Friday, August 24, 2018

Sea Save Foundation "Ocean Week in Review" August 24, 2018: We Gather News; You Stay Informed


1. Why a New Fisheries Bill Is Being Dubbed the “Empty Oceans Act”


What the farm bill is to terrestrial food production, the fish bill, a.k.a. the Magnuson-Stevens Act is to the ocean — the law that governs America’s marine fisheries. First passed in 1976 to kick foreign fishing fleets out of American waters, the MSA has evolved into one of the nation’s most effective conservation laws. A reauthorization in 1996 required managers to place all overfished stocks on strict rebuilding timelines and another in 2006 mandated hard limits on total catches.

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2. Red Tide’s Continuing Toll: The 554 Dead Manatees in 2018 Already Surpasses Last Year’s Total.

ST. PETERSBURG — The number of manatee deaths in Florida this year has already exceeded the total for all of 2017. Blame Red Tide, which is suspected of killing more than 100 of them. So far, 554 manatees have died in 2018, with four months left to go. Last year’s total was 538. As of Aug. 18, the most recent date for the running total, the Red Tide bloom had been verified as the cause of death for 29 manatees and was suspected of killing another 74. 

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3. Removing a Few More Straws from the Ocean Slurpee


Americans throw away 500 million straws per day, enough to circle the Earth twice. These cylindrical pieces of plastic are significantly contributing to the growing slurry of plastic pollution in our oceans. Plastic does not degrade, and according to a study funded by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, by the year 2050, there will be more plastic in the sea than fish unless we drastically change our habits and laws.

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4. What Lives in the Ocean’s Twilight Zone? New Technologies Might Finally Tell Us

The sea's murky depths might host more life than we thought. That's the preliminary conclusion of scientists who this week completed the inaugural cruise of the Ocean Twilight Zone (OTZ) initiative, a 6-year, $35 million effort that is using innovative technologies—and an unusual funding model—to document the ocean's mysterious midwater layer. The weeklong North Atlantic Ocean expedition was aimed primarily at testing the OTZ initiative's new workhorse: a 5-meter-long towed sled, dubbed Deep-See, that bristles with cameras, acoustic sensors, and samplers. 

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5. Here's How Your Contact Lenses May Be Polluting the Ocean

New research suggests that millions of contact lenses may be ending up in U.S. water supplies each year, potentially contributing to ocean pollution. “If you think of plastic pollution, contact lenses are not the first thing that comes to mind,” says Rolf Halden, director of the Biodesign Center for Environmental Health Engineering at Arizona State University. But given the estimated 45 million wearers of contact lenses in the U.S. alone, Halden and postdoctoral student Charlie Rolsky got to thinking: how many millions of people are disposing of these plastics improperly?

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6. To Better Protect Sharks and Rays, Countries Gather for CITES Workshop


More than 40 participants, including representatives from Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, and Tanzania, gathered in Johannesburg Aug. 6-7 for a workshop on how best to implement international trade regulations to protect 20 species of sharks and rays. The workshop focused on those listed in 2013 and 2016 on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Appendix II: oceanic whitetip sharks; porbeagle sharks; silky sharks; scalloped, smooth, and great hammerhead sharks; bigeye, common, and pelagic thresher sharks; and all manta and mobula rays.

Editor's Note: Sea Save Foundation was on-site and critical for the inclusion of these species in the CITES 2013 and 2016 votes. At CITES 2013, we broke the news of a delegate payoff that was going to affect the shark species votes and turned the tide. We will remain on top of all CITES news in order to keep you informed.
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7. Global Warming May Be Good News For Some


Maersk, the world's largest container line, is about to test the frigid waters of the Arctic in a trial of shorter shipping lanes that could become viable as warmer temperatures open up the Northern Sea Route. On or around Sept. 1, Denmark-based Maersk plans to send its first container ship through the Arctic to explore whether the once inhospitable route could become feasible in the future. Many analysts see the test as a turning point for both the shipping industry and the Arctic.
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8. Droughts and Floods Will Become More Common Due to Global Warming

Scorching summer heatwaves and floods are set to become more extreme in the northern hemisphere as global warming makes weather patterns linger longer in the same place. According to a study published by Nature Communications, growing temperatures in the Arctic have slowed the circulation of the jet stream and other giant winds, affecting pressure fronts across continents. This summer, parts of Europe were hit by heatwaves and wildfires including Sweden, Greece, and Spain.

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9. Bills Preventing Offshore Drilling Advance in California Legislature
While President Trump’s Interior Department was mapping out oil and gas leases off California’s coast, the Legislature debated what to do. The sanctified cause of a drilling ban turned into a fight over a pair of bills that aimed to put hard restrictions on the White House idea. Last week, lawmakers followed through on protecting the coast. The nearly identical bills won approval on the final day of committee work, a cliffhanger win for efforts to safeguard fishing, tourism, and recreation along the 1,000-mile coast.

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10. Florida’s Red Tide Crisis is Preview of the Global Future


All the water birds—pelicans, egrets, cormorants—are gone. Flies swarm the coast of the seaside city of Sarasota, Florida. Crows caw. The air stinks of death. Carpets of fish, belly-up, mouths gaping, line the shore. This is the putrid new world created by toxic red algae bloom spanning 130 miles of the state’s west coast, which has so far killed masses of fish, 12 dolphins, more than 500 manatees, 300 sea turtles, countless horseshoe crabs, a whale shark, and the local economy.
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11. Hurricane Maria’s Wrath Leaves Clues to Coral Reefs’ Future

For decades, ecologists had thought that La Parguera and other reefs in the dimly lit ‘mesophotic zone’, 30-150 meters below the ocean surface, were sheltered from storms and temperature fluctuations — unlike corals in shallow water. But several recent studies suggest that deep-water reefs are susceptible to the increasingly powerful hurricanes and ocean warming caused by climate change.  
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12. Cause of Death Sought for 55-Foot-Long Whale Washed Ashore on Massachusetts Beach


A dead, 55-foot-long whale has washed ashore on a Massachusetts beach. The giant fin whale likely died at sea, officials told local news outlets, noting that it had been spotted floating in the water about eight miles offshore before it arrived. It is thought the creature may have been dead for two to three days, although the cause of death was unclear. It showed no outward signs of trauma, Tony LaCasse, the New England Aquarium’s media relations director, told reporters, adding that facility's marine mammal team and experts from the International Fund for Animal Welfare were still investigating why it died.

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13. Tracking Sargassum's Ocean Path Could Help Predict Coastal Inundation Events


In recent years, large amounts of Sargassum have been washing up on beaches from the Caribbean to west Africa. This floating seaweed drifts on the oceans currents. New research explores how the Sargassum might grow while it is meandering along the currents, not just where it floats, combining both ocean physics and seaweed biology for the first time to understand the distribution patterns. Knowing could eventually help predict its arrival and impact on beaches around the world.

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14. Metal in the Air Really Messes With Ocean Life

Trace metals in the atmosphere have a hefty impact on marine life, according to a new paper. The sources of these aerosol particles include volcanoes, wildfires, and desert dust, and the burning of fossil fuels. After being spewed up and undergoing chemical reactions in the atmosphere, they often make their way to remote ocean regions via precipitation or dry deposition.

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15. Stricter Federal Quotas Set For Atlantic Herring Catch Out of Concern Of Overfishing


New limits are taking effect on how many Atlantic herring can be caught by New England fishermen. Federal regulators say reducing the quota by millions of pounds is necessary due to low numbers of younger fish. Herring fishermen entered this year with a catch limit around 240 million pounds, but the regulatory New England Fishery Management Council recommended earlier this year that the number be cut back to about 118 million pounds. 
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16. Seattle chef Renee Erickson takes Chinook Salmon Off Menus to Help Ailing Puget Sound Orcas

To save more chinook salmon for starving orcas, Seattle chef Renee Erickson has taken it off the menu. Erickson, chef, and co-owner of Sea Creatures, which includes Seattle restaurants The Walrus and the Carpenter and The Whale Wins, announced her decision recently to her newsletter subscribers and chefs. It’s something she has been thinking about for a while. But it was the sight of Tahlequah, the mother orca whale carrying her dead calf for 17 days for more than 1,000 miles that pushed Erickson to no longer serve chinook to her customers.
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17. Hong Kong Restaurant Hemingway's Went Vegan and 'Nobody Noticed'


Hong Kong restaurant Hemingway’s Bar & Grill, a long-standing staple of Discovery Bay, has switched to a completely vegan menu. According to owner Gary Stokes, customers didn’t even notice the initial changes. South China Morning Post reports that Stokes, a vegan and a volunteer with international ocean conservation nonprofit Sea Shepherd, was facing an ethical dilemma. While the organization serves exclusively plant-based food on its ships in the name of environmentalism and animal rights, Stokes’s restaurant, which specialized in Caribbean cuisine, served both meat and fish.
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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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