Canada bans shark fin imports, Greta’s speech, Success at CITES, United Nations global report: oceans are in danger, Oil spill in Indonesia and more…
The issue of shark fin has been a contentious one in the restaurant industry for at least the last decade, as the luxury item has been roundly condemned for its inhumane method of harvesting. This summer, Canada has taken the step of banning the import of the item, making it the first country in the G7 to do so. Bill S-238, an act to amend the Fisheries Act and the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act, was passed in June, although it was not the first attempt at the banning of shark fin import.
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2. Climate change activist, Greta Thunberg delivers powerful speech at UN Summit
The 16-year-old environmental activist Greta Thunberg scolded heads of state at a United Nations summit saying they’re robbing her generation of a future by focusing on money and not on fighting global warming. “People are suffering, people are dying, entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are at the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of endless economic growth” Thunberg said in a speech at the UN Global Climate Action Summit in New York. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is calling on countries to step up commitments to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels. “We face at least 3 degrees Celsius of global heating by the end of the century,” he said. “I will not be there, but my granddaughters will. And your grandchildren, too. I refuse to be an accomplice in the destruction of their home and only home.”
Continuing the trend of using CITES trade quotas and permits to promote sustainable commercial fisheries, the conference decided to add more marine species to Appendix II. They include blacknose and sharpnose guitarfishes, which are highly valued for their fins and considered endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Shortfin and longfin mako sharks, together with white-spotted and other species of wedgefishes, and some species of sea cucumbers.
The warming climate is killing coral reefs, supercharging monster storms, and fueling deadly marine heatwaves and record losses of sea ice. The United Nations report on the world’s oceans, glaciers, polar regions, and ice sheets finds that such effects foreshadow a more catastrophic future as long as greenhouse gas emissions remain unchecked. The report concludes that the world’s oceans and ice sheets are under such severe stress that the fallout could prove difficult for humans to contain without steep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.
5. Undersea oil spill in Indonesia
Indonesia’s state energy firm Pertamina reported an oil spill started on July 12, when natural gas was released during drilling at one of its wells in the Offshore North West Java (ONWJ) platform on the Java sea. Three days later the company declared an emergency and on July 16, a layer of oil began to rise to the surface of the sea in addition to the gas bubbles. The oil spill has reached villages on the coast of the Karawang area, West Java, 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) away from the facility, said Pertamina’s upstream director Dharmawan Samsu.
Over the summer, shark tournaments were held in the United States. In just one of these tournaments from last year a total of 161 sharks were caught over the course of the three-day event with the heaviest being a 278 lbs. thresher shark and the largest Mako caught in that weekend weighed in at 269 lbs.
Brazilian officials are investigating the source of a vast oil spill that has hit dozens of beaches along the country’s north-eastern coast. The analysis showed the oil found was of a type not produced in Brazil, the environmental agency Ibama said. There is no evidence that fish and shellfish have been contaminated but at least six sea turtles and a seabird have been found dead. A clean-up operation is underway in the areas affected. The spill, first detected on 2 September, spans over 1,500km (932 miles) and has been detected in 105 locations in eight states, affecting wildlife and popular beaches including Praia do Futuro in Ceará, and Maragogi, in Alagoas.
The vast expanse of Lake Maracaibo smells like an oil refinery, polluted by its own reserves of crude as Venezuela’s economic collapse has left wells and pipelines in ruin. This huge body of water, in the country’s northwest, covers 13,200 square kilometers and empties into the Caribbean, but it is covered by what locals call a “permanent black tide”. It is a hazard not just to the lake’s fauna and flora, but also to the livelihoods of the people who rely on its wildlife. Fisherman Giovanny Villarreal said much of his daily catch goes to waste.
9. Ancient ice melt unearthed in Antarctic mud: 20-meter sea level rise, five million years ago
Global warming five million years ago may have caused parts of Antarctica’s large ice sheets to melt and sea levels to rise by approximately 20 meters, scientists report today in the journal Nature Geoscience. The researchers, from Imperial College London, and their academic partners studied mud samples to learn about ancient melting of the East Antarctic ice sheet. They discovered that melting took place repeatedly between five and three million years ago, during a geological period called Pliocene Epoch, which may have caused sea levels to rise approximately ten meters.
Off the coast of Guiana, a French overseas department perched on the north coast of South America, scientists scour the choppy waters for signs of life. From the deck of a Greenpeace ship, they take photos and keep meticulous notes—compiling a catalog of sea creatures sustained by a coral reef only recently discovered but already threatened, activists say, by mankind’s hunger for oil. Near the mouth of the Amazon river in the Atlantic Ocean, the Amazon Reef is one of the world’s largest but its existence became known only in 2016.
Temperatures in the Mediterranean basin are increasing much faster than the global average, threatening food and water supplies, scientists warned a new study. “We are one of the regions most impacted by climate change worldwide,” said Nasser Kamel, the secretary-general of the Mediterranean Union, presenting the study by the Mediterranean Experts on Climate and Environmental Change (MedECC) which groups more than 600 scientists. The Mediterranean basin covers portions of three continents: Europe, Asia, and Africa—comprising a region that has mild, rainy winters and hot, dry summers.
12. California considering toughest plastic pollution laws in United States
13. Archaea hold clues to ancient ocean temperatures
Scientists at Stanford have identified molecules that tough microbes use to survive in warming waters, opening a window more broadly into studying conditions in ancient seas. Researchers have discovered proteins that enable hardy microbes called archaea to toughen up their membranes when waters are overly warm. Finding these proteins could help scientists piece together the state of Earth’s climate going back millions of years to when those archaea were cruising the ancient oceans.
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