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Ocean Currents

News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy


Can We Turn Trash Into Treasure?

Posted On October 9, 2015 by

Smart Solutions Are Smart Business

An estimated 8 million metric tonnes of plastic enters our ocean every year, and that figure is predicted to double in the next ten years if something isn’t done. A problem this large can’t be solved by one government, one company or one organization – it requires an all-hands-on-deck approach.

Last week, Ocean Conservancy released a ground-breaking study: Stemming the Tide: Land-based strategies for a plastic-free ocean. The report outlines a specific path forward for the reduction, and ultimate elimination, of plastic waste in the ocean. The report is a signature initiative of the Trash Free Seas Alliance®, an effort of Ocean Conservancy to unite industry, science and conservation leaders who share a common goal for a healthy ocean free of trash.

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Shaping the Next 18 Years of Gulf Restoration

Posted On October 8, 2015 by

The final months of 2015 are shaping up to be very busy in the Gulf of Mexico! In July BP and the U.S. government announced that they were nearing a settlement agreement, and on October 5, that draft settlement agreement was released for public comment. This clarity around just how much funding will be available for Gulf restoration in the coming years means that decision-makers are working overtime to issue project lists, plans and regulations that will guide spending of fine money for the next 18 years. That’s a long time!

Here is a quick breakdown of what’s happening, what it means and how you can make your voice heard.

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Moving Forward with Regional Ocean Plans: Update From the Mid-Atlantic

Posted On October 8, 2015 by

This summer we celebrated the fifth anniversary of the National Ocean Policy, thanks to which multiple regions across the US have organized regional planning bodies (RPBs) to advance the goals of ocean planning. Leading the nation are the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic RPBs, which both anticipate releasing draft regional ocean plans in the first half of 2016.

In late September, the Mid-Atlantic RPB hosted a meeting in Norfolk, Virginia to update the public on their work over the summer and give an update on their outlook for the next few months. The Mid-Atlantic region is deep into the process of crafting a comprehensive ocean plan to cover ocean waters from Virginia to New York.  This meeting included workshops and roundtable discussions that brought together members of the public, industry, government, tribes and more, seeking input on work products and guidance moving forward.

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How One City in the Philippines is Setting an Example for the World

Posted On October 5, 2015 by

As much as eight million metric tonnes of plastic leak into the world’s ocean every year and the amounts continue to grow. Without concerted global action, there could be one ton of plastic for every three tons of fish by 2025, leading to massive environmental, economic and health issues. One city in the Philippines isn’t standing by and waiting for help. They’re taking action.

Below is a Q&A between Emily Woglom, Ocean Conservancy’s Vice President of Conservation Policy and Programs and Belen Fernandez, Mayor of the city of Dagupan, a coastal community in the Philippines.

Emily: To start off, for those who aren’t familiar with Dagupan, what would you tell people about the city and its people?

Belen: We’re a happy city and a happy people. More importantly, we’re resilient. We’re doing what we can to get wi-fi into our schools to help our students and also working to improve health care. As a city, we’re always looking to improve the quality of life in our city and our families. One of the biggest challenges I’ve had as mayor – as it relates to improving the quality of life for our people – is our waste problem.

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Victory in the Arctic: Shell Terminates Drilling Activities in the Chukchi Sea

Posted On September 28, 2015 by

Early on Monday morning, Shell announced that it would no longer pursue oil-drilling activities in the Chukchi Sea off the northwest coast of Alaska. Shell’s announcement has been a long time coming, and marks a major victory for all those who have opposed Arctic drilling as too risky and too much of a threat to the Arctic ecosystem and the planet’s climate.

Shell purchased its Chukchi Sea leases in 2008, but was precluded from drilling on its leases for many years. Among other things, legal challenges exposed flaws in the government’s environmental analyses and the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster resulted in a temporary restriction on Arctic drilling. In 2012, Shell finally received the green light to drill in the Chukchi Sea, but the company was woefully unprepared for the challenge: vessels were not ready, spill response equipment failed under testing, equipment spewed air pollution in violation of standards and one of its drill rigs was swept ashore in a storm on the way back to Seattle. In the end, Shell failed to complete a single well in 2012.

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Ocean Conservancy Supports Red Snapper Recovery and Improved Recreational Fishing

Posted On September 16, 2015 by

Photo: Ned Deloach / Marine Life Images

For nearly three decades, Ocean Conservancy has been fighting to protect red snapper in the Gulf of Mexico. The stock was formally declared as overfished in the late 1980s. Despite this long and rocky road, 2015 has been a landmark year for red snapper—the stock continues to rebuild as a result of shared sacrifices and innovative management strategies.

In April 2015, NOAA approved a management measure that will improve conservation and recreational fishing opportunities in the red snapper fishery in the Gulf of Mexico. This management measure divides the recreational red snapper quota between charter-for-hire and private recreational fishermen (known as ‘sector separation’ because it splits the recreational sector into two sub-sectors).

Sector separation allows fishery managers to develop individually tailored strategies for the needs of the unique charter-for-hire and private recreational components, which in turn will prevent continued catch-limit overages and foster continued rebuilding of this iconic Gulf species.

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Ocean Plastic Pollution: Groundhog Day, But This Time with Sea Turtles

Posted On September 15, 2015 by

Olive Ridley sea turtle. Photo by: Matthew Dolkas.

I got a kick out of Groundhog Day, the comedy starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell that was released in 1993. With Murray waking each day to relive Groundhog Day alongside Punxsutawney Phil and his co-anchor, the movie was lighthearted and fun. But the science of ocean plastic pollution is starting to feel a lot like Groundhog Day. And the storyline is becoming much more troubling with each new publication.

This week a new study in the peer-reviewed journal Global Change Biology calculates that over half of the world’s sea turtles have ingested plastic; this follows on the heels of a publication last month by some of the same scientists that predicted that nearly all of the world’s seabirds would be contaminated with plastics by 2050 unless action is taken soon. With each new publication, the case for a global strategy to stem the tide of plastics into the world’s oceans becomes ever more vital.

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