Plastics “Unwrapped” at University of Washington’s Burke Museum

  By: Courtney Arthur, Marine Debris Research Coordinator

New exhibit called “Plastics Unwrapped” takes a look at the cultural changes that have led to the increasing use of plastics in the last 50 yrs. @University of Washington’s Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture

See on marinedebrisblog.wordpress.com

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Some plastics should be classified as hazardous, scientists say

Less than half of the 280 million metric tons of plastic produced each year ends up in the landfill. A fair bit of the rest ends up littering the landscape, blown by the wind or washed down streams and rivers into the sea.

So far Americans spend $520 million a year to clean up plastic litter washing up on West Coast beaches and shorelines. Efforts to clean up the oceans’ enormous swirling gyres of garbage has an incalculable cost. Thus, much of the focus has been on how to stop the river of trash from entering the ocean.

A team of 10 scientists has come up with an idea of how to make that happen: reclassify the most harmful plastic waste as hazardous material. That simple adjustment, the scientists write in the journal Nature, could trigger sweeping changes in how environmental agencies clean up plastic waste, spur innovation in polymer research and replace problematic plastics with safer ones.

See on www.latimes.com

The Devastating Effects of Bottom Trawling

Video: The Devastating Effects of Bottom Trawling – Bottom trawling is laying waste to the precious ecosystems of the deep sea. Sigourney Weaver calls on delegates of the UN to take immediate action to stop this destruction.

Bottom Trawling Impacts On Ocean, Clearly Visible From Space

Bottom trawling, an industrial fishing method that drags large, heavy nets across the seafloor stirs up huge, billowing plumes of sediment on shallow seafloors that can be seen from space.As a result of scientific studies showing that bottom trawling kills vast numbers of corals, sponges, fishes and other animals, bottom trawling has been banned in a growing number of places in recent years. Now satellite images show that spreading clouds of mud remain suspended in the sea long after the trawler has passed.

But what satellites can see is only the “tip of the iceberg,” because most trawling happens in waters too deep to detect sediment plumes at the surface, say scientists speaking a symposium session called Dragnet: Bottom Trawling, the World’s Most Severe and Extensive Seafloor Disturbance at the American Association for the Advancement of Science 2008 Annual Meeting February 15. Speakers at the session include Dr. Elliott Norse, President of Marine Conservation Biology Institute in Bellevue WA; John Amos, President of SkyTruth in Shepherdstown WV, Dr. Les Watling, Professor of Zoology at the University of Hawaii in Manoa HI; and Susanna Fuller, Ph.D. Candidate in Biology at Dalhousie University, Halifax NS.

The Effect of Trawling the Seafloor for Ground...

The Effect of Trawling the Seafloor for Groundfish. (A) The coral community and seabed on an untrawled seamount. (B) The exposed bedrock of a trawled seamount. Both are 1,000–2,000 meters (1094–2188 yards) below the surface. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Bottom trawling is the most destructive of any actions that humans conduct in the ocean,” said Dr. Watling. “Ten years ago, Elliott Norse and I calculated that, each year, worldwide, bottom trawlers drag an area equivalent to twice the lower 48 states. Most of that trawling happens in deep waters, out of sight. But now we can more clearly envision what trawling impacts down there by looking at the sediment plumes that are shallow enough for us to see from satellites,” he said.

“Bottom-trawling repeatedly plows up the seafloor over large areas of the ocean” said Mr. Amos. “Until recently, the impact was basically hidden from view. But new tools — especially Internet-based image sites, like Google Earth — allow everyone to see for themselves what’s happening. In shallow waters with muddy bottoms, trawlers leave long, persistent trails of sediment in their wake.”
Susanna Fuller studies impacts of trawling on sponges in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean. “Seafloor animals such as glass sponges are particularly vulnerable to bottom trawling,” said Ms. Fuller, a graduate student of Professor Ransom Myers. Dr. Myers, who died last year, had published a series of papers showing that overfishing has eliminated 90 percent of the world’s large predatory fishes and is devastating marine ecosystems.

“What is amazing is the level of damage these types of animals have suffered, after the cod fishery in Canada was closed. We immediately started trawling deeper with no restrictions, and continue to do so,” she said. “There are ways to catch fish that are less harmful to the world’s vanishing marine life. We need to start protecting the seafloor by using fishing gear, besides bottom trawls, especially in the deep sea. It’s the only thing left,” she said.

“For years marine scientists have been telling the world that fishing has harmed marine biodiversity more than anything else,” said Dr. Norse. “And it’s clear that trawling causes more damage to marine ecosystems than any other kind of fishing. Now, as the threats of ocean acidification and melting sea ice are adding insult to injury, we have to reduce harm from trawling to have any hope of saving marine ecosystems,” Dr. Norse said.

Scientific findings about trawling impacts have led to increasing restrictions on this industrial fishing method. In 2005, the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean banned trawling in the Mediterranean Sea below depths of 1,000 meters, and the United States closed vast deep-sea areas off Alaska to bottom trawling. In 2006, the United Nations General Assembly began deliberations on a trawling moratorium on the high seas, which cover 45% of the Earth’s surface, and South Pacific nations effectively put an end to trawling in an area amounting to 14 percent of the Earth’s surface.

There are tens of thousands of trawlers worldwide. They fish for shrimp and finfishes. Some bottom trawling operations catch 20 pounds of “bykill” for every pound of targeted species.

Source:Bottom Trawling Impacts On Ocean, Clearly Visible From SpaceScienceDaily,  Feb, 2008

Countdown to Extinction Continues for World’s Rarest Dolphin

Just 100 Maui’s dolphins left alive

There are just 100 Maui's dolphins left alive. Credit NABU image

There are just 100 Maui’s dolphins left alive. Credit NABU

January 2012. Another one of the world’s last 100 Maui’s dolphins died in fishing net in New Zealand. Its death is a another stark reminder that measures to protect the world’s most endangered marine dolphin against fisheries bycatch are inadequate to prevent their extinction.

Another one of the world’s last 100 Maui’s dolphins died in a fishing net in New Zealand.

“Despite overwhelming evidence that Maui’s dolphins are being killed faster than they can breed, there is a conspiracy of silence concerning these unique marine mammals”, says Thomas Tennhardt, Vice President of NABU and Chair of NABU International. Unless we can break it, Maui’s dolphins simply don’t stand a chance. Their extinction is unlikely to flatter New Zealand’s international image”.

Via www.wildlifeextra.com

Japanese Tsunami Aftermath: Marine Debris

Via Scoop.itOcean News

The powerful Japanese earthquake and resulting tsunami in March, 2011, washed untold tons of marine debris into the Pacific Ocean. This video explains what N…
Via www.youtube.com

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