#GivingTuesday: The Ocean Gives Us ….

Divers in San Miguel de Cozumel, Mexico imageNo matter where we live, the ocean touches our lives every day. It gives us food, water, commerce, and recreation. It even provides some of the medicines that heal us and the air we breathe. It gives us oxygen, rain, food, excitement, joy, wonder, mystery and so much more. The most powerful component in ocean conservation is us! From everyday lifestyle changes such as ditching the plastic water bottles for reusable ones to taking part in Dive Against Debris surveys, our actions and our voice have the most powerful impact on the health of our oceans. Today as the world celebrates #GivingTuesday, an international day of giving, let’s give back to the ocean!

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The ocean is not broken, but consumer behaviour is

In an emotional article making waves on social media at the moment, yachtsman Ivan Macfadyen reports seeing no marine life at sea, only floating rubbish, while sailing across the Pacific. He concludes that “the ocean is broken”.

I understand Ivan’s feelings, as I too have sailed tens of thousands of miles onboard research vessels and on my sailboat, enjoying the slow and silent pace of life propelled by wind and waves.

The two issues Macfadyen raises – overfishing and plastic pollution – are real problems. More than three-quarters of the oceans’ fish stocks have been depleted, sometimes beyond recovery. The global tuna industry, particularly, is better portrayed as the War On Tuna than a fishery. And the world’s oceans are filled with large amounts of plastic debris, which are eaten or caught up in marine life or seabirds, or which break down into microscopic particles that are ingested and affect wildlife in ways we don’t yet know.

English: The Pacific Ocean

So yes, there are plenty of problems in the ocean. But it is not yet broken. I am increasingly upset about reports that say it is; we scientists are to some extent to blame, as we love being the bearer of bad news, composing an overly apocalyptic narrative.

Depicting the ocean as broken and suffering from a litany of plagues including climate change, hypoxia, eutrophication, ocean acidification, marine pests, spreading jellyfish blooms, and loss of valuable habitat, suggests a problem beyond repair. This eventually deters society from engaging. These plagues are certainly real, but their severity is sometimes exaggerated through a feedback loop involving, among others, the spinning of research headlines to compete for media attention …

Read the full article on theconversation.com

Seas At Risk : What the EU can do to stop marine litter – New study out now

“For this commandment . . . is not . . . beyon...

IEEP report marine litter – There is no easy way to tackle the issue of marine litter: it is complicated and has many causes, impacts and inputs. As a high percentage of marine litter comes from land based sources, EU legislation is possibly the best way to address the problem and look for solutions.

In order to provide some concrete guidance on the potential for existing EU legislation to tackle the multitude of land based sources of marine litter items, Seas At Risk commissioned a study from the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP). Their mission was to outline which existing pieces of EU legislation could be amended to ensure a significant drop in marine litter, and whether new legislation might be required to fill gaps in the existing body of regulation.

The IEEP study “How to improve EU legislation to tackle marine litter” provides an excellent overview of EU legislation that could have an impact on the amount of waste in the marine environment. Six policy instruments in particular are identified as having a high potential level of impact: the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), the Waste Framework Directive, the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive, the Cosmetics Regulation, and the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (the funding instrument of the Common Fisheries Policy). This is either because they are relevant to a large range of marine litter items and sources, or may have a dramatic impact in terms of reducing an important type of litter.

Marine Debris is a Global Problem

Marine Debris is a Global Problem (Photo credit: NOAA’s National Ocean Service)

The study’s main conclusion is that the basic framework for addressing this environmental problem is in place. However, several short-comings in the existing legislation were identified, most importantly the need for greater ambition in the current requirements and targets.

For example, if the Cosmetics Directive were to ban the use of micro plastics in sanitary products, this would greatly reduce the input of this damaging type of marine litter. However a full review of the scope and focus of the Directive would be needed to introduce such a ban.Several of the analysed legal instruments could have a significant impact on the management of marine litter, but do not mention the concept of litter at all. The study recommends that the concept of litter is defined and systematically included in the Waste Framework and the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive. Another way to make EU legislation more effective in tacking marine litter would be to include a reference to the marine litter descriptor of the MSFD. The study also flags up a worrying implementation gap. No matter how thorough the suite of legislation to tackle marine litter, without full implementation and enforcement by Member States it can have no impact on the problem.

The study comes at a crucial time in the fight to tackle marine litter, with the European Commission currently focused on a wide ranging review of EU waste legislation and targets. The recently adopted 7th Environmental Action Plan calls for an EU wide marine litter reduction target, with a public consultation on this expected soon. Additionally, a major conference is planned for 30th September in Brussels to present the outcome of the public consultation on the Green Paper on plastic waste.

In the meantime, the Member States are busy developing their national waste prevention plans – required under the Waste Framework Directive – and are in the context of the MSFD putting together programs of measures to reduce marine litter.

Seas At Risk intends to use the study results to ensure that prevention of marine litter is high on the EU agenda.

Newman, S, Watkins, E and Farmer, A (2013) How to improve EU legislation to tackle marine litter. Institute for European Environmental Policy, London

view pdf | download pdf   

See on www.seas-at-risk.org

Marine Expert Says Ocean Litter Is Being Ingested By Humans

We’re Sitting on a Time Bomb

The plastic peril inflicting our oceans is now so severe humans are ingesting particles of litter, a leading marine expert has warned.

The vast quantities of plastics which litter the UK’s oceans are not only a real danger to sea life but could also threaten humans too, Paul Rose, the vice president of the Royal Geographical Society, has said.

Rose, who presented BBC Two’s recent landmark series Oceans and is one of the UK’s most experienced deep sea divers and marine experts, has said that 70% of marine litter is plastic and that the vast majority of this waste comes from the land.

“We are in the midst of a mad out of control plastic consumption experiment,” he told HuffPost UK Monday.

“The big question is just how far up the food chain this plastic waste will actually go,” he said.

See on www.huffingtonpost.co.uk

You just woke up, and know what? Today the world’s oceans are protected in one huge global MPA

MPAs are part of the management toolbox that can ensure sustainable use of the oceans and provide the world with fish proteins. Yet, even as benefits of MPAs related to food security, ecosystem services and livelihoods are known, we currently fail on our commitments to protect 10% of the oceans by 2020. Perhaps we need to look at the problem through a new angle: what if you woke up one day and all the oceans were protected? From now on, ocean users would have to make their case to convince governments of their need to have space allocated for their activity.

See on newswatch.nationalgeographic.com

ocean

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