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.
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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 Kristj√°n 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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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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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.

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