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Sea Save Foundation “Ocean Week in Review” April 5, 2019: We Gather News; You Stay Informed

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EU passes single-use plastic ban, New treaty could protect life in international waters, Toxins found in great white sharks, Plastic pollution costs the world billion, Totoaba poachers shot in Mexico,  Canadian shark fin bill stalls and more

1. European Parliament Passes Single-use Plastic Ban

Dateline 27 March 2019: The European Parliament has approved a law to ban single-use plastic by 2021 in the EU. The ‘Single-Use Plastics Directive’ puts in place more responsibility for plastic producers and new recycling targets for EU member States. The law recognizes plastic as “increasingly ubiquitous in  everyday life,” and states that plastic’s growing use in short-lived applications “which are not designed for re-use or cost-effective recycling, means that related production and consumption patterns have become increasingly inefficient and linear.” The law describes the European Strategy for Plastics as a “step towards establishing a circular economy in which the design and production of plastics and plastic products fully respect reuse, repair and recycling needs and in which more sustainable materials are developed and promoted.”

 
Read more from “IISD” 

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2. Hawaii Senate Bill 489

To put an end to shark finning this bill establishes an offense of knowingly capturing, taking, possessing, abusing, entangling, or killing a shark in state marine waters, along with penalties and fines. Expands the existing prohibition on knowingly capturing or killing a manta ray in state marine waters to apply to all rays and to also include knowingly taking, possessing, abusing, or entangling a ray. Provides certain exemptions. (SD2)

 
 
Read more from “Legiscan” 

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3.  Donnelly disappointed by liberal stalling on shark finning bill

 

The sponsor of a bill that would ban the import and export of shark fins in Canada says he’s disappointed the federal government is looking to make amendments at the 11th hour when it’s had two years to bring them forward. During second reading debate on Bill S-238, the Ban on Shark Fin Importation and Exportation Act, on Monday night, Sean Casey, parliamentary secretary to the minister of fisheries and oceans, told the House of Commons that while the government supports the bill, it may need amendments to avoid violating international trade agreements.

 

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4. 18th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES CoP18)

 
The eighteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES CoP18) will meet in Colombo, Sri Lanka from 23 May – 3 June 2019. Decisions taken in Colombo will have a real and immediate effect on the legislation, regulation, and operating practices across the globe for international trade in species listed on the CITES Appendices. The CoP18 decisions will also have direct impacts on biodiversity, people’s livelihoods, and national economies.
 
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5. Ancient Four-Legged Whale Swam Across Oceans, Walked Across Continents

 

Picture an animal that looks like a mix between a rhino and a sea otter: It has a narrow head; a long, muscular tail; and four stocky legs with hoofed toes and webbed feet. A new study suggests that’s more or less what the walking, swimming ancestors of modern-day whales looked like about 43 million years ago. Researchers unearthed the well-preserved bones of an ancient four-legged whale on the coast of Peru, and they detailed their findings in a paper published today (April 4) in the journal Current Biology. “It’s one of those discoveries that shows how little you know,” said Jonathan Geisler, an evolutionary biologist and anatomist at the New York Institute of Technology, who wasn’t involved with the study. “So that, I think, is very exciting.”

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6. Marine Plastic Pollution Costs the World Up to $2.5bn a Year

Plastic pollution in the world’s oceans costs society billions of dollars every year in damaged and lost resources, research has found. Fisheries, aquaculture, recreational activities and global wellbeing are all negatively affected by plastic pollution, with an estimated 1-5% decline in the benefit humans derive from oceans. The resulting cost in such benefits, known as marine ecosystem value, is up to $2.5bn (£1.9bn) a year, according to a study published this week in Marine Pollution Bulletin.

 
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7.  Whale Is Found Dead in Italy With 48 Pounds of Plastic in Its Stomach
More than 48 pounds of plastic, including disposable dishes, a corrugated tube, shopping bags and a detergent package with its bar code still visible, were found inside a dead sperm whale in Italy, the World Wildlife Fund said on Monday. The whale, a young female, washed ashore in Porto Cervo, a seaside resort in the north of the Italian island of Sardinia. It was also carrying a fetus “in an advanced state of decomposition,” the fund said. This was the latest in a grim international collection of whale carcasses burdened by dozens of pounds of plastic trash.
 
 
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8.  Cantwell Bill to Help Stop Senseless Slaughter of Sharks Passes Commerce Committee

Today, the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation passed U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell’s (D-WA) Shark Fin Trade Elimination Act, a bill to protect declining shark populations by making it illegal to possess, buy, sell, or transport shark fins or any product containing shark fins, unless taken lawfully under a state, territorial, or federal license or permit. The measure passed the committee by voice vote. Shark finning is a cruel practice in which the fins of a shark are cut off on board a fishing vessel at sea. The remainder of the animal is then thrown back into the water to drown, starve, or die a slow death. Shark finning has contributed to the decline of shark populations around the world. “Sharks are critical to ocean health, and yet shark finning is putting some shark populations on the brink of extinction. Washington state passed a shark fin ban in 2011—and I strongly support enacting national polices to end the shark fin trade, reduce shark finning, and improve shark conservation,” said Senator Cantwell, the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.
 
 
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9.  Scientists Urge UN to Create Protected Zone Across Third of Planet’s Oceans

To put an end to the bestial act of shark finning, legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Raj Mukherji, John Armato and Vincent Mazzeo to ban the harvest and sale of shark fins in New Jersey was released by the Assembly Appropriations Committee Monday. A recent increase in the demand for shark fin soup has called attention to shark finning. The practice entails severing a live shark’s fins from its body, thus rendering it immobile, and returning it to the water. The practice results in a painful death for the shark. Biological processes by ocean creatures which see carbon captured at the surface of the sea and stored deep below also play an important role in reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

 

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10. Stunning ‘Mirror Pools’ Seen on Ocean’s Floor Reveal Otherworldly Landscape


Scientists have discovered a strange and mesmerizingly beautiful space thousands of feet below the ocean’s surface. The otherworldly ecosystem features 75-foot towers containing volcanic flanges that create the illusion of looking at a mirror when one observes the super-hot hydrothermal fluids beneath them. The gorgeous visuals provide a rare window into a world that looks like something cooked up by James Cameron for the “Avatar” sequels.
 

 

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11. Great White Sharks Surviving with Toxic Levels of Mercury and Lead in their Blood

Levels of toxic mercury, arsenic and lead have been found at shockingly high levels in the blood of great white sharks swimming off the coast of South Africa. Despite being present at concentrations that would kill most animals, these toxins appear to have no effect on the enormous predatory fish.The scientists undertaking the tests think the sharks may have a special ability to resist the dangerous effects of the heavy metals. As great whites are top predators, they accumulate high volumes of toxins in their bodies from all the other creatures they eat. “By measuring concentrations of toxins, such as mercury and arsenic, in the blood of white sharks, they can act as ‘ecosystem indicators’ for the health of the ecosystem, with implications for humans,” said Dr Neil Hammerschlag, a co-author of the study at the University of Miami.

 

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12.  Suspected Totoaba Poachers Shot by Authorities in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez

Three suspected totoaba poachers were reportedly shot yesterday by Mexican marines following a confrontation over illegal gillnets that had been confiscated. According to local news outlet Fronteras, the governor of the Mexican state of Baja California, Francisco Vega, has confirmed that three people were injured in a shootout between suspected poachers and Mexican marines early Thursday morning in San Felipe, a small fishing town on the coast of the Sea of Cortez. Fronteras reports that one of the suspected poachers, Enrique García Sandez, a 37-year-old fisherman, was transported to a hospital in Mexicali with serious injuries.
 

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13.  Plastic Bags to Be Banned in New York; Second Statewide Ban, After California

New York State lawmakers have agreed to impose a statewide ban on most types of single-use plastic bags from retail sales, changing a way of life for millions of New Yorkers as legislators seek to curb an unsightly and omnipresent source of litter. The plan, proposed a year ago by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, would be the second statewide ban, after California, which banned bags in 2016. Hawaii also effectively has a ban in place, since all the state’s counties bar such single-use bags.
 

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14. First Ever High-Seas Conservation Treaty would Protect Life in International Waters

 

No flag can claim the high seas, but many nations exploit them. As a result, life in the two-thirds of the oceans beyond any country’s territorial waters faces many threats that are largely unregulated, including overfishing and the emerging deep-sea mining industry. Now, nations are negotiating the first-ever high-seas conservation treaty, which the United Nations expects to finalize next year. As delegates met this week at U.N. headquarters in New York City to hash out the details, marine scientists moved to influence the outcome. expansive new marine reserves to protect key high-seas ecosystems. 

 

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15. How the Oceans Have Become Hostile for Animals

Traditionally, the ocean wasn’t all that hostile of a place to live. The species that make the ocean their home have evolved over millennia to thrive in its depths. What seems mind-boggling to us—a fish’s ability to live five miles under the sea, for instance—is just life for other animals. “That environment’s not hostile to them—its like us being in our living rooms,” says Matthew Savoca, a postdoctoral researcher at Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station, in Monterey.

 
 
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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