International coalition advances marine conservation as part of the solution to climate change
WASHINGTON, Nov. 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A large international coalition today urged the United States to support marine conservation options that will help mitigate climate change.
The ‘Blue Climate Coalition,’ comprised of sixty-six conservation groups and interests and over 150 marine scientists and professionals, from 33 countries, issued communications today addressed to President Obama and the United States Senate.
Together, the coalition letters request the option for marine conservation solutions to climate change to be considered in national climate change legislation and international climate change treaties, and support for marine science research that further explores this concept. Continue reading →
Oceans play a significant role in the global carbon cycle. Not only do they represent the largest long-term sink for carbon but they also store and redistribute CO2. Some 93% of the earth’s CO2 (40 Tt) is stored and cycled through the oceans.
The ocean’s vegetated habitats, in particular mangroves, salt marshes and seagrasses, cover <0.5% of the sea bed. These form earth’s blue carbon sinks and account for more than 50%, perhaps as much as 71%, of all carbon storage in ocean sediments. They comprise only 0.05% of the plant biomass on land, but store a comparable amount of carbon per year, and thus rank among the most intense carbon sinks on the planet. Blue carbon sinks and estuaries capture and store between 235–450 Tg C every year – or the equivalent of up to half of the emissions from the entire global transport sector, estimated at around 1,000 Tg C yr–1. By preventing the further loss and degradation of these ecosystems and catalyzing their recovery, we can contribute to offsetting 3–7% of current fossil fuel emissions (totaling 7,200 Tg C yr–1) in two decades – over half of that projected for reducing rainforest deforestation. The effect would be equivalent to at least 10% of the reductions needed to keep concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere below 450 ppm. If managed properly, blue carbon sinks, therefore, have the potential to play an important role in mitigating climate change. Continue reading →
Palau to create the world’s first “shark sanctuary”, banning all commercial shark fishing in its waters.
We couldn’t agree more and applaud President Toribiong’s efforts to protect the remaining sharks in our ocean. Hopefully other nations will follow suit. In 2006, French Polynesia decreed shark fishing, and therefore shark finning, illegal in its waters for all sharks except the mako shark, see page 9 of Oceana’s Report: Fishy Business [2 MB PDF]). Making shark fishing/finning illegal is the first great step. Enforcement of that law is the next, and is often where conservation efforts fail. We hope this is not the case for either Palau or French Polynesia or those that follow (come on U.S.A.).
The President of the tiny Pacific republic, Johnson Toribiong, announced the sanctuary during Friday’s session of the UN General Assembly.
With half of the world’s oceanic sharks at risk of extinction, conservationists regard the move as “game-changing”. Continue reading →
Obama Administration Officials Release Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force Interim Report - September 17, 2009
WASHINGTON, DC – Obama Administration officials today released the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force Interim Report for a 30-day public review and comment period. The Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force, led by White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley, consists of 24 senior-level officials from Administration agencies, departments, and offices. The report provides proposals for a comprehensive national approach to uphold our stewardship responsibilities and ensure accountability for our actions.
“This Interim Report represents a wide spectrum of views and considerations, not just from within the federal government, but from members of the public, local officials, stakeholders and experts from coast to coast,” said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. “It delivers on President Obama’s request for recommendations that will move this country towards a more robust national policy for our oceans, coasts and the Great Lakes and recognizes that we have a responsibility to protect the oceans and coasts for the benefit of current and future generations.” Continue reading →
I’ve worked as a consulting environmental geoscientist since 1993 installing and sampling monitor wells, yanking countless leaking petroleum and chemical storage tanks out of the ground, finding the sources of underground leaks from other tanks and pipelines carrying all sorts of chemicals, and remediating sites with hazardous chemicals that were contaminating the air, ground water, soils, sediments, and surface water — all in violation of various State and Federal environmental regulations. Needless to say I’ve been very busy. Continue reading →
and worms(?)…. How appealing is that when you think of the ocean? Something that captivates most of us and draws millions of us to its shores and into its waters? It seems that people still aren’t taking overfishing seriously. My litmus test is the culinary industry. When I have time, which is never, I love to cook. Since I never have time, the next best thing is to watch my favorite cooking shows on TV – generally competitive shows like “Top Chef” or “Iron Chef.” These are shows where the best in the business compete with each other. Chefs, particularly “celebrity” chefs, are like the fashion designers of food. They’re the ones who establish what foods are fashionable in the culinary scene – and they always seem to be using red-listed fish. Tuna, Chilean seabass, grouper. It makes me cringe. Because people are inspired by what these chefs cook and the go to the markets to buy the ingredients that these chefs use. It’s frustrating as an armchair chef and conservationist when I know there are so many other products they could and should be using – they’re the ones who need to set an example!
I highly recommend reading this excellent article published in a newspaper in Australia. The article was inspired by a new documentary film about overfishing called The End of the Line. It’s time for chefs, and cooks in general, everywhere to respect the need to stop overfishing and set an example.
“WHERE have all the fish gone?” is the key question asked by new documentary film The End of the Line. And it doesn’t pull punches in detailing the ravages of global overfishing. Collapsed species, poor people going hungry, our seas emptied of all but mud and worms. Continue reading →
An endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtle was brought to Mote Marine Laboratory’s Sea Turtle Hospital after it swallowed a balloon.
The 3.3-pound young turtle washed up on a sandbar Tuesday, July 14, near the south end of Lido Key. Swimmers who found the turtle called Mote biologists, who brought the turtle in for treatment.
“Balloons can look like jellyfish or squid — things sea turtles like to eat,” said senior Biologist Kristen Mazzarella, of Mote’s Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program. “It’s extremely common to find sea turtles that have swallowed balloons, fishing hooks, monofilament lines and other dangerous objects.”
Mote’s patient, nicknamed Anakin, is receiving fluids, antibiotics and food at the sea-turtle hospital. The turtle, which arrived anemic and dehydrated, is being closely monitored for additional health problems.
“We pick up a lot of balloons wrapped in seaweed from local beaches,” said Mazzarella of Mote’s Sea Turtle Patrol — a team of staff, interns and volunteers who monitor sea-turtle nesting every day on 35 miles of Sarasota County beaches during nesting season, May through October. “To protect sea turtles and other wildlife, we recommend that people dispose of trash in the appropriate containers and recycle it when possible. If you see trash washing up on the beach, pick it up before the tide takes it back out to sea.”
I must say that the following marine conservation documentaries are some of the best we’ve ever seen. In a field that’s so often depressing with the continuous overwhelming evidence of the decline in marine species, the destruction of marine habitats, increasing pollution levels, never ending strandings and even commercial whaling, it’s energizing to see these wonderful films created by such passionate and talented people. Thank you for helping us keep our energy levels high and reminding us of why we’re doing what we do. Oh yeah, and thank you for getting the various important messages in your films out there in ways that only film can do! We hope we are helping spread the word, knowledge really is power, and the first step toward real change. We hope everyone gets a chance to see each of the below:
Great white sharks hunt just like Hannibal Lecter
By SETH BORENSTEIN
WASHINGTON (AP) — Great white sharks have some things in common with human serial killers, a new study says: They don’t attack at random, but stalk specific victims, lurking out of sight.
The sharks hang back and observe from a not-too-close, not-too-far base, hunt strategically, and learn from previous attempts, according to a study being published online Monday in the Journal of Zoology.
Researchers used a serial killer profiling method to figure out just how the fearsome ocean predator hunts, something that’s been hard to observe beneath the surface.
“There’s some strategy going on,” said study co-author Neil Hammerschlag, a shark researcher at the University of Miami who observed 340 great white shark attacks on seals off an island in South Africa. “It’s more than sharks lurking at the water waiting to go after them.” Continue reading →
Let’s celebrate this first official World Oceans Day by recognizing the world’s 15 largest marine protected areas (MPAs) created to safeguard marine habitat around the world. Here’s the list and a bit about each one, plus some further comments and a special request below:
The Marine Section of the Society for Conservation Biology will be hosting its first stand-alone meeting, the International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC), from 20-24 May 2009 at George Mason University near Washington D.C. This will be an interdisciplinary meeting that will engage natural and social scientists, managers, policy-makers, and the public. The goal of the IMCC is to put conservation science into practice through public and media outreach and the development of concrete products (e.g., policy briefs, blue ribbon position papers) that will be used to drive policy change and implementation. Continue reading →
It’s no great sacrifice to protect the environment
I recently read an article about a woman in Spokane, Washington, who doesn’t like phosphate-free dish-washing detergents. Phosphate-containing detergents are banned in Spokane County because of their negative impact on the environment, so the woman drives 45 minutes to Idaho where phosphate detergents are still sold. The article also notes that the woman has a five-year-old daughter. I’m astounded.
People often argue that protecting the environment will require too many sacrifices. Is this what they mean? That they would risk their children’s futures because they can’t be bothered to rinse their dishes before putting them into the dishwasher? Continue reading →
March 6, 2009 – Why does the public often pay more attention to climate change deniers than climate scientists? Why do denial arguments that have been thoroughly debunked still show up regularly in the media?
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama blocked a Bush administration rule that environmentalists say would weaken protection for endangered species and their habitats, the latest in a series of moves that reverse Mr. Bush’s environmental policies.
Business groups criticized the Obama administration’s move and predicted it would delay projects funded by the government’s $787 billion stimulus package by forcing federal agencies to resume consultations over the potential impact of development projects on threatened species. The Bush administration rule was aimed at minimizing interagency debates over endangered species issues.
“Reinstating bureaucratic hurdles will only delay energy development and other construction projects which help create jobs,” said Keith McCoy, vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers.
Mr. Obama on Tuesday signed a memorandum that effectively shelves the Bush move to streamline the process until officials at the Interior and Commerce departments finish a review.
At issue is a regulation issued by the Interior Department in December that allows federal agencies to bypass consultation with scientists at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service about whether new projects will harm threatened wildlife. Traditionally, federal agencies across the government have been required to consult the Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service whenever they are funding projects, such as new dams or highways, that could pose even a remote risk to a rare creature.
The Bush administration adopted the change in what it said was an effort to allow government biologists to focus on the most critical conservation efforts.
“Throughout our history, there’s been a tension between those who sought to conserve our natural resources for the benefit of future generations, and those who have sought to profit from these resources,” Mr. Obama said in announcing his action. “But I’m here to tell you this is a false choice. With smart, sustainable policies, we can grow our economy today, and preserve the environment for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren.”
Mr. Obama’s decision marks the latest instance in which his administration has sought to block or reverse Bush-era rules affecting the environment. Last week, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced he was putting the brakes on plans developed by the Bush administration to develop oil shale on federal land in Western states. Mr. Salazar also recently shelved a plan developed by the Bureau of Land Management during the Bush administration to lease wilderness areas of Utah for oil and gas drilling, saying the step was needed to protect the step was needed to protect “American iconic treasures.”