The Blog Aquatic » The News Aquatic News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Thu, 28 Aug 2014 17:32:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 You’re Invited Mon, 25 Aug 2014 13:49:07 +0000 Nick Mallos


It’s time to make a difference!

On Saturday, September 20th, Ocean Conservancy is hosting the International Coastal Cleanup. Volunteers around the world are gathering to remove trash from their beaches and waterways. And you’re invited!

The Cleanup is so important for a healthy ocean. Last year, volunteers collected a record-breaking 13.6 million items of trash. With your help, we can collect even more.

But having more trash on our beaches to pick up is not a thing to celebrate. The sad truth is that our beaches and waterways are polluted and littered with trash. This summer as millions of Americans head to the beach, they’ll encounter plastic bottle caps, straws, cigarette butts and more.

That’s why we need to work together to stop the flow of trash before it has a chance to reach the water to choke and entangle dolphins, endanger sea turtles, ruin our beaches, and depress our local economies.

Tell us you’ll join us at this year’s International Coastal Clean Up.

Once you’ve registered, you’ll be directed to our Cleanup map, where you can find the details for a cleanup near you.

I can’t wait to see you at the International Coastal Cleanup this September!

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And the Winners Are… Mon, 28 Jul 2014 19:42:01 +0000 Jackie Yeary

Congratulations to the winners of Ocean Conservancy’s Summer 2014 Marine Wildlife and Seascape Photo Contest! With more than 1,200 entries, we were amazed at the beautiful images that all of you submitted.

The top two prizes were awarded to Ian Lindsey and Christian Martinez, whose photographs received Judges’ Choice and People’s Choice. Ian’s photo “Honu Gathering” depicts a group of sea turtles gathered on a Hawaiian beach at sunset, while Christian’s image “Ocean, Waves and Nature” perfectly captures the beauty of a Puerto Rican beach.

This summer’s contest also included winners from five different categories: Arctic, Our Ocean, Fish, Gulf of Mexico and Human Impact. The winners for these categories are:

Be sure to check out their beautiful images in the gallery below.

Judges' Choice: Ian Lindsey, "Honu Gathering" People's Choice: Christian Martinez, "Ocean, Waves and Nature" Arctic: Bill Boswell, "Puffin With Sand Eels" Our Ocean: Albert Oll Callau, "Pink Fluid" Fish: Erik Olsen, "Catch At Dawn" Gulf of Mexico: William Camarota, "Colorful Caspersen Sunset" Human Impact: Veronika Kinga Havas, "Baby Born"


Congratulations again to all of our winners!  To see more of our staff favorites, be sure to check out our Instagram. If you submitted a photo to our contest, don’t forget to look for it in our 2016 Ocean Wildlife Calendar.

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High Five to the RESTORE Council! Sat, 26 Jul 2014 00:55:48 +0000 Kara Lankford

In order to successfully restore the Gulf of Mexico from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Ocean Conservancy, as you may recall, has a tried-and-true Recipe for Restoration:

1 part science

1 part public engagement

1 part clear criteria for decision-making

We are so pleased today to see that the RESTORE Council is following our recipe for success. As the federal and state partnership charged with determining how billion of dollars in Clean Water Act fines will be spent, the RESTORE Council announced their plans today for receiving and evaluating proposals for Gulf restoration projects. This long-awaited announcement has been years in the making, and Ocean Conservancy has been one of the strongest supporters for a science-based platform for successful Gulf restoration. Thanks to the actions taken by the Council today, projects to restore the Gulf will be chosen based on merit, not on politics.
 The Council lays out a five-step process for project selection. Projects and programs that meet these criteria will be included in a draft prioritized list, known as the Funded Priorities List. The Council’s process will accomplish the following:

1.     Proposes focus areas of restoring habitat and water quality for projects and programs which will be included on the Funded Priorities List as the first addendum to the Initial Comprehensive Plan.

2.     Encourages project submissions that emphasize the following:

    • How a project is foundational in the sense that the project forms the initial core steps in addressing a significant ecosystem issue and that future projects can be tiered to substantially increase the benefits;
    • How a project will be sustainable over time;
    • Why a project is likely to succeed; and
    • How a project benefits the human community where implementation occurs.

3.     Provides for external independent scientific review of project proposals.

4.     Ensures that all applicable environmental compliance requirements are addressed.

5.     Ensures that projects meet both statutory requirements and commitments the Council made in the Comprehensive Plan.

Ocean Conservancy applauds the Council for seeking external scientific review of project proposals. This is so important to ensure that Gulf restoration projects are based on the best available science. We are also pleased to hear that they are committed to a transparent process, with projects coordinated across state lines. After all, fish don’t observe state lines underwater!

We commend the Council for their dedication and perseverance to accomplish the enormous task of restoring the Gulf, not just from the BP oil disaster, but also from decades of environmental disasters. The process outlined by the Council may not be perfect, but it will help guide restoration toward a comprehensive, ecosystem-wide approach to Gulf restoration. There is still much work to do and many more hurdles to jump, but today was certainly a victory. Let’s take time to celebrate this win. High five!

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A Modest Pledge Makes a Big Difference for Ocean Acidification Research and Collaboration Wed, 25 Jun 2014 21:30:16 +0000 Sarah Cooley  

The right-hand end of the long, low pinkish building across the harbor houses the International Atomic Energy Agency Laboratory in La Condamine, Monaco, which hosts the Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre.

Despite this week’s excited headlines about ocean research and conservation during Secretary Kerry’s “Our Oceans” conference, you still might have missed Prince Albert of Monaco’s Monday announcement that the U.S. State Department and Department of Energy have pledged a total of $640,000 to the Ocean Acidification International Coordination Centre (OA-ICC), based at the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA’s) Monaco lab.

This is great news for ocean acidification research and decision-making around the world. The OA-ICC engages scientists in international collaborative research, education, and advice to policymakers. For example, the OA-ICC and its partners have put out several informational brochures for the public in many languages about ocean acidification, and OA-ICC-affiliated scientists have presented at high-level international events like this week’s “Our Oceans” conference and the past five sessions of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties. But the OA-ICC’s best known activity among specialists is their news stream, which is a thoughtfully-curated daily feed (available by email, Twitter, or RSS) about ocean acidification news stories, research outcomes, opportunities, and educational materials. The OA-ICC gets a lot done for a small price tag.

The State Department’s support will allow researchers and policymakers to continue to study ocean acidification globally and find meaningful solutions for people and communities impacted. We thank Secretary Kerry, HSH Prince Albert of Monaco, the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Department of Energy, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the Principality of Monaco for their continued support of ocean acidification research and collaboration at the international level.

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Ocean Champion to Depart White House as Accomplishments Are in Jeopardy Wed, 04 Dec 2013 00:02:02 +0000 Emily Woglom

Today, President Obama announced that Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), will step down in February. Obama hasn’t named a successor yet, but that person will have sea-size shoes to fill – because Ms. Sutley has been a true champion for the ocean.

Ironically, the announcement of her departure comes as certain members of Congress are working to undermine one of her most important accomplishments: the National Ocean Policy (NOP).

As head of the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force, Sutley was instrumental in creating the NOP, which ensures smart and sustainable ocean-use planning. The Task Force released its recommendations in 2010; those recommendations were then implemented through an executive order by Obama establishing the NOP. Sutley then set about developing the NOP’s implementation plan, which was released earlier this year.

Ocean Conservancy and our partners have been fighting to safeguard this vital policy. You can lend your voice by clicking here.

In addition to spearheading the NOP, Sutley also worked on important initiatives for Gulf Coast Restoration, clean water, and tackling climate change.

Nancy Sutley leaves a legacy of aquatic accomplishments that will make our ocean cleaner, safer and more productive for generations to come. Ocean Conservancy thanks her for her dedicated service, and we encourage the president to replace her with someone that will continue and expand this good work.

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Three Ways the Shutdown Is Having Real Ocean Impacts Tue, 08 Oct 2013 22:29:14 +0000 Jeff Watters

Credit: Drew Koshar

It has now been more than one week since the federal government shut down, and stories about how the shutdown is impacting the ocean are beginning to flow in.

Last week, I wrote on how Congress’s failure to reach a consensus on a funding bill would impact government agencies conducting operations in the ocean, and how government data utilized by scientists, fishermen and state and local officials would no longer be accessible.

But now, the shutdown isn’t just a theoretical exercise in government. It’s impacting both people and the environment.

Here are three examples of ways that the government shutdown is causing real pain and doing real damage:

This year, the “deadliest catch” might not get caught. Because of the shutdown, Alaskan crab fishermen preparing for the season could be forced to stay in port. The federal government issues permits that fishermen need to go out on the water and the crab fishermen can’t do their jobs until those permits are issued. According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the seafood industry contributes 78,500 jobs and an estimated $5.8 billion to Alaska’s economy. At least for the crab fishermen, this year’s bounty might be in danger if the government stays closed for much longer.

Our Antarctic research stations are on the verge of closing. Scientists funded by the government are also seeing the adverse effects of the congressional stalemate. In fact, if the shutdown continues through mid-October the entire field season for the National Science Foundation’s Antarctic program will be cancelled, postponing the work of hundreds of scientists focused on glaciology, ecology and astrophysics for at least a year. This would place America behind other countries in important scientific research and hold back those scientists who depend on this funding.

Roadblocks for investigation into mystery mass dolphin deaths. Even the conservation community is feeling the pain of the shutdown. In the Mid-Atlantic, a viral epidemic has been killing hundreds of bottlenose dolphins for months. The body count is nearing 700, yet the shutdown threatens to decelerate the investigation and leave research centers with piles of dead dolphins and not enough scientists to study them.

The full impact of this government shutdown will only be known after it ends, but the picture is already looking bleak. Important, time-sensitive scientific research is being delayed and people’s livelihoods are on the line. We’ll continue to monitor the situation, but if there’s one thing that we know for sure it’s that this shutdown is clearly harming Americans and our ocean resources.

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As Gulf Faces Tropical Storm Threat, Shutdown Keeps Oil Spill Experts Off the Job Fri, 04 Oct 2013 21:33:00 +0000 Jeff Watters

Credit – National Weather Service: National Hurricane Center

Heading into the weekend, there are three very disturbing realities coming together that make those of us who care about the ocean very uncomfortable:

  1. Tropical Storm Karen is making its way through the Gulf of Mexico and heading straight towards a vast field of offshore oil rigs and pipelines. Parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida are already under tropical storm watches and warnings.
  2. When tropical storms and hurricanes hit this region, they can cause a lot of oil spills. For example, the damage that Hurricanes Katrina and Rita caused to rigs and pipelines resulted in  spills totaling 17, 652 barrels (or roughly three-quarters of a million gallons) of petroleum products. Even more oil was spilled from on-shore facilities. Not to mention the fact that a major storm might also churn up submerged oil from the BP oil spill, sending it back onto our shores and beaches.
  3. Because of the government shutdown, many of NOAA’s oil spill experts – employees of NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration – are furloughed and off the job.

Talk about bad timing.

Based on the Department of Commerce’s contingency plan for the government shutdown, it appears that NOAA’s division that deals with oil spills only kept a small handful of employees on duty to “maintain minimal on-hand response activities.” This means that many of NOAA’s oil spill experts are locked out of their offices and unable to even check their government email accounts. The number that remain at work is very small – so few, in fact, that they could probably split a pizza for lunch. So for all oil spills across the entire country… that’s it. That’s all that’s left. There’s nobody else.

Now don’t completely panic. It’s possible that in light of the approaching storm, the government may recall NOAA’s oil spill experts and deem them “essential” in light of a disaster. They still wouldn’t get paid, but we could have those experts on hand to map the spills, determine the spills’ trajectories, and provide the scientific support that the Coast Guard and other first responders will need.

But is this really any way to run a government or protect the environment?

Imagine if your local town or city experienced a shutdown that closed the police and firefighting departments, sent all of the officers and firefighters home – furloughed indefinitely without pay – but then said: “Don’t worry, we’ll call them back into work if a building catches fire or someone commits a crime.” No mayor would dream of running a city like that.

A local community deserves better, and so do the ocean and the environment.

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