Ocean Action Hub

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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

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    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

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    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.

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    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...

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    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/