Ocean
Sixth Our Ocean Conference Builds on Prior Cooperation to Forge New Partnerships

Sixth Our Ocean Conference Builds on Prior Cooperation to Forge New Partnerships

In 2014, then-Secretary of State John Kerry launched the first Our Ocean Conference (OOC) with the goal of making safeguarding the health of the ocean a foreign policy imperative — lifting the issue up to get the attention of world leaders just as had happened for climate change in the 1990s. 

Why This Matters:  Five years later the Conference has set the standard for informal international cooperation and how to galvanize a “race to the top” among ocean nations.  Without a treaty or agreement or even a convening body, this group of nations keeps coming back and giving more.  Our Ocean is instrumental in conserving our oceans and all the people who depend on them.

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A New Playbook For Addressing Ocean Plastics

A New Playbook For Addressing Ocean Plastics

In advance of the sixth Our Ocean Conference later this week, the Ocean Conservancy released its latest report on ocean plastics recommending content standards for recycled products to increase the demand for them and that they impose fees on producers depending on the amount of packaging material they put on the market or their plastic recycling/recovery targets in order to increase single-use plastic collection.

Why This Matters:  It is significant that a group of companies that are responsible for much of the plastic that is sold — companies like Dow, Starbucks, and Coca-Cola — were part of this effort and stand behind these recommendations.  They know they have a problem.  But it will take their action — urging Congress and state and local legislatures to enact the necessary laws and ordinances — to make their recommendations a reality.

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Two Blobs – Both Scary – One Dying and One Now On Display

Two Blobs – Both Scary – One Dying and One Now On Display

In September, when ocean temperatures were five degrees above normal, scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) feared the re-emergence of a large ocean heatwave in the Pacific, which was known as “The Blob” when it formed before in 2014-15 and wreaked havoc with ocean ecosystems and wildlife at the time.  But due to a major shift in the weather pattern in the Gulf of Alaska, this year’s warm ocean water “blob” has begun to weaken and is expected to continue to lose strength as storms in the Pacific churn up colder water. 

Meanwhile, a blob of another variety went on display over the weekend at the Paris Zoo — and according to Popular Mechanics, it isn’t an animal, plant, or fungus, it has 720 sexes but no brain, loves oatmeal and is a billion years old. 

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Moving Toward Electronic Monitoring in U.S. Fisheries – Step by Step

Moving Toward Electronic Monitoring in U.S. Fisheries – Step by Step

Fishers around the world are increasingly using electronic monitoring (EM) technologies such as cameras, gear sensors, and electronic reporting (ER) to improve the timeliness, quality, cost-effectiveness, and accessibility of fisheries data collection in commercial fishing operations, and the U.S. is working to keep pace.   A strong coalition of industry, managers and other stakeholders called the Net Gains Alliance recently funded four projects to find solutions to overcome specific barriers to greater EM/ER adoption.

Why This Matters:  Its time to bring fisheries management into the 21st century using the best available technology. 

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Oyster Reef Restoration, a Shining Conservation Success

Oyster Reef Restoration, a Shining Conservation Success

Living shorelines (as opposed to concrete seawalls) have proven to be one of the best buffers against rising seas and storm surges in coastal communities. One of the best ways to naturally buffer shorelines is to build oyster reefs and in New York City, a city-wide effort to grow oysters is successfully helping to protect […]

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Ships Exploiting Regulatory Loophole to Emit SO2 Into the Ocean

Ships Exploiting Regulatory Loophole to Emit SO2 Into the Ocean

The Independent newspaper reported yesterday the results on an investigation revealing that “shipping companies have spent billions rigging vessels with ‘cheat devices’ that circumvent new environmental legislation by dumping pollution into the sea instead of the air.”  The devices, called open-loop scrubbers, remove sulfur exhaust air pollution from ships that run on heavy fuel oil.  Air pollution from ships is a significant health problem — some estimate that a cruise ship running on heavy fuel oil emits as much air pollution as a million cars a day.

Why This Matters:  Shifting pollution from one “medium” to another obviously is problematic — it does meet the spirit of the rule and is particularly disturbing given the U.N.’s report last week that ocean health is in dire trouble due to climate change. The sulfur that is diverted from the air into the water around the ships is harmful to oceans and marine life as well as exacerbating carbon dioxide emissions.

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