Ocean Action Hub

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Ban on destructive fishing practice helps species recovery in Indonesian park

6 Nov 2019 - Fish stocks in a marine national park in Indonesia increased significantly in the years after a ban on the use of coral-destroying nets was imposed, a recent study has found.

6 Nov 2019

  • In 2011, a destructive fishing practice known as muroami was banned in Karimunjawa National Park off Indonesia’s Java Island.
  • In 2012-2013, the overall biomass of herbivorous fish species in the park had more than doubled from the 2006-2009 period, researchers have found.
  • They attribute this recovery to the muroami ban and have called for it to be implemented in other marine parks across Indonesia.

JAKARTA — Fish stocks in a marine national park in Indonesia increased significantly in the years after a ban on the use of coral-destroying nets was imposed, a recent study has found.

The overall biomass of herbivorous fish species in Karimunjawa National Park more than doubled in 2012-2013 from the 2006-2009 period, signaling a recovery in fish stock, the researchers write in their study published in July in the journal Ecological Applications.

They attribute the increase in biomass, which is key in conserving reef fish biodiversity, to a complete ban in 2011 on muroami fishing. This particular practice, common across Southeast Asia, uses large, non-discriminatory nets in combination with pounding devices to smash into coral reefs to flush out fish. Local fishermen also use compressor-and-hose diving equipment, putting their own lives at risk.

The paper notes that the imposition of the muroami ban met with minimal resistance from local fishermen as they already understood that the practice was unprofitable and endangered their lives.

In addition to biomass doubling rapidly following the ban, the variety of fish species recorded, or taxonomic richness, also increased by 30 percent, the authors write. Co-author Shinta Pardede, a researcher with the Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) Indonesia marine program, called Karimunjawa “the last frontier of coral reefs ecosystem in the Java Sea.”

“The reefs in the Karimunjawa chain provide high marine biodiversity and reef fish fisheries that mainly support both local and national fisheries resources,” she added.

Declared in a marine reserve in 2001, the park today spans 1,100 square kilometers (425 square miles) and encompasses 22 islands that are part of the Karimunjawa Archipelago. A patchwork of zoning policies allows artisanal fishing in certain areas, as well as tourism and research activities.

The island chain is one of seven marine national parks in Indonesia, and is renowned for its coral reefs. Nearly 500 species of reef fish thrive in the waters around Karimunjawa, and the park is a popular tourist attraction for divers and snorkelers.

CONTINUE READING: https://news.mongabay.com/2019/11/destructive-fishing-muroami-indonesia-ban-reefs-recovery-karimunjawa/

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Commitments worth $63 billion pledged for ocean protection

28 Oct 2019 - Governments, businesses, organizations and research institutions made commitments toward improving marine health and productivity worth more than $63 billion.

28 Oct 2019

  • The sixth annual Our Ocean conference took place in Oslo, Norway, on Oct. 23 and 24.
  • Governments, businesses, organizations and research institutions made 370 commitments toward improving marine health and productivity that were worth more than $63 billion.
  • The commitments, a considerable boost from the $10 billion committed last year, reflect a new level of urgency around ocean protection as its role in mitigating climate change becomes ever clearer.
  • Focus areas of the conference included building the sustainability of the global fishing industry and reducing plastic pollution.

Governments, businesses, organizations and research institutions made commitments toward improving marine health and productivity worth more than $63 billion at the Our Ocean 2019 conference in Oslo on Oct. 23 and 24.

A total of 370 commitments were made at the conference, which was initiated by former U.S. secretary of state John Kerry in 2014 and has run annually ever since. Our Oceans brings together international leaders to share knowledge and experiences, and to commit to action for healthier oceans. This year, 500 people from more than 100 countries attended, as well as 100 youth delegates.

“These commitments are not just empty promises,” said Norway’s minister of foreign affairs, Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide, in her opening address. The conference emphasizes public accountability, and recent research by Oregon State University shows that past Our Oceans commitments have resulted, among other things, in more than one-third of the ocean area now under protected status.

This year’s high-figure commitments, which are a considerable boost from the $10 billion committed last year, reflect a new level of focus and urgency around ocean protection, as its role in mitigating the advance and impacts of climate change becomes ever clearer. “For decades, the ocean has acted as a buffer against the impacts of global warming; but it has come at a price,” said Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg in a plenary speech discussing the ways that climate change is impacting marine biodiversity. “The ocean is the prime victim of climate change,” said Karmenu Vella, the European Union commissioner for environment, maritime affairs and fisheries, in a panel discussion. “But it’s the prime solution as well.”

Several speakers noted the importance of oceans for reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by U.N. member states in 2015 and feeding a growing world population. “As someone who grew up by the ocean and lives in a country that derives two-thirds of its revenue from the ocean, I know that we cannot choose between ocean protection and ocean productivity,” Solberg said. “We need to achieve both. We have to recognize the connection between ocean health and ocean wealth: we need ocean resources, but the oceans can only be productive if they are healthy.”

CONTINUE READING: https://news.mongabay.com/2019/10/commitments-worth-63-billion-pledged-for-ocean-protection/

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Indonesia creates three marine protected areas within Coral Triangle

30 May 2019 - The Indonesian government has established three new marine protected areas within the Coral Triangle, home to the highest diversity of corals and reef fishes anywhere on the

30 May 2019 - The Indonesian government has established three new marine protected areas within the Coral Triangle, home to the highest diversity of corals and reef fishes anywhere on the planet.

  • Indonesia has designated three new marine protected areas (MPAs) in the waters of eastern North Maluku province.
  • The new protected zones are expected to improve the local fisheries sector and support national food security.
  • The establishment of the areas is part of the government’s target to create 200,000 square kilometers (77,200 square miles) of MPAs by 2020; it has already achieved 96 percent of that goal.

The declaration of the three new zones, spanning a combined 226 square kilometers (87 square miles), was made on April 2. They’re centered, respectively around the islands of Sula, Rao and Makian, which are all part of the Morotai archipelago in the eastern province of North Maluku. Indonesia has committed to setting aside 200,000 square kilometers (77,200 square miles) of its territorial waters for conservation by 2020, and has to date achieved 191,400 square kilometers (73,900 square miles), or about 96 percent of its target.

Fishing boats larger than 10 gross tonnage will be prohibited from entering the newly declared marine protected areas (MPAs); only traditional and small-scale fishers using sustainable fishing equipment will be permitted to operate there, under a 2016 law on marine conservation areas.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://news.mongabay.com/2019/04/indonesia-creates-three-marine-protected-areas-within-coral-triangle/

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Marine protected areas are getting SMART (commentary)

3 Mar 2019 - Conservation groups are turning to tech solutions to generate knowledge and make it accessible to others. The Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) was developed to improve the performance of protected areas.

3 Mar 2019 - This year, World Wildlife Day will celebrate life in the world’s oceans. It’s a fitting tribute. Oceans cover more than 70 percent of the world’s surface, harbor hundreds of thousands of species, and provide important resources to coastal communities that house more than 35 percent of the global population.

Oceans also face significant threats, including overexploitation. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are central to the efforts to protect Earth’s seas and the wildlife that call them home. In recent years, there has been a surge in their creation, spurred on by a global goal to secure 10 percent of the world’s seas, and all they provide, by 2020. Peoples, governments, and organizations everywhere have mobilized to make this a reality in their own countries and regions.

In order for this strategy to succeed, though, new and existing MPAs must be managed effectively. That’s not yet occurring in many cases. Often, small teams of rangers and managers are understaffed, poorly equipped, and don’t have basic information on the damaging activities that are happening.

Conservation groups are turning to tech solutions to generate such knowledge and make it accessible to others. The Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART) was developed by the SMART Partnership, a collaboration of nine global conservation organizations, to improve the performance of protected areas, both on land and at sea, and better use limited resources.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://news.mongabay.com/2019/03/marine-protected-areas-are-getting-smart-commentary

Photo © Caleb McClennen/WCS.

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Brazil creates four massive marine protected areas

30 Mar 2018 - The four newly designated marine protected areas (MPAs) will cover an area of more than 920,000 square kilometers (355,200 square miles) in the Atlantic Ocean.

30 Mar 2018

  • The four newly designated marine protected areas (MPAs) will cover an area of more than 920,000 square kilometers (355,200 square miles) in the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Two of the MPAs will cover waters around the archipelago of Trindade, Martin Vaz and Mount Columbia, located more than 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) east of the Brazilian mainland.
  • The remaining two MPAs will be located around the São Pedro and São Paulo archipelagos, some 900 kilometers (560 miles) off the northeast coast.
  • However, some marine biologists worry that these large, remote MPAs may do little to safeguard biodiversity.

Brazil will soon have four vast marine protected areas (MPAs) in the Atlantic Ocean, covering an area of more than 920,000 square kilometers (355,200 square miles).

The new designation will increase the coverage of Brazilian MPAs from 1.5 percent to about 24.5 percent of the country’s waters, exceeding the international target of protecting at least 10 percent of marine areas by 2020.

“This measure will help safeguard our rich biodiversity, and renew our commitment to a more sustainable world,” President Michel Temer said in a video address to the 2018 World Ocean Summit held in Mexico last week.

All four MPAs, created far away from the Brazilian coast, will protect remote sets of islands.

Two of the MPAs will cover waters around the archipelago of Trindade, Martin Vaz and Mount Columbia, located more than 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) east of the Brazilian mainland. One MPA, encompassing 402,377 square kilometers (155,359 square miles), will allow some sustainable use of fishing resources. The protected area management plan, which will define what activities will be restricted and regulated, is currently being developed by the Ministry of Environment, said Jenny Parker McCloskey, vice president of media at Conservation International (CI). The other MPA, covering 69,155 square kilometers (26,701 square miles) of the sea, will prohibit all human activity.

The remaining two MPAs will be located around the São Pedro and São Paulo archipelagos, some 900 kilometers (560 miles) off the northeast coast. Again, one of the protected areas, stretching across 407,052 square kilometers (157,164 square miles), will allow some human activity. The second protected area, covering 42,498 square kilometers (16,409 square miles), will remain closed off to human use.

These remote archipelagos are home to a vast range of threatened and endemic species, including the critically endangered Atlantic goliath grouper (Epinephelus itajara) and the endangered scalloped hammerhead shark (Sphyrna lewini). The waters off the islands also hold a rich diversity of algae, corals, fish, sharks, rays, octopus, whales, dolphins and turtles.

Protecting the two archipelagos will be key to maintaining and recovering fish stocks, Cláudio C. Maretti, director of the Chico Mendes Institute, the administrative arm of the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment, wrote in a statement. “For the sustainability of food security, the entire world needs to make strong efforts in the recovery of fish stocks,” he said. “Large marine protected areas, including important no-take zones, can be crucial in that.”

McCloskey of CI told Mongabay that “the creation of these areas highlights Brazil’s commitment to meeting global environmental goals such as the Aichi Targets that stipulate member countries must establish at least 10% of marine and coastal areas as protected by 2020.”

“The designation also means that these remote areas will be protected from industrial fishing, mining and other detrimental activities,” McCloskey said, adding that Conservation International worked closely with the government of Brazil in establishing these protected areas.

However, some marine biologists remain skeptical.

“I’m encouraged that countries, including Brazil, are thinking about marine biodiversity conservation,” said Natalie Ban, a marine biologist at the University of Victoria, Canada. However, the Brazilian MPAs may do little to actually protect marine biodiversity, Ban said.

“They are placed in the most remote regions of the Brazilian EEZ [exclusive economic zone],” she said. “They cover the most remote seamounts, yet fishing is still allowed in the most sensitive areas around the islands or rocks.”

The designation is also unlikely to protect against deep-sea mining, Ban said.

“Such mining is unlikely to happen in this area because the average depth is around 5000m [16,400 feet], deeper than the current viable deep sea mining operations,” she said. “Thus, while I think steps to protect marine biodiversity are urgently needed, I fear that these MPAs are simply designed to meet Brazil’s Aichi target commitment without actually protecting threatened areas.”

Whether these remote MPAs succeed will depend largely on enforcement, conservationists say.

“Because several coastal MPAs already struggle to be effectively implemented in developing countries, it is questionable whether governments will endeavour to protect these large MPAs in the open ocean, which are much more costly,” Ban said.

CONTINUE READING: https://news.mongabay.com/2018/03/brazil-creates-four-massive-marine-pro...

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‘Science needs to catch up’: Deep sea mining looms over unstudied ecosystems

25 Aug 2017 - We know very little about the deepest parts of the ocean – and are disturbing them faster than we’re learning about them, according a study published this week in Molecular Ecology.

25 Aug 2017Scientists compiled all known population genetics studies of deep sea ecosystems, finding a paucity of research. The researchers warn that human impacts like pollution, fishing, and mining are encroaching further into deep sea areas faster than scientists are studying them. They say more research will enable stakeholders to protect vulnerable ecosystems.

We know very little about the deepest parts of the ocean – and are disturbing them faster than we’re learning about them, according a study published this week in Molecular Ecology.

To see just how big this knowledge gap is, researchers at Oxford University conducted a survey of all known population genetics studies of deep sea invertebrates. Population genetics is the study of the differences between and within populations, and helps scientists understand how groups of plants and animals evolved and how they may respond to environmental changes.

The researchers discovered that there have been 77 papers published on this topic in the last 33 years. Of these, just nine looked at areas deeper than 3,500 meters – which comprise about half the planet’s surface.

These studies shine a valuable, if dim, light on an otherwise unknown expanse. They indicate the animals that live in the deep may be about as genetically diverse as shallow-water species, and that some populations are distinct and isolated from each other even in small areas.

But that’s pretty much it.

“Basic ecological information (e.g., species ranges, population subdivision, population genetic diversity, dispersal capability and demographic parameters) is lacking for all but a few species,” the researchers write in their study.

They warn that despite this lack of knowledge and exploration of the deep, human activities are leading to ever-greater impacts. For instance, microplastics can now be found in the deepest, most remote reaches of the ocean. Commercial bottom-trawling fishing is tearing through ancient, deep sea ecosystems, turning them into “faunal deserts.” And about 1.8 million square kilometers – an area about the size of Libya – has been allotted for potential exploration and extraction of metals.

“Today humans have an unprecedented ability to [affect] the lives of creatures living in one of the most remote environments on earth — the deep sea,” said Christopher Roterman, co-author and postdoctoral researcher in Oxford’s Department of Zoology, in a statement. “At a time where the exploitation of deep sea resources is increasing, scientists are still trying to understand basic aspects of the biology and ecology of deep sea communities.”

Roterman calls for more research of the deep sea, saying it will help us figure out how its ecosystems may respond to disturbance and how best to protect them.

“Population genetics is an important tool that helps us to understand how deep sea communities function, and in turn how resilient they will be in the future to the increasing threat of human impacts.” Roterman said. “These insights can help governments and other stakeholders to figure out ways to control and sustainably manage human activities, to ensure a healthy deep sea ecosystem.”

Roterman said fishing is currently the activity having the biggest impact on deep sea communities. But he warns that metals mining may soon become the bigger threat.

“What may start off in relative terms, as a pin-prick on the seafloor, may rapidly expand before the long-term detrimental effects are fully understood,” he said.

“What we don’t know at present is how human activities and climate change will affect these populations in the future, but history tells us that we shouldn’t be complacent.”

Getting good data from 5,000 meters down can be a tricky undertaking. But the researchers say advances in technology may help population geneticists learn about the denizens of the deep more cheaply, easily, and quickly.

“Next-generation sequencing allows us to scan larger and larger portions of an animal’s genome and at a lower cost,” Michelle Taylor, co-author and senior postdoctoral researcher in Oxford’s Department of Zoology “This makes deep sea population genetic studies less costly, and for many animals, the sheer volume of data these new technologies create means they can now be studied for the first time.”

The researchers write that in addition to unveiling the secrets of deep sea ecosystems, genetics studies will help stakeholders manage and protect marine diversity and resources. But, Taylor urges, haste is of the essence.

“We cannot bury our heads in the sand and think that people are not going to try and exploit resources in the deep sea, so science needs to catch up.”

CONTINUE READING: https://news.mongabay.com/2017/08/science-needs-to-catch-up-deep-sea-min...

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