Friday, July 5, 2019

Sea Save Foundation "Ocean Week in Review" July 5, 2019: We Gather News; You Stay Informed

Japan resumes commercial whaling, Marine conservation summit, Evolution of ocean life changed 170M years ago, Dominican Republic pledges towards sustainable tourism, Methane emission control and much more...


1. First whales harvested as Japan resumes commercial whaling

TOKYO — Japan resumed commercial whale hunting on Monday after a hiatus of more than 30 years, defying calls from conservation groups to protect animals once hunted to the brink of extinction. Now whalers, who have long depended on government subsidies for their survival, face the much tougher challenge of defying basic economic reality: The market for their product is declining while labor costs across the nation are on the rise.

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2. Hong Kong students organize marine conservation summit


While many of their peers kick back and relax during their summer break, a group of students from Canadian International School of Hong Kong are organizing a two-day event to raise awareness of ocean conservation. Samantha Sharp and Delfina Wentzel Bermudez, both 16, and Micaela Forcione, 17, have put together the Asia Youth Oceans Conservation Summit, designed to engage young Hongkongers in marine conservation. The summit this weekend is aimed at school pupils, though its organizers say anyone can attend as long as they register online beforehand. The first day will consist of talks, group-based brainstorming, careers advice and presentations, while the second day will feature a visit to Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park, a protected bay in Sai Kung, in Hong Kong’s New Territories, for a day of hands-on sessions with marine scientists.

Read more from "South China Morning Post"

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3. The British Government faces legal action over changes to Brexit laws which will allegedly 'weaken environmental protections'


The government’s repeated promises of a “green Brexit” with the introduction of strong environmental protections to replace existing EU laws appear to be in doubt due to “behind the scenes” changes to government powers in the Withdrawal Act, campaigners say. Environmental law firm ClientEarth and the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) are working with lawyers at Leigh Day Solicitors to take the government to court over Brexit laws they claim could weaken protections for wildlife and the seas. The new measures, which they describe as “Henry VIII powers”, will allow ministers to alter and reduce standards for protected sites, the groups say.


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4. Evolution of life in the ocean changed 170 million years ago



The ocean as we understand it today was shaped by a global evolutionary regime shift around 170 million years ago, according to new research. Until that point, the success of organisms living within the marine environment had been strongly controlled by non-biological factors, including ocean chemistry and climate. However, from the middle of the Jurassic period onwards (some 170 million years ago), biological factors such as predator-prey relationships became increasingly important.

Read more from "Science Daily"
and
Watch this video on Facebook from "University of Plymouth"   

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5. The Dominican Republic doubles down on sustainable tourism


As awareness of the climate and biodiversity crises grows, international, environmentally conscious visitors are increasingly valuing countries that invest in keeping their beaches clean and require their hotels to be less wasteful. Many tourists don’t like to see pristine beaches fill up with plastic debris while hotels continue to use and dispose of single-use plastics, and waste food and water. Locals also suffer. Pollution and the continuous waste of natural resources are taking a toll on the daily lives of many islanders. The Dominican Republic, one of the world’s top tourist destinations, has decided to act. To set the country’s tourism sector on a path of sustainability, the government has pledged to reduce marine and land-based pollution, cut the consumption of materials, and diminish waste arising from tourism.

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6. World Economic Forum: China can play a pivotal role in ocean conservation

An industrial revolution is beginning in the oceans. Historically, the most valuable commodities drawn from the sea were products like cod, pearls, and sponges. The currencies of this new ocean economy are different: kilowatts of energy, shipping containers, metals, data, desalinated water, DNA, and oil, to name a few. The marine industrial economy has been valued at $1.5 trillion and is predicted to grow at double the rate of the rest of the global economy by 2030. A sometimes unappreciated aspect of this recent explosive industrial marine growth is that its distribution is highly uneven. In fact, many key facets of the new ocean economy have been dominated by one nation: China.


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7. Oil and gas industry could reduce worldwide emissions by 75% if methane emissions controlled 

As September’s UN Climate Action Summit fast approaches and the mercury rises across Europe and India, the pressure is on to find workable solutions that can quickly turn down the planet’s thermostat. There is an obvious focus on cutting carbon dioxide emissions, the chief culprit for climate change, but there also lies a huge opportunity in reducing methane emissions from the oil and gas industry. Methane is responsible for at least a quarter of global warming and is over 80 times more powerful than carbon dioxide as a warming gas over a twenty-year timeframe. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, accelerated reductions in methane emissions must come by 2030 to have any chance of meeting the 1.5°C global temperature target—or even the 2°C target.

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8. New studies are showing that specific corals are better suited to survive climate change

Coral reefs face many challenges to their survival, including the global acidification of seawater as a result of rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. A new study led by scientists at UC Santa Cruz shows that at least three Caribbean coral species can survive and grow under conditions of ocean acidification more severe than those expected to occur during this century, although the density of their skeletons was lower than normal.

                                                    

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9. After announcing intentions to run a plastic/pollution free event, the high profile Glastonbury

So much for being eco-friendly. Attendees at Britain’s five-day Glastonbury Festival — which ran on a theme of climate change and the environment — left behind thousands of plastic bottles and trash, photos of the aftermath show. Environmentalists like Sir David Attenborough praised organizers of the music fest in Somerset for going “plastic free” by banning the sale of single-use plastic bottles this year. “That is more than a million bottles of water that have not been drunk by you. Thank you. Thank you,” Attenborough, 93, said to cheers and applause on Sunday, the last day of the festival.


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Sea Save Foundation is committed to raising awareness of marine conservation. The Ocean 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, June 28, 2019

Sea Save Foundation "Ocean Week in Review" June 28, 2019: We Gather News; You Stay Informed

American Medical Association: "climate change is #1 public health challenge", 2004 Gulf spill larger than previously believed, Shark tournaments kill vulnerable sharks, Scientists discover huge aquifer below Atlantic, Shark graffiti, GeoPark gives up on Amazon drilling and more...


1. Prominent U.S. medical associations call upon elected officials to recognize that climate change is 'greatest public health challenge of the 21st century' and to react accordingly

Dozens of medical and public health groups are calling on elected officials and candidates to commit to an agenda to combat climate change.“The health, safety and well-being of millions of people around the world have already been harmed by human-caused climate change, and health risks in the future are dire without urgent action to fight climate change,” the 74 groups, including the American Medical Association and the American Heart Association, said in a letter Monday.

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2. Federal study reveals 2004 Gulf spill releasing far worse than expected


The Gulf of Mexico oil spill that began in 2004 is releasing far more oil than the well owner claims, according to a federal study released Monday. The report, by two scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and a Florida State University professor, found that up to 108 barrels per day — more than 4,500 gallons — flow from the site of the nearly 15-year-long spill, which was triggered by Hurricane Ivan. Taylor Energy claims that only one drop of oil per minute is being released from a small area covered in mud, amounting to less than three gallons each day.

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3. "Mako Mania", the Brooklyn Shark Tournament and other U.S. shark tournament participants continue to kill endangered sharks


As dawn cracks the Saturday sky above Sheepshead Bay, more than 30 boats set out for the open sea. The sixth annual Brooklyn Shark Tournament has begun. The vessels will return in the afternoon to hang huge sharks from a giant scaffold in front of bait-and-tackle shop Stella Maris, drawing a crowd and slowing traffic to a crawl. At stake? More than $50,000 in prize money. Captains arrived the night before, parking their trucks along Emmons Avenue and heading inside the venerable bait shop to register their boats for Brooklyn’s only shark tournament. Crowding into the narrow aisle of the shop, between racks of rods and reels, they pay their fee in crisp hundreds from calloused hands.

Read more from "Brooklyn Eagle"
and
Watch Mako Mania promo video 

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4. Scientists discover a gigantic freshwater aquifer below the Atlantic

In a new survey of the sub-seafloor off the U.S. Northeast coast, scientists have made a surprising discovery: a gigantic aquifer of relatively fresh water trapped in porous sediments lying below the salty ocean. It appears to be the largest such formation yet found in the world. The aquifer stretches from the shore at least from Massachusetts to New Jersey, extending more or less continuously out about 50 miles to the edge of the continental shelf. If found on the surface, it would create a lake covering some 15,000 square miles. The study suggests that such aquifers probably lie off many other coasts worldwide, and could provide desperately needed water for arid areas that are now in danger of running out.

Read more from "Phys.org"   

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5. Mexico approves BP's offshore drilling plan


MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico’s oil regulator on Tuesday approved a $97 million plan for drilling in an offshore area operated by British supermajor BP in the southern Gulf of Mexico. The four-year exploration plan approved by the national hydrocarbons commission (CNH) covers a 700,000 square kilometer shallow water block, located north of the coast of Tabasco state. BP won the rights to drill last June, along with its partner French oil major Total. BP’s contract is one of over 100 awarded since a sweeping energy reform was finalized in 2014, championed by Mexico’s previous government in a bid to reverse years of declining crude production. 

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6. Shark graffiti - newest fad?


A man has been arrested after sharks with brands burned into their skin were found by Lowcountry fishermen, according to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, or SCDNR. An SCDNR spokesman said an Awendaw man was charged in the branding of sharks, WTMA reported. Sharks were found in May bearing marks similar to brands scorched on cattle and horses, according to a tweet from Tracking Sharks. SCDNR launched an investigation after pictures of sharks with the brand circulated on social media, WCSC reported. The brand seared into the shark’s skin was a circle with a shape inside that could be a cursive letter, a fish hook or even a shark.

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7. GeoPark withdraws request to drill for oil in the Peruvian Amazon

GeoPark has withdrawn its request for an environmental permit to begin drilling for crude in the Peruvian Amazon amid protests from indigenous tribes, the oil company said on Thursday. GeoPark said in a statement late on Thursday that it wanted to incorporate more information into its environmental plan for tapping Block 64 in the remote jungle region of Loreto, and planned to coordinate with authorities to resubmit it at a later date. GeoPark needs Peruvian government approval of its environmental plan before it can start operating Block 64, which it says holds 160 million barrels of crude in probable and possible reserves.

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8. Major blow to the renewable energy industry: President Trump attaches tariff to solar panels

President Donald Trump decided on Monday to add tariffs to imported solar panels. The U.S. will impose duties of as much as 30 percent on solar equipment made abroad, a move that threatens to handicap a $28 billion industry that relies on parts made abroad for 80 percent of its supply. Just the mere threat of tariffs has shaken solar developers in recent months, with some hoarding panels and others stalling projects in anticipation of higher costs.

                                                    

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9. Plastic is now forming crusts on rocky shores

Plastic pollution in the ocean is incredibly widespread.  Globally production of plastic has ramped up in recent decades, with 320 million tons of plastic produced in 2016 alone. One of the nefarious characteristics of plastic that makes it so durables is its inability to organically degrade. Even after it has been broken down by wind and wave action (mechanic degradation) as well as rays of light (photodegradation), the plastic remains in small fragments. Ocean plastic can be found in many places - fragments can snag on branching corals and kill them, microplastics occur in Arctic ice, and plastic bags have been found at the depths of the Mariana Trench. Now, a recent study demonstrates that plastic is forming crusts (so-called "plasticrusts") on the rocky shores of Madeira, a Portuguese archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean.

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10. Dolphins are washing up dead along the US coast at a disturbing rate 

Nearly 300 dead bottlenose dolphins have washed up along the beaches of the Gulf Coast this year. While scientists can’t explain the sudden surge, some at least have theories. Since February, 282 bottlenose dolphins have been found across four states in varying degrees of death and decay, according to Erin Fougeres, a Marine Mammal Scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Mississippi has seen the largest number of dead dolphins, with Louisiana, Florida and Alabama close behind. The NOAA has declared the phenomenon an “Unusual Mortality Event,” or UME, which means the number of dead dolphins is alarming enough to warrant an official response. 

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11. Ban on single-use plastic bags introduced in Philadelphia

“Our world is swamped by harmful plastic waste. Microplastics in the seas now outnumber stars in our galaxy. From remote islands to the Arctic, nowhere is untouched. If present trends continue, by 2050, our oceans will have more plastic than fish. The message is simple: reject single-use plastic. Refuse what you can't reuse. Together, we can chart a path to a cleaner, greener world,” said United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. Seventy to eighty-five percent of marine litter in the Caribbean Sea comes from land, and most of it consists of plastics. Together with agrochemical run-off and domestic wastewater, it is one of three priority pollutants for the wider Caribbean region.

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12. House blocks money for new offshore drilling off California coast


When President Trump boldly announced that he was going to expand oil drilling off coastlines across the United States, including California’s, he drew cheers from the oil industry and dread from environmentalists and coastal tourism leaders. Two years later, his plans for new drilling are hitting a potentially fatal setback: Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats who now control the House of Representatives. On Thursday, in an obscure, but key, vote, the House voted to adopt several amendments to the Department of Interior budget for next year that ban the agency from spending any money to pursue new offshore oil and gas drilling in federal waters off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

Read more from "Mercury News"
                                                  

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13. Mother sperm whale and baby found dead in fishing net in Italy

MILAN — A mother sperm whale and its baby have died after becoming tangled in a fishing net in the Tyrrhenian Sea off Italy’s western coast, an Italian environmental group reported Thursday. The Marevivo group said the Italian Coast Guard had responded to the sighting and surmised that the mother, which measured 6 meters (nearly 20 feet), died while trying to free its baby. They were found 8 miles off the coast of Palmarola Island in the Lazio region. It said part of the fishing net was found in the mother whale’s mouth while the baby while was completely covered by it.

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Want "Ocean Week in Review" delivered to your e-mail inbox?  Sign up Here

Sea Save Foundation is committed to raising awareness of marine conservation. The Ocean 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