A Remote Pacific Island Awash in Tons of Trash

Source: The New York Times

A survey of uninhabited Henderson Island in the South Pacific estimated that about 17.6 tons of debris had washed ashore, endangering wildlife and blighting beaches.

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Trash on East Beach, Henderson Island, in the South Pacific Ocean. A new study estimated that the white sand beaches were littered with 17.6 tons of debris, deposited there by ocean currents. Credit Jennifer Lavers/Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies, via European Pressphoto Agency

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Deep seabed mining and interplay of conservation and low carbon wnergys

Source: BBC

British scientists exploring an underwater mountain in the Atlantic Ocean have discovered a treasure trove of rare minerals.

Their investigation of a seamount more than 500km (300 miles) from the Canary Islands has revealed a crust of “astonishingly rich” rock.

Samples brought back to the surface contain the scarce substance tellurium in concentrations 50,000 times higher than in deposits on land.

Tellurium is used in a type of advanced solar panel, so the discovery raises a difficult question about whether the push for renewable energy may encourage mining of the seabed.

The rocks also contain what are called rare earth elements that are used in wind turbines and electronics.

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Great Barrier Reef tourism: caught between commerce and conservation alarm

Source: The Guardian

More people than ever are coming to see the reef and those who make a living showing it off want the world to know it’s still a natural wonder. But they worry about its future, and that of their 64,000-strong industry

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‘Possibly more famous than Australia’: Tourism operators say much of the Great Barrier Reef is still healthy and worth visiting despite bleaching in many areas. Photograph: Daniela Dirscherl/Getty Images/WaterFrame RM

In the dark clouds gathering over the future of the Great Barrier Reef, there has been a small silver lining for the people who make their living showcasing the natural wonder.

When the reef was rocked by an unprecedented second mass bleaching event in the space of a year, the coral hardest-hit by heat stress lay mostly in the tourist-heavy latitudes between Cairns and Townsville.

But despite last year’s damage compounded by new cases dotted across 800 reefs in a 1,500km stretch, not a single reef tourism operator has been forced to seek out new ground to take visitors.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, which licenses operators to visit designated reef sites, confirmed it has received one request to change a permit. And that was not because of bleaching but Cyclone Debbie further south, whichdamaged that other hub of reef tourism, the Whitsundays after it escaped the bleaching.

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Marine Pollution included Indonesia pledges $1bn a year to curb ocean waste under UN Clean Seas

2000Indonesia has pledged up to $1bn a year to dramatically reduce the amount of plastic and other waste products polluting its waters. The announcement was made by Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Indonesia’s coordinating minister for maritime affairs at last week’s 2017 World Oceans Summit in Nusa Dua, Bali.

Pandjaitan told delegates at the conference that Indonesia would achieve a 70% reduction in marine waste within eight years. He proposed developing new industries that use biodegradable materials such as cassava and seaweed to produce plastic alternatives. Other measures could include a nationwide tax on plastic bags as well as a sustained public education campaign.

The World Bank estimates that each of Indonesia’s 250 million inhabitants is responsible for between 0.8 and 1kg of plastic waste per annum. Only China dumps more waste in the ocean, according to a 2015 report in the journal Science.

The world’s second biggest plastic polluter also boasts the world’s highest levels of marine biodiversity. Indonesia lies at the heart of the Coral Triangle; its incredibly rich coral reef ecosystems support crucial fisheries, provide food security for millions and are a growing draw for tourists.

Plastic pollution is just one of the threats to these ecosystems services, but it’s a serious one. A recent study suggests that by 2050, there could be more plastic than biomass in the world’s oceans. Plastics have entered the marine food chain and are already reaching our dinner plates.

Indonesia’s commitment is part of the UN’s new Clean Seas campaign, which aims to tackle consumer plastics through a range of actions – from cutting down on single use plastics such as shopping bags and coffee cups to pressuring firms to cut down on plastic packaging. Nine countries have already joined Indonesia in signing up to the campaign, including Uruguay, which will impose a tax on single use plastic bags and Costa Rica, which is promising better waste management and education.

Indonesia’s target of a 70% reduction by 2025 is ambitious. Across the country’s 17,000 islands there is poor public understanding of the problems created by plastic waste.

During rainy season, thousands of tonnes of rubbish discarded in rivers and waterways washes up on Indonesia’s shores. Heavy machinery is often brought in to clear the tourist beaches of Bali and local communities and non-profits are constantly organising large scale beach clean ups.Companies produce small scale products such as single use shampoo packets and confectionery that are popular in communities where cash flow pressures and habit prevent more sustainable consumption. Add poor waste management infrastructure and the scale of the challenge comes into sharp focus.

Last year, a tax on single use plastic bags was trialed in 23 cities across Indonesia. While the government reported a big reduction in plastic bag use, there was significant resistance both from consumers and industry, according to Siti Nurbaya, Indonesia’s minister for the environment. This is delaying a bill to impose a nationwide tax of not less than Rp.200 (1p) per plastic bag.

Environmentalists will be hoping that the promised funding effectively channels resources and expertise into public awareness and education programmes, improvements in waste management, pressure on industry and initiatives that encourage alternatives to plastic packaging. The UN Clean Seas campaign reminds us all, however, that plastic pollution is a problems we can all address with some very simple changes in behaviour.

 

Further information

Guardian News Article 

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/the-coral-triangle/2017/mar/02/indonesia-pledges-us1-billion-a-year-to-curb-ocean-waste

UN Clean Seas

https://oceanconference.un.org/commitments/?id=13900

UN Marine Pollution Online Discussion

http://www.oceanactionhub.org/marine-pollution-discussion

In the run up to the Ocean Conference in June, this blog series explores issues related to oceans, seas, marine resources and the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14, “Life below water”.

 

Outcomes of the 2nd Baltic Maritime Spatial Planning Forum 2016

Baltic SCOPE unites national authorities around the Baltic Sea responsible for maritime spatial planning, and is supported by four research and regional organisations.

The project is now in its concluding phase – a phase that has been facilitated by the 2nd Baltic Maritime Spatial Planning Forum 2016, where the first findings of the two year collaboration were presented.

You can find the results of Baltic SCOPE on the project website from March onwards. The outcomes of the 2nd Baltic Maritime Spatial Planning Forum 2016 are already available on the website.

More information

Baltic SCOPE

2nd Baltic Maritime Spatial Planning Forum 2016

International ocean governance: an agenda for the future of our oceans

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On 10 November 2016, the European Commission and the EU’s High Representative set out a joint agenda for the future of our oceans, proposing 50 actions for safe, secure, clean and sustainably managed oceans in Europe and around the world.

A new agenda for the oceans

The Joint Communication on international ocean governance builds on a widely shared understanding that the ocean governance framework needs to be strengthened, that pressures on the oceans need to be reduced and that the world’s oceans must be used sustainably. It also stresses that a better understanding about the oceans is necessary to achieve these objectives.

The Joint Communication proposes ways the EU can step up and play a stronger role at global and regional level in shaping the way oceans are managed and used. It sets out detailed actions to shape international governance in three priority areas:

  1. Improving the international ocean governance framework;
  2. Reducing human pressures on the oceans and creating the conditions for a sustainable blue economy;
  3. Strengthening international ocean research and data.

The Joint Communication is an integral part of the EU’s response to theUnited Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in particular Sustainable Development Goal 14 ‘to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources’. It is based on the political mandate given to Commissioner Vella by President Juncker ‘to engage in shaping international ocean governance in the UN, in other multilateral fora and bilaterally with key global partners’.

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