Ocean Action Hub

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World fails to meet a single target to stop destruction of nature – UN report

15 Sept 2020 - The world has failed to meet a single target to stem the destruction of wildlife and life-sustaining ecosystems in the last decade, according to a devastating new report fro

15 Sept 2020 - The world has failed to meet a single target to stem the destruction of wildlife and life-sustaining ecosystems in the last decade, according to a devastating new report from the UN on the state of nature.

From tackling pollution to protecting coral reefs, the international community did not fully achieve any of the 20 Aichi biodiversity targets agreed in Japan in 2010 to slow the loss of the natural world. It is the second consecutive decade that governments have failed to meet targets.

The Global Biodiversity Outlook 5, published before a key UN summit on the issue later this month, found that despite progress in some areas, natural habitats have continued to disappear, vast numbers of species remain threatened by extinction from human activities, and $500bn (£388bn) of environmentally damaging government subsidies have not been eliminated.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/sep/15/every-global-target-to-stem-destruction-of-nature-by-2020-missed-un-report-aoe

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Terracotta tile army marches to the rescue for coral

27 Aug 2020 - Scientists are using 3D-printed hexagons to create artificial reefs after a super-typhoon brought devastation to Hong Kong.

27 Aug 2020 - Scientists are using 3D-printed hexagons to create artificial reefs after a super-typhoon brought devastation to Hong Kong.

In 2018, a super-typhoon destroyed 80% of the corals in Hoi Ha Wan bay off the Sai Kung peninsula in Hong Kong. In the city’s strongest storm since records began, winds reached 155mph (250km/h) and battered the reefs, leaving behind mostly scattered debris and broken coral skeletons. A few coral species survived, but these will likely take decades to regrow to their former state.

Sadly, this was no exception. Coral reefs are rapidly vanishing from the world’s oceans in large part because of the effects of global heating, which among other issues is increasing the frequency and severity of storms. In 2016 and 2017 alone, 89% of new corals on the Great Barrier Reef perished as a result of global heating-induced bleaching. Without decisive action to tackle the climate emergency, overfishing and pollution, it is estimated we will lose 70% to 90% of the world’s remaining coral reefs over the next 20 years.

A team of marine scientists and architects from the University of Hong Kong are trialling one method of restoring the reefs destroyed in the typhoon – and, they hope, others in future.

Using a 3D printer, they have created so-called “reef tiles” – hexagons made of terracotta – and placed them on the seafloor in Hoi Ha Wan bay.

The technology might be advanced but the idea is simple. “To create a hard bottom on a sandy seafloor,” says David Baker, director of the Swire Institute of Marine Science (Swims). “Sand is really not great for corals as it can move and bury or scour the coral’s thin tissues. Most corals that end up in sand usually suffer a slow death.”

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/aug/26/hong-kongs-terracotta-tile-army-marches-to-the-rescue-for-coral

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Marine food webs could be radically altered by heating of oceans, scientists warn

14 Aug 2020 - Temperature and CO2 changes reduce the numbers of some species and promote the growth of algae, University of Adelaide study finds

14 Aug 2020 - Temperature and CO2 changes reduce the numbers of some species and promote the growth of algae, University of Adelaide study finds

Heating of the world’s oceans could radically reorganise marine food webs across the globe causing the numbers of some species to collapse while promoting the growth of algae, new research has warned.

Healthy marine food webs that look like a pyramid, with smaller numbers of larger predatory species at the top and more abundant smaller organisms at the bottom, could become “bottom heavy”.

The types of species that could become less abundant in the oceans are the same ones targeted by commercial fishing and also are socially and culturally important to many communities around the globe.

In the research, published in the journal Science, researchers at the University of Adelaide recreated a marine habitat in a series of 1,800-litre tanks and then subjected some to temperature and CO2 changes.

Prof Ivan Nagelkerken, of the University of Adelaide’s Environment Institute and who led the research, said gazing into the tanks after six months when the study period ended had not been a pretty sight.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/aug/13/marine-food-webs-could-be-radically-altered-by-heating-of-oceans-scientists-warn

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Plastic waste entering oceans expected to triple in 20 years

27 Jul 2020 - The Guardian - Plastic waste flowing into the oceans is expected to nearly triple in volume in the next 20 years, while efforts to stem the tide have so far made barely a den

27 Jul 2020 - The Guardian - Plastic waste flowing into the oceans is expected to nearly triple in volume in the next 20 years, while efforts to stem the tide have so far made barely a dent in the tsunami of waste, research shows.

Governments could make drastic cuts to the flow of plastic reaching the oceans through measures such as restricting the sale and use of plastic materials, and mandating alternatives, but even if all the most likely measures are taken it would only cut the waste to little less than half of today’s levels, the analysis found.

Previous estimates put the amount of plastic reaching the oceans each year at about 8m tonnes, but the true figure is much higher at about 11m tonnes, according to the paper published in the journal Science.

If current trends continue, the amount of plastic waste polluting the oceans will grow to 29m tonnes a year by 2040, the equivalent of 50kg for every metre of coastline in the world.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jul/23/plastic-waste-entering-oceans-triple-20-years-research

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Small boats and female workers hardest hit by Covid-19 fisheries impact

23 Jun 2020 - Small fishing boats, fish markets and female workers are among the categories worst affected by the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis on the world’s fisheries,

23 Jun 2020 - Small fishing boats, fish markets and female workers are among the categories worst affected by the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis on the world’s fisheries, research has found.

Supply chains around the world have been disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic, and artisanal fishing – small boats – has borne the brunt, according to the annual report on fisheries by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). While industrial fishing fell only by about 6.5% in April, a large proportion of small vessels around the world have been in effect confined to port, and their markets are uncertain.

In parts of the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, more than 90% of small-scale fishing fleets have had to stop fishing owing to a lack of markets and falling prices.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jun/08/small-boats-women-workers-hardest-hit-covid-19-fisheries-impact

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Microplastics disrupt hermit crabs' ability to choose shell, study suggests

29 Apr 2020 - Fears pollution affecting cognition as crabs exposed to polyethylene struggle to select good homes.

29 Apr 2020 - Fears pollution affecting cognition as crabs exposed to polyethylene struggle to select good homes.

“Usually a so-called ‘normal’ hermit crab will always want to go for the better shell,” said Dr Gareth Arnott, co-author of the new research from Queen’s University Belfast, adding such shells are typically those of sea snails.

“The striking thing in this study was when [we offered them a better shell], lots of the crabs that had been exposed to the microplastics didn’t make the optimal decision to take [it],” he said.

Microplastics – pieces of plastic 5mm or smaller – are a growing subject of research, with previous studies showing they are present even in the depths of the ocean and are ending up in the bodies of living organisms, from seals to crabs and seabirds.

However, while there is some evidence that exposure to such pollution has affected growth and reproduction in some animals, research into specific effects on animal behaviour and cognition remains scarce.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/29/microplastics-disrupt-hermit-crabs-ability-to-choose-shell-study-suggests

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Oceans can be restored to former glory within 30 years, say scientists

2 Apr 2020 - The Guardian - Major review reports recovery of marine life but a redoubling of efforts is still needed.

2 Apr 2020 - The Guardian - Major review reports recovery of marine life but a redoubling of efforts is still needed.

The glory of the world’s oceans could be restored within a generation, according to a major new scientific review. It reports rebounding sea life, from humpback whales off Australia to elephant seals in the US and green turtles in Japan.

Through rampant overfishing, pollution and coastal destruction, humanity has inflicted severe damage on the oceans and its inhabitants for centuries. But conservation successes, while still isolated, demonstrate the remarkable resilience of the seas.

The scientists say there is now the knowledge to create an ocean renaissance for wildlife by 2050 and with it bolster the services that the world’s people rely on, from food to coastal protection to climate stability. The measures needed, including protecting large swathes of ocean, sustainable fishing and pollution controls, would cost billions of dollars a year, the scientists say, but would bring benefits 10 times as high.

However, the escalating climate crisis must also be tackled to protect the oceans from acidification, loss of oxygen and the devastation of coral reefs. The good news, the scientists say, is a growing awareness of the ability of oceans and coastal habitats such as mangroves and salt marshes to rapidly soak up carbon dioxide and bolster shorelines against rising sea levels.



“We have a narrow window of opportunity to deliver a healthy ocean to our grandchildren, and we have the knowledge and tools to do so,” said Prof Carlos Duarte, of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia, who led the review. “Failing to embrace this challenge, and in so doing condemning our grandchildren to a broken ocean unable to support good livelihoods is not an option.”



Prof Callum Roberts, at the University of York, one of the review’s international team, said: “Overfishing and climate change are tightening their grip, but there is hope in the science of restoration.



“One of the overarching messages of the review is, if you stop killing sea life and protect it, then it does come back. We can turn the oceans around and we know it makes sense economically, for human wellbeing and, of course, for the environment.”

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/01/oceans-can-be-restored-to-former-glory-within-30-years-say-scientists

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Report reveals ‘massive plastic pollution footprint’ of drinks firms

31 Mar 2020 - Report says plastic from Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestlé and Unilever products could cover 83 football pitches every day.

31 Mar 2020 - Report says plastic from Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestlé and Unilever products could cover 83 football pitches every day.

Four global drinks giants are responsible for more than half a million tonnes of plastic pollution in six developing countries each year, enough to cover 83 football pitches every day, according to a report.

The NGO Tearfund has calculated the greenhouse gas emissions from the open burning of plastic bottles, sachets and cartons produced by Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestlé and Unilever in developing nations, where waste can be mismanaged because people do not have access to collections.

Taking a sample of six developing countries, reflecting a spread across the globe, the NGO estimated the burning of plastic packaging put on to the market by the companies creates 4.6m tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent – equivalent to the emissions from 2m cars.

Tearfund analysed the plastic put on the market in China, India, the Philippines, Brazil, Mexico and Nigeria by the four companies to examine the impact of single use plastic in developing countries. The countries were chosen because they are large developing country markets, spread across three continents.



The sachets, bottles, and cartons sold in these countries often end up either being burned or dumped – creating a pollution problem equivalent to covering 83 football pitches with plastic to 10 centimetres deep each day.

The report says: “This massive plastic pollution footprint, while a crisis in and of itself, is also contributing to the climate crisis.”

It adds that the four companies make little or no mention of emissions from disposal of their products or packaging in their climate change commitments.

“These companies continue to sell billions of products in single-use bottles, sachets and packets in developing countries,” says the report.

“And they do this despite knowing that: waste isn’t properly managed in these contexts; their packaging therefore becomes pollution; and such pollution causes serious harm to the environment and people’s health. Such actions – with such knowledge – are morally indefensible.”

The charity is calling for the companies to urgently switch to refillable and reusable packaging instead of sachets and plastic bottles.

The NGO estimated how much of their plastic waste in each country is mismanaged, burned or dumped using World Bank data.

Their analysis of emissions quantities were calculated by estimating the proportion of each company’s mismanaged plastic that is openly burned, and combining these amounts with emissions factors for three different types of plastic. Their analysis was independently reviewed.

The research found that emissions produced from the open burning of Coca-Cola, Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever’s plastic packaging on street corners, open dumps and in backyards in developing countries was a major contribution to the climate emergency.

Coca-Cola creates the biggest plastic pollution footprint in the six countries. The drinks giant creates 200,000 tonnes of plastic waste – or about 8bn bottles – which is burned or dumped each year in the six countries: enough to cover 33 football pitches every day.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/mar/31/report-reveals-massive-plastic-pollution-footprint-of-drinks-firms

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More than 80% of Indian Ocean dolphins may have been killed by commercial fishing, study finds

04 Mar 2020 - An estimated 4m small cetaceans caught as by-catch in commercial tuna fishing nets since 1950, researchers say.

04 Mar 2020 - An estimated 4m small cetaceans caught as by-catch in commercial tuna fishing nets since 1950, researchers say. Dolphin numbers in the Indian Ocean may have dropped by more than 80% in recent decades, with an estimated 4m small cetaceans caught as “by-catch” in commercial tuna fishing nets since 1950, according to a study.

As many as 100,000 cetaceans – mainly dolphins – were caught in commercial gill nets as by-catch in 2006, with current annual numbers at about 80,000.

Published in the journal Endangered Species Research, the study used the changes in the numbers of dolphins caught in commercial gill nets as a way to calculate changes in the numbers of dolphins in the Indian Ocean.

The authors say gill-net fishing in the Indian Ocean is “effectively unmanaged” and potentially the biggest unresolved issue facing cetaceans today.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/mar/03/more-than-80-of-indian-ocean-dolphins-may-have-been-killed-by-commercial-fishing-study-finds

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Palau's marine sanctuary backfires, leading to increased consumption of reef fish

26 Feb 2020 - The Guardian - Fishing ban has led to an increased consumption of the reef fish in the Pacific country – such as grouper, snapper and parrotfish – that the marine sa

26 Feb 2020 - The Guardian - Fishing ban has led to an increased consumption of the reef fish in the Pacific country – such as grouper, snapper and parrotfish – that the marine sanctuary promised to protect. What can be learned?

Palau introduced a new 500,000 sq km (193,000 sq mile) marine sanctuary on 1 January to much fanfare.

The establishment of the sanctuary, which is twice the size of Mexico and is the world’s sixth-largest fully protected area, saw Palau close 80% of its economic exclusion zone to commercial fishing as well as activities like drilling for oil.

Palau approves huge Pacific marine sanctuary

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While the closure of the EEZ to commercial fishing aimed to reduce pressure on the reef by encouraging sustainable domestic fishing of fish like tuna, the ban has actually led to a shortage as commercial fishing vessels have moved out of Palau’s waters.

CONTINUE READING ONLIEN HERE: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/27/palaus-marine-sanctuary-backfires-leading-to-increased-consumption-of-reef-fish

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