Ocean Action Hub

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Climate change: 'Invest $1.8 trillion to adapt'

10 Sept 2019 - Investing $1.8 trillion over the next decade - in measures to adapt to climate change - could produce net benefits worth more than $7 trillion.

10 Sept 2019 - Investing $1.8 trillion over the next decade - in measures to adapt to climate change - could produce net benefits worth more than $7 trillion.

This is according to a global cost-benefit analysis setting out five adaptation strategies.

The analysis was carried out by the Global Commission on Adaptation - a group of 34 leaders in politics, business and science.

They say the world urgently needs to be made more "climate change resilient".

The commission, led by former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, World Bank chief executive Kristalina Georgieva and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, argues that it is an urgent moral obligation of richer countries to invest in adaptation measures that will benefit the world.

The report says those most affected by climate change "did least to cause the problem - making adaptation a human imperative".

Its primary aim is to put climate change adaptation on to the political agenda around the world. And to do this, it sets out "concrete solutions" and an economic plan.

CONTINUE READING: https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-49635546

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Sharks and rays to be given new international protections

26 Aug 2019 - BBC - Countries have agreed to strengthen protections for 18 threatened species of sharks and rays, including those hunted for their meat and fins.

26 Aug 2019 - BBC - Countries have agreed to strengthen protections for 18 threatened species of sharks and rays, including those hunted for their meat and fins.

The proposal was passed at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) on Sunday.

The newly protected species include mako sharks, wedgefishes and guitarfishes.

A demand for shark fin soup is one of the driving factors in the depleting numbers of sharks in the ocean.

The proposal, which was tabled by Mexico and requires ratification this week, means that the species can no longer be traded unless it can be proven that their fishing will not impact the possibility of their survival.

The number of sharks killed each year in commercial fisheries is estimated at 100 million, with a range between 63 million and 273 million, according to The Pew Trust.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-49466717#

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Campaign #FillTheBottle aims to tidy up cigarette butts

9 Aug 2019 - BBC - Plastics, arsenic, lead and nicotine from butts can all harm marine life. Just one per litre of water can be highly toxic to fish, research suggests.

9 Aug 2019 - BBC - Plastics, arsenic, lead and nicotine from butts can all harm marine life. Just one per litre of water can be highly toxic to fish, research suggests.

Cigarette butts - flicked into drains, mashed under foot or dropped in parks - are a common sight around the world.

But a campaign launched by a group of French teenagers to tidy them up has highlighted their environmental impact.

Amel Talha launched the hashtag #FillTheBottle after a friend collected cigarette butts in a water bottle and posted a photo on Twitter.

The campaign has inspired thousands to clean up what is thought to be the most common form of litter around the globe.

"This is a big problem in France but also all around the world," the 18-year-old tells the BBC, adding she is "extremely happy and proud" that the campaign has had such an effect.

Amel's friend Jason Prince first posted an image of a plastic water bottle filled to the cap with cigarette butts last Wednesday.

"20 minutes to fill this 1 litre bottle in an area of less than 50m," he wrote. "This is extremely serious."

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-49263685?intlink_from_url=https://www.bbc.com/news/science_and_environment&link_location=live-reporting-story

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'Fish are vanishing' - Senegal's devastated coastline

6 Nov 2018 - Foreign trawlers and an expanding fishmeal industry are threatening the livelihood of Senegalese fishermen, forcing many to migrate to Europe.

6 Nov 2018 - BBC News - Foreign trawlers and an expanding fishmeal industry are increasingly threatening the livelihood of Senegalese fishermen, forcing many to migrate to Europe, writes the BBC's Alfonso Daniels.

Mor Ndiaye, 34, has lived all his life in St Louis, a bustling fishing town in northern Senegal. Its sandy streets are crammed with children and roaming goats. Life here was good until a few years ago when everything changed.

"The fish just vanished, what can we do? We used to catch enough fish in a day or two. Now we need to go out at sea for weeks to catch the same amount. It's terrifying, we can only rely on God," he says, standing next to men carrying fish in large plastic crates over their heads from the few traditional wooden boats arriving ashore.

St Louis, a former French West African colonial capital, lies at the heart of one of the world's richest fishing areas.

Fish caught here - mainly sardinella and other so-called pelagic or open sea fish migrating up and down the coast - have provided up to 75% of the protein consumed by millions of people in Senegal and across Africa's interior in countries like Burkina Faso and Mali.

'Soaring fish prices'

But decades of mainly European and Asian trawlers scouring its coastline have meant that its waters have been overfished.

As fish run out, artisanal fishermen are building larger boats to go further out to sea, making overfishing even worse. Others have decided to migrate to Europe. 

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-46017359

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Climate change: Oceans 'soaking up more heat than estimated'

1 Nov 2018 - The world has seriously underestimated the amount of heat soaked up by our oceans over the past 25 years, researchers say. 

1 Nov 2018 - BBC News - The world has seriously underestimated the amount of heat soaked up by our oceans over the past 25 years, researchers say. Their study suggests that the seas have absorbed 60% more than previously thought. They say it means the Earth is more sensitive to fossil fuel emissions than estimated. This could make it much more difficult to keep global warming within safe levels this century.

What have the researchers found?

According to the last major assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world's oceans have taken up over 90% of the excess heat trapped by greenhouse gases.

But this new study says that every year, for the past 25 years, we have put about 150 times the amount of energy used to generate electricity globally into the seas - 60% more than previous estimates.

That's a big problem.

Scientists base their predictions about how much the Earth is warming by adding up all the excess heat that is produced by the known amount of greenhouse gases that have been emitted by human activities.

This new calculation shows that far more heat than we thought has been going into oceans. But it also means that far more heat than we thought has been generated by the warming gases we have emitted.

Therefore more heat from the same amount of gas means the Earth is more sensitive to CO2.

What are the implications of the finding?

The researchers involved in the study believe the new finding will make it much harder to keep within the temperature rise targets set by governments in the Paris agreement. Recently the IPCC spelled out clearly the benefits to the world of keeping below the lower goal of 1.5C relative to pre-industrial levels.

This new study says that will be very difficult indeed.

"It is a big concern," said lead author Dr Laure Resplandy from Princeton University in New Jersey.

"If you look at the IPCC 1.5C, there are big challenges ahead to keep those targets, and our study suggests it's even harder because we close the window for those lower pathways."

The report suggests that to prevent temperatures rising above 2C, carbon emissions from human activities must be reduced by 25% more than previously estimated.

What does it mean for the oceans?

As well as potentially making it more difficult to keep warming below 1.5 or even 2C this century, all that extra heat going into the oceans will prompt some significant changes in the waters.

"A warmer ocean will hold less oxygen, and that has implications for marine ecosystems," said Dr Resplandy.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-46046067#

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Single-use plastics ban approved by European Parliament

24 Oct 2018 - The European Parliament has voted for a complete ban on a range of single-use plastics across the union in a bid to stop pollution of the oceans.

24 Oct 2018The European Parliament has voted for a complete ban on a range of single-use plastics across the union in a bid to stop pollution of the oceans.

MEPs backed a ban on plastic cutlery and plates, cotton buds, straws, drink-stirrers and balloon sticks.

The proposal also calls for a reduction in single-use plastic for food and drink containers like plastic cups.

One MEP said, if no action was taken, "by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans".

The European Commission proposed a ban in May, following a surge in public support attributed to documentaries such as David Attenborough's BBC Blue Planet series.

The measure still has to clear some procedural hurdles, but is expected to go through. The EU hopes it will go into effect across the bloc by 2021.

The UK will also have to incorporate the rules into national law if the ban becomes a fully-fledged directive before the end of a Brexit transition period.

After the Parliament vote was backed by 571-53, the MEP responsible for the bill, Frédérique Ries, said it was "a victory for our oceans, for the environment and for future generations."

Several countries are already considering proposals to target disposable plastic products - including the UK.

What's being banned?

The directive targets some of the most common ocean-polluting plastics.

The list of banned items such as cutlery and cotton buds was chosenbecause there are readily available alternatives, such as paper straws and cardboard containers.

Other items, "where no alternative exists" will still have to be reduced by 25% in each country by 2025. Examples given include burger boxes and sandwich wrappers.

MEPs also tacked on amendments to the plans for cigarette filters, a plastic pollutant that is common litter on beaches. Cigarette makers will have to reduce the plastic by 50% by 2025 and 80% by 2030.

Another ambitious target is to ensure 90% of all plastic drinks bottles are collected for recycling by 2025. Currently, bottles and their lids account for about 20% of all the sea plastic, the European Parliament report said.

Manufacturers will also have to take more responsibility for what happens to their plastic products and packaging.

How big is the problem?

The EU's research on the topic says about 150,000 tonnes of plastic are tossed into European waters every year.

That is only a small contributor to the global problem, with an estimated eight million tonnes of plastic entering the world's oceans annually. And once there, plastic can travel great distances on ocean currents.

Those plastics have a huge effect on marine life.

Fish and large aquatic mammals can be killed by the pollution. Whales can eat plastic bags, making it impossible for them to eat real food which can eventually lead to death.

When plastic debris breaks down from wear and tear, it does not decompose the way other products like wood do - but instead breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces, becoming "microplastic".

These tiny fragments often end up in fish and can then be passed on to humans.

Large volumes of plastic waste wash up on beaches, where they can be eaten by sea birds and other animals and kill them.

CONTINUE READING: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-45965605

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Could seaweed replace plastic packaging?

3 Oct 2018 - One Indonesian inventor has found a unique solution to the problem of plastic food packaging.

The 25-year-old says using seaweed instead of plastic could cut down plastic waste significantly. But how feasible is it? Liz Bonnin went to meet him.

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France removes toxic tyres from failed reef project

24 Sept 2018 - BBC NEWS - Teams of divers are lifting an artificial reef made of old car tyres from the seafloor, after it was found to spread pollution from toxic chemicals.

24 Sept 2018 - BBC NEWS - Teams of divers are painstakingly lifting an artificial reef made of tens of thousands of old car tyres from the seafloor south of France, after it was found to spread pollution from toxic chemicals.

The operation is costing well over a million euros ($1.1m; £898,000) and is part-funded by the tyre manufacturer Michelin as well as the French state.

The divers are supported by a boat with lifting equipment.

Fish had been avoiding the area.

Local fishing association leader Denis Genovese told AFP news agency that some types of fish swam around the collection of tyres, while "no species really got used to it".

Once upon a time it was seen as a double solution - a way to get rid of old tyres, while creating habitats for marine life and stimulating marine organisms to grow on the rubber.

In the 1980s local authorities agreed 25,000 tyres should be sunk into the waters 500m (1,640 feet) from the shore between Cannes and Antibes, on the French Riviera.

In 2005, researchers found the tyres were leaking chemicals including heavy metals - a risk to human life - into the environment.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-45620299#

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UN takes first steps to protect High Seas from over exploitation

4 Sept 2018 - The first significant steps towards legally protecting the high seas are to take place at the UN in New York this week.

4 Sept 2018 - BBC NEWS - The first significant steps towards legally protecting the high seas are to take place at the UN in New York.

These waters, defined as the open ocean far from coastlines, are threatened by deep-sea mining, over-fishing and the patenting of marine genetic resources.

Over the next two years, government representatives aim to hammer out a binding agreement to protect them against over-exploitation.

But several nations, including the US, are lukewarm towards the proposals.

Experts believe that the oceans of the world are vital for a number of reasons. Scientists say they capture around 90% of the extra heat and about 26% of the excess carbon dioxide created by humans through the burning of fossil fuels and other activities.

"The half of our planet which is high seas is protecting terrestrial life from the worst impacts of climate change," said Prof Alex Rogers from Oxford University, UK, who has provided evidence to inform the UN treaty process getting under way on Tuesday.

"Yet we do too little to safeguard that or to protect the life within the ocean which is intrinsic to our collective survival. Protecting the biodiversity of the high seas by bringing good governance and law to the whole ocean is the single most important thing we can do to turn the tide for the blue heart of our planet."

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-45397674

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Plastic garbage patch: Medical tests 'inspired me to investigate'

26 Jun 2018 - All-female crew sets out to investigate the world's largest accumulation of marine plastic.

26 Jun 2018 - Experienced sailor Emily Penn has set out with an all-female crew to investigate the world's largest accumulation of marine plastic.

Her team will carry out scientific experiments on the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch", now said to be three times the size of France.

Ms Penn said her own medical tests had convinced her of the potential toxic impacts of plastic, especially for women.

Data will be shared with universities.


Why is this story important?

In March this year, scientists published their latest estimate of the size of what's officially termed the North Pacific Gyre - this moving mess of plastic is better known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and is formed by winds and ocean currents that swirl the material around, in the same way that water spirals down a drain.

The study concluded that the amount of discarded plastic in the garbage patch was up to 16 times greater than previous estimates.

As well as counting the amount in the seas, scientists are now moving on to examine how poisonous plastics can be to animals and humans.

This mission will gather data on plastics in the seas, in the air and in the sediments that will be shared with universities in the UK, the US, Canada and Switzerland.


trawlImage copyrightEMILY PENN
Image captionCrew members carrying out a manta trawl, one of the key methods of gathering data

For Emily Penn, it is the potentially toxic impact of the breakdown of plastics in the ocean by seawater and sunlight that is of great concern.

These tiny fragments contain chemicals which are similar to the sex hormone oestradiol and this can impact fertility in animals and humans.

"The more I learned about the chemicals that we were finding in the oceans, I started to understand that many are endocrine disruptors, they mimic hormones and they are starting to get inside our bodies," she told BBC News from Hawaii where the mission will start.

"When I tested my own body for some of these chemicals we are finding in the ocean and in plastic, I then found them inside me as well," she said.

"During pregnancy, it's critical that you don't have these hormone disruptors inside you; we can pass them on to our children through childbirth and breastfeeding.

"It was that journey for me, that got me on the women's track because I realised it was a very women-focused issue because of the toxic nature of what we were facing."

Ocean sponges

Emily Penn has been involved in environmental issues for several years, organising the largest community-led clean up of the small Pacific island of Tonga.

She has sailed around the world on a ship fuelled by biodiesel, and she co-founded eXXpedition - which runs a series of all-female voyages.

Earlier this month, she received the Points of Light award from Prime Minister Theresa May, which recognises outstanding volunteers making a change in their community.

With her team on board the 22m (72ft) -long research vessel the Sea Dragon, Emily will sail two legs, covering 3,000 nautical miles. She will travel from Hawaii in the US to Vancouver in Canada and then on from Vancouver to the American city of Seattle.

A team of 10 women from a range of different countries will take part in each section of the journey.

The team will be trawling for plastic, trailing nets behind the ship. They will also gather air and water samples, and record observations of wildlife along the journey.

"We'll be looking at the chemicals on the surface of the plastics, and particularly in areas where turtles are living," said Emily Penn.

CONTINUE READING HERE: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-44579420
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