United States Inch Closer to Federal Shark Protection

May 12, 2020, the United States Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee approved an amendment that would ban the sale of shark fins. Currently, a dozen states have laws banning the sale of shark fins but details of these laws vary. A federal law would provide a unified umbrella making it more difficult for the unsustainable fin trade to flourish in the United States.

The committee voted 22-6 to include S. 1106, the “Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act,” as an amendment to S. 1260, the “Endless Frontier Act,” a $100 billion bipartisan proposal by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). A final vote was expected later today. “The sale of shark fins, if we’re able to adopt this, would simply be illegal,” said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), who offered the bill as an amendment.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), who sponsored the “Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act” with New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker, said including the measure as an amendment to Schumer’s bill was “the appropriate vehicle” to get it passed. “I believe now’s the time,” she said.

The purpose of the legislation is to help save the estimated 73 million sharks that end up in the global shark fin trade each year. It takes aim at shark finning, the practice of cutting off a fin and releasing the animal back into the water to die.

The U.S. has already banned shark finning aboard vessels, but bill backers say a new law is needed because there is no federal ban on the removal or sale of shark fins once a fin is brought ashore. As a result, they say, it’s impossible for authorities to determine whether a fin was lawfully removed.

This approval from the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee is a strong step closer to the reality of a federal bill. To be passed into law this amendment, and the “Endless Frontier Act”, must also be passed by the entire Senate, the House of Representatives and then be signed by President Biden.

Shark fin sales have already been banned by the states of Texas, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas and Washington, along with Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands.

Sea Save Foundation has been working for twenty years to protect ocean futures. To be successful we need to educate the general public as well as local and international decision-makers about marine biology, current challenges and we must present economically feasible solutions.

Sea Save Foundation is proud to join 150 other organizations in support of the Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act that will leverage the ocean in the fight against climate change. Below is the text of the letter that was submitted to United States leaders.

December 14, 2020

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker
U.S. House of Representatives
H-204, United States Capitol
Washington DC, 20515

The Honorable Kevin McCarthy
Minority Leader
U.S. House of Representatives
H-204, The Capitol
Washington DC 20515

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader
U.S. Senate S-230, The Capitol
Washington DC 20510

The Honorable Chuck Schumer
Minority Leader
U.S. Senate S-221, The Capitol
Washington DC 20510

 

Dear Speaker Pelosi, Minority Leader McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader McConnell, and Senate Minority Leader Schumer:

We are facing a climate emergency. The ocean is literally taking the heat from climate change, absorbing over 90% of the heat and nearly a third of the carbon dioxide from greenhouse gas emissions. But the ocean is not just a victim of climate change. It’s also a powerful source of solutions that have the potential to provide a fifth of the greenhouse gas emission reductions needed globally to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C. The ocean, therefore, will be key to a larger suite of natural solutions needed to confront the climate crisis. The undersigned organizations are writing to express our strong support for ocean climate action and the inclusion of ocean-based solutions in any larger climate legislation.

The Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act of 2020, sponsored by House Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl Grijalva, is comprehensive and ambitious legislation that seeks to leverage the ocean’s potential in the fight against climate change by permanently protecting our coasts from offshore drilling, promoting offshore renewable energy, protecting blue carbon, supporting climate-ready fisheries, expanding marine protected areas, improving ocean health, and more. By implementing a full suite of ocean-based climate solutions, this legislation would help frontline communities most at risk in the face of climate change, increase the resilience of our ocean ecosystems, and help put the United States back in a leadership role in the global effort to fight the climate crisis. Specifically, the bill will:

Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The bill supports the transition to a clean energy economy by reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with ocean sectors through increasing ocean-based renewable energy while

establishing permanent protections from all new offshore oil and gas drilling and harmful seismic airgun blasting in unleased areas of the Outer Continental Shelf. This will help us to move away from fossil fuels and protect the ocean and coastal habitats that are important to healthy fish, marine wildlife, and coastal economies.

Increase Carbon Storage in Blue Carbon Ecosystems

The bill recognizes the carbon storage potential and other co-benefits provided by “blue carbon” ecosystems like salt marshes, sea grasses, and mangroves. These ecosystems absorb carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and safely store it at a rate of up to four times that of forests on land. They also protect coastal communities by limiting the impacts of coastal erosion, flooding, and storms—all while providing habitat for marine wildlife and fisheries.

Promote Coastal Resiliency

The bill promotes coastal resiliency and adaptation to protect our coasts and communities from the climate impacts we can’t avoid. It mandates the establishment of a strategic task force to coordinate federal efforts around voluntary relocation. It also authorizes investment in coastal restoration and resilience that is a win-win-win for our economy, our frontline communities, and our environment.

Improve Ocean Protection

The bill takes steps to promote and protect healthy ocean systems and wildlife populations, which are better able to adapt to the effects of climate change by setting a goal to protect at least 30% of our ocean by 2030. Marine protected areas, like our protected areas on land, are a key part of protecting biodiversity while tackling climate change – which is more critical than ever in the face of the biodiversity crisis.

Support Climate-Ready Fisheries

The bill supports the development and implementation of strategies to improve the management of fisheries in a changing climate and also helps to promote U.S. seafood sourced from environmentally and climate-friendly fisheries.

Tackle Ocean Health Challenges

This bill addresses ocean health challenges of ocean acidification and harmful algal blooms, both of which cause significant harm to the U.S. seafood, recreation, and tourism industries, as well as human communities and ocean wildlife and ecosystems.

Restore U.S. Leadership in International Ocean Governance

The bill strengthens U.S. leadership in international ocean governance at a time when transboundary pressures on our ocean demands a coordinated response. These actions would both strengthen U.S. security and promote a resilient global ocean for the 21st century.

The Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act would bolster frontline communities most at risk from climate change; increase the resilience of ocean ecosystems, and put the United States back in a leadership role in the global effort to fight the climate crisis. We urge you to act quickly to implement the measures detailed in this legislation–before it’s too late.

Signed,

 

350 Maine
AFGE Local 704
Alaska Wilderness League Action American Littoral Society
Animal Welfare Institute
Audubon of Southwest Florida
Audubon Society of Lincoln City
Azul
Biscayne Bay Marine Health Summit Blue Frontier
Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation
Blue Scholars Initiative
Boulder Environmental Nature Outdoors Film Festival
California League of Conservation Voters Californians for Western Wilderness Cape Falcon Marine Reserve
Center for American Progress
Center for Biological Diversity
Center for the Blue Economy
Cetacean Society International
Climate Law & Policy Project
Climate Reality Project
Coastal Conservation League
Colorado Ocean Coalition
Colorado Ocean Coalition, CU Chapter Coney Island Beautification Project, Inc. Conservation Law Foundation Conservation Voters of South Carolina Coral Vita

Debris Free Oceans
Defenders of Wildlife
Defensores de la Cuenca
Destructive Fishing Watch Indonesia EarthEcho International

Earthjustice
Echotopia LLC
Endangered Species Coalition Environment America
Environment California
Environment Colorado
Environment Connecticut
Environment Florida
Environment Georgia
Environment Illinois
Environment Maine
Environment Massachusetts Environment Michigan
Environment Minnesota
Environment Missouri
Environment Nevada
Environment New Jersey
Environment North Carolina Environment Oregon
Environment Texas
Environment Virginia
Environment Washington Environmental Defense Center Environmental Law & Policy Center Environmental League of Massachusetts Fenceline Watch

Florida Bay Forever Save Our Waters Inc. Friends of Casco Bay
Friends of Governors Island
Friends of Herring River

Friends of the Mariana Trench Gotham Whale
Great Old Broads for Wilderness GreenLatinos

National Ocean Protection Coalition National Parks Conservation Association National Wildlife Refuge Association Natural Resources Council of Maine
Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) New England Aquarium
New York League of Conservation Voters New Jersey Audubon
Northern Alaska Environmental Center Nuclear Information and Resource Service NY4WHALES
Ocean Conservation Research
Ocean Defense Initiative
Ocean River Institute, Inc
Ocean Visions
Oceana
Oceanic Preservation Society
Pacific Environment
Patagonia
PennEnvironment
Plastic Pollution Coalition
REEF LIFE FOUNDATION
Reef Life Restoration Nanoscience
Rescue a Reef Program
Restore America’s Estuaries
Sachamama
Sanctuary Education Advisory Specialists SEAS
Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation Save Our Shores
Save the Manatee Club
Save the Sound
Sea Save Foundation
Seven Circles Foundation
Shedd Aquarium
ShoreLock LLC
Sierra Club
South Florida Audubon Society
South Florida Wildlands Association
South Shore Audubon Society

Greenpeace USA Hannah4Change
Healthy Oceans Coalition Heirs To Our Oceans Hispanic Access Foundation Inland Ocean Coalition Inland Ocean Coalition Inland Ocean Coalition Inland Ocean Coalition Inland Ocean Coalition Chapter

Inland Ocean Coalition Chapter
Inland Ocean Coalition Inland Ocean Coalition Inland Ocean Coalition Inland Ocean Coalition Inland Ocean Coalition Chapter

Inland Ocean Coalition
International Fund for Animal Welfare International Marine Mammal Project of Earth Island Institute
League of Conservation Voters
Maine Conservation Voters
Marine Conservation Institute
Marine Mammal Alliance Nantucket Maryland League of Conservation Voters Mighty Earth
Nassau Hiking & Outdoor Club
National Aquarium
National Audubon Society

Alaska Chapter Arizona Chapter Buffalo Chapter Central Texas

CSU Fort Collins

Great Lakes Chapter Montana Chapter North Texas Chapter Utah Chapter Washington, D.C.

Wyoming Chapter

Surfrider Foundation
Sylvia Earle Alliance / Mission Blue
TAO: Tethra Advisors and Officers-the Blue Economy and Blue Technology Consultancy The Last Plastic Straw
The Ocean Project
The Rewilding Institute
The Whale Guitar Project
The Wilderness Society
Tropical Audubon Society
Uncas Consulting
Vermont Conservation Voters
Vermont Natural Resources Council Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center
Washington Conservation Voters Washington Environmental Council Waterfront Alliance
Whale and Dolphin Conservation WILDCOAST
Wildlands Network
Wisconsin Environment
Women Working for Oceans – W2O
World Wildlife Fund
WSL PURE

Do the Australian fires impact the ocean?  You bet they do. 
 

 

The enormity of the catastrophic fires currently ravaging Australia is hard to comprehend. Millions of acres of wilderness have succumbed to the flames in an extraordinary combination of factors that include severe weather conditions (drought, winds), human criminal activity (a number of fires have, allegedly, been deliberately set), and the more present than ever specter of climate change aggravating the conditions. Entire towns have been destroyed and millions of people in cities are being exposed to choking and unbreathable air.

 

So far, over 18 million acres of wilderness have been affected by fire, including national parks and other protected areas. The tragic loss of life is unimaginable; already at least 24 people and over one billion mammals, birds, and reptiles have died (according to the January 8th estimate by University of Sydney ecologist Chris Dickman.)
 
New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) reported that the westerly Southern Ocean jet wind stream—between Antarctica and Australia—has changed “dramatically,” with resultant “calmer, drier conditions.” The higher than normal ocean temperatures also mean that drought conditions and low precipitation are likely to continue for months. The pervasive and massive plumes of smoke are affecting New Zealand and South America already. The resulting ash fallout and smoke can dramatically impact the water chemistry of streams, rivers, lakes, and the ocean, affecting marine wildlife. Whales, dolphins, and other marine air-breathing animals can also be affected directly by the smoke.
 
This is a critical event, but what does it mean for marine life? It is hard to measure the impact of climate change underwater, in a realm we can’t see.  But on land, where fires rage, we can’t ignore the impact. There is no getting away from the fact that the world is changing around us and will impact everything. But how does this affect oceans?
 
Australia is already one of the most climate-impacted marine regions, with well-documented coral die-offs. But the fires are also part of a much bigger, global story, that certainly affects our fresh waterways and our oceans.
 
We have passed a tipping point where every change is driving more changes. An increase of Carbon in the atmosphere, largely due to human activities, is part of the problem with the warming climate and resulting fires. The hotter it gets the more fires there are, and the more fires, the more carbon from burning trees is released into the atmosphere. So the fires are feeding the trend. 
 
But not only is the excess carbon bad for the climate, but it is also dissolving into the oceans, where it becomes carbonic acid, which gradually increases the acidity of the sea, making it hard for plankton and juvenile shellfish to form their calcium shells. These animals are the base of the entire ocean food chain. Anything that affects them will impact all marine life. 
 
Our carbon-based planet is as fragile as it is robust.  We have seen nature recover from man-made insults for generations, but we must realize that our actions are culminating to a point where one day, we may no longer be able to right this ship. 
 
What can you do? 
 
Stay informed – read, learn how to vet reliable news sources and be an ambassador to facts and science.
 
Emergency Assistance –  Addressing the immediate needs of people and wildlife is perhaps the first step. According to a report on CNN, donations can be made to several organizations working toward victim relief and recovery, including the Australian Red Cross, Salvation Army Australia, the NSW Rural Fire Service, and the St. Vincent de Paul Society Australia.
 
You can also help the devastated animal population by giving to wildlife rescue and treatment groups like WIRES, the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, and Currumbin Wildlife Hospital.
 
Make Change – Reversing climate change is a marathon, not a sprint. Consider changing your habits to include the following:  Only use sustainable or recycled wood and paper and eat less beef – easing the pressure on the world’s forests, and trying to reduce your energy consumption so fewer fossil fuels are burnt. Our best bet in calming the climate crisis is trees – trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and lock the carbon away in their cellular structure. 
 
Currently, we are cutting or burning trees, releasing the carbon back into the air, and lessening the ability of forests to absorb carbon when we should be protecting forests and replanting trees as quickly as we can to try and turn the tide. 
 
Vote – Make sure you “Seas the Vote”, be part of the decision-making process and elect people who will support sound climate policy.
 
Compiled by Carlos de la Rosa Ph.D., Phil Coles, Georgienne Bradley M.A. 08 January 2020
 
Image Above ©NASA EOSDIS
 
NASA’s Aqua satellite used its Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer to capture this view of wildfires raging on Australia’s eastern coast on Dec. 9, 2019. The wildfires were fueled by unusually hot weather and a potent drought that primed the region in October 2019, according to the space agency. 

 

 

Good News – Not Great News for California Plastic Pollution Advocates

 

Americans throw away 500 million straws per day, enough to circle the Earth twice. These cylindrical pieces of plastic are significantly contributing to the growing slurry of plastic pollution in our oceans.
Plastic does not degrade, and according to a study funded by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, by the year 2050, there will be more plastic in the sea than fish unless we drastically change our habits and laws.

 

How can we best curb this problem?  Stopping the glut of straw usage is our smartest and most pragmatic line of defense. Recycling is good and we must continue this practice. However, with the “tidal wave” of plastics entering our waterways and oceans constantly increasing in size, we need to think of ways to stop plastic production and then our follow-up game will be to clean up the existing problem.

 

On January 17, 2018, California Assemblyman Ian Calderon (D-57 CA) introduced a bill, AB 1884 that will curb plastic straw consumption in California. This bill will require consumers to request straws before their server provides the plastic amenity. This bill will still allow restaurants to serve straws upon request. Plastic straws are targeted because they are single-use plastics, discarded in large quantities and are rarely essential. Sea Save Foundation rallied behind this critical bill using by raising awareness and leveraging a tool connecting voters to their representatives.

 

Due to pushback, Calderon recently amended his bill to exclude fast food eateries and other non-full service restaurants. This is unfortunate because the majority of straw pollution usage emanates from fast-food hubs. The bill passed the Senate on August 20th and is currently sitting on the Governor’s desk awaiting his signature.  Brown is expected to support this bill and sign it into law within the next two weeks.

 

Is it time for conservationists to celebrate? The final text only includes full-service restaurants, leaving much room for single-use plastic straws to still end up in our landfills. However, when addressing the Senate Standing Committee on Environmental Quality, Calderon stated: “I purposefully structured the bill this way because I wanted to get something through the Legislature, and I want to get something on the governor’s desk.”

 

Historically, successful efforts have started with a single, small step forward. The fight against single-use plastics is not over by far, but this is a step in the right direction.

– Georgienne Bradley and Stephanie Rice

1. In a Break with US National Policy, California Governor Jerry Brown Announced an independent Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, September 2018 

California Governor Jerry Brown has one-upped Trump by announcing that he will host a Climate Action Summit in San Francisco in September of 2018.  He says Trump “doesn’t speak for the rest of America,” when it comes to climate change.

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2. Pruitt Systematically Dismantles EPA. Onerous.

“In the four months since he took office as the Environmental Protection Agency’s administrator, Scott Pruitt has moved to undo, delay or otherwise block more than 30 environmental rules, a regulatory rollback larger in scope than any other over so short a time in the agency’s 47-year history, according to experts in environmental law. Mr. Pruitt’s supporters, including President Trump, have hailed his moves as an uprooting of the administrative state and a clearing of onerous regulations that have stymied American business.”  
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3. Navy Dolphin Deployed to Save Endangered Vaquita Porpoise
 

 

The US Navy will deploy its trained dolphins to search for the last of the endangered vaquita porpoise.  Once found, the dolphins will herd the vaquita into a marine refuge. Less than 30 vaquita are estimated to be left in the wild. The project will begin in September. The Mexican government is looking into a permanent ban on the gillnets that accidentally catch the vaquita.

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4. Trump Receives Icy Reception –  Intends to Drill Oil  in Arctic and Atlantic

arcticEnvironmentalists have condemned Trump as a “threat to every ocean and coastline in the country” due to his willingness to open up the Arctic and Atlantic to oil drilling.  A five-year plan put into place by the Obama administration will be rewritten by the Trump administration.  A 45 day public comment period is now open here 




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5. Whales Shrinking Over Time

humpback whale, humpback whale breaching, humpback whale jumping

Whales have been shrinking in size due to the commercial whaling of the 20th century.  The decrease in weight and length was noticeable 40 years before the populations crashed.  The decrease in “body size could be an early marker of when animal communities are about to collapse.”

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6. Public Comments Open For Review of National Marine Sanctuaries and Marine National Monuments

National Marine Sanctuaries logo 
This is your chance to weigh in.  National Marine Sanctuaries and Marine National Monuments are soliciting public input regarding the future of our National Marine Sanctuaries and Marine National Monuments and make comments of your own.

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7. EPA to Create “Red Team-Blue Team” for Climate Change

coal power plant

The EPA plans to create a “red team – blue team” model to debate climate change.  The red team will consist of climate change deniers, and the blue team of those who believe in climate change.  Many climate change advocates are saying that this is a waste of time, while others welcome the chance to debate climate change in the public eye.

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8. Killer Whale Pregnancies Down Due to Scarce Food

orcas, orca pod, Puget Sound orcas, killer whales
Endangered killer whales in Puget Sound, Washington state, are not finding enough food to eat and this is affecting their pregnancies.  The females are stressed over not finding enough salmon to eat and having pregnancy problems as a result.  Scientists found that two-thirds of the pregnancies failed from their study of 6 years.

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Be sure to “LIKE” http://facebook.com/SeaSave to ensure our “Week in Review” is delivered to your newsfeed every Friday. 
 

Sea Save Foundation is committed to raising awareness of marine conservation. The Week in Review is a team effort produced by the Sea Save staff to provide a weekly summary of the latest in marine research, policy, and news.

 
1. Amid National Protests the Clean Water Protection Act is Rolled Back

stream, river, fog, rocks by river
The Clean Water Act which was drafted to protected half of the United States fresh waterways is now being rescinded by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers. The agencies will “undergo a broader review of how far the federal government’s jurisdiction over the nation’s waters should reach.” 
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2. EPA Scientist Board Member Forced to Change Testimony

 

 

A Minnesota scientist, Deborah Swackhamer, who leads an EPA scientific advisory board says she was pressured by the agency’s chief of staff to change her testimony before Congress to downplay the current administration’s decision not to reappoint half of the board’s members.

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3. Climate Change is Warming Ice and Increasing Movement


The warming climate is melting Arctic Sea ice and creating a virtual vortex with remaining flows. “stirring the remaining ice faster, increasing the odds that ice-rafted pollution will foul a neighboring country’s waters.”  The declining sea ice is opening up the Arctic to more industrial development and resource extraction, and bring along with it pollution such as oil spills.
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4. Current State of Climate Change and the Oceans

 

 

A recent scientific paper in Climate Dynamics used data from multiple data resources that looked at three different temperature measurements.  The scientists found that the oceans are warming over time.  They also showed “how the warming differs for various areas (ocean basins) and various depths.” The ocean basins have warmed significantly.  

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5. Large Percent of Fish Caught in Oceans Get Dumped

 

fishing boatWorldwide, fishing vessels dump much of their low-value catch.  That amounts to 10 million tons being discarded of the 100 million tons of fish caught annually. “Industrial fleets often throw back fish that are damaged, diseased, too small or of an unwanted species.

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6. Plastic Pollution in Antarctica Five Times Worse Than Expected

 

The levels of microplastics in Antarctica have been found to be five times more than previous estimates.  As many as 51 trillion microplastic pieces are found in our oceans including in ice cores and on beaches. Large plastic items have been studied by scientists in Antarctica for 30 years, but the effect of microplastics on the ecosystem is unknown.

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7. ‘Manta’ No More!

 

 

 
 
The genus “Manta” is now officially gone-manta rays are officially “Mobula” genus or mobulid rays.  The family Mobulidae used to contain both manta and mobula rays. The change will probably stay in scientific circles only as the common name is entrenched in tradition.











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8. What is the Impact of the World’s Plastic Binge?

plastic bottles, empty plastic bottles
 
Every minute, one million plastic bottles are bought.  By 2021 half a trillion bottles will be bought annually, a 20 percent increase. Recycling is unable to keep up with the demand, especially in China and the Asia Pacific.  Many of those plastic bottles end up in waterways, and ultimately the ocean, where 8 billion tons of plastic ends up every year. By 2050 there will be more plastic (by weight) than fish in the ocean.
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Be sure to “LIKE” http://facebook.com/SeaSave to ensure our “Week in Review” is delivered to your newsfeed every Friday. 
 

Sea Save Foundation is committed to raising awareness of marine conservation. The Week in Review is a team effort produced by the Sea Save staff to provide a weekly summary of the latest in marine research, policy, and news.

 
1. The International Impact of Losing the Green Climate Fund
 
smoke stacks, green climate fund
June 13-15 was Capitol Hill Ocean Week (CHOW) and Sea Save was present.  In related news, Trump has pulled the U.S. out of pledging $2 billion for the international Green Climate Fund. The GCF was “created in advance of the Paris Agreement to support projects to address climate change in the developing world.”  Developing countries such as Chile are impacted, and could have used the U.S. funding to further cut down carbon emissions.
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2. 1,300 Pledged Actions for Protecting the Blue!

 

 

fishing boat, Kenya, Mombasa, Indian OceanThe UN Ocean Conference in New York (which Sea Save Foundation was a part of) got 1,300 voluntary pledged actions for protecting our oceans.  “The bar has been raised on global consciousness and awareness of the problem in the oceans,” the President of the UN General Assembly, Peter Thomson said.

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3. Inclimate Weather Cuts Climate Study Short

 

BAYSYS, climate change, climate change study, Arctic ice, Arctic icebergs

A major climate change study, BAYSYS, was cut short due to icebergs floating south from the Arctic to where their icebreakers were in Newfoundland.  The icebreaker boats were trapped and the $11 million study had to be canceled.  The second leg of the study will be in July.

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4. Will Dolphins Pay the Price for Hong Kong’s Airports?

 

Chinese white dolphin, Hong Kong, dolphins

 

The Chinese white dolphin, the mascot of China’s handover of Hong Kong in 1997, is in danger from an expansion of Hong Kong’s airport.  The $18 billion project will add a third runway and started last summer.  It is scheduled to take eight years.  “A marine park should be created nearby after the runway is completed, around 2023, to compensate for the planned destruction of an area of dolphin habitat roughly twice the size of Central Park in New York City.”

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5. The Dying Salton Sea

 

Salton Sea, Salton Sea drying up

 

The Salton Sea is California’s largest lake, and is drying up.  Water has been diverted from it to go to San Diego County and Coachella Valley cities.  Less birds are now found there, and the fish will soon die from the increased salinity.  The dry lakebed spews up dust and is causing childhood asthma rates to go up in nearby communities.

 

 

 




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6. A Breakthrough for Coral Reef Restoration

 

Humans have lost 25 to 40 percent of the world’s coral reefs in recent decades due to seawater temperature rise and ocean acidification. Dr. Vaughan has developed a technique called “microfragmenting” that allows corals to grow more than 25 times faster than normal. (Watch video)

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7. Inside the Multimillion-Dollar World of Eel Trafficking

 

 

freshwater eels, eelsYoung “glass eels” are shipped to Asia from places like Maine in the U.S. In Asia, the young eels are fattened up on aquaculture farms before being turned into food.  This is a multimillion dollar industry and would-be entrepreneurs are increasingly turning to illegal means of laundering and trafficking the valuable eels.

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Be sure to “LIKE” http://facebook.com/SeaSave to ensure our “Week in Review” is delivered to your newsfeed every Friday. 
 

Sea Save Foundation is committed to raising awareness of marine conservation. The Week in Review is a team effort produced by the Sea Save staff to provide a weekly summary of the latest in marine research, policy, and news.

 
by Georgienne Bradley and Abhi Iyer

 

The ultimate test of man’s conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard.”
– Gaylord Nelson
Dateline: June 7, 2017
Spirits at the United Nations: Ocean Conference are high this week.  We originally entered the building and the emblematic General Assembly room tenuously.  The United States had just withdrawn from an agreement made in Paris at a similar UN Conference.  How would the international community react?  Could the United States delegation participate effectively?  Would concerns that future agreements might be broken overshadow all discussions and undermine the meeting?
These concerns were quickly resolved.  There seems to be an unspoken understanding that to successfully protect the oceans we must “double down”. The United States delegates, NGO representatives, and visitors are all talking about cutting edge ways to protect oceans, increase yields and make the human relationship with oceans sustainable and healthy.  But woven through most conversations are also threads of climate change discussion.  Talks about making our deadlines more ambitious fill the halls.  The Green Fund recently de-funded by the Trump administration is not an issue; instead, a Blue Fund is being created.  For people who believe that environmental stability is a critical issue, this is great news.  But to understand the strength of the United Nations: Ocean Conference and from where it gets its teeth, we must understand history.  Why is there an Ocean Conference?  What are we trying to achieve?

 

The United Nations idealists who believe we can work globally to ensure environmental health have been working on this issue for over four decades. Momentum is increasing as more people join the effort and the cause is backed up with a growing body of more sophisticated science.
A great place to start this story was in 1972 when the global challenges presented at the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment were recognized, yet ten years later they remained unaddressed. Still absent was a plan: a development concept that would reconcile economic development and environmental protection.
So in 1983, the United Nations: World Commission on Environment and Development was formed to examine sustainable development.  The official commission definition read, “the organizing principle for meeting human developmental goals while sustaining the ability of natural systems to provide the natural resources and ecosystem services upon which the economy and society depends.”

 

It took until 1992 for the UN to convene the Conference on Environment and Development dubbed Earth Summit”.  The two big victories realized at this meeting were
o   The creation of “Agenda 21”: a voluntary action plan for United Nations delegates that would culminate in sustainable development and

o Agreement to convene the Climate Change Convention with the objective to stabilize greenhouse gases. This agreement led to the Paris Agreement.

 

At the 2002 “Earth Summit” (Also known as Rio +10) sustainable development was identified as the most important goal for all national, regional, and international institutions and states.

 

At the 2012 “Earth Summit” (Also known as Rio +20) the third international conference on sustainable development was hosted.  During this conference, a resolution known as The Future We Want” was reached. The heads of the 192 governments in attendance renewed their political commitment to sustainable development and their commitment to the promotion of a sustainable future. Key themes of this agreement were poverty eradication, energy, water and sanitation, health, and human settlement.

 

In 2015 with the dictates of “The Future We Want” completed, the international community set new specific goals: a set of 17 Sustainable Development Global Goals.  The international community agreed to these 17 targets that were reachable and finite.

 

In 2016 the United Nations met in Paris to discuss how the international community could work together in constructively responding to the scientific evidence that climate change was happening at an escalating and unprecedented rate.  The member countries hammered out The Paris Agreement also known as the Paris Accord.   Every member country signed this agreement except for Nicaragua (as they felt it was not ambitious enough) and Syria.  The United States backed out of their agreement in June 2017 when President Trump cited that the international accord was not fair to the workers of the United States and that the US was carrying too much of the financial burden.

 

This process has spanned more than four decades. A few steps forward followed by an occasional step back seems to be the current progression; however there is an international energy demonstrated at this conference that has not been seen before. The successes of the 2017 Ocean Conference are promising. People realize that collectively we need to roll up our sleeves, be ambitious and make the health of the Earth a top priority for future generations.

1. Trump Pulls U.S. Out of the Paris Climate Accord

 

UN climate conference 2015, Paris climate accord, Paris climate agreement, eiffel tower

Trump has pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Accord of 2015.  The process will take place over the next four years and won’t conclude until November 2020.  Trump says “…we will start to renegotiate and we’ll see if there’s a better deal. If we can, great. If we can’t, that’s fine.” But the “leaders of France, Italy and Germany indicated in a joint statement that the US could not unilaterally renegotiate the agreement.”  Trump is also stopping payments into the United Nations’ Green Climate Fund.
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2. New York Joins California and Washington State in Launching U.S. Climate Alliance

New York mayor Andrew Cuomo, US Climate Alliance

 

New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo joins California and Washington state governors to launch U.S. Climate Alliance.  Together these states form one-fifth of the Gross Domestic Product of the U.S.  These states have committed to reducing emission levels to 26-28 percent of 2005 levels, and plan to exceed the standards of the Clean Power Plan.  Many cities (61) across the U.S. have committed to uphold the Paris agreement goals.

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3. U.S. Coral Reefs May Disappear Within Decades

 

coral reef

 

Scientists are warning that coral reefs in the U.S. may disappear within decades due to climate change.  Coral reefs include those in Hawaii, Florida and in the Caribbean.  “We are looking at the loss or at least severe degradation of most reefs in the the coming decades.” This is due in part to warming sea temperatures that can cause corals to bleach and due to ocean acidification, which cause corals to lose calcium (carbonate ions).

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4. Faceless Fish Found After Not Being Seen for a Century

 
faceless fish, Typhylonus nasus, deep sea survey

 

A faceless fish, Typhlonus nasus, a type of cusk eel has been found off of Australia.  It lives between 13,000-16,500 feet below the sea surface.  It hasn’t been seen (or hauled up by a net specifically) in over a century.  Other organisms new to science have been found on this Australian survey to the abyssal plain (deep-sea) as well as an “amazing” quantity of trash.

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5. Record Breaking Tides in Hawaii-a Glimpse Into the Future?

Waikiki Queens Beach, king tides, Hawaii

 

Hawaii has been inundated with king tides in May, some six to nine inches above prediction levels.  King tides happen a few times a year normally, but scientists are wondering if climate change will make this happen more extremely or more often.  Fish were photographed swimming down streets and beaches have been washed out.

 

 




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6. Controversial Iron Dumping Experiment in the Ocean

phytoplankton

 

The Oceaneos Marine Research Foundation of Vancouver, Canada is seeking to add “10 tonnes of iron particles 130 kilometres off the coast of Coquimbo (Chile) as early as 2018.”  The foundation says that the iron stimulates phytoplankton growth and will ultimately help the Chilean fisheries.  The foundation has ties to an organization that dumped 100 tonnes of iron sulfate into the waters off of British Columbia, Canada in 2012.  There has been no evidence that the experiment worked.

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7. Two Florida Men Arrested With 500 Sea Turtle Eggs

 

 

cooler full of sea turtle eggs, loggerhead sea turtle eggsTwo Florida men were arrested with 500 sea turtle eggs, probably loggerheads.  The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission had gotten reports over the past few weeks of possible illegal activity from those who monitor sea turtle nests.  There is a market for the eggs, which some cultures see as an aphrodisiac

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Special Sea Save Foundation – CITES Report Series
Review of Precious Corals in International Trade

Johannesburg, South Africa.  September 25, 2016 – The United States submitted a proposal to gather additional information about the current use of rare and precious corals (black, red and pink)  In their opening statement, the United States expressed concern that China’s use of these corals has increased 2000% since 2012. The intention is to gather more information about corals, evaluate their consumption rate and project sustainability based upon current use. The United States offered to underwrite this study.

 

As a point of departure the United States wants to use information gathered via CITES mandated paperwork for internationally traded black coral as a way to evaluate the effectiveness of the CITES decisions. The European Union, Maldives, Senegal and Fiji came out in strong support of this document.
The Chinese delegation stated that while they think conservation of rare and precious corals is meaningful, they are strongly against this proposal.  A new point of concern entered by the Chinese delegate was  “If aquatic species are listed on any of the CITES Appendices, the action will increase their value, demand will intensify and therefore poaching will ensue.”
 
China questioned the accuracy of several facts the United States presented within the body of their document. The Chinese representative then expressed deep concern for the additional pressure the proposed questionnaire would place upon nations whose fishery departments are already taxed.  They also stated that since some of the questions inquire about internal use of coral,  they will view this proposal as a volunteer exercise and not something that CITES can mandate.   China stated that individual countries are best positioned to protect these resources and CITES is only a “supplementary” tool.
 
The Japanese delegation concurred stating that the questionnaire the United States wishes to present to CITES member states is “very ambitious and requires too much.”  They do not wish to extend information about corals used in jewelry, or information about the current stockpile of corals within Japan.  Japan believes that sustainable takes can be managed for precious corals.
 

 

The debate was heated and China and Japan insisted on ironing out the language of the proposal before the plenary chairwoman could make a ruling.  The United States, Japan and China were given until tomorrow to agree upon the language of the proposal.