Breaking Waves: Ocean News

12/11/2018 - 03:37
Indigenous and youth groups disrupted a US-sponsored event at the UN climate talks in Poland. Wells Griffith, a Trump administration adviser speaking on a panel, said the US would continue extracting fossil fuels and warned against ‘alarmism’ over climate change. Climate expert Andrew Light from the World Resources Institute said the panel’s discussion would have ‘no impact’ on the outcome of the COP24 climate talks and it only proves that ‘once again the United States is isolated with respect to the global community on this critically important issue’ Continue reading...
12/10/2018 - 17:08
Country’s stance described as ‘a slap in the face of our Pacific island neighbours’ Australia has reaffirmed its commitment to coal – and its unwavering support for the United States – by appearing at a US government-run event promoting the use of fossil fuels at the United Nations climate talks in Poland. Australia was the only country apart from the host represented at the event, entitled “US innovative technologies spur economic dynamism”, designed to “showcase ways to use fossil fuels as cleanly and efficiently as possible, as well as the use of emission-free nuclear energy”. Continue reading...
12/10/2018 - 16:51
Microbes that provide natural fertilizer to the oceans by 'fixing' nitrogen from the atmosphere into a form useable by other organisms are active in the cold waters of the Bering and Chukchi Seas.
12/10/2018 - 15:45
Ocean Leadership ~ Last week, I traveled to Ottawa to give a presentation on ocean security and climate change as it relates to Canadian security and defense concerns. Unlike many ocean-focused events where I talk on this topic, other speakers at The Year Ahead, An International Security, Intelligence and Defense Outlook for 2019 presented a broad range of global security issues, from the rising threat of nuclear warfare and weapons of mass destruction to cyber warfare and election security to global financial crisis concerns and social unrest. I was pleased at how well received the topic of ocean security was and how attendees across the security spectrum considered this issue at least as concerning as the others that were presented. The Canadian defense sector, along with many international security and intelligence agencies, fully understands the ocean health threats we face now and their implications for our security and safety today. Unfortunately, there are many people outside the sector who view the threat of a changing climate as a bleak future scenario, such as the one in Bladerunner 2049, where rising waters force the construction of a sea wall around Los Angeles. But we’re seeing the effects of a changing climate now, from rising seas and increased flooding to shifting ranges of plants and animals (including those we depend upon for food). Or consider the village of Newtok, Alaska, whose citizens are relocating further inland due to rapid erosion and thawing permafrost — and first made the decision to move almost 15 years ago. To solve the challenges in front of us, we must support the advancement of ocean science and technology — in both investments and policies that equate to real action and problem solving. For this to happen, it is critical that a stable funding environment exists; currently, NSF, NOAA, and NASA’s funding for the remainder of fiscal year 2019 is uncertain, as Congress is still working to come to an agreement on the remaining spending bills (including Commerce-Justice-Science) after passing a two-week stopgap measure last week. I’m looking forward to learning more about new ocean science and technology research that will help us solve these challenges at the American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting this week. If you’re one of the approximately 24,000 people attending, come say hello to COL in the exhibit hall at booth 1440. Member Highlight Study Shows How Mussels Handle Microplastic Fiber New research shows that mussels readily take in microplastic pollution fibers from the ocean but quickly flush most of them out again, according to a study by researchers from Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences. The findings were published in December’s Marine Pollution Bulletin. Read our most recent and past newsletters here: http://oceanleadership.org/newsletter-archive/ The post Jon White – From the President’s Office: 12-10-2018 appeared on Consortium for Ocean Leadership.
12/10/2018 - 13:50
Ocean Leadership ~ (Credit: Petty Officer 3rd Class George Degener / U.S. Coast Guard) From: Ocean News Weekly/ By: Ocean Leadership Staff  What It Was    The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard held a hearing titled: “Preparing for Maritime Transportation in a Changing Arctic.” Why It Matters Warming temperatures in the Arctic are melting once unnavigable ice-covered terrain into viable maritime transportation routes. Vessel traffic is poised to increase due to a lengthening ice-free season; however, critical infrastructure needed to support safe shipping does not exist. Challenges in the region, which were discussed during the hearing, include the lack of a nearby American deep water port for search and rescue, pollution, Arctic security responses, icebreaking capabilities, outdated hydrographic survey data, and limited communication operations. These hardships and lack of infrastructure not only jeopardize coastal Arctic communities but also national and ocean security. Key Points There was resounding agreement among subcommittee members and witnesses that more infrastructure and port capacity will be critical to the evolving role of transportation in Arctic waters. Capt. Edward Page (Executive Director, Marine Exchange of Alaska) stated that with the nearest U.S. Coast Guard station hundreds of miles away, emergency response to oil spills or tourism traffic in the Arctic would be far more challenging than anywhere else in the nation. The lack of communication infrastructure is also a major hinderance. An extensive Automatic Identification System (AIS) composed of over 130 vessel-tracking receiver stations in Alaska provides information on maritime activity in the Arctic to the U.S. Coast Guard, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the state of Alaska, and other maritime stakeholders to help assess and monitor vessel operations. The issue, however, is that there are no communication capabilities with these vessels. Mr./Dr. Willie Goodwin (Chairman, Arctic Waterways Safety Committee) emphasized that there is no way to warn these large vessels if they are entering waters with local residents in small craft or to communicate with them if they are in distress. Polar Security Cutters (PSC) – formally known as polar icebreakers – were also discussed as a necessity for the U.S. Coast Guard to be able to adequately patrol and enforce safe maritime transportation in the Arctic. Ms. Kathy Metcalf (President and CEO, Chamber of Shipping of America) spoke about enhancing U.S. icebreaking capabilities in the Arctic, as well as in the Great Lakes. Ranking Member Tammy Baldwin (WI) reiterated this point and added that enhancing icebreaking capability will benefit the economy by maximizing the operational seasons in both the Arctic and Great Lakes. Mr. Andrew Hartsig (Director, Arctic Program, Ocean Conservancy) pointed out that Alaskans have experienced major oil spills and understand what is at stake when “risks become reality.” Averting accidents in the Arctic is imperative due to harsh conditions preventing immediate response efforts. Mr. Hartsig provided ideas for bolstering preparedness and response capacity – including additional vessel routing measures, better preparing the local community to respond to emergencies, and continuing support for construction of new Polar Security Cutters. Quotable “The potential in the Arctic is hard to fully quantify. From more efficient shipping routes to supporting and enabling America’s blue economy, the Arctic is a great resource – one for which we must begin preparing for today to ensure we can maximize its potential while also protecting its environmental integrity and importance.” — Chairman Dan Sullivan (AK) “The Arctic is home to coastal maritime communities working on the water in small craft. The Arctic also is a frontier where thousands of people are now traveling in large vessels in poorly charted waters. Our federal government can work with us to support the approach we are taking, putting safety measures and infrastructure in place before the unthinkable happens. Or our federal government can take responsibility for addressing human disaster in one of the harshest environments on earth, without infrastructure or even communications capabilities.” — Mr. Willie Goodwin (Chairman, Arctic Waterways Safety Committee) Find Out More Watch the full hearing Related coverage from the Consortium for Ocean Leadership           The Future Of The Fleets Ocean Policy Roundtable: What’s Marine Transportation Got To Do With It? How Ordinary Ship Traffic Could Help Map The Uncharted Arctic Ocean Seafloor Icebreakers on Thin Ice Breaking The Ice For Coast Guard Authorization Arctic Domain Topic Of Defense Forum U.S. Coast Guard’s Role In Maritime Security Want to receive articles like this straight to your inbox? Sign up for our newsletter! The post The Arctic: A New Maritime Frontier appeared on Consortium for Ocean Leadership.
12/10/2018 - 13:39
Ocean Leadership ~ (Credit: Architect of the Capitol) From: Ocean News Weekly/ By: Ocean Leadership Staff  What Passed While the October recess leading up to the 2018 midterm elections left Congress with few legislative days in October and November, several important ocean science bills were signed into law. The Save Our Seas (SOS) Act of 2018 (S. 3508; P.L. 115-265), signed into law on Oct. 11, takes the first steps in addressing the growing global issue of marine debris by reauthorizing the Marine Debris Program under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and promoting international collaboration to combat ocean plastic pollution. The bill includes language allowing for the creation of a Coast Guard Blue Technology Center of Expertise, which came out of a hearing where Rear Adm. Jonathan White (President and CEO, Consortium for Ocean Leadership) and others testified on the importance of blue technology to understanding the ocean and how the U.S. Coast Guard’s missions are supported by robust ocean knowledge. The Water Resources Development Act, America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (S. 3021; P.L. 115-270) was also signed into law, authorizing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers water resources projects in flood risk management, navigation, hurricane and storm damage risk reduction, and environmental restoration. At the end of September, Congress passed a continuing resolution (CR) that included an extension for the National Flood Insurance Program Further Extension Act of 2018 (H.R. 7187; P.L. 115-281), further extending the National Flood Insurance Program’s authorization to Dec. 7, 2018. Additionally, the Frank LoBiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018 (S. 140; P.L. 115-282) passed both chambers and was signed into law. This bill authorizes the U.S. Coast Guard and the Federal Maritime Commission through Fiscal Year (FY) 2019, reauthorizes NOAA’s hydrographic services program through FY 2023, and modifies the regulation of vessel incidental discharge and ballast water. What’s New In the Senate, the Facilitate Addressing Issues with Regulating Forced Labor in International Seafood Harvesting (FAIR FISH) Act (S. 3641) was introduced to combat human trafficking in connection with catching and processing seafood obtained through illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. What’s Next A partial government shutdown was narrowly avoided on December 7, 2018 with Congress passing another short-term CR extending FY 2018 spending levels until December 21, 2018. Congress must then pass FY 2019 appropriations or another CR to avoid a government shutdown. In August, The Commercial Engagement Through Ocean Through Ocean Technology (CENOTE) Act of 2018 (S. 2511) was received in the House after passing the Senate and is scheduled for a vote on December 10, 2018. Any bills not signed into law by the end of this Congress must be reintroduced in the 116th Congress to be considered. Related coverage from the Consortium for Ocean Leadership September’s Congressional Wrap Up August’s Congressional Wrap Up Our Plastic Ocean Jon White – From the President’s Office: 05-14-2018 Want to receive articles like this straight to your inbox? Sign up for our newsletter! The post October And November’s Congressional Wrap Up appeared on Consortium for Ocean Leadership.
12/10/2018 - 12:52
Appointed by president-elect Bolsonaro, Ricardo Salles calls environmental fines ‘ideological’ Brazil’s new environment minister believes that global warming is “secondary”, that many environmental fines are “ideological” and has been accused of altering plans for an environmentally protected area in order to favour businesses. Ricardo Salles, the former environment secretary for São Paulo state, was recommended for his new role by business and agribusiness groups and announced as minister in a tweet on Sunday by the far-right president-elect, Jair Bolsonaro. Continue reading...
12/10/2018 - 12:29
The ammonia oxidizing archaea, or Thaumarchaeota, are amongst the most abundant marine microorganisms. Yet, we are still discovering which factors allow them to thrive in the ocean: A new publication reveals that marine Thaumarchaeota have a broader metabolism than previously thought.
12/10/2018 - 12:00
Clean Energy Council warns surge ‘could come to an end if the energy policy debate is left to languish unresolved’ Australia’s renewables sector has doubled its output over the past 12 months, with more than $20bn of projects now under construction, but the current boom will not last without policy certainty, according to the Clean Energy Council. The council, which represents solar, wind, energy efficiency, hydro, bioenergy, energy storage, geothermal and marine businesses, along with more than 5,000 solar installers, has released new figures claiming a record year for Australia’s renewables industry – with more than 80 wind and solar farms under construction, and rooftop solar installations now topping two million homes. Continue reading...
12/10/2018 - 11:59
Ocean Leadership ~ (Credit: Ken Sturm/USFWS) New research shows that mussels readily take in microplastic pollution fibers from the ocean but quickly flush most of them out again, according to a study by researchers from Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences. The findings were published in December’s Marine Pollution Bulletin. (From Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences/ By ) — Human-made microplastics exist throughout the global ocean, from busy coastal areas to remote regions far from human habitation. They have myriad impacts: microplastics are eaten by tiny animals called zooplankton, play host to bacterial colonies, and can even change how energy and nutrients flow through ocean ecosystems. “The big pieces of plastic you find on the beach are in your face, but microplastics are everywhere,” said Bigelow Laboratory Senior Research Scientist Paty Matrai, one of the study’s authors. “We desperately need ways to accurately and precisely measure their numbers in the ocean.” The most abundant type of microplastics are fibers, which shed readily from materials as common as carpets and fleece clothing, and whose small size makes them edible by marine life as small as zooplankton. However, few studies to date have focused on this type of ocean pollution. Matrai worked with Bigelow Laboratory Senior Research Scientist David Fields and researchers from the Shaw Institute to learn how marine animals handle fibers – which has important implications for understanding how microplastics move up the food web. Plastic can both directly affect the animals that ingest it and accumulate in the animals that feed on them, including humans. “We know that microfibers can be consumed by shellfish, but at what rate and how long they are retained by the animals remains unclear,” Fields said. “The degree to which plastic is impacting the food chain is unknown, but as more plastic make its way into the ocean, the number of organisms containing plastics is sure to increase.” Through a series of laboratory experiments, the team found that… Read the full article here: https://www.bigelow.org/news/articles/2018-12-03.html  The post Member Highlight: Study Shows How Mussels Handle Microplastic Fiber appeared on Consortium for Ocean Leadership.