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Marine Life & Conservation

Shark Trust: Atlantic Tuna Commission Fails Sharks Again

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This press release came through from the Shark Trust last week:

Cape Town, South Africa. November 25, 2013.  Fishing nations at the annual meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) failed to reach consensus on several shark conservation proposals, including European Union (EU) bids to establish catch limits for shortfin makos and to prohibit retention of porbeagles.  A multi-national effort to strengthen the ICCAT ban on shark finning (slicing off a shark’s fins and discarding the body at sea) was also defeated, yet gained support from a considerable number of ICCAT member countries during the meeting.

“Despite our deep disappointment over the final outcome for sharks at this meeting, we are encouraged by the growing number of countries taking a stand for international conservation of these exceptionally vulnerable species,” said Sonja Fordham, President of Shark Advocates International.  “In particular, we welcome support for stronger finning bans from Senegal and Gabon, and are hopeful that these voices signal increasing engagement from African nations in the global battle against overfishing and waste of sharks.”

The U.S., Belize, and Brazil were unsuccessful in their fifth attempt to strengthen the ICCAT finning ban by replacing the current fin-to-carcass weight ratio limit with a prohibition on removing fins at sea, due to strong opposition from Japan, China, and Korea. The move toward the more reliable “fins-attached” policy, however, gained co-sponsorship this year from the EU, Egypt, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Senegal, and the Overseas Territories of the United Kingdom.

“We continue to be encouraged by the expanding leadership toward stronger finning bans from countries in Latin America,” said Alejandra Goyenechea, International Counsel for Defenders of Wildlife. “Guatemala, Mexico, and Panama joining Brazil and Belize in co-sponsoring the fins-attached proposal demonstrates significant regional commitment and growing international momentum for this best practice.”

An EU proposal to establish catch limits for heavily fished, highly vulnerable shortfin mako sharks received general support from the U.S., but failed due to strong opposition from Japan, China, and Korea.  ICCAT scientists have recommended measures to ensure shortfin mako fishing does not increase, yet makos are not subject to quotas under ICCAT or through the main Atlantic mako fishing nations of Spain and Portugal.

“We are grateful for the EU’s increasing efforts to secure shark conservation measures at ICCAT, and yet remind officials that there is much work to do for sharks in Europe,” said Ali Hood, Director of Conservation for Shark Trust. “We encourage the European Commission to boost its case for ICCAT safeguards for sharks by establishing EU limits on oceanic sharks, especially makos, and by demonstrating for Asian delegations that the fins-attached method is feasible for large-scale, high-seas freezer fleets, using examples from Spain.”

For the fourth year in a row, Canada ensured the defeat of an EU proposal to protect porbeagle sharks.

For more information on the Shark Trust, click here.

Marine Life & Conservation

Blue Marine Foundation launches new partnership with Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance

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Ocean charity makes initial grant of $90,000 to marine parks on six Dutch Caribbean islands. Award will fund projects including coral protection, and training youth marine rangers.

Ocean conservation charity Blue Marine Foundation has announced it is awarding $90,000 in funding to support marine conservation in the Dutch Caribbean. A range of projects run by protected area management organisations on six islands will each receive a grant of $15,000. The funding is the first step in a longer-term partnership to support the islands and help secure sustainable financing through the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) Trust fund.

To improve ocean governance, Blue Marine uses a combination of top-down intervention and bottom-up project delivery to help local communities at the front line of conservation. It will work together with the DCNA to help marine-park organisations protect the unique and threatened biodiversity of the Dutch Caribbean.

The new partnership is an important development in the successful management of marine conservation parks in the Dutch Caribbean. The UK-based charity has established a small-grants fund to provide rapid access to support for critical conservation projects run by marine parks.

The individual projects and their local partners are:

Unique ecosystems on the islands are vulnerable to threats such as feral livestock causing sedimentation on reefs, and invasive species, including lionfish and coral diseases. They are also at risk from overfishing, climate change, coastal development, erosion and the build-up of harmful algae caused by waste water.

The islands of the Dutch Caribbean are also home to important “blue carbon” habitats – ocean ecosystems such as seagrasses, mangroves and other marine plants that suck up and lock away carbon from the earth’s atmosphere. Seagrass is so efficient at this it can capture and store carbon dioxide up to 35 times faster than tropical rainforests.  The management and protection of these blue carbon habitats is vital in the fight against climate change.

Current marine conservation measures in the islands include a 25,390 square km mammal and shark sanctuary- Yarari sanctuary- across the Exclusive Economic Zone of Bonaire, Saba and St Eustatius. All six islands have inshore Marine Protected Areas ranging in size from 10 to 60 sq km.

Blue Marine’s Senior Project Manager Jude Brown commented: “Having recently visited two of the islands, I witnessed first-hand how special this region is. Diving the waters off Saba I saw huge Tarpon swimming amongst shoals of blue tang, and hawksbill turtles feeding on the seagrass beds. I also witnessed the challenges these islands are facing from coral disease to issues with coastal development. It is an exciting opportunity to work in the Dutch Caribbean, bringing expertise and funding from Blue Marine to join with the wealth of knowledge already on the islands, to work together to protect the important marine life arounds these islands.”

Tadzio Bervoets, Director of the DNCA commented: “The Dutch Caribbean consists of the Windward Islands of St. Maarten, Saba, and St. Eustatius and the Leeward Islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao. The nature of the Dutch Caribbean contains the richest biodiversity in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The diverse ecosystems are a magnet for tourism and at the same time the most important source of income for residents of the Dutch Caribbean. Nature on the islands is unique and important but it is also fragile. The coming week we will be in The Netherlands to present a Climate Action Plan for the Dutch Caribbean to emphasize the urgent need for a climate smart future for our islands.”


Photo: Coral reefs in the Dutch Caribbean- Photo credit: Naturepics: Y.+T. Kühnast- all rights reserved

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Marine Life & Conservation

CCMI announces launch of two key projects, supported by RESEMBID

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Building Resilient Reefs

Project title: Increasing Coral Reef Resilience with Assisted Evolution via Selective Restoration

Via this recently awarded RESEMBID grant, funded by the European Union, CCMI aims to rebuild coral reef ecosystem resilience through cutting-edge restoration techniques. The project will develop assisted evolution methods via selective restoration with stress (heat and disease) tolerant corals, to promote and sustain biodiversity of these threatened ecosystems.

This project will build on CCMI’s past research, incorporating our understanding of coral restoration disease resistance and outplanting methodology, while conducting state of the art experimentation to assess thermal tolerance, all of which will be used to increase the resilience of coral reefs through advanced restoration practices. Visiting collaborator Dr. John Bruno (Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), will be joining the team in the field in April 2022 and will also be present for the press conference. Outcomes from the work will include improved restoration strategies that will be shared regionally – seeking to ultimately increase coral resilience throughout the Caribbean. A short project overview will be given, including the opportunity for Q&As. The press conference will then be followed by a Reef Lecture by Dr John Bruno on the wider threats to global coral reef health.

https://reefresearch.org/what-we-do/research/restoration/


Adapting to COVID-19

Project Title: Urgent technical assistance to support CCMI’s capacity to be a regional leader in protecting marine biodiversity and improving resilience.

This project is supported by a RESEMBID grant, funded by the European Union, which will enable CCMI to manage the impacts of COVID-19 by improving health and safety features of the facilities infrastructure and adapting emergency management processes. The grant will support enhanced operational resilience, thereby supporting CCMI’s continued work on improving and protecting marine biodiversity in the Cayman Islands and wider Overseas Territories.

https://reefresearch.org/who-we-are/field-station/adapting-to-covid-19/

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