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2020: Top Ten Ocean News Stories

1. Sea Save and 159 organizations unite for ocean climate action

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. 

Read more in “It’s Your Ocean”


2. Climate change could wipe out all coral reef habitat within decades via CBS News – Renée Setter (Sea Save Communications Director Emeritus)

In the blink of a geological eye, more than 50% of the world’s coral reefs have disappeared — wiped out by factors like warming waters, pollution, and overfishing — all within the past few decades. That in itself is disturbing, but new research reveals an even more distressing finding: virtually all of the coral reef habitat on Earth is likely to vanish by the end of this century. “By 2100, it’s looking quite grim,” said Renee Setter, a past Communications Director at Sea Save and currently a biogeographer at the University of Hawaii Manoa. She presented the new findings at a conference on ocean sciences this week.

Read more in the CBS News

3. Pollution laws waived during pandemic
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has suspended its enforcement of environmental laws during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, signaling to companies they will not face any sanction for polluting the air or water of Americans. In an extraordinary move that has stunned former EPA officials, the Trump administration said it will not expect compliance with the routine monitoring and reporting of pollution and won’t pursue penalties for breaking these rules.

Read more in The Guardian 


4. China bans trade of wild animals – Reaction to Coronavirus
China’s wildlife-farming industry, valued at $74 billion, has been permanently shut down. On Monday, the nation’s legislature banned the buying, selling, and eating of wild animals in an effort to prevent zoonotic diseases from jumping from animals to people. The novel coronavirus, which has killed at least 2,700 people, is thought to have been transmitted to humans by pigs, civets, or pangolins at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan, China. “There has been a growing concern among people over the consumption of wild animals and the hidden dangers it brings to public health security since the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak,” Zhang Tiewei, a legislative spokesman, told Reuters Monday. Zhang added that the decision came at a “critical moment for epidemic prevention and control.”
Editorial Comment:  Sea Save Foundation has been fighting to ban wet markets for more than a decade. 

5. Florida SB 680 – Shark fin ban is signed into law

Florida SB 680, a Shark Fin Ban Bill, was signed by the governor and is now law in the Sunshine State This is a game-changer because Florida had become the shark fin trade hub of the United States. Kristin Jacobs introduced SB 680 to the Florida House of Representatives on October 28th, 2019. SB 680 is a great victory, but it came with a cost. The bill was diluted due to the successful efforts of a strong fishing lobby. We had the option to abandon the bill but strategically decided to take this opportunity to begin strengthening shark conservation in Florida. But we will not rest until the senseless and unsustainable shark fin practice has been stopped completely.

Editorial Comment: One of Sea Save Foundations’ high profile efforts. This included an email campaign directed towards congressional decision-makers.

            Read more in Sea Save Foundation      


6. Possession, sale, trade, and distribution of shark fins now illegal in New Jersey

Governor Phil Murphy signed S2905, which will prohibit the sale, trade, distribution, or offering for sale of shark fins, as well as the possession of any shark fin that is separated from a shark that is caught and released. The law will prevent the highly cruel practice of separating shark fins from sharks and releasing them back into the water. “Shark fins are often obtained in a very inhumane manner that causes much suffering to the animal,” said Governor Murphy. “I am proud to sign this law that will prevent the catch and release of sharks for the purpose of cutting off their fins.” New Jersey also shot down an 18-month effort to pass one of the nation’s most stringent sets of regulations to ban retail store bags, foam food containers, some utensils, and plastic straws appeared late Monday to fizzle out at the legislative deadline, with only one house voting on the measure.

Editorial Comment: One of Sea Save Foundations’ high profile efforts. This included an email campaign directed towards congressional decision-makers.

Read more in Official Site of the State of New Jersey



7. Single-use plastic: China to ban bags and other items                      


China, one of the world’s biggest users of plastic, has unveiled a major plan to reduce single-use plastics across the country. Non-degradable bags will be banned in major cities by the end of 2020 and in all cities and towns by 2022. The restaurant industry will also be banned from using single-use straws by the end of 2020. China has for years been struggling to deal with the rubbish its 1.4 billion citizens generate. The country’s largest rubbish dump – the size of around 100 football fields – is already full, 25 years ahead of schedule. In 2017 alone, China collected 215 million tonnes of urban household waste. But national figures for recycling are not available. China produced 60 million tonnes of plastic waste in 2010, followed by the US at 38 million tonnes, according to online publication Our World in Data-based at the University of Oxford.

Read more in BBC


8. Chinese paddlefish, freshwater giants up to 23 feet long, declared extinct

Humanity has driven the Chinese paddlefish, one of the world’s largest freshwater species, to extinction, according to a new study. The Chinese paddlefish (Psephurus gladius) lived in the Yangtze River in China and could grow up to 23 feet long. The last known sighting of the species, named for its long, paddle-like snout, was in 2003, Mongabay reports. There is one other living species of paddlefish, native to North America. “Given that the Chinese paddlefish was one of the two extant species of paddlefishes, loss of such unique and charismatic megafauna representative of freshwater ecosystems is a reprehensible and an irreparable loss,” Qiwei Wei, co-author of the study, told Mongabay.

Read more in The Hill

9. Biggest shark fin seizure in Hong Kong history recovers 26 tons, mostly from endangered species
Hong Kong has seized 26 tons of smuggled shark fins, sliced from some 38,500 endangered animals, in the largest bust of its kind in the southern Chinese city. The record haul was discovered in two containers from Ecuador and highlights the continued demand for shark fin, which is served at wedding banquets in many Chinese communities. The city’s customs department unveiled the haul on Wednesday and said it smashed previous records. “Each consignment consisting of 13 tons broke the previous record seizure of 3.8 tons of controlled shark fins made in 2019,” customs official Danny Cheung told reporters.
10. China pledges to become carbon neutral by 2060
China, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, announced Tuesday it would seek to reach carbon neutrality by 2060. It’s a notable pledge from a nation frequently targeted by Republicans, who argue the U.S. should not move ahead on more ambitious climate action without stronger commitments from other major emitters. In a speech before the United Nations General Assembly, President Xi Jinping said China would scale up its commitments under the 2015 Paris Climate Accord.