oceans

Gathered on a remote stretch of beach at  Rekvik, Troms Fylke, Norway: 211 bottles and cans. Photo: Bo Eide via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

UN Ocean Conference: can the law protect our ocean ecosystems?

Elizabeth A Kirk
Nottingham Law School
| 1st June 2017
With the UN Ocean Conference beginning in New York next week, Elizabeth A Kirk asks: can we devise a legal system that promotes the ecological resilience of the oceans? To do so will mean placing ecosystems at the heart of decision making, over and above countries' selfish 'national interests'. It will be tough, but if we fail it's hard to see how the gamut of problems - from ocean acidification to plastic pollution and overfishing - can ever be solved.

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Liberian Coast Guard prepares to board the Star Shrimper XXV. Photo: Alejandra Gimeno / Sea Shepherd Global.

Sea Shepherd helps arrest 'sustainable' shrimp trawler for illegal fishing in Liberian waters

Peter Hammarstedt
Sea Shepherd
| 26th May 2017
A 'Friend of the Sea' Dutch-owned trawler certified to supply 'sustainably caught' shrimp to the US and EU was arrested in Liberia after operating in an an area reserved for artisanal fishers, writes Peter Hammarstedt. The vessel, which had no licence and lacked the turtle excluders required by law, was discovered by the crew of Sea Shepherd's 'Bob Barker' in a joint mission with the Liberian Coast Guard to clamp down on rampant illegal fishing.

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Don't forget the microphone! An Earth Touch cameraman braves the unpleasant odour of Malgas Island to get some awesome shots, and sounds, of cape gannets. Photo: Earth Touch via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Listen up! Soundscapes reveal nature's ecological secrets

Ella Browning
UCL
| 8th March 2017
To find out about habitats, species and ecosystems are faring, don't just look, writes Ella Browning. Listen! Many species are hard to see, but have distinct auditory signatures, and advances in electronics suggest a future of landscapes 'wired for sound' feeding data streams for ecological analysis, not to mention detecting criminal activities from 'black' fishing to illegal logging and hunting.

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Vaquita caught in a gillnet. Photo: Cristian Faezi & Omar Vidal via IUCN.

Vaquita going extinct as Mexico, China, dither

Aron White
EIA
| 6th February 2017
The world's smallest porpoise is fast heading to extinction, writes Aron White thanks to Mexico's failure to ban the use of gillnets in its range, and China's illegal imports of totoaba fish swim bladders, used in Chinese medicine. Without urgent and effective action the vaquita will soon disappear for good.

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Photo: FromSandToGlass via Flickr (CC BY).

Exposed: Coca Cola's big 'fight back' against tackling plastic waste

Maeve McClenaghan
Greenpeace Energydesk
| 2nd February 2017
A Greenpeace investigation has exposed the massive efforts of global food and drink giant Coca Cola to defeat popular proposals to require deposits on single-use plastic bottles, writes Maeve McClenaghan. In fact, deposit schemes are working fine in many countries in which the company operates - it's a simple case of corporate profit before environment, oceans and wildlife.

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A fisherman walks among the boats in the harbor in the fishing village of Essaouira on Morocco's Atlantic Ocean coast. Photo: Mark Fischer via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

Ocean grabs: fighting the 'rights-based' corporate take-over of fisheries governance

Astrid Alexandersen
Sif Juhl
Jonathan Munk Nielsen
| 21st November 2016
This World Fisheries Day, a new report shows how the 'rights-based approach' to fisheries governance is in fact a mechanism for depriving indigenous and subsistence fisherfolk of their traditional waters, write Astrid Alexandersen, Sif Juhl & Jonathan Munk Nielsen, and transferring them to corporations and economic elites. It must be replaced with a 'human rights approach'.

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Container ship MOL GRANEUR off the Japan coast, 18th October 2015. Photo: ARTS_fox1fire via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Shipping to go 'beyond Paris Agreement' without offsets

Oliver Tickell
| 8th November 2016
The International Chamber of Shipping has committed the industry to legally binding emissions reductions under the Paris Agreement. Unlike the aviation industry, it will make no use of carbon 'offsets', but will reach its targets by increasing efficiency and moving to lower carbon fuels.

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Vaquitas in the northern Gulf of California. Photo: AMNH Seminars on Science / Natural History Magazone via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Plan to save Mexico's vaquita porpoise won't work without fishers' engagement

Andrew Frederick Johnson
University of California
San Diego
| 1st November 2016
The exclusion of fishers from the design of management plans for the vaquita, driven by conservation groups and implemented by the government, has led to polarized opinions and a large divide between communities and conservation agencies, writes Andrew Frederick Johnson. To save the vaquita, this needs to be replaced with a close collaboration.

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Milletseed butterflyfishes and snorkeler near surface, taken in 2009 in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument - which has just quadrupled in size. Photo: Greg McFall / NOAA's National Ocean Service via Flickr (CC BY).

Vast remote ‘marine protected areas’ - a diversion from the real job?

Peter J S Jones
Elizabeth De Santo
| 8th September 2016
There's quite a fashion now for creating enormous ocean nature reserves, write Peter J S Jones & Elizabeth De Santo. The UK kicked off the trend last year at Pitcairn Island, and now the US has followed up with a 1.5m sq.km reserve around Hawaii. But while these look like big conservation gains, the more serious task is to manage sustainably the intensely exploited seas close to home.

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Natalie Bennett campaigning in Cambridge during the general election of 2015. Photo: Rama via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA).

It's time to take back REAL control!

Natalie Bennett
| 5th September 2016
It's time for UK citizens to #takebackREALcontrol by challenging the anti-democratic powers that control our country, our economy and our lives, retiring Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett told her party conference this weekend in this barnstorming speech. And that's a challenge only the Greens are prepared to take on.

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Waves break over the sandbars (1), feeder currents form moving parallel to the shore (2), until meeting and flowing offshore as a rip current (3). Image: Tim Scott, Author provided.

How to spot hazardous 'rip currents' at the beach - before you get in the water

Martin Austin
Bangor University
| 25th August 2016
Five men tragically died this week at Camber Sands in East Sussex, making holiday makers are increasingly fearful of the dangers of sea bathing. One of the biggest dangers comes from so-called 'rip tides' which carry swimmers out to sea on fast-moving 'rivers' of water, writes MARTIN AUSTIN. So here's how to recognise the dangers - before you even get in the water.

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Once a coral reef, now a construction site. China expanding its land 'reclamation' at Fiery Reef in the South China Sea. Photo: still from report by NHK WORLD NEWSLINE English (see video embed).

China condemned for massive coral reef destruction

Oliver Tickell
| 12th July 2016
International judges today condemned China's great 'water grab' of the South China Sea - not least for its destruction of over 100 sq.km of pristine coral reefs, dredged and ground up to build artificial islands, and the ransacking of their wildlife, from endangered sea turtles to giant clams.

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Last month's record low sea ice in the Arctic is bad news for the global climate, and for the polar bears who depend on the ice for their hunting. Photo: Patrick Kelley / US Coast Guard via Flickr (Public Domain).

Arctic ice recedes to record low for May

Tim Radford
| 10th June 2016
After 12 successive months of record high global temperatures, yet another record has been broken, writes Tim Radford: the lowest May sea ice extent ever observed in the Arctic - over half a million square kilometers under the previous low, set in 2004.

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Jo Ruxton, co-producer of 'A Plastic Ocean'. Photo: via plasticoceans.net

Plastic Ocean - why the world should declare plastic 'hazardous waste'

Lesley Henderson
Brunel University London
| 8th June 2016
Plastic is ubiquitous around the world's oceans, writes Lesley Henderson, but although it's visible from space, it can be surprisingly elusive in the water - as she heard from Jo Ruxton, producer of the investigative documentary 'A Plastic Ocean'. Solutions to this growing hazard have also proved elusive to date, hence the film's strong focus on action: educational, cultural and legal.

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Vezo fishers primarily use only traditional fishing methods - their boats have no motors and the dive without scuba gear. Thriving markets for shark fin and sea cucumbers, however, are changing many aspects of the way they live. Photo: © Garth Cripps.

Madagascar's 'sea nomads' are the new ocean defenders

Charlie Gardner
| 8th June 2016
The Vezo, Madagascar's indigenous 'sea nomads', are travelling hundreds of miles to the remote 'Barren Isles', the Indian Ocean's largest locally-managed marine protected area, writes Charlie Gardner. Drawn by valuable shark fins and sea cucumbers, sold into Chinese markets, the Vezo are now joining with local fishers to protect the ecosystem and expel illegal divers.

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The smoke rises above Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada - no, not from the recent fires that afflicted the city, but from the highly polluting plant processing tar sand into oil. Photo: kris krüg / DeSmogBlog via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Renewables versus climate change - the battle heats up!

Jeremy Leggett
| 7th June 2016
The renewable energy revolution is in full swing, writes Jeremy Leggett, with costs falling to new lows, deployment of wind and solar surging to unprecedented highs, and confidence ebbing away from fossil fuels. But global warming is also accelerating, with global temperature records broken every month for a year. Will the energy transition happen in time to avert catastrophe?

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