Breaking Waves: Ocean News

06/18/2018 - 16:30
Ocean Leadership ~ This week’s photo was snapped just after my final volunteer shift at the Ocean Plastics Lab on the mall yesterday evening, when we closed down the highly successful exhibit that is now headed for Ottawa. The overflowing (largely) plastic trash, just two blocks from the exhibit and right across from the EPA, exemplifies the magnitude of the challenge we face to educate and raise awareness around this scourge and to change the way people think and act regarding the use and disposal of plastics, especially single use items. While it is daunting and sometimes depressing, we must redouble our efforts going forward and remain committed to positive change. For tens of thousands of people around D.C., the last two weeks were a time to learn about ocean plastic pollution and many other ocean challenges that can be addressed, at least in part, with science and technology. Visitors to the Ocean Plastics Lab on the National Mall weren’t the only ones learning more about this topic. On Tuesday, in conjunction with the House Oceans Caucus, COL hosted a congressional briefing on how science, innovation, and education can help solve the problem. Speakers from academia (Dr. Jay Brandes, Skidaway Institute of Oceanography), industry (Mr. Scott DeFife, Plastics Industry Association), and aquaria (Mr. John Racanelli, National Aquarium) engaged with more than 120 participants from the Hill, federal agencies, other NGOs, and industry. I’m pleased at the overwhelming interest in the issue (despite the Caps victory parade taking place just a few blocks away), and I look forward to seeing how advances in science and technology will help clean up our ocean … and keep it clean. Addressing this and the many other ocean challenges in front of us demands increased federal funding of the ocean research and science based programs. Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee marked up and approved their version of the Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill funding NSF, NOAA, and NASA. The $63 billion bill would increase funding for NSF and NASA compared to FY 2018 levels (by $301 million and $587 million, respectively), while dropping NOAA funding by $426 million (though much of this decrease was an anticipated reduction as launched weather satellites enter the operational phase). Other highlights include funding for the construction of three Regional Class Research Vessels (RCRVs) and a NOAA survey vessel; the continuation of programs proposed for elimination in the president’s budget request, such as Sea Grant, the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, Coastal Zone Management grants, the National Ocean and Coastal Security Fund, and the Offices of Education at NOAA and NASA; and support for the National Oceanographic Partnership Program. You can read more details below. Member Highlight More Sharks Ditching Annual Migration As Ocean Warms The annual migration of blacktip sharks from southern Florida to North Carolina has begun—and researchers from Florida Atlantic University who track this amazing ritual say there are seeing only about one-third the usual number. Blacktip sharks usually travel in the tens of thousands from North Carolina to Florida. But thanks to climate change, more are staying put. For the past two years, many sharks are staying north due to the East Coast’s warming waters, and that could be a problem. These traveling sharks keep Florida’s coastal ecosystem healthy by weeding out weak and sick fish, and thereby helping to preserve coral reefs and seagrasses. Read our most recent and past newsletters here: The post Jon White – From the President’s Office: 06-18-2018 appeared on Consortium for Ocean Leadership.
06/18/2018 - 15:59
Ocean Leadership ~ From: Ocean News Weekly/ By: Ocean Leadership Staff  What It Was Senate appropriators marked up and approved the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Commerce-Justice-Science  (CJS) appropriations bill (S. 3072) with strong bipartisan support in both the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies and in the full Appropriations Committee.   Why It Matters Through the annual appropriations process, Congress funds federal programs that affect the lives of all Americans, including through the CJS bill, which includes initiatives ranging from weather predictions, coastal management, and satellite maintenance to law enforcement, space and ocean exploration, and human health initiatives. Key Points Senators from both parties praised one another in full committee markup on the bipartisan appropriations bill and on their ability to work together on subjects that are often contentious while avoiding while avoiding “poison pill riders,” or controversial provisions unrelated to the intended bill purpose. The legislation passed out of committee with an 18-amendment mangers package. The $63 billion bill outlines increased funding compared to FY 2018 funding levels for the National Science Foundation (NSF) ($8.1 billion; $106 million below the House bill, $597 million above the president’s budget request, and $301 million above FY 2018 levels) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) ($21.3 billion; $246 million below the House bill, $1.4 billion above the president’s budget request, and $587 million above FY 2018 levels); and a decrease (compared to FY 2018 funding levels) for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) ($5.48 billion; $321.4 million above the House bill, $929.8 million above the president’s budget request, and $426 million below FY 2018 level). NSF Both the House and the Senate rejected the recommendation in the president’s budget request to reduce funding at the agency by 11 percent.  Research and Related Activities would receive $6.6 billion, an increase of $222 million above FY 2018 and $406 million above the president’s budget request.   Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC) would see $249 million, which is $66 million above FY 2018 and $155 million more than the president’s request. This includes $28.7 million to complete funding the second Regional Class Research Vessel (RCRV) and $60.5 million to begin funding the third. Additionally, the report recognized “the importance of ensuring that NSF-funded marine research vessels with unique capabilities remain available to the academic community,” and the committee requested a report on future plans for marine seismic research. NOAA While the bill would reduce NOAA funding by $426 million, much of this was planned as the agency’s weather satellites enter the operational phase. Senators rejected the administration’s cuts to NOAA’s ocean, climate, and weather research and prioritized ocean monitoring, coastal grants to states, aquaculture research, fisheries management, weather satellites, and severe weather forecasting. The committee also ignored the president’s budget request by providing funding for the Sea Grant College Program, Coastal Zone Management Grants, the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, the National Ocean and Coastal Security Fund, and the Office of Education. NASA The legislation aligns with the administration’s focus on space exploration and discovery but also funds science missions that enhance our understanding of Earth. The bill provides $6.4 billion for NASA’s Science mission, including $1.9 billion ($31 million above the House bill, $147 million above president’s budget request, $10 million above FY 2018 levels) for Earth Science. Appropriators ignored the proposed elimination of the agency’s education programs in the president’s budget request. The bill would provide $110 million for the program, renamed the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Opportunities, including $21 million for Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR), $33 million for Minority University Research and Education Project, and $12 million for STEM Education and Accountability projects) Quotable “This bipartisan bill achieves an appropriate balance between fiscal responsibility and investing in our future by supporting law enforcement, national security interests, economic development and scientific innovation.” – Subcommittee Chairman Jerry Moran (KS) “The bill rejects the elimination of grants that help coastal communities and their economies and keeps key weather satellites on track while providing an increase for job-supporting coastal programs like Sea Grant and the National Estuarine Research Reserve System.” – Subcommittee Ranking Member Jeanne Shaheen (NH) Next Steps The bill will head to the Senate floor for vote; from there a conference committee will need to combine the House and Senate versions and create an identical bill. The deadline to pass Congress and be signed by the president is September 30. Find Out More  Watch the subcommittee hearing  Watch the committee hearing   Related coverage from the Consortium for Ocean Leadership  CJS Appropriations Bill Favoring NASA Space Science Flies Towards House Floor  Draft House Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill Includes Increases For NSF And NASA And Cuts For NOAA  Congress Concerned About President’s Proposed Cuts For NOAA In FY 2019  Budget Questions For Commerce  Omnibus Spending Bill A Win For Ocean Sciences  Investments In Ocean Science and Technology That Underpin Our Nation’s Security Left Out Of President’s Budget  Trump’s 2019 Budget Released  Focus on Justice, Not Climate Science, In House Commerce, Justice, and Science Bill — Which Drastically Cuts NOAA Funding  Earth Science Given “Low Priority” Status In House Appropriations Bill That Would Also Reduce NOAA Funding?  Skinny Science Budget: Not a Good Model  Senate Appropriators Find Science Funding Appropriate  Sea Grant Supports A Culture Of Success  Want to receive articles like this straight to your inbox? Sign up for our newsletter! The post Senate Spending Bill Supports Ocean Science, Research, And Education appeared on Consortium for Ocean Leadership.
06/18/2018 - 14:03
Ocean Leadership ~ From: Ocean News Weekly/ By: Ocean Leadership Staff  What It Was The Consortium for Ocean Leadership, in conjunction with the House Oceans Caucus (chaired by Representatives Suzanne Bonamici (OR-1) and Don Young (AK-At-Large)), sponsored a congressional briefing titled, “The Ocean Plastic Pollution Problem: Solvable with Science, Innovation, and Education.”  Why It Matters Plastic has helped make our lives more convenient, transportable, and safe thanks to innovation and incorporation of the material in cars, medical equipment, packaging, and clothes. However, the growing use of single-use plastics (SUPs) and improper disposal of plastics (e.g., not recycling, littering) are hazardous to the environment and our economy. Every year eight million tons of plastic end up in the ocean; impacts range from trash-covered ecosystems jeopardizing ocean health and tourism to plastic-filled fish threatening the health and safety of our seafood. Working across stakeholder groups and leveraging science, innovation, and education are essential to solve to problem.  Key Points Trash in the ocean is a growing problem. House Oceans Caucus Co-Chair, Representative Suzanne Bonamici (OR-1) stated that “every minute [the equivalent of] one garbage truck of trash is entering the ocean.” Plastic trash in the environment is particularly detrimental due to plastic’s inherent durability and resistance to biological break down as well as to the product’s ability to leach chemicals into the body or water. Unfortunately, current estimates project 155 million tons of plastic in the ocean by 2025. Experts from academia, aquaria, and industry emphasized that plastics in the environment is not an industry issue but a consumer problem resulting from bad behavior (e.g., littering, lack of recycling, over-use of SUPs). It often enters the ocean from overflowing trash and recycling bins or because waste containers are not readily available. While plastic pollution is regularly reported on in the media, the problem remains relatively understudied by the scientific community, in part due to the size of the ocean. Researchers know plastic is present in many different areas, including the Arctic and Marianas Trench, but are unable to quantify the total volume or to say what impact microplastics (plastic smaller than 5 millimeters) have on plankton (the bulk of the marine environment). Dr. Jay Brandes (Professor; Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, University of Georgia) reported that microplastic pollution varies widely, with high concentration areas often adjacent to low concentration areas, and cautioned that understanding dynamics in one area does not translate across the globe. He stressed that including citizen scientists (engaged citizens trained by scientists to collect samples) in research could help gather more data across the world. Mr. John Racanelli (President and CEO, National Aquarium) spoke on the National Aquarium’s involvement in the Aquarium Conservation Partnership, a campaign to reduce SUP pollution. He addressed the value of plastics in our daily lives, attested to the public’s interests in the topic, and underlined the critical role education centers (e.g., aquariums, museums, zoos) can play in translating solutions. He further stressed the need for cohesive messaging (e.g., straw campaigns) and collaboration. Mr. Scott DeFife (Vice President of Government Affairs, Plastics Industry Association) underscored that outdated waste management infrastructure and confusing recycling restrictions exacerbate pollution. He explained that a wide range of plastics are recyclable (including plastic wrap, thanks to advances in chemical science), but most waste management centers lack equipment to process the entire array of plastic resins (the number codes on the bottom of packaging). A center’s infrastructure restricts the resins that can be processed and in turn what the consumer can recycle; this is the reason some products are accepted in one zip code but not another. He recommended consumer education on mixed recycling, improvements to infrastructure (e.g., increase public recycling bins, update sorting machinery at material recovery facilities), and continued research and scientific innovations to improve the recyclability of plastic products. Audience questions ranged from health impacts and how to talk about the issue in non-coastal states to a reduction in consumer recycling and plastic alternatives for the fishing industry. Mr. John Racanelli stated, “everyone is downstream from someone,” explaining that plastic in the environment effects everyone. Other solutions discussed by the panel included increasing the volume of plastics recycled, simplifying the recycling process for consumers, developing chemical recycling and solvent extraction methods, and utilizing reusable alternatives (e.g., refillable water bottle, metal straws, cloth grocery bags) when possible. Ms. Lori Arguelles (President and CEO, Alice Ferguson Foundation) underscored the importance for all stakeholders (e.g., industry, academia, government, philanthropy, NGO, aquaria, the public) to work together on solutions, the need to address the issue at all levels (e.g., local, state, federal, global), and the difference each individual can make. All panelists agreed that while more time, money, and research is needed to understand the problem, the solutions should start now and involve everyone. Quotable “We need to invest in research and resources to address the ocean plastic problem.” –House Oceans Caucus Co-Chair Suzanne Bonamici (OR-1) “Recycling is an infrastructure issue…the waste management process needs help.” – Mr. Scott DeFife, Vice President of Government Affairs, Plastics Industry Association “If we can cut down on the source [of plastic into the environment] nature will do a good job cutting down on the presence…we’ve seen that bacteria can break down some plastics.” – Dr. Jay Brandes, Professor; Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, University of Georgia “There are extremely useful products in plastics, and they are here to stay. We need to work with industry to minimize single-use plastics and change human behavior.” – Mr. John Racanelli, President and CEO, National Aquarium Related coverage from the Consortium for Ocean Leadership Save Our Seas Act of 2017 ( 756, H.R. 2748) Jon White – From the President’s Office: 06-11-2018 Roving Exhibit Highlights Ocean Plastics Problem Ocean Plastics Lab coming to Washington’s National Mall, June 4-17  July’s Congressional Wrap Up Senate Navigates Growing Marine Debris Problem May’s Legislative Roundup Want to receive articles like this straight to your inbox? Sign up for our newsletter! The post The Ocean Plastic Pollution Problem: Solvable with Science, Innovation, and Education appeared on Consortium for Ocean Leadership.
06/18/2018 - 13:00
Western ground parrot needs millions spent on it, but volunteers say Coalition is trying to shift costs to not-for-profits The Turnbull government helped broker a $200,000 agreement for a German not-for-profit to fund conservation work for a critically endangered Australian parrot, bolstering criticism it is shifting the cost of protecting threatened species to community and philanthropic organisations. The western ground parrot is one of only three ground nesting parrots found in Australia and is one of 20 birds the government has committed to helping as part of its threatened species strategy. Continue reading...
06/18/2018 - 09:26
Changes in sea surface temperature affect the survival of albatross during their first year at sea, resulting in a reduced population growth rate when temperatures are warmer than the current average, a new study has revealed.
06/18/2018 - 09:25
Tracking data from two great white sharks reveals that they spend more time deep inside warm-water eddies, suggesting that's where they like to feed.
06/18/2018 - 09:20
Ocean Leadership ~ Blacktip sharks usually travel in the tens of thousands from North Carolina to Florida. But thanks to climate change, more are staying put. (From National Geographic / By Eric Niiler ) — The annual migration of blacktip sharks from southern Florida to North Carolina has begun—and researchers who track this amazing ritual say there are seeing only about one-third the usual number. The sharks—all male—swim south during the coldest months of the year and head north when spring arrives to mate with females. But for the past two years, many sharks are staying north, thanks to the East Coast’s warming waters. That could be a problem. These traveling sharks keep Florida’s coastal ecosystem healthy by weeding out weak and sick fish, and thereby helping to preserve coral reefs and seagrasses. Stephen Kajiura, a marine biologist at Florida Atlantic University, has been tracking blacktips for 15 years, climbing into a single-engine Cessna 172 and flying low over Florida’s crystal-clear waters with a camera poking out the window. He and his crew then jump in a boat to tag some sharks with a small acoustic device, or a longer-lasting satellite receiver. In past years, they’ve counted as many as 15,000 sharks in a single group. But not this season. (See our favorite shark videos of all time.) “This year has been strange,” Kajiura says. “Last year was unusually warm all winter: The water temperatures never got below 73.4 Fahrenheit. This year, the temperatures have risen dramatically to 78.8 Fahrenheit. It’s now even hotter than this time last year.” HEADING NORTH The underwater heatwave is the result of seasonal variability—just like there are cool summers and warm winters on land. But over time, Kajiura believes this migrant shark population will permanently shift northward in response to long-term rising ocean temperatures, which are linked to global climate change. Many of these changes are already underway. In fact, the waters off the northeastern U.S. have warmed faster than more than 99 percent of the world’s oceans in the past decade, according to Vince Saba, a marine biologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center. “We are seeing a northern shift in most of our fish stocks: winter flounder, summer flounder, herring, and mackerel,” Saba said. “Some of those species are… Read the full article here: The post Member Highlight: More Sharks Ditching Annual Migration As Ocean Warms appeared on Consortium for Ocean Leadership.
06/18/2018 - 05:00
Short answer: maybe There’s recently been a spate of sea level rise denial in the conservative media, but in reality, sea level rise is accelerating and melting ice is playing an increasingly large role. In the first half of the 20th Century, average global sea level rose by about 1.4 millimeters per year (mm/yr). Since 1993, that rate has more than doubled to 3.2 mm/yr. And since 2012, it’s jumped to 4.5 mm/yr. Continue reading...
06/18/2018 - 01:26
Government directive means trustees will be able to push harder for green investments Managers of the £1.5tn invested in Britain’sworkplace pension schemes are to be given new powers to dump shares in oil, gas and coal companies in favour of long-term investment in green and “social impact” opportunities. Government proposals published on Monday are designed to give pension fund trustees more confidence to divest from environmentally damaging fossil fuels and put their cash in green alternatives if it meets their members’ wishes. Until now many pension trustees have been hamstrung by fiduciary duties that they feel requires them to seek the best returns irrespective of the threat of climate change. Continue reading...
06/18/2018 - 00:00
Climate change study predicts ‘staggering impact’ of swelling oceans on coastal communities within next 30 years Sea level rise driven by climate change is set to pose an existential crisis to many US coastal communities, with new research finding that as many as 311,000 homes face being flooded every two weeks within the next 30 years. The swelling oceans are forecast repeatedly to soak coastal residences collectively worth $120bn by 2045 if greenhouse gas emissions are not severely curtailed, experts warn. This will potentially inflict a huge financial and emotional toll on the half a million Americans who live in the properties at risk of having their basements, backyards, garages or living rooms inundated every other week. Continue reading...