Ocean Action Hub

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In Costa Rica, women find new strength as business leaders

20 Jun 2019 - Costa Rica leads the world in the protection of its ocean and sea life, and more women are becoming involved in sustainably managing its fisheries.

20 Jun 2019 - Costa Rica is leading the world in the protection of its oceans and sea life, and increasingly women are becoming involved in sustainably managing its fisheries.

Rosa Martinez lives in San Isidro de Chacarita, in the province of Puntarenas. She entered the world of longline fishing two years ago after a relative suggested she and her husband buy their own boat.

“I was very scared because I had only dedicated myself to housework, I had never managed people. I did not even know how to differentiate fish species,” she says.

The mother of two quickly took to the business world and the crew now calls her ‘la patrona’. While her husband goes to sea, she ensures that the business runs smoothly.

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Coming together to clean up our oceans

14 Jun 2019 - Two American senators come together across party lines to protect the ocean with a new law passed to address dumping of waste and debris in the ocean. Read their blog:

14 Jun 2019 - Two American senators come together across party lines to protect the ocean with a new law passed to address dumping of waste and debris in the ocean. Read their blog:

Editors’ note: In October, US President Donald Trump signed into law the Save Our Seas (SOS) Act of 2018. This law, authored by Senators Dan Sullivan and Sheldon Whitehouse, passed Congress with strong bipartisan support and seeks to address dumping of trash and debris in the oceans and the Great Lakes. It also extends the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Debris Program through 2022 and authorizes NOAA to declare “severe marine debris events.” Senators Sullivan and Whitehouse co-authored this blog for UNDP in honor of World Oceans Day. 8 June.

Washington — Every day, in nearly every news outlet across the country, headlines feature the things on which we, in the US Congress, disagree. It’s true that we represent a big and diverse country, where rigorous debate is common and healthy. But those headlines don’t tell the whole story. There are many times when we have come together. For instance, how we — a Republican from Alaska and a Democrat from Rhode Island — have worked to rid our oceans of marine debris is a great example of how we have put aside politics and addressed a critical environmental issue.

Ocean debris hits Alaska particularly hard. Alaska has more coastline than the entire lower 48 states combined, and its fisheries — among the best-managed in the world — are vital to the state and to our country. Massive amounts of marine debris washing up on our shores threaten not only fisheries in Alaska, but the health of oceans and communities across the country, including Rhode Island.

That’s why we, as members of the Senate Commerce and Environment and Public Works committees, banded together. While serving as Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife, we held a bipartisan hearing on marine debris. We introduced the Save Our Seas (SOS) Act shortly after the hearing.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://medium.com/@UNDP/coming-together-to-clean-up-our-oceans-ae93b747d7cf

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Women scientists for the preservation of our marine heritage (World Oceans Day 2019)

11 Jun 2019 - This World Oceans Day, UNESCO highlights the contribution of women scientists to a healthy ocean.

11 Jun 2019 - This World Oceans Day, UNESCO highlights the contribution of women scientists to a healthy ocean.

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Innovation helps rebuild Belize’s coral reef

10 June 2018 - By transplanting unrelated coral colonies onto permanent sites, marine biologists can ensure healthier cross-breeding and coral that are more resilient to disease and bleaching.

10 June 2018 - Hurricane Iris made landfall in southern Belize on October 4, 2001. It was the deadliest storm of the season. Six days later, communities across Belize and other parts of the Caribbean and Central America were left with US$250 million in damages. When the 14-feet-high tidal surges subsided, the fishing village of Placencia and Laughing Bird Caye National Park were decimated.

The hurricane heavily damaged the Belize Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Times were hard for the Placencia community who had lost homes, farms, fishing grounds, and all means of feeding their families. When the coral died, fishermen from the village also noticed that the fish disappeared.

Fragments of Hope was borne out of Belize’s moment of despair.

The community-based organization is the first in Belize to adopt micro-fragmenting, a revolutionary super coral growing technique. The pioneering group is also the first to take on the coral growing in Belize, which many believed couldn’t be done.

After Hurricane Iris struck, marine biologist Lisa Carne began to research techniques for saving coral reef systems by transplanting live broken coral to the Laughing Bird Caye National Park, off the coast of Placencia.

“The idea of transplanting coral to Laughing Bird Caye was dismissed by many, saying there was only rubble left, the donor reef site was too far, and disease or bleaching might kill them. People did not think there was a need, until 2006 when the Caribbean acroporids (hard coral) were listed by the U.S. as an endangered species,” Lisa recalled.

But the work really took off after she adopted micro-fragmenting and further innovated the process. This revolutionary coral growing technique was discovered by American marine biologist Dr. David Vaughan around 2006 when he accidentally broke a staghorn coral in his laboratory tank and returned a week later to find that the broken pieces had grown to their original size.

Micro-fragmenting has been a game changer for Lisa, and marine biologists worldwide. It speeds up coral tissue regeneration by 25 to 50 times. The coral is cut into one to five polyps, which are tiny, soft-bodied organisms. Through repeated dividing and fusing, coral can reach maturity in two years, a process which would normally take at least 100 years. The full-grown coral are also sexually mature, which would otherwise take at least 75 years. By transplanting unrelated coral colonies onto permanent sites, marine biologists can ensure healthier cross-breeding and coral that are more resilient to disease and bleaching.

Lisa Carne and the Fragments of Hope grow new micro-fragments directly in shallow inlets of the reef in a scene reminiscent of an underwater bakery. Small coral cuttings of staghorn, elkhorn, and brain coral, no bigger than a pinkie finger, are placed on ‘cookies’, made from Portland cement, sand and water. Marine epoxy or crazy glue are used to glue coral in place. These are laid out on underwater coral nursery tables, like cookies cooling on baking racks. The ocean’s current and fish clean the algae and debris from the growing coral.

After a year, the coral are transplanted to permanent homes further out in the ocean. They must be outcropped no later than three to four months before hurricane season. This ensures they take root and can withstand storms.

Today, swimming out from the shores of Laughing Bird Caye National Park, visibility is murky and the seabed is lined with mounds of dead coral and conch shells. One wobbly brain coral, half collapsed and diseased, and a lone juvenile yellow snapper are the only signs of life. Within five minutes, the water turns a clear turquoise blue and the seascape opens up to illuminate an ocean floor heavily blanketed in living staghorn coral and a kaleidoscope of young fish.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE: https://medium.com/@UNDP/innovation-helps-rebuild-belizes-coral-reef-bcd89ed1b1ba?postPublishedType=repub

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On World Environment Day, signs of hope

5 Jun 2019 - Take a moment of respite from the daily news about biodiversity loss and our climate crisis to discover bright, bold solutions that point us toward the future

5 Jun 2019 - Today is World Environment Day. First the bad news. In the wake of two bleak global reports – one on nature and one on climate – it is easy to be filled with despair. We are set to lose a million species within the next 30 years. We are on the brink of dangerous climate tipping points and only have about a decade to act. We are set to have more plastic in the ocean than fish biomass by 2050. These trends not only endanger our environment, they endanger our existence.

Our relationship with nature must undergo a profound shift or we will face a vastly more inhospitable and dangerous future. We must find new solutions that point toward a sustainable future. These solutions must help us combat and adapt to our climate crisis. They must help us protect and restore ecosystems and wildlife. They must help us manage natural resources – soil, timber, water – sustainably. These solutions must also be just, fair and inclusive, ensuring that no one is left behind, especially the 3.4 billion people in the world who depend on nature for their livelihood, and who are disproportionately affected.

Now for the good news – these solutions are all around us! Hundreds of communitiesaround the world are already charting  new courses for the future, finding pathways to restore and protect our planet, reduce plastic pollution, reduce and sequester greenhouse gases, avoid dangerous tipping points, and secure decent and prosperous lives. The Equator Initiative is a partnership that identifies such solutions, recognizing and celebrating local, nature-based sustainable development initiatives around the world.

This World Environment Day, we are especially proud to announce the 20 winners of this year’s Equator Prize. This World Environment Day, take a moment of respite from the daily news about biodiversity loss and our climate crisis. Take a moment to discover these bright, bold solutions that point us toward a future by visiting the Equator Initiative website. Learn about a community in Nigeria that has found a replacement for single-use plastics; and many others. 

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/blog/2019/on-world-environment-day--signs-of-hope.html

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Ashanti and UNDP Ocean Ambassador Cody Simpson play #PlayItOut concert in Antigua

3 June 2019 - Concert aims to raise awarness of reducing ocean plastic, part of initiative by UN General Assembley President. 

3 June 2019 - Concert aims to raise awarness of reducing ocean plastic, part of initiative by UN General Assembley President. 

The internationally star-studded concert featuring headliners was audited by the Antigua EAG and earned a score of 84.2%, categorizing the event as “4 Leaf” recognizing that the "Event promoter is among the upper echelons of sustainable events and has met significant targets that reduce the environmental impact of events on the natural environment."

See the UN Play It Out Concert Programme here: http://www.un.org/webcast/pdfs/PLAY_IT_OUT_RUNSHEET.pdf

For more information: www.un.org/pga/73/PlayItOut

20 ideas to reduct your use of plastics: https://medium.com/@UNDP/20-ways-to-plastic-proof-your-routine-cb923546f0e7

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UN SG outlines ‘intertwined challenges’ of ocean health and climate change facing Pacific nations on the ‘frontline’

15 May 2019 - António Guterres outlined two “fundamental challenges” facing Pacific leaders: climate change and the world’s rising ocean, which threatens to submerge low-lying nations.

15 May 2019 - Visiting Fiji for the first time as Secretary-General, António Guterres outlined two “fundamental challenges” facing leaders attending the Pacific Islands Forum on Thursday, namely climate change and the world’s rising ocean, which threatens to submerge low-lying nations.

“The Pacific region is on the frontline of climate change”, he said. “That means you are also our important allies in the fight against it”.

Warming ocean

Climate change also threatens the well-being of the world’s ocean and seas, which are critical to the economies and traditions of the Pacific.

“Oceans are warming and becoming more acidic, causing coral bleaching and reducing biodiversity” the UN chief told the Forum, stating that global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius would cause “severe damage to tropical reefs”. 

Moreover, if warming reached two degrees Celsius or more, “it would be catastrophic for marine life and humans alike” he said. “Food security would decline. Economic growth would suffer”.

But seas and marine life are also under attack from other directions. Mr. Guterres painted a picture of overfishing; underwater deserts in effect, with no oxygen; seas filled with poison and trash, and species becoming extinct within decades. 

“Every year, more than eight million tonnes of harmful plastic waste end up in the ocean” he said. “According to one recent study, plastic could outweigh fish in our seas by 2050”.

While many countries are finally rejecting single-use plastic, the UN chief underscored that “we must do even more” to address the unsustainable levels of stress on marine and coastal ecosystems.

He commended Pacific countries for ensuring the adoption of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development, saying that his Special Envoy for the Ocean, Fiji’s Peter Thomson, is promoting the SDGs and the outcomes of the UN Ocean Conference. 

Photo: UN Photo/Mark Garten

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://news.un.org/en/story/2019/05/1038521

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One Ocean: 3 Local stories - One global effort

11 Apr 2019 - Who is responsible for the health of our ocean? Our ocean is one of planet Earth’s greatest and most important resources.

It provides food for four out of 10 people in the world. It protects us from even more dangerous effects of climate change, and it provides an income for billions of people.

Humans need a healthy ocean to survive and yet, we keep polluting, exhausting, and destroying this valuable resource.

We need to save our ocean before it’s too late, but who decides how we best take care of it? Who decides how many resources we should take from it now, or how they should be harvested?

Who can be relied upon to make decisions that benefit the entire ecosystem, rather than the people of one nation, city, or village? These are the questions that communities along the coasts of all continents face, and together they must work towards common answers.

Together, the stories of three coastal communities in India, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Peru illustrate the global challenge that all people and nations share. As these populations adopt sustainable practices, they also point the way towards a healthier, more verdant, and more prosperous future.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://oneocean.undp.org/

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The Cook Islands prepares for climate change

9 Apr 2019 - For centuries Cook Islanders have used traditional knowledge to read their environment and provide food for their families. And nature has provided.

9 Apr 2019 - For centuries Cook Islanders have used traditional knowledge to read their environment and provide food for their families. And nature has provided.

But they have witnessed changes over the past decades. Fish spawning seasons have shifted and rainfall, wave, and wind patterns are less predictable. The islanders are seeing coral bleaching and some native fish and shellfish are disappearing. Crops are increasingly affected by storm surges.

While these trends are being observed first-hand, scientific data is key to fully understanding the changes and ensuring that Cook Islanders are better prepared.

The government of the Cook Islands is focused on filling the gaps and now, with the automatic weather stations and a new online app, the Cook Islands Meteorological Service is modernizing the capture, analysis, and distribution of climate information which is key to building a more climate-smart future.

Thanks to the collaboration of Met Service; the telecommunication’s company Cook Islands BlueskyNew Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA)Fiji’s Meteorological Service; and the Pa Enua (outer island) governments, with the support of the UNDP and the Adaptation Fund, what was once a manual process is now a seamless, automatic one.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://medium.com/@UNDP/the-cook-islands-prepares-for-climate-change-a7eeb947fd7

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Learning from the clownfish and the sea anemone

29 Mar 2019 - Shoko Noda, UNDP Maldives - A healthy marine ecosystem is critical to everyday life in the Maldives, and the major industries dependent on it: tourism and fisheries. The recent decline in fish catch shows how it can have lasting consequences for these small islands where everything is connected to the sea.

29 Mar 2019 - Shoko Noda, UNDP Maldives - I still remember seeing ‘kumanomi’ for the first time on a dive in Japan. It was so beautiful. Kumanomi in my language, or clownfish in English, usually live in warmer waters than the ocean around Tokyo, so I was lucky to spot one that day.

When I started to dive in the Maldives, I was thrilled to see clownfish everywhere, swaying within the sea anemones, with which they have a symbiotic relationship. The clownfish in the Maldives is bright orange with a white stripe behind its eyes and black fins around its belly. I always look for this photogenic fish on my dives, though they love to play hide-and-seek in their sea anemone homes.

The attractive and charming clownfish are a popular pet, kept in aquariums across the world. I noticed them in many fish tanks in the Maldives too, and also being exported. Sadly, the clownfish, like other ornamental fish, are not caught in an environmentally-friendly manner. Extraction techniques of these fish from their underwater coral homes are harming the fish and their natural habitats.

A healthy marine ecosystem is critical to everyday life for these idyllic communities, and the major industries dependent on it: tourism and fisheries. The recent decline in fish catch shows how it can have lasting consequences for these small islands where everything is connected to the sea.

CONTINUE READING ONLINE HERE: https://medium.com/@UNDP/learning-from-the-clownfish-and-the-sea-anemone-bd505fe20509