In a sea of daunting ocean news, here’s the good stuff, the reasons we keep at it, the ocean wins.
Here's the good news!
London serves sustainable seafood at Olympics. In addition to other efforts to be the greenest Olympics on record, the games’ organizers put sustainable seafood on the international stage with their menu choices for this summer’s games.
European Commission lowers catch limits. In an announcement August 2, deductions were increased by 50 per cent for member states that had “repeatedly” overfished the same stock in 2009, 2010 and 2011. The Commission is reviewing the common fisheries policy which has been widely criticized for not going far enough in protecting fish populations.
Cook Islands establishes world’s largest single marine park. While Australia’s network of marine parks covers 1.2M square miles (3.1M square km), the new one in the Cooks Islands is the largest single marine park, at 637,000 square miles (1.65M square km), which is twice the size of France.
Over 60 scientists succeed in establishing a global ocean baseline: the Ocean Health Index. The study provides a standardized basis for comparing marine health out to 200 miles from every coastline on earth. With planned yearly updates and expansion to include all parts of the ocean, this should prove an invaluable tool for policy makers.
Scientists remove 50 metric tons of marine debris from Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Annual clean up missions like this have removed 700 metric tons since 1996. All the debris will be delivered to Hawaii’s Nets to Energy Program, in which material from old nets is burned to create electricity. Double win. (Don’t worry, the plant captures the pollutants from the burning process.)
Bycatch of seabirds reduced by 90% in Southern Ocean, Hawaii, Alaska, South Africa, and New Zealand. Due to collaboration between fisheries managers, fishermen and environmental groups, measures have been taken to protect seabirds from longline fishing operations. This is important because a recent study showed 47% of seabirds worldwide are in decline.
Sideways win: Indonesians rescue beached whale as observers behave poorly. Granted, throngs of onlookers reportedly walked on the whale while it was beached, and some took to boats to get a closer look, blocking the whale from swimming free as it tried to reach deeper water, but eventually the whale found the open ocean thanks to human efforts.
Another sideways win: Gulf of Mexico gag grouper wins protections and Atlantic sturgeon are declared an endangered species. True, it’s a sad statement that these fish are so threatened, but they’re closer to getting much needed protections now. We’ll take it.
From a few months back: Rare Shepherd’s beaked whale caught on film for first time ever. The Australian Environment Department said there have only been two confirmed sightings of them. Ever. We’re not talking about a newly observed microorganism here. We’re talking about a whale – actually a pod of 10-12 of them. In a world of ubiquitus digital cameras, the fact that these whales have just now been caught on film speaks to how much more there is out there to know about what’s in our ocean.