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Marine Life & Conservation

Health of oceans declining at an alarming rate, says new report

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The health of the world’s oceans is deteriorating even faster than had previously been thought, a report says.

A review from the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO), warns that the oceans are facing multiple threats.

They are being heated by climate change, turned slowly less alkaline by absorbing CO2, and suffering from overfishing and pollution.

The report warns that dead zones formed by fertiliser run-off are a problem.

It says conditions are ripe for the sort of mass extinction event that has afflicted the oceans in the past.

It says: “We have been taking the ocean for granted. It has been shielding us from the worst effects of accelerating climate change by absorbing excess CO2 from the atmosphere.

“Whilst terrestrial temperature increases may be experiencing a pause, the ocean continues to warm regardless. For the most part, however, the public and policymakers are failing to recognise – or choosing to ignore – the severity of the situation.”

It says the cocktail of threats facing the ocean is more powerful than the individual problems themselves.

Coral reefs, for instance, are suffering from the higher temperatures and the effects of acidification whilst also being weakened by bad fishing practices, pollution, siltation and toxic algal blooms.

IPSO, funded by charitable foundations, is publishing a set of five papers based on workshops in 2011 and 2012 in partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN’s) World Commission on Protected Areas.

The reports call for world governments to halt CO2 increase at 450ppm. Any higher, they say, will cause massive acidification later in the century as the CO2 is absorbed into the sea.

It urges much more focused fisheries management, and a priority list for tackling the key groups of chemicals that cause most harm.

It wants the governments to negotiate a new agreement for the sustainable fishing in the high oceans to be policed by a new global high seas enforcement agency.

The IUCN’s Prof Dan Laffoley said: “What these latest reports make absolutely clear is that deferring action will increase costs in the future and lead to even greater, perhaps irreversible, losses.

“The UN climate report confirmed that the ocean is bearing the brunt of human-induced changes to our planet. These findings give us more cause for alarm – but also a roadmap for action. We must use it.”

‘Extinction risk’

The co-coordinator, Prof Alex Rogers from Oxford University has been asked to advise the UN’s own oceans assessment but he has said that he had led the IPSO initiative because: “It’s important to have something which is completely independent in any way from state influence and to say things which experts in the field felt was really needed to be said.”

He said concern had grown over the past year thanks to papers signalling that past extinctions had involved warming seas, acidification and low oxygen levels. All are on the rise today.

He agreed there was debate on whether fisheries are recovering by better management following examples in the US and Europe, but said it seemed clear that globally they were not.

He also admitted a debate about whether overall climate change would increase the amount of fish produced in the sea. Melting sea ice would increase fisheries near the poles whilst stratification of warmer waters in the tropics would reduce mixing of nutrients and lead to lower production, he said.

He said dead zones globally appeared to be increasing although this may reflect increased reporting.

“On ocean acidification, we are seeing effects that no-one predicted like the inability of fish to detect their environments properly. It’s clear that it will affect many species. We really do have to get a grip on what’s going on in the oceans,” he said.

 

Source: BBC News

Marine Life & Conservation

The Big Shark Pledge: Shark Trust’s new campaign kicks off with a call for support

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With the ink still drying on last week’s landmark listing of nearly 100 species of sharks on Appendix II of CITES, the Shark Trust insists that this is not the time for shark conservation to take a break. The UK-based NGO this week launches its biggest-ever concerted campaign to tackle the overfishing of oceanic sharks. They are calling on people across the world to join the call for stricter controls on high seas fisheries.

The Big Shark Pledge is at the heart of an ambitious set of campaign actions. Working to secure science-based catch limits on all sharks and rays affected by the international high seas fishing fleet. The pledge will build the largest campaigning community in shark and ray conservation history to support a raft of policy actions over the vital years ahead.

Many of our best known and much-loved sharks make their home on the high seas. In our shared ocean, these oceanic sharks and rays face a very real threat from a huge international fleet of industrial-scale fishing vessels. Research published in early 2021 confirmed that over three-quarters of oceanic sharks and rays are now at risk of extinction due to the destructive impact of overfishing. They have declined by 71% over the last 50 years.

The Shark Trust is celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year and has a long history of securing positive changes for sharks, skates and rays. The Big Shark Pledge will build on the success of their NoLimits? campaign which underpinned landmark catch limits on Blue Sharks and Shortfin Mako in the North Atlantic.

While the listing of so many species on the CITES trade agreement is certainly a positive step, there remains a huge challenge in ensuring that sustainable practices are embedded in international fisheries.” says Shark Trust Director of conservation, Ali Hood. “Sharks on the high seas face extraordinary pressure from excessive fishing practices. This has to be addressed through international agreements such as those secured for Blues and makos.”

There is hope and a feeling of momentum in the shark conservation community. Just last week, in addition to the new CITES listings, the Shark Trust, working with partners in the Shark League, secured the first-ever international quota for South Atlantic Mako at ICCAT meeting in Portugal. The new campaign from the Shark Trust aims to push forwards from here, engaging a wave of support through the Big Shark Pledge to bolster policy action.

This will be a long-term international and collaborative effort. Forging a pathway to rebuild populations of high-seas sharks and rays. By putting science at the heart of shark conservation and fisheries management. And making the vital changes needed to set populations on the road to recovery.

Shark Trust CEO Paul Cox says of the Big Shark Pledge “It’s designed to give everyone who cares about the future of sharks the chance to add their voice to effective and proven conservation action. By adding their name to the Pledge, supporters will be given opportunities to apply pressure at key moments to influence change.

Click here to sign the Big Shark Pledge

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Gear News

Fourth Element X Sea Shepherd

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This year on Black Friday, fourth element announced their new partnership with Sea Shepherd, encouraging people to move away from mindless purchasing and to opt-in to supporting something powerful.

For 40 years Sea Shepherd, a leading non-profit organisation, has been patrolling the high seas with the sole mission to protect and conserve the world’s oceans and marine wildlife. They work to defend all marine wildlife, from whales and dolphins, to sharks and rays, to fish and krill, without exception.

Inspired by Sea Shepherd’s mission, fourth element have created a collection of fourth element X Sea Shepherd limited edition products for ocean lovers and protectors, with 15% of every sale going to the Sea Shepherd fund to help continue to drive conservation efforts globally.

“Working with Sea Shepherd gives fourth element the opportunity to join forces with one of the largest active conservation organisations in the world to try to catalyse change in people’s attitudes and behaviour. Fourth Element’s products are designed, developed and packaged with the intention of minimising our impact on the ocean environment, and with this partnership, we will be supporting the work of Sea Shepherd, in particular in their work on dealing with the twin threats of Ghost fishing nets and plastic pollution.”

Jim Standing fourth element co-founder

Read fourth element’s Sea Shepherd Opinion Piece HERE

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