The Blog Aquatic » washington http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Tue, 12 Aug 2014 15:53:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Washington, DC: “Farewell Foam… Hello Clean Water!” http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/07/01/washington-dc-farewell-foam-hello-clean-water/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/07/01/washington-dc-farewell-foam-hello-clean-water/#comments Tue, 01 Jul 2014 13:56:08 +0000 Nick Mallos http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=8680

Volunteers cleanup plastic-foam along the Anacostia River in Washington, DC.

July 18, 2014 update: Our nation’s capital has banned plastic-foam food containers!

As a conservationist, ocean lover and resident of Washington, DC, I have some exciting news to share! Last week, lawmakers in our nation’s capital voted to ban the use of plastic-foam food and drink containers throughout the District by 2016. This is a fantastic step for the health of the Anacostia River and a major step towards trash-free seas!

Each year during Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup, we see massive quantities of foam polluting beaches, waterways and coastlines—1.2 million items of foam during the 2013 Cleanup alone. And foam doesn’t just disappear. A best-case scenario would have a single plastic-foam cup fully “biodegrading” in 500 years; however, it’s likely that these plastics will never truly go away. Foam is lightweight and brittle, fragmenting into small pieces at the slightest touch. These properties are the very reason it disperses so easily and widely on beaches and into rivers and marine environments.  With each piece of foam that fragments into waterways or the ocean, the likelihood that fish, sea turtles, or seabirds will mistakenly eat those plastic bits increases, threatening the health animals and our oceans.


While ocean cleanups help to lessen the problem – they are not the long-term solution. Cities and communities banning products like foam and encouraging fewer single-use products with actions like bag taxes, along with the production of fewer disposable goods are key in preventing trash from reaching the water in the first place.

But, before this new legislation becomes law, there will be a second and final vote on the bill this summer. We’ll be keeping an eye on the progress of this bill and hope that DC joins the ranks of Seattle, San Francisco and many other cities that have banned foam containers.

And, don’t forget—YOU can make a difference. Take the pledge to turn the tide on ocean trash and fight for a healthy ocean.

]]>
http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/07/01/washington-dc-farewell-foam-hello-clean-water/feed/ 45
How Members of Congress are Taking Action on Ocean Acidification http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/05/23/how-members-of-congress-are-taking-action-on-ocean-acidification/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/05/23/how-members-of-congress-are-taking-action-on-ocean-acidification/#comments Fri, 23 May 2014 18:20:46 +0000 Jeff Watters http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=8396

Photo: Brian Kusko

There was a flurry of activity on ocean acidification this week in, of all places, the Halls of Congress. Not one, but two different bills on ocean acidification were introduced in the House of Representatives. And more importantly, these bills were written by a new generation of members of Congress anxious to tackle the threat that ocean acidification poses to the people, businesses, and communities that they represent.

On Tuesday, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree introduced legislation, the Coastal Communities Acidification Act of 2014, that would require federal officials to analyze the risks ocean acidification poses to coastal and island communities around the United States. The Congresswoman’s home state of Maine has hundreds of rural coastal communities that rely heavily on fisheries, shellfish, lobsters, and other ocean resources – communities that may stand to lose a lot in the face of ocean acidification. Congresswoman Pingree’s bill comes on the heels of action by the Maine State Legislature, which passed a law earlier this month to establish a commission to study ocean acidification in Maine. But Pingree’s federal bill goes much further, calling for officials to examine the very real economic and social risks that ocean acidification could pose to all coastal communities across the country.

Then on Thursday, Congressman Derek Kilmer from Washington state introduced a bipartisan bill to help spur new technologies and scientific innovations in ocean acidification research. Titled the Ocean Acidification Innovation Act, Kilmer’s bill would give federal ocean acidification research programs the ability to run prize competitions, much like the X-Prize. Congressman Kilmer announced last week that he would be introducing the bill, and yesterday a bipartisan group of cosponsors joined him in fulfilling that promise: Representatives Capps (D-CA-24), Heck (D-WA-10), Herrera-Beutler (R-WA-3), Huffman (D-CA-2), Peters (D-CA-52), and Reichert (R-WA-8).

Ocean acidification is a very real threat to both the ocean environment and the people who depend on it for their livelihoods.  These bills are a step in the right direction and we need to see more action like this. The more members of Congress we have who are willing to support creative solutions and develop a vision for how to address this problem, the better. We applaud Representatives Pingree and Kilmer for their leadership, and we hope to see many more members of Congress doing the same in the future.

]]>
http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/05/23/how-members-of-congress-are-taking-action-on-ocean-acidification/feed/ 6
To Make Ocean Planning Effective, We Need Regional Coordination http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/03/12/to-make-ocean-planning-effective-we-need-regional-coordination/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/03/12/to-make-ocean-planning-effective-we-need-regional-coordination/#comments Wed, 12 Mar 2014 13:30:32 +0000 Jayni Rasmussen http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=7731

Photo: Jupiter Unlimited

Earlier, I wrote about coastal and marine spatial planning and the tools necessary to effectively implement it. Today though, I wanted to discuss the regions and industries that are already putting these ideas to good use.

At the state level, Washington, Massachusetts, Oregon and Rhode Island have already created comprehensive ocean plans, and several other states—such as New York and several states along the Gulf of Mexico—are starting to do the same thing. This is a great start, but the ocean does not obey state lines. As a result, regional partnerships are essential in facilitating coordination between federal, state, tribal and local entities.

Thankfully, almost all coastal governors have voluntarily joined together to establish Regional Ocean Partnerships that connect state and federal agencies, tribes, local governments, and stakeholders to tackle ocean and coastal issues of common concern, such as siting offshore energy, habitat restoration, coastal storm mitigation and marine debris. While the priorities, structures and methods for these partnerships and this work differ to suit the needs of each region, they are collectively working toward an improved ocean environment and a stronger ocean and coastal economy. For example, the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic have very active partnerships that manage robust data portals needed to make informed decisions. In addition, both of these regions have new, federally sponsored regional planning boards that are working on smart ocean planning in coordination with the state-based partnerships. Other regions are also moving forward with collaborative ocean-use planning. For example, the West Coast recently launched its own ocean data portal; making these resources available to stakeholders is essential to the planning process.

It’s important to note that smart ocean planning is a voluntary process. No region is required to undergo ocean planning, and no decision-maker must follow the recommendations of regional planning bodies. The plans are simply tools to guide decision-making.

We have a unique and limited opportunity to make the long-term, coordinated decisions that will protect our ocean’s health for generations to come. When I check in later this week for the last part of this series, I’ll cover what will be needed to make this happen. For now though, if you’d like more information on what regions have started the planning process, check out this short interview with Dr. Sandra Whitehouse, senior advisor to Ocean Conservancy:

If you can’t watch the video on this page, click here.

Read more blogs from this series:

]]>
http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/03/12/to-make-ocean-planning-effective-we-need-regional-coordination/feed/ 0
UPDATE: The Ocean in a High CO2 World http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/06/25/update-the-ocean-in-a-high-co2-world/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/06/25/update-the-ocean-in-a-high-co2-world/#comments Tue, 25 Jun 2013 17:29:06 +0000 Andreas Merkl http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=6189 polar bearsPresident Obama’s plan to address climate change is a step in the right direction on the long road toward making real progress in reducing carbon pollution. There is no greater threat to the life on our planet than the effects of putting too much carbon into the atmosphere, and we are already seeing the impacts. It’s urgent, and we must act now.

The Arctic is experiencing the effects of climate change more than anywhere else, with air temperatures warming about twice as fast as the rest of the planet. Water temperatures are rising and seasonal sea ice is melting at a record-breaking pace.

As we have increased the amount of carbon pollution pumped into the air, the ocean has absorbed more and more of it, becoming 30 percent more acidic since the Industrial Revolution. This has a ripple effect up the food web and across livelihoods.

There is something we can do about it. The ocean should be at the center of our solutions to the rising threat of carbon pollution. You can learn more about Ocean Conservancy’s work on this issue in my blog, The Ocean in a High CO2 World:

It’s easy to take for granted the many ways that the ocean keeps us alive—it sustains much of the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink and the climate that surrounds us. The complex ocean systems that produce these benefits—from currents and photosynthesis to food chains—are often chaotic and unpredictable at smaller scales, but at large scales they come together in a dynamic equilibrium to ensure that life can thrive.

One of the ocean’s most important life-giving functions is its absorption of carbon dioxide emissions. But we have increased the amount of carbon pollution pumped into the air, and in turn, the ocean has absorbed more and more of it. As a result, the ocean’s chemistry is changing—it has become 30 percent more acidic since the Industrial Revolution. There is no uncertainty or doubt about this; it is a simple and eminently replicable chemical process.

Several of the comments posted by our readers on my last blog focused on this growing concern. My answer to those comments is this: overall there is no greater threat to the life on our planet than the effects of putting too much carbon into the atmosphere, and ocean acidification is a very large part of the problem.

It is, simply put, the largest chemistry experiment ever attempted. It is happening now, and it has real impacts on people and local economies today. Shell-building animals like oysters and sea snails are having trouble building their shells in overly acidic waters, and this has a ripple effect up the food web and across livelihoods. These impacts are likely small compared to what could come if CO2 concentrations keep increasing under the current “business as usual” scenario. At a certain point, shell-building animals will not be able to produce calcium carbonate, with immeasurable effect on the entire food chain.

We’re working with the world’s top ocean acidification scientists to raise awareness about this growing threat and on solutions with the people on the front lines who are already being affected, from oyster growers in Washington state to mussel growers in Maine. In the weeks and months to come, we at Ocean Conservancy will dive deeper to take a very hard look at carbon pollution. For instance, what impact might the Keystone XL pipeline, if approved, have on the ocean? It’s a vitally important question to answer.

At Ocean Conservancy, we understand that the ocean is not just a victim—it must be the part of the solution. The way we manage the ocean and the decisions we make about fishing, shipping, energy extraction and production, and more have huge implications for the future of carbon emissions and the ocean’s continued ability to sustain life.

As we explore this critical issue, we will do so from an “ocean-centric” point of view—we must determine what management decisions and policies we can inform and work on with fishermen, shippers, drillers, windmill builders and oceanographers that can transform ocean health.

We would love to hear from you on this.  There are solutions to be found, and it will take all of our ideas, passion and ingenuity to get there.

]]>
http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/06/25/update-the-ocean-in-a-high-co2-world/feed/ 10
The Ocean in a High CO2 World http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/03/25/the-ocean-in-a-high-co2-world/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/03/25/the-ocean-in-a-high-co2-world/#comments Mon, 25 Mar 2013 15:24:13 +0000 Andreas Merkl http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=5269 Taylor Shellfish worker shucks oysters

Shell-building animals like oysters and sea snails are having trouble building their shells as the ocean’s chemistry changes, and this has a ripple effect up the food web and across livelihoods.
© 2013 Barbara Kinney/Ocean Conservancy All Rights Reserved

It’s easy to take for granted the many ways that the ocean keeps us alive—it sustains much of the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink and the climate that surrounds us. The complex ocean systems that produce these benefits—from currents and photosynthesis to food chains—are often chaotic and unpredictable at smaller scales, but at large scales they come together in a dynamic equilibrium to ensure that life can thrive.

One of the ocean’s most important life-giving functions is its absorption of carbon dioxide emissions. But we have increased the amount of carbon pollution pumped into the air, and in turn, the ocean has absorbed more and more of it. As a result, the ocean’s chemistry is changing—it has become 30 percent more acidic since the Industrial Revolution. There is no uncertainty or doubt about this; it is a simple and eminently replicable chemical process.

Several of the comments posted by our readers on my last blog focused on this growing concern. My answer to those comments is this: overall there is no greater threat to the life on our planet than the effects of putting too much carbon into the atmosphere, and ocean acidification is a very large part of the problem.

It is, simply put, the largest chemistry experiment ever attempted. It is happening now, and it has real impacts on people and local economies today. Shell-building animals like oysters and sea snails are having trouble building their shells in overly acidic waters, and this has a ripple effect up the food web and across livelihoods. These impacts are likely small compared to what could come if CO2 concentrations keep increasing under the current “business as usual” scenario. At a certain point, shell-building animals will not be able to produce calcium carbonate, with immeasurable effect on the entire food chain.

We’re working with the world’s top ocean acidification scientists to raise awareness about this growing threat and on solutions with the people on the front lines who are already being affected, from oyster growers in Washington state to mussel growers in Maine. In the weeks and months to come, we at Ocean Conservancy will dive deeper to take a very hard look at carbon pollution. For instance, what impact might the Keystone XL pipeline, if approved, have on the ocean? It’s a vitally important question to answer.

At Ocean Conservancy, we understand that the ocean is not just a victim—it must be the part of the solution. The way we manage the ocean and the decisions we make about fishing, shipping, energy extraction and production, and more have huge implications for the future of carbon emissions and the ocean’s continued ability to sustain life.

As we explore this critical issue, we will do so from an “ocean-centric” point of view—we must determine what management decisions and policies we can inform and work on with fishermen, shippers, drillers, windmill builders and oceanographers that can transform ocean health.

We would love to hear from you on this.  There are solutions to be found, and it will take all of our ideas, passion and ingenuity to get there.

]]>
http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/03/25/the-ocean-in-a-high-co2-world/feed/ 14
What To Do If You Find Tsunami Debris Washed Ashore http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/09/20/what-to-do-if-you-find-tsunami-debris-washed-ashore/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/09/20/what-to-do-if-you-find-tsunami-debris-washed-ashore/#comments Thu, 20 Sep 2012 15:01:38 +0000 Nick Mallos http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=3013

Ocean Conservancy created a Tsunami Debris Field Guide that highlights the most common items of debris that have been washing onto West Coast beaches. Click the image to download the complete version.

Marine debris generated from the March 11th tsunami is drastically different from the ocean trash that was already plaguing our ocean. Over the coming months, there may be many difficult-to-collect debris items from the tsunami such as housing and construction materials, fishing gear and vessels. We could also find potentially dangerous items such as combustibles, as well as personal items related to the victims. Therefore, it is critical that volunteers and beachcombers document each item of debris they encounter on beaches with the highest level of scrutiny.

To assist with this effort, Ocean Conservancy created a Tsunami Debris Field Guide that highlights the most common debris items that are washing onto West Coast beaches in significantly higher numbers than in previous years. Content for the field guide was informed by our database of Cleanup data, NOAA, the California Coastal Commission and International Coastal Cleanup West Coast State Coordinators.

The field guide is NOT intended to forecast the arrival of tsunami debris and it’s imperative to remember that debris from foreign countries regularly washes onto U.S. West Coast beaches, so Asian characters on debris alone do not confirm it originated during the tsunami. The field guide provides Cleanup volunteers an educational tool so they can identify potential tsunami debris while sauntering West Coast beaches. International Coastal Cleanup participants have been using the field guide during the International Coastal Cleanup, noting any suspected tsunami debris items in the Items of Local Concern section on the Cleanup data card. These data will be analyzed in the months following the Cleanup and compared with tsunami debris model predictions. There are also protocols for handling and reporting suspected tsunami debris on the field guide.

The Tsunami Debris Field Guide can be found at Ocean Conservancy’s Tsunami Debris Action Center, along with other information about tsunami debris, what to do if you’ve found suspected tsunami debris, and how to differentiate tsunami debris from ocean trash. You can also enter your email address below to sign up to receive tsunami debris updates as new information becomes available:

 

   
Please leave this field empty

If you see a significant debris sighting, please send a photo and as much information as possible to DisasterDebris@noaa.gov.

]]>
http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2012/09/20/what-to-do-if-you-find-tsunami-debris-washed-ashore/feed/ 0