krill Fishing Firms Back Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary

The creation of the world’s biggest ocean sanctuary, protecting a huge tract of remote seas around Antarctica, has advanced after major fishing companies supported the plan. A global campaign – spearheaded by Greenpeace and backed by 1.7 million people –  put massive pressure on the krill fishing industry and amid fears it was endangering one of the world’s last great wildernesses and undermining the global fight against climate change. On Monday evening 85% of the krill fishing industry announced a “voluntarily permanent stop” to their operations in key areas, including the proposed sanctuary and “buffer zones” around penguin breeding grounds.
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11. Divers Find Stunning Coral Forests Around Sicily's Underwater Volcanoes

The Aeolian Islands north of Sicily are volcanic islands surrounded by waters filled with underwater volcanoes. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is a popular tourist destination, but the waters around them haven't received much attention from researchers. That was until Oceana, an international organization devoted to protecting and restoring the oceans of the world, launched a one-month expedition into these waters. Exploring seven different areas around the Aeolians, Oceana researchers found many types of coral, some of them critically endangered, and habitats shared by a variety of sea creatures, including sharks and loggerhead turtles.
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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.