Breaking Waves: Ocean News

08/04/2020 - 13:09
Lockdown has hammered oil prices but it also offers a chance to refocus on clean energy BP has set itself the target of shrinking its carbon footprint to net zero by 2050. To do that will require big investment in a whole range of green energy alternatives. It will be happening at a time when the economic disruption caused by Covid-19 has sent the oil price tumbling and threatens to leave the company with more stranded assets on its hands. Something has to give in those circumstances, and that something is BP’s dividend, which was cut for the first time since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill a decade ago. In truth, the decision was a no-brainer, with perhaps the only surprise being that the payout to shareholders was reduced by half rather than by the two-thirds announced by Shell in April. Continue reading...
08/04/2020 - 12:30
Human-caused sea level rise likely caused eight out of 10 floods in the region between 1970 and 2015, a study finds Flooding in localised areas around Sydney will happen almost every week by the middle of this century because of human-caused sea level rise, according to a study by scientists at the Bureau of Meteorology. The frequency of flooding around parks, gardens and footpaths had already gone up from less than two days per year in 1914 to a present day rate of about eight days per year, the study found. Continue reading...
08/04/2020 - 10:22
Ocean Leadership ~ A beach is covered with marine debris. (Photo credit: (Susan White/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Wikimedia Commons) From: Ocean News Weekly/ By: Ocean Leadership Staff  What it Was The Senate Appropriations Committee Subcommittee held a hearing to review U.S. government efforts to address ocean plastic pollution Why It Matters Marine plastics and debris have gained global attention as a key ocean crisis. Growing numbers of single-use products and improper waste management practices threaten ocean health and the ocean economy. It is estimated that approximately 6.4 billion metric tons of the cumulative 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic produced since 1950 have become waste. Plastic has economic, food, and health impacts across many sectors, including fisheries, tourism, and waste management. Growing international attention to marine plastics has sparked cross-sector, intergovernmental calls for action. As a global scientific leader, the United States has a strong research community that has committed to finding solutions to the issue, but continued leadership is necessary to ensure that efficient and effective action is taken to reduce the prevalence of plastics in the world’s ocean. Key Points The committee sought to gain a better understanding of the scope of the marine plastics issue. Although the United States has been spending money to address this problem, a larger budget might be needed on the international stage. Witnesses highlighted the work of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and State Department in helping with debris removal and building up waste management infrastructure in cities across Southeast Asia and the Caribbean. They have been working in cooperation with other parts of the U.S. government, including the Coast Guard, Environmental Protection Agency, and U.S. Trade Representative, as well as businesses, NGOs, and local governments to facilitate private sector engagement, mobilize waste management funding, and promote behavioral change. With more funding, witnesses felt these agencies could expand their footprints in Latin American and Africa as well as continuing their work in other regions. Committee members questioned why the United States was not more involved in multilateral efforts, such as the World Bank’s PROBLUE Multi-Donor Trust Fund or the Basel Convention treaty, where they could simultaneously boost domestic response to the issue as well as grow international engagement. The Honorable Jonathan Moore (Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, U.S. Department of State) shared the administration’s perspective that such engagement could potentially be too restrictive, possibly limiting the role of the growing U.S. recycling market and discouraging innovation in waste management and debris removal technology. However, bipartisan committee members, including Chairman Lindsay Graham (SC) and Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (VT), were concerned that recycling and waste management would not sufficiently solve the issue and called for further international engagement to reduce upstream production and use of plastic. Pending further details, they were supportive of possible U.S. participation in the Basel Convention and either the PROBLUE fund or another American-led fund to entice other countries to join in on international efforts to combat plastic pollution. Quotable “This is a challenge, but at the end of the day it’s a good news story. Why is it a good news story? It’s an environmental issue we can target and we can solve it… you’re seeing all the key stakeholders…the key ocean environmental groups, the industry..key stakeholders all working together on an environmental issue we can solve”- Senator Dan Sullivan (AK) “There’s no reason not to move forward and there’s every reason to move forward for the sake of our coastal communities and blue economies, for the sake of human health, and for the sake of a healthy, beautiful, and clean ocean.”-Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) Related Coverage from the Consortium for Ocean Leadership Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: No Longer Enough To Combat Plastic Pollution? Disentangling Marine Plastic Pollution Our Plastic Ocean The Ocean Plastic Pollution Problem: Solvable with Science, Innovation, and Education Want to receive articles like this straight to your inbox? Sign up for our newsletter! The post Going Global: Promoting U.S. Leadership To Combat International Plastic Pollution appeared on Consortium for Ocean Leadership.
08/04/2020 - 10:14
Experts have reconstructed the depth of the Southern Ocean at key phases in the last 34 million years of the Antarctic's climate history.
08/04/2020 - 10:08
Ocean Leadership ~ (Credit: U.S. Geological Survey) From: Ocean News Weekly/ By: Ocean Leadership Staff  What It Was The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a hearing titled, “Building a Stronger and More Resilient Seafood Sector.” Why It Matters Sustainable fisheries support coastal communities, ensure a healthy ocean, and provide food for millions of Americans. However, fisheries across the nation have reported as much as a 90 percent sales decline during the COVID-19 pandemic because much of the seafood consumed in this nation is primarily purchased at restaurants. This has resulted in devastating losses for small businesses and communities around the country. The United States must pursue opportunities to keep seafood sustainable while also supporting fishing communities and must continue to promote consumption of sustainable American seafood. Key Points Committee members sought to hear the witnesses’ views on the implementation of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act as well as perspectives on priorities for future policy action. While the CARES Act included $300 million in support for the fishing industry, much of this funding is still in the process of being distributed. Witnesses expressed frustration with this as well as with the inaccessibility of other relief funding, such as the Paycheck Protection Program, because of the structure of their businesses. Furthermore, while the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) set up food purchase programs, most seafood was not supported by this effort, leaving fishing communities without relief. Witnesses described the widespread impact of the pandemic, including smaller vessel landings, employment losses, disruptions to supply chains of seafood products, price decreases, and large reductions in revenues across all parts of the supply chains for most seafood species. They urged committee members to ensure that fishers would be supported in the same way as farmers and ranchers through additional assistance and streamlined distribution of authorized funds. Moving forward, witnesses urged Congress to continue funding sustainable management and promoting the domestic seafood industry. Ms. Leann Bosarge (Council Member, Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council) highlighted one of the most important priorities for the future of domestic commercial seafood: diversify the supply chain and expand target markets. This would include online platforms for selling seafood, increased labeling of seafood origins to promote domestic consumption, strong marketing programs, and greater workforce development for future fishermen. Dr. Paul Doremus (Deputy Assistant Administrator of Operations, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)) also called attention to aquaculture as a way to diversify American seafood and shared the work NOAA is doing to streamline regulatory processes and provide additional scientific and technical research for sustainable management. Ms. Cora Campbell (Council Member, North Pacific Fishery Management Council) and Mr. Philip Anderson (Chair, Pacific Fishery Management Council), as well as committee members, expressed concern about the cancellation of NOAA assessment surveys due to COVID-19 and how that would impact the harvest potential, stock assessment databases, and the ability to manage fisheries effectively in the future. In addition to the cancellations this season, they also shared that survey funding has been decreasing, which threatens the foundation of the science-based management approach that has allowed U.S. fisheries to thrive sustainably. Without surveys, they described the industry as being unable to recover and move forward in a sustainable way. Quotable “Commercial fishermen have been hurt by this pandemic because many Americans eat seafood in restaurants only..We need to support our restaurants and seafood sector during this crisis, but we also need to focus on creating a more resilient seafood industry.” – Chairman Roger Wicker (MS) “In addition to direct financial impacts on the industry, COVID-19 has also affected the fisheries research and management system that we rely upon to maintain our status as a world leader in sustainable fisheries. NOAA has issued waivers for observers and monitors of commercial fisheries, and cancelled stock assessment surveys that supply crucial data…We need stock assessments to continue.” – Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (WA) Related Coverage from the Consortium for Ocean Leadership The Ocean Is The Key To Economic Recovery Rebuilding The U.S. Economy Through The Blue Economy Recently Seen Around The (Virtual) Ocean Community (05-25) Recently Seen Around The (Virtual) Ocean Community (05-11) Protecting The Fish And The Fishers Want to receive articles like this straight to your inbox? Sign up for our newsletter! The post Relief, Recovery, And Rejuvenation Efforts Crucial For American Seafood Industry appeared on Consortium for Ocean Leadership.
08/04/2020 - 09:51
Ocean Leadership ~ (Credit: NOAA Photo Library) From: Ocean News Weekly/ By: Ocean Leadership Staff  Atlantic Water Summit (21 July 2020) As part of their virtual Water Summit, the Atlantic invited two marine conservation experts to speak about some of the biggest issues the world’s ocean faces in regards to climate change and the opportunities for action on both an individual and a policy level. Ms. Janis Searles Jones (CEO, Ocean Conservancy) and Dr. Sylvia Earle (President and Chairman, Mission Blue; Former Chief Scientist, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) shared their perspectives on some of the most pressing issues for ocean health — including plastics, warming, and acidification — and how they navigate finding solutions to climate and ocean issues that can benefit both ecosystems and coastal communities. They agreed that, for too long, we have relied on the size of the ocean to minimize the impacts of human activity. While the ocean has been crucial for carbon sequestration and heat absorption, this has resulted in widespread negative impacts that went unnoticed for a long time because of the timescale at which they occurred and the past lack of observing technologies. Ms. Jones praised the impact of state leadership on these issues, highlighting the work of the Florida state government in researching and combating harmful algal blooms (HABs). Dr. Earle stressed how little of the ocean is protected, explaining how marine sanctuaries and fishing exclusion zones can help build ecosystem resilience. Both emphasized the power of individual actions in shaping higher level policy and in pushing forward societal changes to ensure that ocean health does not continue to worsen. World Resources Institute Webinar: Beyond GDP: National Accounting for the Ocean and Ocean Economy (22 July 2020) The World Resources Institute held a webinar to share the development of “ocean accounting” tools, as described in their newest Blue Paper. National accounts measure the economic activity of a country by compiling measures such as production, consumption, investment, and government spending. However, while standard national accounts include many ocean-produced goods and services, the addition of ocean accounting will allow countries to more accurately understand the contributions of the ocean economy to their overall economies by incorporating the social, economic, and environmental implications of the ocean and by including household-produced marine goods and non-market products from the ocean. Advocates of ocean accounting hope that by interlinking different types of ocean-related data and statistics, this information can be better used in policymaking and development planning, and countries can have a tool for measuring progress towards sustainable ocean development. Co-lead author Dr. Eli Fenichel (Yale School of the Environment) shared how researchers sought to answer questions about what parts of the economy rely on the ocean, how the growth of ocean industries affects the long-term wealth of countries, and whether the economy damages ocean ecosystems for future generations. Dr. Fenichel and the other panelists highlighted the work of the Global Ocean Accounts Partnership in building the technical framework and capacity building for ocean accounting and explained how the process allows for a common structure to compare environmental and economic statistics across countries as well as a common foundation to discuss environmental goals. The panelists were hopeful that more and more countries would implement ocean accounting and emphasized the power of sustainable ocean use for economies and climate regulation. Want to receive articles like this straight to your inbox? Sign up for our newsletter! The post Recently Seen Around the (Virtual) Ocean Community (08-03-2020) appeared on Consortium for Ocean Leadership.
08/04/2020 - 09:42
Ocean Leadership ~ (Credit: Architect of the Capitol) From: Ocean News Weekly/ By: Ocean Leadership Staff  What Passed Both the Senate and House passed their respective National Defense Authorization Acts (NDAA; S. 4049, H.R. 6395) for fiscal year (FY) 2021. These bills authorize funding for the Department of Defense (DOD) and for defense-related research activities within the Department of Energy. The House bill includes a provision that would reauthorize and revitalize the National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP). The House passed its FY 2021 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS; H.R. 7667) and Defense (H.R. 7617) appropriations bills. These bills provide funding for several federal agencies, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as well as for DOD research. The House also passed their biennial water infrastructure bill, the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2020 (H.R. 7575). The legislation authorizes U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects for port and harbor infrastructure, flood damage reduction, and ecosystem restoration and emphasizes building up the resiliency of infrastructure projects. The Senate passed the Coordinated Ocean Observations and Research Act of 2020 (S. 914), which would reauthorize the Integrated Coastal and Ocean Observation System (ICOOS) Act of 2009, which established a network of federal and regional partners that provide data, tools, and forecasts about the nation’s coasts, oceans, and Great Lakes.The Bolstering Long-Term Understanding and Exploration of the Great Lakes, Oceans, Bays, and Estuaries (BLUE GLOBE) Act (S. 933) and the Living Shorelines Act (S. 1730) passed out of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. The BLUE GLOBE Act includes provisions that would improve data collection and observations of U.S. waters, direct federal agencies to research the contributions of the U.S. blue economy, and require the National Academy of Sciences to assess the potential for an Advanced Research Projects Agency-Oceans (ARPA-O), among others. The Living Shorelines Act would help communities implement climate-resilient coastal projects through the use of natural materials that protect coastal communities, habitats, and natural system functions. What’s New The Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection, and Schools (HEALS) Act was introduced by Senate Republicans. This $1 trillion stimulus recovery plan contains an additional supplemental appropriations section for FY 2020 including $20 million to ensure continuity of operations of NOAA Weather and Climate Operational Supercomputing System, which enables real-time operational weather modeling and forecasting as well as $500 million to direct financial assistance to fishers, fishery participants, and communities affected by COVID. It also includes the Restoring Critical Supply Chains and Intellectual Property Act, which contains part of Safeguarding American Innovation Act (S. 3997), a bill that has been controversial in its efforts to tighten oversight of federally funded researchers with ties to foreign governments. The Prevent Harmful Algal Blooms Act (H.R. 7450) was introduced in the House. If enacted, this legislation would direct NOAA to designate organizations as National Centers of Excellence in Harmful Algal Bloom Research, Prevention, Response, and Mitigation to help combat red tides and other algal blooms that negatively impact public health, coastal ecosystems, and coastal economies. Legislation establishing a grant program for domestic maritime workforce training and education in technical and community colleges (H.R. 7456) was also introduced in the House. What’s Next Both chambers continue to debate what should be included in further COVID-19 stimulus and relief legislation with hope for a quick agreement. The NDAAs passed by each chamber are expected to go to conference in the coming months. The FY 2021 appropriations process is also still underway, and Senate appropriators will need to mark up their chamber’s measures before a full Senate vote followed by conference with House appropriations measures. Related Coverage from the Consortium for Ocean Leadership April, May, and June’s Congressional Wrap Up CJS And Defense Appropriations Bills Head To House Floor Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Signed Into Law February and March’s Congressional Wrap Up Repair, Replacement, And Resilience: Setting The Course For Water Infrastructure Projects January’s Congressional Wrap Up Want to receive articles like this straight to your inbox? Sign up for our newsletter! The post July’s Congressional Wrap Up appeared on Consortium for Ocean Leadership.
08/04/2020 - 07:59
Clean-up devices that collect waste from the ocean surface won't solve the plastic pollution problem, a new study shows.
08/04/2020 - 06:06
Former pirate’s haunt is a refuge for rare species, but coronavirus has kept away day trippers it relies on for funds Coronavirus – latest updates See all our coronavirus coverage For centuries, the tiny island of Lundy and its wonderful flora and fauna have – just about – survived the ravages of pirates, profiteers, rodents and rampaging rhododendron. But the futures of rare birds and plants, plus the livelihoods of the hardy humans who live on this windswept hunk of granite off the Devon coast, are being put at risk by the Covid-19 pandemic. Continue reading...
08/04/2020 - 04:45
Ten-track record samples recordings of endangered, vulnerable or near threatened birds by artists from same country The song of the black catbird – with its flute-like chirps and screeching single-note squalls – was once heard across Guatemala, Belize and southern Mexico until large-scale farms began to destroy its habitat. Now, thanks to a collective of musicians, producers and DJs, the tiny bird’s song – and that of nine other endangered species from the region – could be heard on dancefloors around the world, with proceeds going to conserving the endangered birds. Continue reading...