Ocean Action Hub

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Plastic in paradise: Goldman prize winner's fight to protect Bahamas

30 Nov 2020 - Kristal Ambrose had to beat prejudices about class and race to change mindsets on the islands

30 Nov 2020 - Kristal Ambrose had to beat prejudices about class and race to change mindsets on the islands

When the latest Goldman prize winner, Kristal Ambrose, began campaigning against plastic waste in the Bahamas, one of the first obstacles she had to overcome was prejudice about class and race.

“You have been around white people too long. We always use plastic bags,” she recalls being told by neighbours in Eleuthera, one of the 30 islands in the ocean state. “I had to challenge the mindset that only a certain class of people get to care about this stuff. I told them it is not just for tourists. It’s my island and I want to protect it.”

Still bigger challenges followed as Ambrose lobbied local politicians to ban single-use plastic and launched an education campaign to inform people about global overconsumption, particularly in rich nations, that contributed to the steady accumulation of rubbish on formerly pristine beaches, coral reefs and stretches of sea in the Caribbean.

“In the Bahamas, it’s a really big deal because we receive the world’s waste as well as producing our own,” she said. “This is paradise, until you look closely. Then you see the plastic pollution that washes in with the Sargasso Sea.”

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/nov/30/plastic-paradise-goldman-prize-winner-fight-protect-bahamas-kristal-ambrose

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Ghanaians devastated by illegal fishing try hand at citizen sleuthing

12 Nov 2020 - Crucial fish stocks could disappear within five years without urgent action, so desperate fishers are using a new smartphone app to log alleged crimes.

12 Nov 2020 - Crucial fish stocks could disappear within five years without urgent action, so desperate fishers are using a new smartphone app to log alleged crimes.

Illegal and destructive practices by industrial trawlers in Ghana have led to one of the worst overfishing crises in west Africa, with small pelagic species known as “the people’s fish” driven almost to the brink of collapse.



Scores of small-scale fishers are now fighting back against illegal trawlers using a smartphone app that allows them to record, log and report any alleged fishery crimes they spot out at sea.



Evidence gathered via the app, developed by the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF), an NGO working in Ghana and other west African countries to help combat overfishing, was used to report an alleged infraction of fisheries law to Ghana’s Fisheries Commission late last year. A canoe fisher who spotted an industrial trawler with its nets allegedly within the six-mile nautical exclusion zone reserved for small-scale fishers, used the app to photograph and film the boat, and a report was submitted to the Ghanaian government.



When a user spots a vessel they believe is illegally fishing, coming too close to shore, or damaging canoes or gear, they use the app to take a photo of the boat, with its name or identification number. The app records the location and uploads it to a central database, managed by the EJF, where it can be used to catch and penalise perpetrators.



Illegal fishing by foreign trawlers costs Ghana $50m a year, researchers say

 

The tool, called Dase, which means “evidence” in Fante, is also being developed for use in Liberia, where dangerous clashes between canoes and industrial trawlers have been reported.



Researchers predict the total loss of small pelagic fish populations, the staple of coastal communities in Ghana, within five years unless urgent action is taken.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/nov/11/fishing-app-launched-to-tackle-trawling-in-ghana

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'We don't have time to lose': Plans for coral ark to help save the world's reefs

30 Oct 2020 - The Guardian - Biobank aims to house 800 corals in a purpose-built facility near Great Barrier Reef

30 Oct 2020 - The Guardian - Biobank aims to house 800 corals in a purpose-built facility near Great Barrier Reef

A Noah’s ark-like plan to house hundreds of the world’s most at-risk coral species at a publicly accessible bank next to the Great Barrier Reef could prove an important part of long-term coral conservation, marine biologists say.

The Living Coral Biobank, labelled a “coral ark” by its proponents, would serve as a technologically advanced facility where 800 different types of hard corals would be kept and bred, in the event live samples are needed to revive populations wiped out in nature in the future.

Scientists discover 500 metre-tall skyscraper coral reef at Australia's Great Barrier Reef

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Inspired by Norway’s global seed vault, and with architecture influenced by mushroom coral, the bank will also include a function space, research labs, and serve as an aquarium-like tourist attraction for Port Douglas in far north Queensland, Australia, a gateway to the adjacent Great Barrier Reef.

If built, members of the public would be able to see corals from around the world as they are conserved in tightly controlled settings – and have a chance to observe corals’ night time glow.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/oct/29/we-dont-have-time-to-lose-plans-for-coral-ark-to-help-save-the-worlds-reefs

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How fibreglass boats have become a global pollution problem

4 Aug 2020 - The Guardian - Dumped and ageing fibreglass boats are breaking up, releasing toxins and microplastics across the world.

4 Aug 2020 - The Guardian - Dumped and ageing fibreglass boats are breaking up, releasing toxins and microplastics across the world.

Where do old boats go to die? The cynical answer is they are put on eBay for a few pennies in the hope they become some other ignorant dreamer’s problem.

As a marine biologist, I am increasingly aware that the casual disposal of boats made out of fibreglass is harming our coastal marine life. The problem of end-of-life boat management and disposal has gone global, and some island nations are even worried about their already overstretched landfill.

The strength and durability of fibreglass transformed the boating industry and made it possible to mass produce small leisure craft (larger vessels like cruise ships or fishing trawlers need a more solid material like aluminium or steel). However, boats that were built in the fibreglass boom of the 1960s and 1970s are now dying.

We need a drain hole for old boats. We can sink them, bury them, cut them to pieces, grind them or even fill them with compost and make a great welcoming sign, right in the middle of roundabouts in seaside towns.

But there are too many of them and we’re running out of space. To add to the problem, the hurricane season wreaks havoc through the marinas in some parts of the world, with 63,000 boats damaged or destroyed after Irma and Harvey in the Caribbean in 2017 alone.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/aug/06/nautical-not-nice-how-fibreglass-boats-have-become-a-global-pollution-problem

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