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Marine Life & Conservation

Parliamentarians call for ocean-based solutions to climate crisis on World Ocean Day

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A cross-party group of parliamentarians have pledged to be ‘Blue Carbon Champions’, supporting the Marine Conservation Society’s call for a four nation Blue Carbon Strategy, recognising the value of marine and coastal ecosystems in tackling the climate crisis.

Blue Carbon Champions include the Conservatives’ Sally-Ann Hart, Labour’s Kerry McCarthy, Lib Dem’s Lord Teverson and the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas. The Champions have come together in support of the Marine Conservation Society’s goal to scale up financial and policy support for blue carbon habitats.

In order for the UK to meet its current national and international commitments on biodiversity and climate change by 2030, ocean-based solutions to the climate crisis must be formally recognised and embedded into UK climate change policy. Ambitious action must be taken to rewild and protect blue carbon habitats.

The charity’s recent report in partnership with Rewilding Britain, Blue Carbon – Ocean-based solutions to fight the climate crisis, outlines the importance of ocean-based solutions in helping the UK to reach its goal of net zero by 2050, and 2045 for Scotland. By protecting and rewilding marine ecosystems, blue carbon stores will have increased capacity and ability to store carbon.

The report called on the UK Government and devolved administrations to develop a comprehensive four nation Blue Carbon Strategy focusing on three key action areas:

–        Scaling up marine rewilding for biodiversity and blue carbon benefits

–        Integrating blue carbon protection and recovery into climate mitigation and environmental management policies

–        Working with the private sector to develop and support sustainable and innovative low-carbon commercial fisheries and aquaculture.

The significant role of the world’s forests in helping to reduce carbon emissions has been formally recognised through numerous initiatives and reforesting projects intended to keep carbon locked into the world’s forests on land. The Marine Conservation Society wants to see the same support for ocean-based solutions.

The charity’s report is supported by the results of a recent poll, carried out by nfpSynergy, which found that 59% of those surveyed recognised the important role that a healthy ocean plays in regulating our climate and reducing climate change. The ocean’s vital role in fighting the climate crisis is recognised through the report, and by the public, and the group of cross-party Blue Carbon Champions shows that policymakers are now listening and taking action.

International Environment Minister, Zac Goldsmith: “The world is finally waking up to the vital role that nature, including ocean habitats, can play in the fight against climate change. So I warmly welcome the focus of fellow parliamentarians on this all-important issue.

“Through the UK-led Global Ocean Alliance, we are building international support for a significant expansion of marine protected areas. As the hosts of the G7 and climate conference COP26 this year, we are pressing for increased investment in nature-based solutions to tackle climate change, including coastal ecosystems that will also help make communities more resilient in the face of climate change.”

This World Ocean Day, the Marine Conservation Society’s Blue Carbon Champions are highlighting the critical role the ocean plays in fighting the climate crisis, and calling for urgent action from the UK Government ahead of COP26.

Sally-Ann Hart (Conservative MP for Hastings and Rye): “On World Ocean Day, I’m calling for the protection of our seas to be a top priority in our battle against climate change. Ahead of COP26, we have a window of opportunity to turbo-charge efforts to rewild our waters and effectively manage our protected areas, to safeguard coastal livelihoods, restore blue carbon habitats and reduce emissions on our path to net zero.”

Kerry McCarthy (Labour MP for Bristol East): “If we are to achieve net zero emissions, we can’t just focus on technological solutions and changing behaviour; we also need to promote natural carbon solutions, and that means recognising the immense value of our seas and blue carbon habitats like coral reefs, seagrass and kelp.

“This Government has been talking for a long time about ocean preservation, but we are far from achieving the effective network of Marine Protected Areas around the UK that we need. Now is the time for the Government to invest in nature-based climate solutions and implement an ambitious Blue Carbon Strategy.”

Caroline Lucas (Green MP for Brighton Pavillion): Any strategy for addressing the climate and nature crises must account for our marine environment. The UK’s saltmarshes and seagrass beds are absolutely vital, not just for biodiversity but for storing carbon too. However, there is currently no plan to protect and restore them.

“The Prime Minister says we can’t afford dither and delay, yet the health of our ocean continues to decline. The Government urgently needs to develop an ambition Blue Carbon Strategy to put our ocean on a path to recovery.”

To read the Marine Conservation Society and Rewilding Britain’s report, please visit the charity’s website. You can also find more information about the cross-party Blue Carbon Champions.

Nick and Caroline (Frogfish Photography) are a married couple of conservation driven underwater photo-journalists and authors. Both have honours degrees from Manchester University, in Environmental Biology and Biology respectively, with Nick being a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, a former high school science teacher with a DipEd in Teaching Studies. Caroline has an MSc in Animal Behaviour specializing in Caribbean Ecology. They are multiple award-winning photographers and along with 4 published books, feature regularly in the diving, wildlife and international press They are the Underwater Photography and Deputy Editors at Scubaverse and Dive Travel Adventures. Winners of the Caribbean Tourism Organization Photo-journalist of the Year for a feature on Shark Diving in The Bahamas, and they have been placed in every year they have entered. Nick and Caroline regularly use their free time to visit schools, both in the UK and on their travels, to discuss the important issues of marine conservation, sharks and plastic pollution. They are ambassadors for Sharks4Kids and founders of SeaStraw. They are Dive Ambassadors for The Islands of The Bahamas and are supported by Mares, Paralenz, Nauticam and Olympus. To find out more visit www.frogfishphotography.com

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Marine Life & Conservation

Whale and dolphin research expedition in the Caribbean

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The three-month whale and dolphin research expedition, Ti Whale An Nou, started May 15, 2021 and the objective is to register the number of whales, specifically sperm whales, and the routes they take in the Caribbean. The results will be used to determine what is needed to protect these large mammals. This expedition is coordinated by the Caribbean Cetacean Society and is made possible thanks to the partnership with the World Wide Fund for Nature Netherlands (WWF-NL) and the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA).

The name of the research project Ti Whale An Nou is a mixture of French Creole and English and it means ‘our little whales’. In the Caribbean, 33 out of the 90 known species of whales have been documented, which is more than a third of the world’s total diversity. This makes the Caribbean an essential habitat. The main objectives of this study are to assess population size, distribution, movements, social structure and vocal clans of Lesser Antilles sperm whales as well as improve knowledge on the other species. Vocal clans are social groups of whales that sound acoustically similar. The biggest threats to whales are noise from ship traffic or coastal development, pollution, hunting, and by-catch.

Migration and Numbers

The research of this expedition can make an important contribution to a better understanding of the population size and distribution of whales. Similar research has been conducted in previous years. The difference with this expedition is that the research area is extended and includes the region from Saba to Anguilla. Mammal presence and absence will be monitored in the Yarari Marine Mammal and Shark Sanctuary, around Saba, Saba Bank, St. Maarten and St. Eustatius. By comparing the results of this expedition with previously gathered data, concrete follow-up actions for the protection of the whales can be planned. This research mission receives great support by not only DCNA and WWF-NL, but from Corail Caraibes, Orange, the EDF Group Foundation, Animal Wellfare Institute, and Parc Naturel Régional de la Martinique as well.

Importance for other Caribbean islands

This research will provide an understanding of the migration routes of marine mammals and therefore an opportunity to improve the protection of these animals. A stable population of whales and dolphins is an indication of healthy oceans. In healthy oceans, fish stocks are stable which is important for the fisheries and the economy on the islands. Furthermore, whales play a significant role in capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. Each great whale isolates an estimated 33 tons of CO2 on average, thus playing their part in the fight against climate change.

Photo credits: Alexis Rosenfeld – all rights reserved

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Marine Life & Conservation

Jeff chats to… Kimberley Ray, Founder and CEO of Marine Conservation Network (Watch Video)

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In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-Large, chats to Kimberley Ray, Founder and CEO of Marine Conservation Network, about her work and some of the issues around marine conservation.

As Founder and CEO of Marine Conservation Network, Kimberly started her passion for ocean and marine conservation as a teenager wanting to become a dolphin trainer. Her dad was a fisherman and took her boating nearly every weekend, and that is what motivated her to get involved with marine life and education. She received her marine biology degree and quickly realized that the oceans were under threat from plastic trash, overfishing, and lack of compassion for marine life. She initially began a company called “Sustainable Seafood Experience,” but realized more coverage and education was needed concerning the many issues involving ocean conservation.

She then incorporated MCN, Marine Conservation Network, and began a global effort to link ALL conservation organizations around the world so that knowledge can be shared and efforts in marine conservation could become more effective. She also developed a common language in her efforts to educate the general public on the issues facing our oceans, one that even the public can relate to and not just other scientists. To this end, she has implemented a new focus of a Youth Ambassador Program involving children around the world from the ages of 8–15 who are becoming actively involved in marine conservation efforts and spreading the word of this mission. A scholarship is awarded to those who stay with the program when they reach their majority and go on to college. Kimberly believes that the oceans are the lungs of the planet providing half of the oxygen we breathe, and if we kill the oceans, then we will die with it.

Find out more about Kimberley and her work at www.marineconservationnet.org.


Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the new Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.

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Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

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This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

Call 020 3515 9955 or email john@thescubaplace.co.uk

www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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