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Sea Save Foundation “Ocean Week in Review” June 21, 2019: We Gather News; You Stay Informed

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Canada bans shark fins, G20 takes on plastic pollution, Maine and Vermont ban plastic bags, Spy images reveal accelerated glaciers melting, Canada bans single-use plastics, Environmental reporters at risk and more…

1. Canada leads – bans shark-fin trade


Canada passed a new law banning the import and export of shark fins, which also includes a requirement to rebuild depleted fish populations. The new Fisheries Act, approved late on Tuesday, was hailed by environmental and conservation groups as a win for the preservation of fish habitats and for the shark population. Canada has become the first G20 country to ban the export and import of shark fins, said Josh Laughren, executive director of Oceana Canada, a private conservation group. “With all laws, how they’re implemented matters, but there’s no question this has the potential to be transformative for how we manage Canada’s oceans,” Laughren said.



2. G20 (twenty countries with the largest economies in the world) to tackle ocean plastic waste



Japan wants to make reducing the glut of plastic waste in the oceans a priority at the ‘Group of 20’ summit it is hosting this month as governments around the world crack down on such pollution. Images of plastic debris-strewn beaches and dead animals with stomachs full of plastic have sparked outrage, with many countries, including more than two dozen in Africa, banning plastic bags outright. The EU has voted to outlaw 10 single-use plastic items, including straws, forks and knives, by 2021. It has also set targets for all plastic packaging, the top source of plastic waste, to be recyclable by 2030.



3. Trump UN nominee believes climate change poses ‘real risks’

President Trump’s nominee to be U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said Wednesday that humans have “contributed” to climate change and vowed to press for global action if she’s confirmed — but stressed that she doesn’t think the United States should take on an “outsized burden” in tackling the issue. Kelly Craft, the wife of a coal executive, also pledged to recuse herself from matters involving coal as she defended her record before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in her bid to become the next U.N. ambassador.

Read more from “The Hill”   




4. Trump administration reverses keystone US climate policy


Trump administration has removed the core of the Obama Clean Power Plan. The Trump administration finalized a rule to repeal and replace a capstone Obama-era carbon pollution regulation that they argue exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority. The new replacement rule to the Clean Power Plan (CPP), deemed the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule would give states time to more slowly change emissions standards.

Read more from “The Hill”
Read more from “LA Times”                                    




5. Main and Vermont ban plastic bags on the same day


Governors in Maine and Vermont on Monday signed bills into law that ban single-use plastic bags, making them the fourth and fifth states to pass such legislation. Maine Gov. Janet Mills (D) signed a measure that says “a retail establishment may not provide a single-use carry-out bag to a customer at the point of sale or otherwise make single-use carry-out bags available to customers.” However, the law provides some exceptions, such as when pharmacies provide bags for transporting medications or when pet stores offer bags for carrying fish or insects.



6. Boaty McBoatface makes significant climate change discovery during her maiden mission

Boaty McBoatface, the submarine named by an online poll, made a major climate discovery during its maiden voyage in Antarctica. The data collection research, which took place in April 2017, found a significant link between Antarctic winds and rising sea temperatures. The analysis of the data from the autonomous submarine was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, a multidisciplinary journal. Boaty McBoatface collected temperature, saltiness and water turbulence data at the bottom of the Southern Ocean over a three day period.





7. Declassified satellite images – Himalayan glaciers melting twice as fast




Images from Cold War spy satellites have revealed the dramatic extent of ice loss in the Himalayan glaciers. Scientists compared photographs taken by a US reconnaissance program with recent spacecraft observations and found that melting in the region has doubled over the last 40 years. The study shows that since 2000, glaciers heights have been shrinking by an average of 0.5m per year. The researchers say that climate change is the main cause. “From this study, we really see the clearest picture yet of how Himalayan glaciers have changed,” Joshua Maurer, from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in New York, told BBC News.




8. Trudeau bans single-use plastics in Canada

Justin Trudeau’s government announced plans Monday to ban single-use plastics such as straws and plates in Canada. The ban would go into effect as early as 2021, the prime minister said at a press conference near Montreal. The government also plans new measures that would shift the responsibility of recycling to companies that manufacture or sell plastic products. The crackdown on plastics is part of a growing worldwide effort by governments in the European Union, India, and California, driven by images of garbage-strewn oceans and dead sea animals with plastic bags in their digestive tracks. The EU voted in March to outlaw some products that fragment into small pieces and remain in the environment such as plastic bags.


9. House advances bills to bar offshore drilling across the U.S.

Lawmakers gave initial approval to bipartisan measures to bar offshore drilling across the U.S. in a Wednesday meeting of the House Natural Resources Committee. The committee advanced bills that would bar drilling along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts as well as the eastern Gulf of Mexico near Florida shorelines. “The limited economic benefit oil and gas exploration might have is dwarfed by the ongoing importance of our sustainable economies that depend on clean beaches,” said Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-S.C.), who campaigned on barring offshore drilling.



10. The Caribbean addresses the plastic pollution plague


“Our world is swamped by harmful plastic waste. Microplastics in the seas now outnumber stars in our galaxy. From remote islands to the Arctic, 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. Seventy to eighty-five percent 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.

Read more from “UN Environment”


11. Environmental reporters face harassment and risk of murder


Thirteen journalists who were investigating damage to the environment have been killed in recent years and many more are suffering violence, harassment, intimidation and lawsuits, according to a study. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), which produced the tally, is investigating a further 16 deaths over the last decade. It says the number of murders may be as high as 29, making this field of journalism one of the most dangerous after war reporting. On every continent, reporters have been attacked for investigating concerns about abuses related to the impact of corporate and political interests scrambling to extract wealth from the earth’s remaining natural resources.




12. Climate change poses risks for fish farms



The global aquaculture sector, or “fish farming” is worth $232 billion – and well placed to profit from global megatrends such as climate change, the growing population and the growing backlash against meat-eating because of its environmental impacts and concerns about animal welfare. But it faces major risks from environmental, social and governance factors such as unstable feed supply, antibiotic resistance, poor governance, and climate change, according to a $12 trillion-backed investor network.

Read more from “Forbes”


13. Twenty corporations targeted as responsible for producing most ocean pollution



Plastics are a large component of the global pollution problem. The website 24/7 Wall Street just published an article by Juan Hernandez listing the twenty corporations responsible for contributing the most pollution to our oceans.These 20 companies represent our best estimate of the largest polluters in the world, based on their relative size in industries that are known to pollute heavily, as well as estimates of these companies’ greenhouse gas emissions by third parties,” Hernandez wrote.




14. Sea turtle found strangled in fishing line and plastic along Florida coast



A sea turtle was found dead on the coast of Florida this week, tangled in plastic waste and a fishing line, local outlets reported. According to a local ABC station, the turtle’s body was discovered at the Pensacola Beach on Monday.  Photos began to circulate online showing the turtle ashore, apparently with fish line wrapped around its fin.
Read more from “The Hill”                                           


15. World’s largest marine dead zone may reach UAE’s shores



Chemical imbalances in the Arabian Gulf caused by rapid warming and excessive use of fertilizer in agriculture could be expanding the world’s largest marine dead zone towards the UAE’s shores. Researchers at New York University Abu Dhabi conducted a study that mapped the potential growth of the Arabian Sea’s dead zone – an area of low oxygen caused by excessive pollution that strains the resources needed to sustain marine life. Dead zones are increasing in size and in number yearly because of rising water temperatures. Scientists are increasingly finding more aquatic systems succumbing to this man-made phenomena with a 2008 study counting more than 400 dead zones worldwide.




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Sea Save Foundation is committed to raising awareness of marine conservation. The Ocean 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