Pirates love the high seas and so do illegal fishers and poachers; heck cruise ship companies love the high seas as a place to dump sewage. All in, we don’t respect the ecosystems in the oceans because there’s only a few laws that can be broken and enforcement is weak. That’s about to change. 193 nations at the United Nations have agreed to a new way to protect the high seas, a big boon for aquatic species.
Covering almost two-thirds of the ocean that lies outside national boundaries, the treaty will provide a legal framework for establishing vast marine protected areas (MPAs) to protect against the loss of wildlife and share out the genetic resources of the high seas. It will establish a conference of the parties (Cop) that will meet periodically and enable member states to be held to account on issues such as governance and biodiversity.
Ocean ecosystems produce half the oxygen we breathe, represent 95% of the planet’s biosphere and soak up carbon dioxide, as the world’s largest carbon sink. Yet until now, fragmented and loosely enforced rules governing the high seas have rendered this area more susceptible than coastal waters to exploitation.
Our oceans are vital to our existence and nobody knows that better than Andrew Sharpless of Oceana. He and Sean Casey the Parliamentary Secretary were on stage at the Collision Conference presenting their efforts on saving the worlds oceans. Canada has gone from protecting only 1% of its coast line to 10% in less than a decade, hopefully this will continue. Our coasts are great spaces for marine life to lay eggs and eat.
The key takeaway from the panel was the really cool global fishing map which tracks the location of every fishing vessel on the planet! The ships are tracked using regional Vessel Monitoring System (VMS), so the some of the data might not be accessible depending on which countries abide by the standard broadcasting rules.
Tracking the ships helps governments and NGOs enforce rules and regulations. Casey pointed out that tracking the ships will also help with identifying the polluters who drop their nets (accidentally) and leave them to drift (most of the plastic waste in the oceans comes from fishing activity).
Just a decade ago, building an accurate picture of the commercial fishing across the globe would have been impossible. Today, thanks to advances in satellite technology, cloud computing and machine learning, Global Fishing Watch is making it a reality.
Renewable and sustainable energy is pretty great on its own. Now there’s one more reason to support using wind as a energy source because when the wind turbines are placed offshore marine wildlife moves in. The world’s oceans are suffering from overfishing and other human caused carnage so providing marine animals with shelter is something we should be doing.
The fact that wind turbines can provide sustainable energy while helping marine animals survive is good news indeed.
Offshore wind farms can be fertile feeding grounds for seals who choose to seek them out â€“ concludes the study, by an international team of researchers from Britain, Holland and the US, published yesterday in Current Biology Journal.
This is because the presence of a hard structure beneath the waves attracts barnacles and other crustaceans, and, in turn, fish. Dr Deborah Russell, a research fellow at the Scottish Oceans Institute at the University of St Andrews, explained how the â€œreef effectâ€ attracts seals. â€œThings like barnacles and mussels will settle on hard structures and then that in turn will attract other marine species and it builds up over time.â€
Ocean acidification is a symptom of climate change and the rate of ocean acidification has increased alongside the general disrespect of the environment modern society has, fortunately there are smart people looking into this issue. In Washington State the effects of ocean acidification are already evident so they have created a panel of scientists and policy experts to tackle the complexity of ocean acidification.
This is the first such panel in the world and let’s hope that it inspires more regions to begin looking into the depths of the seas.
Ocean acidification also has implications for the broader marine environment. Many calci- fiers provide habitat, shelter, and/or food for various plants and animals. For example, rockfish and sharks rely on habitat created by deepwater corals off the Washington coast. Pteropods, the delicate free-swimming snails eaten by seabirds, whales, and fish (especially Alaska pink salmon), can experience shell dissolution and grow more slowly in acidified waters (Figure S-1). Some species of copepods, the small crustaceans eaten by juvenile herring and salmon, experience similar problems with growth. Impacts on species like pteropods and copepods are a significant concern because of their ability to affect entire marine food webs.
Australia has taken a step in the right direction when it comes to protecting their natural environment. The country has announced that they’ll be creating the largest network of protected marine areas in the world. Fishing and drilling for non-renewable resources has been been banned inside the network.
The announcement of the network was made a week before more than 130 heads of state and government will gather in Rio de Janeiro for the United Nations’ sustainable development conference as part of global efforts to curb climate change, one of the biggest conferences in U.N. history.
New reserves will be established from the Perth Canyon in the southwest to Kangaroo Island off the southern coast, but the “jewel in the crown” will be the protection of the Coral Sea area which surrounds the Great Barrier Reef in the northeast, Environment Minister Tony Burke said on Thursday.
“The Coral Sea marine national park … combined with the Great Barrier Reef area, becomes the largest marine protected area in the world,” Burke said.