Ocean Action Hub

Resource title

He's doing the 'dirty work' to keep plastic out of the ocean

21 Oct 2019 - In October 2015, Shah began picking up trash from the beach every Sunday morning. At first, it was just him and a neighbor, and then he began recruiting others to join in.

21 Oct 2019 - Afroz Shah, a lawyer in Mumbai, hasn't had a weekend off in four years. But he hasn't spent this time writing briefs or preparing for court.

His mission? Saving the world's oceans from plastic pollution.

It's a calling he found in 2015 after moving to a community in Mumbai called Versova Beach. He had played there as a child and was upset to see how much it had changed. The sand was no longer visible because it was covered by a layer of garbage more than five feet thick -- most of it plastic waste.

"The whole beach was like a carpet of plastic," he said. "It repulsed me."

    The unsightly mess Shah had stumbled upon is part of a global environmental crisis. More than 8 million tons of plastic ends up in the world's oceans each year -- the equivalent of a garbage truck dumped every minute. It's predicted that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.

    The results are devastating. More than 1 million seabirds, 100,000 sea mammals and countless fish die from plastic pollution each year.

    "The marine species have no choice at all," Shah said. "We are attacking their habitats, their food. Plastic in (the) ocean is a killer."

    In October 2015, Shah began picking up trash from the beach every Sunday morning. At first, it was just him and a neighbor, and then he began recruiting others to join in. Word spread and with help from social media, more volunteers got involved.

    Shah hasn't stopped since. He's now spent 209 weekends dedicated to this mission, inspiring more than 200,000 volunteers to join him in what's been called the world's biggest beach cleanup. By October 2018, Versova Beach was finally clean and Shah's cleanups expanded to another beach as well as a stretch of the Mithi River and other regions of India.

    All told, the movement has cleared more than 60 million pounds of garbage -- mostly plastic waste -- from Mumbai's beaches and waterways.

    For Shah, the work has always been a personal journey, but it has earned global attention. After he was honored as a Champion of the Earth by the United Nations in 2016, Bollywood celebrities and politicians embraced his mission and joined in his cleanups.

    While he continues to work as a lawyer during the week, Shah now devotes nearly all of his free time to this cause. He said he believes that people must accept responsibility for society's impact on the environment.

    CONTINUE READING: https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/17/world/cnnheroes-afroz-shah-afroz-shah-foundation/index.html

    Resource title

    Look to the ocean for climate change solutions

    23 Sept 2019 - There is now overwhelming scientific evidence that the ocean can be a potent force in stabilizing the climate and building a secure future for everyone.

    23 Sept 2019(CNN) Humanity is exacting a terrible toll on the ocean. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will publish its Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate later this week. Its overarching message will be that global warming, combined with the negative impacts of numerous other human activities, is devastating our ocean, with alarming declines in fish stocks, the death of our reefs, and sea level rise that could displace hundreds of millions of people. But there is a glimmer of hope -- there is now overwhelming scientific evidence that the ocean can be a potent force in stabilizing the climate and building a secure future for everyone.

    Ocean-based climate solutions could deliver as much as 21% of the emissions reductions needed to limit global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050. These reductions could amount to 11.8 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent, or CO2e -- a standard unit that measures the impact of greenhouse gases in relation to the effects of CO2. This figure is greater than the current emissions from all coal-fired power plants worldwide.

    These are the key figures from a new report released today, commissioned by the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy composed of 14 prime ministers and presidents, which we are proud to chair. It demonstrates in detail, for the first time, how a sustainable ocean economy could play a much bigger role than we previously thought in shrinking our carbon footprint, achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement, and delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals set forth by the UN in 2015.

    Given the report's findings, the High Level Panel is launching a Call to Ocean-Climate Action at the U.N. Climate Action Summit in New York today. The call presents a list of five actions we can take to boost ocean health and mitigate the climate crisis.

    The first thing we should do is scale up ocean-based renewable energy (such as offshore wind turbines and new technologies to harness the energy of waves and tides). As an alternative to fossil fuels, this has the potential to cut the most emissions -- as much as 5.4 gigatons of CO2e annually by 2050. That's the equivalent of taking over a billion cars off the road for a year.

    We also need to ramp up our ambitions to decarbonize shipping and marine transport; fortunately, many of the solutions to do this already exist. It is also crucial to protect and restore mangroves, seagrasses, salt marshes, and other coastal and marine ecosystems that face a huge threat from over-development. Doing so would prevent significant quantities of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere by increasing nature's capacity to sequester carbon. Additionally, developing low-carbon sources of protein from the ocean -- like seafood, seaweeds and kelp -- can provide a healthy and sustainable diet for future populations while easing emissions from land-based food production.

    CONTINUE READING: https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/23/opinions/un-ocean-climate-change-solutions-solberg-remengesau/index.html

    Resource title

    Going the distance for a plastic-free ocean

    11 Sept 2019 - Sarah Ferguson is creating awareness about plastic pollution one stroke at a time.

    11 Sept 2019 - For someone who spends most of her time in the water, Sarah Ferguson's routine is airtight. An ocean swim before work, a pool session at lunchtime, Pilates coaching in the evening, followed by a healthy dinner, and then bed.

    This record-setting endurance swimmer is not preparing for a race or aiming for a world title. She's putting in countless strokes and sacrifices for something much larger than herself, or anything else -- the ocean. A cleaner, plastic-free ocean.

    Ferguson, half fish, half eco-warrior, founded Breathe Conservation, a nonprofit dedicated to solving the plastic pollution problem, in 2012.

    "Our motto with 'Breathe' is to live deeply and to tread lightly. So that means follow your passions but at the same be aware of the daily choices that you make," Ferguson said.

    On land, the NGO organizes beach cleanups all over the world. In the sea, Ferguson swims unthinkably long distances in trash-laden waters to raise awareness of the issue.

    She doesn't expect anyone to join her in these feats; she only hopes to inspire change.

    "Just like I get to my destination one stroke at a time, every single individual decision you make ... to bring your own bag, to refuse a straw, over time, it makes a big difference," she told CNN.

    CONTINUE READING: https://www.cnn.com/2019/09/06/africa/sarah-ferguson-swim-against-plastic/index.html

    Resource title

    Scientists studied 2,500 coral reefs to figure out how to save them

    12 Aug 2019 - Saving reefs will require combining local and global efforts.

    12 Aug 2019(CNN) An international group of scientists has surveyed more than 2,500 coral reef systems across 44 countries to determine how to save them in the face of damage caused by climate change and humans, according to a new study.

    A hundred scientists were involved in the survey that looked at coral abundance in the Indian and Pacific oceans. Many of the reef systems were found to be full of complex species that created distinctive structures and were functioning in spite of deadly marine heat waves in recent years.

    The study was published Monday in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

    "The good news is that functioning coral reefs still exist, and our study shows that it is not too late to save them," said Emily Darling, the lead author of the study and a Wildlife Conservation Society scientist leading the global coral reef monitoring program. "Safeguarding coral reefs into the future means protecting the world's last functioning reefs and recovering reefs impacted by climate change. But realistically -- on severely degraded reefs -- coastal societies will need to find new livelihoods for the future."

      Heat stress affected many coral reefs during the El Niño event between 2014 and 2017. But 450 reefs in 22 countries survived in protective cool spots. The scientists believe those areas should be the focus of urgent protection and management efforts.

      Previously, the Indo-Pacific reefs were also hit by mass coral bleaching and heat stress in 1983, 1998, 2005 and 2010, before the world's most intense, longest and largest bleaching event between 2014 and 2017.

      Coral bleaching occurs when ocean temperatures rise and corals release the algae that lives in their tissues, causing them to turn white, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

      Carbon emissions, pollution, development and overfishing have also impacted reefs.

      "Saving reefs will require combining local and global efforts, such as reducing local dependence on reef fish to maintain a reef's important functions while also reducing carbon emissions to keep warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius," said Tim McClanahan, co-author of the study and Wildlife Conservation Society senior conservation zoologist.

      CONTINUE READING: https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/12/world/global-coral-reef-conservation-study-scn-trnd/index.html

      Resource title

      This Irish teenager may have a solution for a plastic-free ocean

      5 Aug 2019 - A teenager from Ireland may have found a way to rescue our oceans from the growing plastic pollution problem.

      5 Aug 2019(CNN) A teenager from Ireland may have found a way to rescue our oceans from the growing plastic pollution problem.

      A walk on the beach led Fionn Ferreira to develop his project on microplastic extraction from water for the annual Google Science Fair. The project won the grand prize of $50,000 in educational funding at this year's event.

      The 18-year-old said that while he was out on that walk in his coastal hometown of Ballydehob, he ran across a stone with oil and plastic stuck to it -- something he says he's become more aware of in recent years.

      "I was alarmed to find out how many microplastics enter our wastewater system and consequently the oceans," he wrote in his project. That's what got Ferreira thinking about how to develop a new extraction method.

      The Google Science Fair has been crowning winners for eight years with the help of sponsors like Lego, Scientific American, National Geographic and Virgin Galactic. Students 13 through 18 from around the world are encouraged to submit and present science and technology experiments and results to a panel of judges.

      CONTINUE READING: https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/01/us/irish-teen-wins-google-science-fair-trnd/index.html

      Resource title

      Islanders learn to coexist with their coral reefs
      18 Jul 2018 - Meet the fearless women of Rodrigues that protect octopuses through responsible fishing Source: CNN

      18 Jul 2018 - Meet the fearless women of Rodrigues that protect octopuses through responsible fishing

      The US-based news channel CNN aired a story about women fishing for octapus on Inside Africa.

      Several women fishermen discuss their lives and their passion for the sea together with staff of the NGO Shoals Rodrigues, which advocates for a more profitable fishery over time.

      Representatives of the Rodrigues authorities and members of the National Coast Guard explain the importance of the months of closure to have a better harvest of this popular delicacy.

      Resource title

      At first UN Ocean Conference, island nations plead for help - CNN

      7 Jun 2017 - Ministers from tiny island states such as Palau, Fiji and Tuvalu arrived to make the case that the lives of their citizens, thousands of miles away, are more at risk than ever.

      7 June 2017 - Richard Roth, United Nations (CNN) - If they were making another movie sequel, this planet-threatening adventure would be called "Oceans Attack."

      For small island countries, the ocean can be an imposing and valuable friend, but increasingly, because of climate change, pollution and overfishing, humans have transformed the gigantic oceans of the planet into rising, junk-filled threats.

      This week the United Nations is hosting its first large-scale conference devoted to protecting and saving the oceans. The Ocean Conference co-chairwoman, deputy Prime Minister of Sweden Isabella Lovin, said, "We know the ocean is broken. We now need to sit together the next five days and make the long to-do list we all need to be ticking off, together, in order to fix it."

      Funafuti Atoll in Tuvalu is 15 feet above sea level at its highest point, rising sea levels are putting it at risk.

      Ministers from tiny island states such as Palau, Fiji and Tuvalu, some in business suits, others in native island shirts, arrived to make the case that the lives of their citizens, thousands of miles away, are more at risk than ever.

      "Time is running out to save our seas and oceans," said Fiji Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama. He told the United Nations gathering that the Pacific Ocean runs through his blood. But "it pains me deeply to have witnessed the rapid deterioration during my own lifetime of this precious resource, the economic lifeblood of our people."

      Fishing is what keeps island residents alive. Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said, "For us the ocean is both a shared resource and a source of isolation."

      But climate change, trawlers poaching in their waters, and overfishing of large predatory fish stocks has placed the islands at risk. Seychelles Vice-President Vincent Meriton said, "It's a matter of survival."

      The President of Palau said he was a fisherman like his family before him. President Tommy Remengesau said, "Unfortunately, in an expanding world economy, the industrialized world, in its quest for wealth forgot that we must protect the goose that laid the golden eggs."

      Palau has set aside 193,000 square miles of ocean, 80% of its maritime territory, as a "no take" marine territory. The leader of the United Nations and its 193 countries didn't need convincing. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, "The health of our oceans and seas requires us to put aside short-term national gain to avoid long-term global catastrophe."

      US President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris global climate change agreement last week gave a boost in one area: media attention to the oceans talkathon.

      But the more urgent problem remains: The effect of climate change.

      UN Ambassador from the Seychelles Ronald Jumeau told reporters, "How can you worry about someone who is not in the room?"

      The President of Micronesia concluded his speech with an appeal to President Trump. President Peter Christian said, "I ask the United States to do what it can afford to do, what it can as a nation, about climate change and for our oceans, if not the Micronesians, but for the sake of the United States and Americans."

      Whatever their feelings about Trump and his climate pact withdrawal, many small island states face a real-life large enemy: the Pacific Ocean. Global climate change, according to most scientists, causes oceans to keep rising, temperatures on land to get hotter, and the waters to turn more acidic, disturbing fish life.

      Guterres cited a study that predicted plastics could outweigh fish in our seas by 2050.

      In 2011, members of the Royal New Zealand defense, helped Tuvalu deal with a drinking water shortage.

      The Prime Minister of Tuvalu, Enele Sosene Sopoaga, said his country could be the most "fisher dependent" nation on Earth. The contrast in size between island and ocean is stark.

      Sopoaga said Tuvalu, a group of South Pacific atolls, is 24 square kilometers in land size in contrast to 27 million square kilometers of the Pacific Ocean. He blamed illegal and unregulated fishing for stealing an estimated 26 million tons of fish from the ocean annually. Tuvalu called for human solutions to the ocean problems. "We are all accountable as co-owners and co-inhabitants on this planet of whose blood is blue."

      Opinion: Make or break moment for the oceans - CNN

      Nauru's President Baron Waqa said his country, with just 10,000 people, is the smallest member of the United Nations. He said his country is 99.99% ocean. But tuna has made his tiny nation an economic player. Nauru and other small island neighbors have agreed to a tuna sustainability agreement to improve regulation of the valuable fishstock.

      CONTINUE READING HERE: http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/07/world/small-island-nations-un-ocean-confer...

      Resource title

      Millions of discarded flip flops posing huge hazard to ocean life

      13 Apr 2017 Watamu, Kenya (CNN) The shores of Watamu on the Kenyan coast should be pristine. They're not.

      13 Apr 2017 Watamu, Kenya (CNN) The shores of Watamu on the Kenyan coast should be pristine. They're not.

      Downstream from an ecological disaster brewing a continent away, these placid waters are bearing the brunt of a foot-born problem: your flip flops.

      The Japanese call them zoris. They're thongs in Australia. Tsinelas in the Philippines and chinelos in Brazil. Archaeologists have even discovered an Ancient Egyptian pair made from leather, dating from approximately 3,500 years ago.

      "Over three billion people can only afford that type of shoe," says Erin Smith of Ocean Sole, a conservation group and recycling collective. "They hang on to them, they fix them, they duct tape them, mend them and then usually discard them." The average lifespan of a flip flop is two years, she adds.

      They're ubiquitous, and the modern day synthetic rubber flip flop is not going away. In fact, tons of them are washing up on the East African coast.

      Reports suggest that at least eight million tons of plastic enters our oceans every year. By 2050, there could be more plastic than fish in the seas by weight, according to one estimate.

      The majority of debris visiting Kenya comes from Asia, India and China, Smith claims, and the ocean current spreads it all along the East African coast, drifting south. Some will eventually leave the Indian Ocean and make it as far as South America.

      "We are actually receivers of pretty much the rest of the emerging world's marine pollution," she argues. And a significant quantity of the pollution which appears on East Africa's beaches come from discarded flip flops -- approximately 90 tons a year, says Ocean Sole.

      Kenya is not an entirely innocent party, however. Smith says one company produces 100,000 flip flops a day, many of which, with grim inevitability, also enter the waterways. Before they reach the ocean they're already a problem. Smith reports that in Kibera, one of Nairobi's largest slums, a back-up of discarded flip flops once blocked the area's clean water supply.

      They're not only an eyesore, but a direct health hazard, and with no hope of biodegrading.

      "Our founder Julie Church back in the 90s discovered an entire beach ... was just covered in flip flops," Smith says. "What she saw were not just dead fish that had been trying to eat in their natural habitat, but turtles unable to come up on to land and actually hatch.

      "[The pollution] started to kill the plant life, it started to kill the crabs on the sand ... we have deserted beaches that used to have communities there, that used to be able to fish, and the whole ecosystem has been ruined by this massive increase in marine pollution."

      CONTINUE READING: http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/12/africa/flip-flops-pollution-ocean-sole/