The 14th AZTI´s SUMMER SCHOOL

The Water Framework Directive implementation: is it possible to achieve good ecological status in European waters, from the lessons learnt?
  • Venue: Aquarium. Donostia – San Sebastián (Spain)
  • Date: 6 – 8 June 2017
  • Organizer: AZTI and EEAcademy
  • Language: English
  • Go to registration form HERE
  • Go to programme HERE
  • Go to poster submission HERE

The summer school will be held from 6th to 8th June 2017 (coinciding with the week of the Oceans’ Day on 8th June), at Aquarium of San Sebastian (Spain). AZTI is the hosting organization, but also the school is included under the EEAcademy umbrella, from the European Environment Agency. This is the 14th AZTI’s Summer School.

After the Water Framework Directive (WFD, 2000/60/EC), the European Member States should have achieved good ecological status in all surface waters (lakes, rivers, transitional waters and coasts) by 2015. However, a high percentage of the European water bodies remain still in an ecological status lower than good.

More information

Trillions of Plastic Bits, Swept Up by Current, Are Littering Arctic Waters

Source: The New York Times

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A photo collage of plastic fragments found in the Arctic Ocean by the research team. A study published Wednesday shows a major ocean current is carrying trillions of bits of plastic from the North Atlantic to the Greenland and Barents seas, and leaving them there. Credit Andres Cozar

The world’s oceans are littered with trillions of pieces of plastic — bottles, bags, toys, fishing nets and more, mostly in tiny particles — and now this seaborne junk is making its way into the Arctic.

In a study published Wednesday in Science Advances, a group of researchers from the University of Cádiz in Spain and several other institutions show that a major ocean current is carrying bits of plastic, mainly from the North Atlantic, to the Greenland and Barents seas, and leaving them there — in surface waters, in sea ice and possibly on the ocean floor.

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Incited Wars Among the Classic Maya- A new study of the relationship between climate change and clashes among the Classic Maya explicitly links temperature increases with growing conflicts

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Does a warming world beget more wars? A new study that investigates the relationship between climate change and clashes among the Classic Maya believes so, drawing an explicit link between temperature increases and growing conflicts. The study, published in Quaternary Science Reviews, examined about 500 years of Maya history, from 363 to 888 AD. This is the so-called Classic period in which the Mesoamerican civilization boomed, with its people constructing extensive cities and massive pyramids, as well as developing one of the earliest writing systems in the Americas. Indeed, the Maya began a tradition of recording historical events on stone monuments.  
 
The researchers cataloged inscriptions on monuments related to violent struggles and compiled temperature and rainfall records for the regions inhabited during the Classic period: the lowlands of the Yucatán Peninsula, which includes parts of southern Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize. A total of 144 unique conflicts emerged from inscriptions on monuments from more than 30 major Maya centers. The research team then compared conflict records to palaeoclimate data, and the correspondence was impressive. The change in conflict levels between 350 and 900 AD was considerable. The number of conflicts increased from 0 to 3 every 25 years in the first two centuries to 24 conflicts every 25 years near the end of the period. They noted the exacerbation of conflicts could not be explained by change in the amount of rainfall. It was instead associated with an increase in summer temperature.
 
Experts think that there are two potential mechanisms by which increases in temperature can lead to greater conflict. One is psychological — when temperatures rise, tempers shorten. Several studies suggest it is possible that increased average summer temperatures made the Classic Maya more bellicose. The other mechanism, is economic, and involves the staple crop for the Classic Maya: maize. Throughout the Classic period, average temperature fluctuated between 82.4 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius) and 84.2°F (29°C). During periods when the temperature was around 82.4°F (28°C) or less, maize yields were reasonably stable, with little or no food shortage and little conflict. But as temperature continued to rise and the region experienced days at or above 86°F (30°C), crop shortfalls occurred frequently. Large-scale deforestation throughout the Classic period caused by urban expansion worsened the effect, increasing regional temperatures by reducing soil moisture availability. The result was food shortage, which led to spiking levels of conflict. With declining maize yields, a ruler could not have relied on opulent festivals or fed large labor forces needed to build impressive monuments. Consequently, going to war more often would have been an effective tactic to maintain status, prestige, and power. Eventually, the growth in conflict became explosive.
 
The researchers believe the findings have implications for the debate about contemporary climate change. Concern is growing that climate change effects would increase violence within and between human societies.The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has cautioned that climate change will exacerbate conflict at a range of scales, from inter-personal violence to civil war, while the US Department of Defense has classified climate change as a threat multiplier, suggesting that it could lead to political and social unrest and increased terrorism.  “
 
Further Information
 
Increasing temperature exacerbated Classic Maya conflict over the long term
 
Climate Change Incited Wars Among the Classic Maya

Salmon farming in crisis with rising sea lice, and escalating use of chemicals

Lepeophtheirus salmonis, or the common salmon louse, now infests nearly half of Scotland’s salmon farms. Last year lice killed thousands of tonnes of farmed fish, caused skin lesions and secondary infections in millions more, and cost the Scottish industry alone around £300m in trying to control them. Scotland has some of the worst lice infestations in the world, and last year saw production fall for the first time in years. But in the past few weeks it has become clear that the lice problem is growing worldwide and is far more resistant than the industry thought. Norway produced 60,000 tonnes less than expected last yearbecause of lice, and Canada and a dozen other countries were all hit badly. Together, it is estimated that companies across the world must spend more than £1bn a year on trying to eradicate lice, and the viruses and diseases they bring. As a result of the lice infestations, the global price of salmon has soared, and world production fallen. Earlier this year freedom of information [FoI] requests of the Scottish government showed that 45 lochs had been badly polluted by the antibiotics and pesticides used to control lice – and that more and more toxic chemicals were being used.

“Sea lice are a natural phenomenon,” says Scott Landsburgh, chief executive of the Scottish salmon producers association. “All livestock on farms, terrestrial or marine, are encountering some kind of parasite or tick, and they’re dealt with. And that’s part of livestock farming. We are no different to terrestrial farms. Problems come and go, depending on biology and the environment. The louse is a hardy parasite. It’s a challenge for Chile and Norway, too. We are spending a lot on all sorts of things.”The salmon-farming industry, which has grown at breakneck speed since the 1970s, knows it has a huge problem, but insists it sees the lice as unwelcome guests that will soon be evicted rather than permanent residents. Rather than dwell on the lice, industry leaders point to the fact that in just 40 years, aquaculture has gone from providing 5% of the world’s fish to nearly 50%, and in Scotland, from a few hundred tonnes of salmon a year to more than 177,000 tonnes in 2015. They argue that new methods to control infestations are being developed and the chemicals being used are safe and degrade quickly, adding that they expect to have found a solution within a few years.
The global companies that dominate ownership of the farms, buoyed by high prices and growing worldwide demand, are confident that they will find solutions. Marine Harvest, the giant Norwegian multinational that grows 40,000 tonnes of salmon in its many Scottish farms, said this week that it needs to develop more effective ways to combat lice. The use of the toxic drug emamectin rising fast, but also that the industry had persuaded the Scottish environmental protection agency to withdraw a ban planned for next year. Other papers showed that the levels of chemicals used to kill sea lice have breached environmental safety limits more than 100 times in the last 10 years. The chemicals have been discharged into the waters by 70 fish farms run by seven companies.
FoI documents  show that the Scottish industry wants to “innovate” by building the world’s biggest salmon farm, which would triple the size of the largest now in operation. It could farm 2m fish at a time, and create as much waste as a city the size of Glasgow. The anwwer to the inevitable lice problems, say environmentalists, is to move the farms further offshore into deeper, colder waters, where lice are less able to survive, or to even put them on land, where they could be better controlled. But this would add greatly to industry costs and require investments of billions of pounds. In the meantime, the companies are using mechanical ways to trim the lice from the fish. These range from pumping the fish through water hot enough to make the lice let go of their hosts, to churning them as if in a washing machine. Both are condemned by animal welfare group Compassion in World Farming, and are known to be expensive and not always effective. Last year the heating of the water on a Skye fish farm led to the accidental slaughter of 95,000 fish. Another 20,000 died in another incident.

Further information:

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/apr/01/is-farming-salmon-bad-for-the-environment?CMP=share_btn_link

European coastal regions at greatest risk from oil spills identified by new risk index

Source: Science for Environment Policy

European Atlantic countries are, in general, at higher risk of being affected by oil spills than Mediterranean and Baltic countries, with the United Kingdom most affected, according to new research. The study developed a new risk index for analysing the potential vulnerability of coastal regions to oil spills at sea.

Oil spills at sea can be devastating events. Not only does oil pollution harm marine wildlife, it can also affect coastal communities by causing fishing and recreational activities to close. To help marine policymakers, this study has proposed a method to measure and compare the risk to European coastal regions from oil spills at sea.

The method uses computer modelling to simulate the effect of an oil spill at sea along a stretch of European coastline. The modelling considers the distance to the coast from the spill, the size of the spill, the shape and length of the proportion of the coast that would be affected and the direction and speed of the ocean currents at the time of the accident. It also drew on data from actual accidental oil spills that occurred in European waters from 1970 to 2014.

This led to a marine spill risk index, which ranks each NUTS3 (Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics) region according to the risk of an oil spill at sea affecting the region. The NUTS3 divides all European countries into smaller regions; 429 of these regions in 28 European coastal countries were covered by this study. This relative risk was also illustrated in a map to identify the range of risk that different coastal territories in European waters may face from a marine spill.

The index revealed that the west coast of the UK was at highest risk of being affected by an oil spill at sea. Of the 25 regions most at risk from an oil spill, 20 were along the UK coast and the top three were all in the UK — Torbay, Swansea and Blackpool. Of the remaining five regions, four were in Greece (Argolida, Arkadia, Korinthia and Voiotia) and one was a Spanish region (Ceuta), on the north coast of Africa.

The UK’s west coast is the area with the highest risk partly as a result of ocean currents that push oil towards the coast. In general, though, sea currents tend to disperse oil away from the coastal areas in Europe.

At the country level, countries on the Atlantic European coast, including (in order of risk) the UK, Germany, Netherlands, France, Spain and Portugal, had the highest risks from oil spills. However, the Mediterranean countries of Greece, Italy, and Turkey were also among those at the most risk.

In contrast, countries including Poland, Cyprus, Albania, Lithuania and Montenegro, located around the Mediterranean and Baltic seas, had comparatively lower risks from oil spills. Iceland had the lowest risk of all the countries, despite its Atlantic location. The study suggests that, as major international and coastal shipping routes tend to be close to the shore along the European Atlantic coastline, these regions tend to have a greater marine spill risk — compared with regions in the other European seas, such as Baltic and Mediterranean waters.

The researcher suggests that some extensions to the index, such as inclusion of more complex dispersal effects i.e. the effect of dispersion of oil due to ocean currents, in addition to the spreading of oil spills, could be considered in future research.

This study could help policymakers manage risks in coastal areas by identifying regions which are the most vulnerable to the impact of an oil spill at sea, and inform protective measures against potential future spills.

Source: Fernández-Macho, J. (2016). Risk assessment for marine spills along European coastlines. Marine Pollution Bulletin. DOI:10.1016/j.marpolbul.2016.09.015

 

Participate online in the Ocean Forum e-discussions!

Ocean Forum discussions launch

We’re pleased to invite you to participate in the Ocean Forum online discussions,  at the Ocean Action Hub. The discussions aim to engage stakeholders in assessing the challenges and opportunities related to delivering on SDG14 implementation in the run-up to The Ocean Conference. If you’re concerned about the Ocean’s future – as an activist, scientist or government representative – visit the Forum to join the discussions!

Facilitated by expert moderators from the United Nations and civil society, each discussion focuses on one of the agreed Partnership Dialogue themes and implementation of relevant SDG targets. The results will be shared with the conference co-facilitators, Member States and others as inputs into the Partnership Dialogues, Call for Action and Voluntary Commitments processes.