Ocean Action Hub

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Unveiling plastic pollution in oceans - UN Environment Programme
9 Oct 2020The 18th edition of UNEP’s Foresight Brief highlights the global concern on marine plastic litter pollution and calls for monitoring and assessment.

9 Oct 2020The 18th edition of UNEP’s Foresight Brief highlights the global concern on marine plastic litter pollution and calls for monitoring and assessment.

The Foresight Briefs are published by the United Nations Environment Programme to highlight a hotspot of environmental change, feature an emerging science topic, or discuss a contemporary environmental issue. The public is provided with the opportunity to find out what is happening to their changing environment and the consequences of everyday choices, and to think about future directions for policy.

Marine plastic litter pollution is a global concern that threatens seas and the ocean, biodiversity, human health and economic activities such as tourism, fisheries and marine navigation/transportation. Plastics represent approximately 80% of marine litter and result from both land and sea-based human activities. Combating marine litter requires knowledge of sources, pathways, sinks and impacts, which calls for worldwide harmonized monitoring and assessment programmes to guide measures and assess their effectiveness.

Marine litter is a common threat in our oceans. Plastics often form the major component of marine litter. Approximately 5.25 trillion plastic particles float on the ocean surface1, weighing about 269,000 tons, with concentrations of up to 64 millions particle per square kilometre in the Mediterranean Sea.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://wesr.unep.org/foresight

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New guidelines aim to support mangrove restoration in the Western Indian Ocean

24 Jul 2020 -World Mangrove Day - For many coastal communities, including those in the Western Indian Ocean region, mangroves are critical to economic and food security.

24 Jul 2020 -World Mangrove Day - For many coastal communities, including those in the Western Indian Ocean region, mangroves are critical to economic and food security. A new set of guidelines on mangrove restoration for the region aims to support the restoration of its degraded mangrove ecosystems and support recovery from the economic impacts of COVID-19.

Mangrove forests are among the most powerful nature-based solutions to climate change, but with 67 percent of mangroves lost or degraded to date, and an additional 1.0 percent being lost each year, they are at a risk of being destroyed altogether. Without mangroves, 39 percent more people would be flooded annually and flood damage would increase by more than 16 percent and US $82 billion. They protect shorelines from eroding and shield communities from floods, hurricanes, and storms, a more important service than ever as sea levels continue to rise. Mangroves also provide nursery areas for marine life and support many threatened and endangered species. Restoring mangroves can make communities more resilient to environmental changes and the economic shocks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/press-release/new-guidelines-aim-support-mangrove-restoration-western-indian-ocean

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Take the oceans video challenge now from home

20 Apr 2020 - Creative minds at home are invited to bring to life, through video skills, videos on why the world needs to save an important component of the planet’s rich biodiversity.

20 Apr 2020 - Creative minds at home are invited to bring to life, through video skills, videos on why the world needs to save an important component of the planet’s rich biodiversity. For this online challenge, the focus is the world’s magical coral reefs, home to a quarter of sea life.

How to get involved: The task is to create a short video about why the world needs to urgently support greater ocean protection and climate action.  We want to know what you’ve learnt about how coral reefs—one of the most biodiverse places on earth—provide invaluable services that support our human well-being, and even make life on earth possible.

The Save the Ocean Creative Challenge is organised by The Ocean Agency, Adobe and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

FULL DETAILS ONLINE HERE: https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/take-oceans-video-challenge-now-home

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Home school with a virtual dive into the ocean

10 Apr 2020 - Get inspired and engaged with virtual dives, expeditions and ocean quizzes about the fascinating underwater world in a click on your phone or laptop.

10 Apr 2020 - Get inspired and engaged with virtual dives, expeditions and ocean quizzes about the fascinating underwater world in a click on your phone or laptop.

The Ocean Agency, a partner of the United Nations Environment Programme, is inviting parents and their little ones to experience the ocean and its astounding life forms from the comfort of their homes through a little armchair travel.

Discover coral reefs—some of the Earth’s most diverse ecosystems, full of color, life and mystery—and why they are vanishing at an unprecedented rate due to climate change, pollution and other destructive human activities. Find out why corals are glowing and what this means, not only for marine life, but also for our planet through the “Adventure behind Chasing Coral”, the Voyager story that features the glowing corals phenomenon.

Who is your kindred reef species? Discover and make your own photo morph to share on social media here.

Get more details about coral reefs, which a quarter of all marine life calls home, and meet some of the ocean’s most captivating creatures through the Google Earth Voyager. It is available on desktop, laptop, iPhone and iPad. Download the Google Earth App to dive in to explore the fascinating underwater world, including remnants of World War II as they stand today.

Take an excursion and encounter marine animals, manmade coral reefs and explore shipwrecks using Google Expeditions, available on iPhone and iPad only.

Explore much more here: https://theoceanagency.org/oceanedu

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/celebrate-your-love-ocean-virtually

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The Caribbean addresses the scourge of plastic pollution

11 Jul 2019 - 75-80 % of marine litter in the Caribbean Sea comes from land, and most of it consists of plastics. States are taking action and momentum is building.

11 Jul 2019 - 75-80 % of marine litter in the Caribbean Sea comes from land, and most of it consists of plastics. Together with agrochemical run-off and domestic wastewater, it is one of three priority pollutants for the wider Caribbean region.

"Our world is swamped by harmful plastic waste. Microplastics in the seas now outnumber stars in our galaxy. From remote islands to the Artic, nowhere is untouched. If present trends continue, by 2050, our oceans will have more plastic than fish. The message is simple: reject single use plastic. Refuse what you can't reuse. Together, we can chart a path to a cleaner, greener world,” said United Nations Secretary General António Guterres.

Governments are taking note. Throughout the region, many have banned, or are considering bans on single-use plastics, including plastic bags and Styrofoam. 

Antigua and Barbuda led the charge in 2016 with a five-phased approach to getting rid of plastics. Following extensive consultation with stakeholders, they decided to incorporate the ban into existing legislation rather than create new laws. They then ran the campaign “Make a difference one bag at a time”, and listed government-approved alternatives such as bagasse. As a result of these actions, the proportion of plastic dumped at landfills declined from 19.5 per cent in 2006 to 4.4 per cent in 2017.

The momentum continues. More than 18 territories have banned single-use plastics or Styrofoam products, while three countries have introduced bans at local levels, two have announced bans to begin in 2020 and 2021, 14 are discussing it within government and four have begun public consultations.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/caribbean-addresses-scourge-plastic-pollution

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Governments agree landmark decisions to protect people and planet from plastic waste

14 May 2019 - Almost all governments have agreed to include plastic waste in a legally-binding framework to better regulate its global trade, and launched a new 'Partnership on Plastic Waste' in support.

14 May 2019 - Decisions on plastic waste have been reached in Geneva, as approximately 180 governments adopted a raft of decisions aimed at protecting human health and the environment from the harmful effects of hazardous chemicals and waste.

Pollution from plastic waste, acknowledged as a major environmental problem of global concern, has reached epidemic proportions with an estimated 100 million tonnes of plastic now found in the oceans, 80-90% of which comes from land-based sources.

Governments last week amended the Basel Convention to include plastic waste in a legally-binding framework which will make global trade in plastic waste more transparent and better regulated, whilst also ensuring that its management is safer for human health and the environment. At the same time, a new Partnership on Plastic Waste was established to mobilise business, government, academic and civil society resources, interests and expertise to assist in implementing the new measures, to provide a set of practical supports – including tools, best practices, technical and financial assistance - for this ground-breaking agreement.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/press-release/governments-agree-landmark-decisions-protect-people-and-planet

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No fishing allowed in Ascension Island’s new marine protected area (MPA)

25 Mar 2019 - Ascension Island, in the southern Atlantic Ocean, is getting a new MPA to safeguard green turtles, swordfish, sharks, tuna, marlin, frigatebirds and terns.

25 Mar 2019 - Ascension Island, in the southern Atlantic Ocean, is getting a new MPA twice the size of the United Kingdom (UK).

Full protection of 443,000 square kilometres of ocean around the British overseas territory will safeguard green turtles, swordfish, sharks, tuna and marlin as well as frigatebirds and terns.

UN Environment Patron of the Oceans Lewis Pugh hailed the move: “I'm delighted to hear that the UK has heeded our call to fully protect the waters around Ascension Island, a jewel in the Atlantic Ocean. Protecting 30 per cent of the world's oceans need not be a dream.” Currently, marine protected areas cover 7.6 per cent of the global ocean.

Pugh visited Ascension Island as a young boy and says he will never forget watching sharks circling his boat, green turtles laying eggs, and the teeming wildlife.

“Ascension Island is a rare survivor of extraordinary abundance in a sea of decline,” he says, thanking the Blue Marine Foundation, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, Great British Oceans Coalition, non-governmental organizations, scientists, civil servants and politicians for making this happen.

Conservationists have hailed the United Kingdom Government’s support for designating all the remote island’s waters as a marine protected area.

United Kingdom Chancellor Philip Hammond used his spring statement to announce the government’s support to the Ascension Island Council’s call to designate all its waters as a marine protected area, with no fishing allowed.

The move is part of the country’s Blue Belt programme to protect millions of square kilometres of oceans in its overseas territories. Environment Secretary Michael Gove said: “With a marine estate stretching across the globe, the UK is uniquely positioned to lead the way in protecting the world’s oceans and precious marine life.

“Today’s progress towards fully protecting all of Ascension Island’s waters is an important step forward in expanding our Blue Belt and protecting a third of the world’s ocean by 2030. I hope countries around the world will follow suit.”

Marine protected areas are an important tool in conserving the biodiversity of the world’s oceans.

“Ambitious interventions to protect marine and coastal ecosystems like those of Ascension island are extremely useful,” says UN Environment marine specialist Ole Vestegaard, “not only for the unique underwater biodiversity they host, but also for their valuable contribution to ocean health and function, underpinning food-security and resilience—in essence, a cost-effective nature-based solution to climate change.”

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/no-fishing-allowed-ascension-islands-new-marine-protected-area

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4th UNEA concludes with world committing to significantly reduce single-use plastic by 2030

19 Mar 2019 - At UN Environment Assembley in Nairobi delegates pledge to protect polluted, degraded planet as it adopts blueprint for more sustainable future.

  • At a meeting of the world’s top environmental body, ministers lay groundwork for a new model of development to protect planet’s degraded resources
  • Ministers agree to tackle environmental crisis through innovation and sustainable consumption and production
  • Delegates commit to significantly reduce single-use plastic products by 2030
  • Fourth UN Environment Assembly takes place in sombre atmosphere after crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight to Nairobi on Sunday

19 Mar 2019 - Last week the world laid the groundwork for a radical shift to a more sustainable future, where innovation will be harnessed to tackle environmental challenges, the use of throwaway plastics will be significantly reduced, and development will no longer cost the earth.

After five days of talks at the Fourth UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi, ministers from more than 170 United Nations Member States delivered a bold blueprint for change, saying the world needed to speed up moves towards a new model of development in order to respect the vision laid out in the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.

Noting that they were deeply concerned by mounting evidence that the planet is increasingly polluted, rapidly warming and dangerously depleted, the ministers pledged to address environmental challenges through advancing innovative solutions and adopting sustainable consumption and production patterns.

“We reaffirm that poverty eradication, changing unsustainable and promoting sustainable patterns of consumption and production and protecting and managing the natural resource base of economic and social development are the overarching objectives of, and essential requirements for, sustainable development,” the ministers said in a final declaration.

“We will improve national resource management strategies with integrated full lifecycle approaches and analysis to achieve resource-efficient and low-carbon economies,” they said.

More than 4,700 delegates, including environment ministers, scientists, academics, business leaders and civil society representatives, met in Nairobi for the Assembly, the world’s top environmental body whose decisions will set the global agenda, notably ahead of the UN Climate Action Summit in September.

CONTINE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/press-release/world-pledges-protect-polluted-degraded-planet-it-adopts-blueprint

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Building the world’s first land-based coral farm

31 Jan 2019 - The world has already lost half of all coral reefs. Young Champion of the Earth Gator Halpern and Coral Vita Reefs are building the world’s first commercial, land-based coral farm, to restore them.

31 Jan 2019 - Gator Halpern, winner of the Young Champion of the Earth award 2018 in Latin America and the Caribbean, and his team at Coral Vita are off to a flying start in 2019.  

They are building the world’s first commercial, land-based coral farm, to restore our planet’s dying coral reefs. The world has already lost half of all coral reefs, making Halpern’s mission more urgent than ever.

Combining techniques in science and research with tremendous developments in the private sector, the Coral Vita team is stepping up in 2019.

 “Last month was crazy, with the team attending a range of conferences and events. Coral Vita won the Ocean Exchange pitch competition, and we were part of a team that won the XPrize Visioneering competition—there will now be an XPrize on reef restoration,” said Halpern.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/building-worlds-first-land-based-coral-farm

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Billions to be gained in coral reef investment, new analysis shows

9 Nov 2018 - Investing in coral reefs to prevent their current rate of decline could net $37b for Indonesia, $35b for Mesoamerican Reef by 2030, case studies show

9 Nov 2018  - New findings released offer a compelling business case for investing in the protection of the world’s coral reefs, with economic benefits stretching into the tens of billions in just over a decade.

  • Investing in coral reefs to prevent their current rate of decline could net $37b for Indonesia, $35b for Mesoamerican Reef by 2030, case studies show
  • Without urgent intervention, the world is on track to lose up to 90 per cent of its coral reefs within the next 30 years
  • Private sector investment is urgently needed to close the funding gaps in one of the world’s vital ecosystems

Focussing on two of the world’s major coral reef areas, the Coral Triangle and the Mesoamerican Reef, the study, The Coral Reef Economy, compared the estimated economic outcomes of two scenarios from now until 2030: one a Healthy Reef Scenario, where reefs are returned to a healthy state through increased investment in protection and preservation; and two, a Degraded Reef Scenario, where the health of the reefs continues to decline from current levels.

The contrast is stark: a shift to improved coral reef health from one of further decline in the period to 2030 could unlock an additional $37 billion ($2.6 billion per annum) in Indonesia and an additional $35 billion ($2.5 billion per annum) in Mesoamerica in three key reef-dependent sectors: tourism; commercial fisheries; and coastal development.

Jerker Tamelander, head of UN Environment’s coral reef unit, said: “Investing in coral reefs offers a significant prize, not only economic, but importantly also for the marine life, and coastal populations who depend so heavily on healthy coral reefs for their food, livelihoods and protection.”

Coral reefs are exceptionally valuable; they provide food, livelihoods and economic opportunity to more than half a billion people in over 100 countries, and coastal protection from increasing extreme weather events; they are also teeming with life, hosting a quarter of all known marine species.

Yet these vital ecosystems are being rapidly degraded as a result of warming sea temperatures due to climate change, overfishing, destructive fishing, ocean acidification, and a range of land-based activities. The world has already lost at least one-fifth of the world’s coral reefs, and is facing the very real threat of losing as much as 90 per cent of all its coral reefs within the next 30 years.

Tamelander added: “Climate change is a source of significant uncertainty - and risk. Realizing the full potential financial returns reefs can generate requires that urgent action is taken to limit climate change so as to avoid global scale reef loss.” 

The report’s findings show if coral reefs continue to decline in line with historical trends, the value of the reef to key sectors could fall in real terms by $3.1 billion in Mesoamerica and $2.2 billion in Indonesia per annum by 2030 compared to today. Such losses could have profound follow-on effects on local livelihoods and government taxation revenues in each region, further compounding the potential losses to reef-dependent communities.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/press-release/billions-be-gained-coral-reef-investment-new-analysis-shows