The Blog Aquatic » Uncategorized http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Thu, 27 Nov 2014 11:00:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Tidal Anatomy http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/10/20/tidal-anatomy/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/10/20/tidal-anatomy/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 21:11:09 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9354  

Photo: John Madere

This blog post was written by John Madere, an award winning photographer. 

I’m pleased to announce that the book launch and exhibition of my Tidal Anatomy portrait series opens at Site 109 in Manhattan on October 21. The images are the result of two years of photographing surfers from an unlikely perspective with my camera placed high above the surfer and beach.

The inspiration for this project came to me while walking along the shore in Montauk, New York, on a raw, windy day in the Spring of 2013. An unusually harsh winter had radically altered the beach, leaving behind arresting scenes of strewn rocks, stratified clay, decaying driftwood, driven sand, and man made debris.

Read more at JohnMadere.com.

 

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Breaking: Great News For the Gulf of Mexico http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/09/04/breaking-great-news-for-the-gulf-of-mexico/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/09/04/breaking-great-news-for-the-gulf-of-mexico/#comments Thu, 04 Sep 2014 15:59:00 +0000 Ivy Fredrickson http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9153

Today, a judge found  that the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster was the direct result of BP’s “’gross negligence’ and ‘willful misconduct’” under the Clean Water Act. What does this mean for the Gulf? It means more funding available for restoring the Gulf.

Funding for restoration projects via the RESTORE Act comes from Clean Water Act fines. And a 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. The result of today’s court decision could mean a fine as high as $17.6 billion, 80% of which will be used to repair and restore the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem and the communities and economies that depend on it.

Over the past four years, BP has spent inordinate amounts of time and money shirking responsibility, pointing fingers at others and downplaying the seriousness of the disaster. Today, the court is holding BP responsible.

The judge still must rule on the amount of oil spilled – a major factor determining the ultimate amount of fines. The third stage of the trial will begin in January 2015.

 

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Watch LIVE: Our Ocean Conference http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/06/16/watch-live-our-ocean-conference/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/06/16/watch-live-our-ocean-conference/#comments Mon, 16 Jun 2014 13:52:26 +0000 Michelle Frey http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=8540 Tune in Monday, June 16 and Tuesday, June 17 for the Our Ocean Conference hosted by Secretary of State, John Kerry.

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EPA Helps Address Ocean Acidification http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/06/02/epa-helps-address-ocean-acidification/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/06/02/epa-helps-address-ocean-acidification/#comments Tue, 03 Jun 2014 01:04:46 +0000 Ryan Ono http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=8428

Photo: Misti Weathersby

Today, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy announced that the agency is proposing new rules to dramatically reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants. The new rules, which the EPA is calling their “Clean Power Plan,” would reduce carbon emission from existing power plants by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, an amount equal to the pollution emitted by more than 150 million cars. But what does all of this mean for the ocean? Many people may not realize it, but by proposing the Clean Power Plan, the United States took a significant step towards addressing ocean acidification. Reducing carbon pollution from power plants means there will be less carbon pollution in the atmosphere. And less carbon pollution in the atmosphere means less carbon pollution that is absorbed by the ocean, turning it more acidic.

Many marine species and the coastal communities dependent upon them are at risk of being harmed by the large amount of carbon pollution that has already been absorbed by the ocean. Oyster growers in the Pacific Northwest have already experienced major business losses due to increasingly acidic water. Scientists are worried about how lobsters, crabs and squid will respond to a more acidic ocean. A reduction in US carbon emissions from power plants is a much-needed step towards addressing ocean acidification on a larger scale.

We applaud the efforts of the EPA, the Obama administration, and the many other industry and community groups that have helped to create this proposed rule.  There is a long way to go, but this is a great step to address the root cause of ocean acidification.

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Coast Guard Report Shows Shell Failed to Recognize Risk in the Arctic http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/04/04/coast-guard-report-shows-shell-failed-to-recognize-risk-in-the-arctic/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/04/04/coast-guard-report-shows-shell-failed-to-recognize-risk-in-the-arctic/#comments Fri, 04 Apr 2014 19:46:47 +0000 Andrew Hartsig http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=8002

Photo: Coast Guard

This past Thursday, the U.S. Coast Guard released a report on its investigation into the grounding of Shell’s Arctic drilling rig Kulluk near Kodiak, Alaska on December 31, 2012. A tug lost control of the Kulluk in heavy weather on the way to Seattle after Shell’s failed attempt to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean in 2012.

The Coast Guard report provides a detailed account of the events before the Kulluk ran aground and identifies a number of causal factors, including lack of experience in Alaska waters, failure to recognize risks, use of inadequate equipment, insufficient planning and preparedness and major problems with the primary towing vessel.

Were there other factors at play? Shell was in a hurry to get its oil rig out of Alaska waters before the end of the year to avoid the possibility a paying taxes to the State of Alaska if the rig remained in Alaska on January 1. The Coast Guard report also found evidence to suggest that Shell’s contractors may have failed to comply with certain legal or regulatory standards and may have committed acts of negligence.

According to the Coast Guard report, Shell’s contractors knew that conditions would be challenging. In an email, the tug’s master wrote: “To be blunt I believe that this length of tow, at this time of year, in this location, with our current routing guarantees an ass kicking.”

Despite these concerns, the towing operation continued. Trouble started when the Kulluk’s towline gave way on December 27. As the situation grew more dangerous, the Coast Guard rescued the 18-member crew of the Kulluk. Although Shell and the Coast Guard made multiple attempts to regain control of the Kulluk, they were ultimately unsuccessful. Late in the day on December 31, the drilling rig ran aground on Sitkalidak Island near Kodiak, Alaska. Fortunately, salvage crews were able to pluck the Kulluk off the shore on January 6 and tow it to a safe harbor. Thankfully, there was no loss of life or major injuries, and the environmental damage was relatively minimal.

How did this happen? Why was one of the world’s biggest oil and gas companies unable to carry out a routine towing operation safely? The Coast Guard’s investigation cites a number of causal factors, including:

Lack of experience in Alaska waters: Shell’s contractors lacked experience in the Gulf of Alaska waters, especially in the wintertime. This inexperience manifested as an inability to reduce stress on the towline in an effective manner.

Failure to recognize risk: Shell and its contractors “did not recognize the overall risks involved prior to commencement of the tow,” and did not conduct a formal risk assessment.

Inadequate equipment: Shell and its contractors selected and used towing equipment that was not sufficient for the rough conditions that they encountered.

Insufficient planning and preparedness: Shell’s towing plans “were not adequate for the winter towing operation across the Gulf of Alaska,” and were “not adequately reviewed,” and “lacked proper contingency planning.”

Problems with the primary towing vessel: Shell relied on the Aiviq—a purpose-built tug—as its primary towing vessel. But, according to the Coast Guard report, the Aiviq was plagued by design flaws and suffered from preexisting engine problems.

As I’ve written before, we need to make meaningful changes in the way that government agencies plan for and manage oil and gas operations in the Arctic. Fortunately, we’re starting to see some progress on that front.

Unfortunately, there’s bad news, too: the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is considering selling another round of oil and gas leases in the Chukchi Sea—a move in exactly the wrong direction, especially after a court recently found fault with the agency’s analysis of its last lease sale. Join me in telling the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to call a halt to this potential Chukchi Sea lease sale. Please sign our petition today

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Presenting Our New Solutions at the Camden Conference http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/03/20/presenting-our-new-solutions-at-the-camden-conference/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/03/20/presenting-our-new-solutions-at-the-camden-conference/#comments Thu, 20 Mar 2014 11:01:34 +0000 Andreas Merkl http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=7857

Last month, I was invited to speak at the Camden Conference in Maine. This conference brings experts from a number of disciplines together with policymakers, industry leaders and college students to discuss some of the biggest issues facing our world today. This year’s theme was “The Global Politics of Food and Water,” and I spoke about how the ocean sits at the nexus of these issues.

Right now, the ocean is in a period of uncertainty. Climate change and a growing population are changing the chemistry of the ocean and the life that calls it home. But instead of viewing the ocean’s changes in a negative light, I think we have an incredible opportunity to become better problem-solvers. We can break free from old resource management models to find new solutions for our changing ocean. We can effectively address these new complexities; it’s not too late.

You can watch my presentation, as well as those from others at the event, by clicking here.

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A Crowded Ocean Needs a Coordinated Plan http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/03/07/a-crowded-ocean-needs-a-coordinated-plan/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/03/07/a-crowded-ocean-needs-a-coordinated-plan/#comments Fri, 07 Mar 2014 21:28:03 +0000 Jayni Rasmussen http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=7682

Photo: Nick Harris via Wikimedia Commons

Recently, we wrote about how Congress’ 2014 budget compromise eliminated grant funding for Regional Ocean Partnerships. Following the release of the president’s budget earlier this week, we thought we’d revisit the issue of ocean-use planning and discuss why Congress should reinstate funding.

Everyone knows the ocean is a big place, but it sure is getting crowded these days. Commercial and recreational fishermen who have lived off the sea for generations are now competing with offshore wind farms that are getting so large they can be seen from space. Whales that have made a comeback from near extinction are once again threatened by increasing deadly interactions with large ships that cross into the whales’ migratory paths. If we aren’t careful, there will be a traffic jam off our coasts and a lot of unnecessary conflict.

Coastal and marine spatial planning, or ”smart ocean planning”, is a tool that brings all of those users together so that everyone can have a say in making smart, ecosystem-based management decisions. Smart ocean planning identifies areas in the ocean most suitable for various types or classes of activities in order to reduce conflicts among uses, reduce environmental impacts, facilitate compatible uses and preserve critical ecosystem services.

The beauty of such a process is that an increase in coordinated ocean management decisions between state and local governments and stakeholders also leads to increased ocean health today and for future generations.

In the coming days, we’ll be explaining more of what goes into smart ocean planning and what we’ll need to make it succeed. For now though, watch this short interview with Dr. Sandra Whitehouse, a marine biologist and senior advisor to Ocean Conservancy, for more information on the basics of ocean planning.

If you’re unable to see the video, you can go here to watch it.

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