Ocean Action Hub

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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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Ocean temperatures hit record high as rate of heating accelerates

14 Jan 2020 - The Guardian - Oceans are clearest measure of climate crisis as they absorb 90% of heat trapped by greenhouse gases.

14 Jan 2020 - The Guardian - Oceans are clearest measure of climate crisis as they absorb 90% of heat trapped by greenhouse gases. The heat in the world’s oceans reached a new record level in 2019, showing “irrefutable and accelerating” heating of the planet.

The world’s oceans are the clearest measure of the climate emergency because they absorb more than 90% of the heat trapped by the greenhouse gases emitted by fossil fuel burning, forest destruction and other human activities.

The new analysis shows the past five years are the top five warmest years recorded in the ocean and the past 10 years are also the top 10 years on record. The amount of heat being added to the oceans is equivalent to every person on the planet running 100 microwave ovens all day and all night.

Why do record ocean temperatures matter?

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Hotter oceans lead to more severe storms and disrupt the water cycle, meaning more floods, droughts and wildfires, as well as an inexorable rise in sea level. Higher temperatures are also harming life in the seas, with the number of marine heatwaves increasing sharply.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jan/13/ocean-temperatures-hit-record-high-as-rate-of-heating-accelerates

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Mekong basin's vanishing fish signal tough times ahead in Cambodia

31 Dec 2019 - In just one generation, everything has changed. Fish species are dwindling, plant life is dying and the entire Mekong system is breaking apart.

31 Dec 2019 - In just one generation, everything has changed. Fish species are dwindling, plant life is dying and the entire Mekong system is breaking apart. For the children gathered around Tbong, a plentiful Tonlé Sap is nothing but a story.

Situated in the heart of the lower Mekong basin, Tonlé Sap is the largest freshwater lake in south-east Asia. The lake and its surrounding floodplains were designated a Unesco biosphere reserve in 1997 and the lake supports the breeding, feeding and harvesting of hundreds of species of fish and other freshwater produce.

But this year the waters have fallen to a record low.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/dec/16/mekong-basins-vanishing-fish-signal-ill-times-ahead-for-cambodia-aoe

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Global heating supercharging Indian Ocean climate system

19 Nov 2019 - Indian Ocean dipole events, linked to bushfires and floods, are becoming stronger and more frequent, scientists say.

19 Nov 2019 - Global heating is “supercharging” an increasingly dangerous climate mechanism in the Indian Ocean that has played a role in disasters this year including bushfires in Australia and floods in Africa.

Scientists and humanitarian officials say this year’s record Indian Ocean dipole, as the phenomenon is known, threatens to reappear more regularly and in a more extreme form as sea surface temperatures rise.

Of most concern are years in which the sea surface off the coast of Africa warms up, provoking increased rains, while temperatures off Australia fall, leading to drier weather.

It is similar to El Niño and La Niña in the Pacific, which cause sharp changes in weather patterns on both sides of the ocean.

Caroline Ummenhofer, a scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts who has been a key figure in efforts to understand the importance of the dipole, said unique factors were at play in the Indian Ocean compared with other tropical regions.

While ocean currents and winds in the Atlantic and Pacific can disperse heating water, the large Asian landmass to the north of the Indian Ocean makes it particularly susceptible to retaining heat. “It’s quite different to the tropical Atlantic and tropical Pacific events. There you have you have steady easterly trade winds. In the Indian Ocean that’s not the case,” Ummenhofer said.

“There is a certain season where you have easterly winds. Otherwise you have seasonally reversing monsoon winds, which makes for very different dynamics.”

Recent research suggests ocean heat has risen dramatically over the past decade, leading to the potential for warming water in the Indian Ocean to affect the Indian monsoon, one of the most important climate patterns in the world.

“There has been research suggesting that Indian Ocean dipole events have become more common with the warming in the last 50 years, with climate models suggesting a tendency for such events to become more frequent and becoming stronger,” Ummenhofer said.

She said warming appeared to be “supercharging” mechanisms already existing in the background. “The Indian Ocean is particularly sensitive to a warming world. It is the canary in the coalmine seeing big changes before others come to other tropical ocean areas.”

Australian climatologists have pointed to this year’s dipole as at least one of the contributing factors in the bushfires. Jonathan Pollock, of Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology, said this dipole was “up there as one of the strongest” on record.

CONTINUE READING: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2019/nov/19/global-heating-supercharging-indian-ocean-dipole-climate-system

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Dumped fishing gear is biggest plastic polluter in ocean, finds report

5 Nov 2019 - Greenpeace calls for global action over nets, lines and traps that are deadly for marine life.

5 Nov 2019 - Lost and abandoned fishing gear which is deadly to marine life makes up the majority of large plastic pollution in the oceans, according to a report by Greenpeace.

More than 640,000 tonnes of nets, lines, pots and traps used in commercial fishing are dumped and discarded in the sea every year, the same weight as 55,000 double-decker buses.

The report, which draws on the most up-to-date research on “ghost gear” polluting the oceans, calls for international action to stop the plastic pollution, which is deadly for marine wildlife.

About 300 sea turtles were found dead as a result of entanglement in ghost gear off the coast of Oaxaca, Mexico, last year. And in October, a pregnant whale was found entangled in ghost gear off the Orkney coast. The fishing gear was jammed in the animal’s baleen, the filter-feeder system inside its mouth, and scientists said the net would have hugely impaired the minke whale’s feeding and movement.

Louisa Casson, an oceans campaigner at Greenpeace UK, said: “Ghost gear is a major source of ocean plastic pollution and it affects marine life in the UK as much as anywhere else.

“The UK’s waters do not exist in a vacuum as oceans have no borders. The world’s governments must take action to protect our global oceans, and hold the under-regulated fishing industry to account for its dangerous waste. This should start with a strong global ocean treaty being agreed at the United Nations next year.”

The report said abandoned fishing gear was particularly deadly. “Nets and lines can pose a threat to wildlife for years or decades, ensnaring everything from small fish and crustaceans to endangered turtles, seabirds and even whales,” it said.

“Spreading throughout the ocean on tides and currents, lost and discarded fishing gear is now drifting to Arctic coastlines, washing up on remote Pacific islands, entangled on coral reefs and littering the deep seafloor.”

CONTINUE READING: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/nov/06/dumped-fishing-gear-is-biggest-plastic-polluter-in-ocean-finds-report

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