Ocean Currents » Pearls of Wisdom http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Tue, 06 Oct 2015 19:15:54 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 BP Back in Court http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/01/20/bp-back-in-court/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/01/20/bp-back-in-court/#comments Tue, 20 Jan 2015 13:00:22 +0000 Ivy Fredrickson http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9713

BP once again must appear in court today as the final phase of the BP trial begins in New Orleans. This is the third phase of a multiyear trial to determine how much BP and other responsible parties should pay for their role in the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Just last Thursday, the Judge issued another ruling, finding that 3.19 million barrels of oil were released into the Gulf. This means that the maximum fine BP will face is $13.7 billion. This final phase of the trial will focus on eight factors, as required by the Clean Water Act, including BP’s history of prior violations and the seriousness of this violation.

A key factor in court will be BP’s efforts to minimize the harm. In other words, did BP do enough in responding to the disaster to justify lowering their fine? Yes, BP took efforts to stop the flow from the well and the spread of oil, but BP also lied about the rate at which oil was spewing from the well.

The economic impact of the penalty on BP will be interesting to watch as well. The court will need to determine whether this inquiry focuses on BP (the parent company) as a whole or only on its subsidiary, BP Exploration & Production, known as BPXP. BP is expected to argue that the recent dip in oil prices should be factored into this inquiry. (This assertion, as you might expect, has been met with criticism.)

A third factor will be the issue of simple vs. gross negligence. That question was answered back in September when the court ruled that the oil disaster was the result of BP’s “gross negligence” and “willful misconduct,” Though this sounds like legalese, this ruling is extremely important; it means more funding will be available for restoring the Gulf. Funding for restoration projects via the RESTORE Act comes from Clean Water Act fines. And the finding of “gross negligence,” rather than ordinary negligence, means that fines can be as high as $4,300 per barrel of oil spilled, instead of $1,100. Eighty percent of the Clean Water Act fines will be used to repair and restore the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem and the communities and economies that depend on it.

These penalty factors will be hotly debated during the trial starting today, and arguments will help determine whether the judge leans toward the high end of $13.7 billion or the low end of $7 billion. We can expect BP to argue for sympathy and leniency (i.e., “we’ve been punished enough; we’ve learned our lesson.”) BP will likely call attention to the money it spent on cleanup and capping the well back in 2010 (which was required by law). The courtroom action will last two or three weeks, and then the parties will file briefs with the court until late April. But there is no established timeline for when the judge will issue a ruling. And, of course, there is always the possibility that the parties could agree on a settlement.

Regardless of how this trial ends, a successful resolution must include funding to monitor the Gulf ecosystem over the course of 25 years, restoration that includes the offshore environment where the oil disaster began, and a transparent decision-making process that allows the public to participate in a meaningful way.

Many questions still loom, but we know a few things for certain. We know the people of the Gulf Coast and the coastal and marine ecosystems of the Gulf will feel the effects of the BP oil disaster for years to come. But from this disaster comes an opportunity to restore and chart a new path for the Gulf. Restoration is already underway, and this final phase of the trial gets us one step closer to justice and a healthier future for the Gulf.

http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/01/20/bp-back-in-court/feed/ 0
Video: Ocean Acidification – A Threat to Economies and Cultures Around the World http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/08/21/video-ocean-acidification-a-threat-to-economies-and-cultures-around-the-world/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/08/21/video-ocean-acidification-a-threat-to-economies-and-cultures-around-the-world/#comments Thu, 21 Aug 2014 12:37:16 +0000 Alexis Valauri-Orton http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9059

Over these past three months, my blog series has taken you around the world and into the lives of marine dependent communities at risk from ocean acidification.  Hopefully this journey did for you what it did for me: showed how ocean acidification has the power to alter whole communities, and how these communities are in dire need of research, guidance and infrastructure to prepare for the challenges ahead.

Before I leave Ocean Conservancy, I want to share one more thing.  I have prepared this video to help make the stories I’ve shared in my blog come alive.  Listen to Waiaria talk about the value of shellfish to the identity of people in New Zealand.  Watch fishermen in Peru celebrate El Dia de Pescadores. Tag along as a shellfish farmer in Thailand hand dredges the bay in the middle of the night.  See the faces and the places that continue to drive my conviction that we have more work to do.  And share them with your friends, so we can do good on what Peter, a cod-fisherman in Norway who can trace fishing back 1,000 years in his family, said to me:

“The whole world has to know. Not only in this small place, but the whole world has to know what is happening.”

http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/08/21/video-ocean-acidification-a-threat-to-economies-and-cultures-around-the-world/feed/ 1
Wishing You a Year Full of Hope http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/01/09/wishing-you-a-year-full-of-hope/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/01/09/wishing-you-a-year-full-of-hope/#comments Thu, 09 Jan 2014 12:09:02 +0000 Andreas Merkl http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=7277

It’s a brand new year and I wanted to take just a moment to acknowledge YOU and all you have done to keep our ocean healthy. Without you, Ocean Conservancy wouldn’t have achieved all that we did in 2013, from the International Coastal Cleanup to Arctic protection and restoration efforts in the Gulf of Mexico. We owe you an ocean of thanks for all you do.

You and I both know that our ocean faces increasing changes and pressures every day, from climate change and plastic pollution to fishing and increased oil and gas exploration. This year, Ocean Conservancy will tackle the most pressing issues to find new solutions for a changing ocean. I hope I can count on you to join me in these efforts.

I promise that 2014 is going to be fascinating, as we charge ahead with ocean conservation initiatives and tackle new challenges along the way.

On behalf of our team here at Ocean Conservancy, I want to express our gratitude to you and all of our supporters. You continue to astound us with your generosity and activism. Thank you.

I wish you and yours a year full of hope and optimism. Together, we can make the world a better place in 2014.

http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/01/09/wishing-you-a-year-full-of-hope/feed/ 5
Test Your Ocean Knowledge: Bull Sharks, Polar Bears and Venom http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/07/11/test-your-ocean-knowledge-bull-sharks-polar-bears-and-venom/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/07/11/test-your-ocean-knowledge-bull-sharks-polar-bears-and-venom/#comments Thu, 11 Jul 2013 15:24:07 +0000 Carmen Yeung http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=6266 polar bear

Credit: Canadian Coast Guard

How much do you know about the waters that cover 70 percent of Earth’s surface and the creatures that call it home? Test your ocean knowledge with our short quiz.

Study these five questions and see how much you know:

  • What is the largest living structure on Earth?
  • How did bull sharks receive their name?
  • What is the biggest fish in the ocean?
  • What is the most venomous marine animal?
  • How are polar bears able to walk on ice?

Stumped? Click the link below to see the answers.

What’s the largest living structure on Earth?

The Great Barrier Reef. This stunning Australian wonder, visible from space, is composed of nearly 3,000 individual reefs and stretches for 1,600 miles.

How did bull sharks receive their name?

Bull sharks have a reputation for being fighters. This characteristic, accompanied by their short and blunt snouts, helped them gain the name “bull shark.”

What is the biggest fish in the ocean?

The whale shark. They can grow to be up to 50 feet long and weigh as much as 40 tons. These gentle giants eat mostly floating organisms that they strain from the water through their 3-feet-wide mouths as they swim.

What is the most venomous marine animal?

The Australian box jellyfish. The venom of these highly advanced predators, often called sea wasps, contains toxins that attack the heart, nervous system and skin cells. Their tentacles can reach 10 feet in length with body sizes reaching up to 1 foot in diameter.

How are polar bears able to walk on ice?

The rough pads and fur of a polar bear’s large paws help it grip the ice more easily and avoid slipping when walking on it.

http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/07/11/test-your-ocean-knowledge-bull-sharks-polar-bears-and-venom/feed/ 38
Philippe Cousteau on CNN: Ocean is Source of Hope and Solutions http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/03/25/philippe-cousteau-on-cnn-ocean-is-source-of-hope-and-solutions/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/03/25/philippe-cousteau-on-cnn-ocean-is-source-of-hope-and-solutions/#comments Mon, 25 Mar 2013 17:26:25 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=5284  

Credit: Ocean Conservancy

Ocean Conservancy’s Dennis Takahashi-Kelso and Board Member Philippe Cousteau tour Bay Jimmy, LA. and the surrounding marsh affected by the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.

This post originally appeared on CNN.com from Ocean Conservancy Board Member Philippe Cousteau. Explorer, social entrepreneur and environmental advocate, Philippe Cousteau is a special correspondent for CNN International. He is also the co-founder and president of the leading environmental education nonprofit EarthEcho International.

My grandfather Jacques Cousteau and my father Philippe dedicated their lives to revealing the ocean’s wonders and helping us understand our connection to this vast expanse of water. Their work inspired generations and filled people with awe.

Times have changed and so have circumstances and perceptions about the ocean. In recent years, the focus has been on the very serious challenges the ocean faces and the impact these challenges are already having on our daily lives.

The effects of climate change, pollution and overfishing should be making headlines because the ocean and all of us — and I literally mean all humankind — who depend on its resources are facing the very real prospect of the catastrophic collapse of ocean ecosystems if we continue on our current course.

Despite the challenges our ocean faces, I believe it’s time to recapture the sense of wonder and inspiration my grandfather and father felt when they gazed on its surface. In fact, the ocean can and should be a source of hope and solutions for a brighter future.

Before you accuse of me of eschewing cold hard reality for a world view through rose-colored glasses, hear me out. What I’m proposing is that we step back and look at the potential a healthy ocean has to provide us with a prosperous and sustainable future.

Just take a moment to think about what the ocean does for us on a daily basis: it produces half of the world’s oxygen; it provides more than one billion people with their primary source of protein; its natural eco-systems like coral reefs, mangroves and wetlands provide protection against coastal erosion and natural disasters such as tsunamis; it regulates our climate; and a healthy ocean fuels sustainable businesses and a strong economy in industries such as seafood, tourism, pharmaceuticals and shipping.

That’s really only the beginning. Check out Ocean Conservancy’s “Why the Ocean Matters” feature if you want to be truly amazed. My point is the answers to many of our greatest environmental and social challenges literally surrounds us.

For the ocean to continue to do what’s it’s done for millions of years and serve the needs of a rapidly expanding human population, it needs to be healthy. Biodiversity, coral reefs, wetlands and trash-free seas aren’t just terms on a page they are environmental imperatives that dictate the future of the planet.

We have the know-how and resources to conserve and restore the aquatic and marine systems that keep the ocean and us healthy. As my grandfather once said, “The technology that we use to abuse the planet is the same technology that can help us to heal it.”

Big technology like renewable energy, carbon sequestration and advances in aquaculture certainly have a major role in restoring the ocean and the planet to a healthy balance, but in many cases it’s a matter of giving nature the space and time to do what it needs to do with a helping hand from all of us.

“The good news is technology and future-focused groups are providing us with some great tools and resources to get inspired and make smart decisions
Philippe Cousteau, environmental advocate

Regulations that help replenish and protect fish stocks, restoration and conservation projects to protect and nurture natural barriers like reefs and wetlands, and reforestation efforts are all things that can have a huge impact on ocean health with no rocket science necessary.

Take fisheries for example, with two billion people joining us on this planet over the next 40 years, there will be a huge need for more sources of protein. If these needed protein sources were to come primarily from livestock there is the very real potential for catastrophic pollution of water and land, not to mention the exponential increase in carbon emissions.

But, by some estimates, simply managing fisheries better could feed up to one billion of those people and remember, seafood is 7-10 times more efficient as a source of protein than land-based meat sources … if managed properly.

If you are thinking this all sounds like the future of the ocean is in the hands of policymakers and big industry, please think again. Every hour of every day each of us have the opportunity to make choices with impact, from what we eat and the things we buy to the examples we set for our children and friends.

The good news is technology and future-focused groups are providing us with some great tools and resources to get inspired and make smart decisions. For example: the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch pocket guide and Ocean Conservancy’s Rippl app or EarthEcho’s Water Planet Challenge.

We can make sure the ocean continues to provide inspiration, wonder and solutions for generations, however, it all comes down to personal and collective will. Ask yourself this question: When you look upon the ocean 10 years from now, do you want to see a sad reminder of what could have been; or do you want to be filled with awe and inspired by a sense of endless possibilities?

Watch: Going Green: Oceans on Friday March 29 at 15:30 GMT

http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/03/25/philippe-cousteau-on-cnn-ocean-is-source-of-hope-and-solutions/feed/ 0
Pearls of Wisdom: Answer http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/06/17/pearls-of-wisdom-answer-2/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/06/17/pearls-of-wisdom-answer-2/#comments Sun, 17 Jun 2012 22:00:35 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=1073

An ocean sunfish, or mola mola. Credit: leonardo4it's flickr stream

TRUE: Electric eels are actually fish that breathe by gulping air from the surface.
TRUE: Some fish start their lives as males but grow into females.
FALSE: Despite their unusual shape, sunfish are some of the sea’s strongest swimmers

Sunfish, or molas, do not have a swim bladder and steer themselves by squirting a jet of water out of their mouth or gills. For this reason, sunfish maneuver poorly and are not strong swimmers. Have you ever seen a sunfish before? Where did you see it? And who’s surprised to learn that electric eels aren’t actually eels?

http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/06/17/pearls-of-wisdom-answer-2/feed/ 4
Pearls of Wisdom: Ocean Conservancy’s Weekly Quiz Game http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/06/16/pearls-of-wisdom-ocean-conservancys-weekly-quiz-game/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/06/16/pearls-of-wisdom-ocean-conservancys-weekly-quiz-game/#comments Sat, 16 Jun 2012 13:30:38 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=1066

How much do you know about electric eels? Credit: Sibylle Stofer's Flickr Stream

Pearls of Wisdom is our weekly quiz game. We give you two truths and one lie about our favorite ocean wonders. Your job is to guess the lie. Good luck! We’ll post the answer on Sunday.

http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/06/16/pearls-of-wisdom-ocean-conservancys-weekly-quiz-game/feed/ 10