5 ocean success stories to chase away the blues

FIsh World OCeans Day 2018

FAO Healthy oceans have a central role to play in solving one of the biggest problems of the 21st century – how to feed 9 billion people by 2050.

This article is brought to you thanks to the strategic cooperation of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Alex Gray, Formative Content

Earlier this year, a study was published suggesting that humpback whales are making a comeback. The population appears to be in the midst of a baby boom, reversing years of decline driven by commercial whaling.

It was a rare piece of good news about marine life, and comes at a time when threats to our oceans have never been greater.

Every year, World Oceans Day encourages us to celebrate and honour the ocean. The 2018 theme is preventing plastic pollution and encouraging solutions for a healthy ocean.

Source of life

Water covers 71% of the surface of our planet. The ocean absorbs about a quarter of the CO2 that humans emit and marine plants produce most of the oxygen in the atmosphere.

However, our way of life is threatening these complex ecosystems. Plastic pollution is choking marine wildlife and harming corals, reaching even the deepest part of the ocean, climate change is causing sea levels and ocean temperatures to rise and acidification, overfishing is drastically depleting the world’s fish stocks and coral reefs are dying.

It can seem that the world is awash with bad news about the ocean, but there are also a few bright spots. Here are five stories about marine conservation and cooperation that made waves recently.

A comeback for some whale and shark species

In the 19th and 20th centuries, the humpback whale was hunted to near extinction. But a new study points to evidence of a rapidly growing population.

Between 2010 and 2016, researchers took 577 DNA samples from humpbacks around the Western Antarctic Peninsula.

Of those, 239 were from males and 268 from females. The progesterone levels identified in their blubber indicated that, on average over that period, 63.5% of the females were pregnant.

In addition, the number of pregnant females was rising, from 36% in 2010 to 86% in 2014.

Image: Royal Society Open Science

The researchers also found that the whales were reproducing every year; 54.5% of females accompanied by a calf were pregnant.

“These high pregnancy rates are consistent with a population recovering from past exploitation,” noted the study.

Shark populations are also recovering

Shark numbers declined rapidly in the 1970s and 1980s as a result of overfishing and bycatch (where fish or marine mammals are caught unintentionally).

As Dr David Shiffman, a shark conservation expert and marine biologist, notes in a recent blog, great white sharks were among the first species to benefit from conservation protections around the world.

By 2009, the population was back to 30% below historic levels, indicating an upward trend.

But numbers of lesser known shark species, including the sandbar, blacktip, tiger, and spinner, are also increasing thanks to conservation efforts.

“While we can’t forget that many species of shark are in trouble, we can and should celebrate successes as we work to implement them elsewhere. Shark population increases show that shark conservation works,” writes Shiffman.

2. North Sea cod is off the endangered list

As we approached the end of the last millennia, North Sea cod stocks were close to collapse.

A combination of sustained overfishing along with warming waters reduced the reproductive success of North Sea cod.

But in 2015, it came off the Marine Conservation Society’s (MCS) “Fish to Avoid” list.

The cod’s recovery was due to an EU plan that included tight quotas on how much fishermen could catch and the number of days they could spend at sea, as well as a large-scale decommissioning of fishing vessels.

“It’s fantastic to see this fishery finally off the red list. Years of sacrifice and a lot of hard work have led to population increases above dangerously low levels,” said MCS Fisheries Officer, Samuel Stone.

He also warned though, that cod numbers may never return to 1970s and early 1980s levels.

Big increase in marine protected areas

Image: UNEP

Last year saw a huge rise in the number of marine protected areas, with an increase of nearly 4,000 sites covering nearly 7 million km squared. Globally, marine protected areas now cover almost 7% of the ocean, or 2 million km².

Notable recent additions include two of the world’s largest protected areas. The Ross Sea Region Marine Protected Area, in Antarctica, at over 2 million km², and the Marae Moana Marine Park in the South Pacific Ocean, at just under 2 million km².

The Ross Sea Region Marine Protected Area accounts for 58% of the area protected in the high seas; a very important part of the global ocean which is not currently widely protected.

Some countries have also significantly increased their marine protected area network.

In 2017, Gabon added 29 marine protected areas, representing a total of 54,340 km².

And the UK added six new marine protected areas under the EU Habitats Directive, including several that protect a large portion of Scotland’s northwestern coastline.

In September last year, the Pew Charitable Trust put forward a Proposal to Fully Protect the South Sandwich Islands in a bid to conserve this globally significant area of the South Atlantic; in particular, its wildlife.

The area has been a marine protected area since 2012, but the trust argues that it will only benefit fully by being made a protected marine sanctuary.

Image: UNESCO

Emission-free fjords in Norway

The Norwegian fjords are among the world’s most spectacular natural wonders. In order to protect their outstanding beauty, Norway is creating some of the world’s first zero-emission zones at sea.

By 2026, only emission-free cruise ships and ferries will be allowed to enter Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord, which are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Last year, more than 300,000 cruise ship passengers visited the fjords, which led to increased traffic and air pollution.

More than 60 electrical ferries are expected to go seaborne in Norway over the next few years.

Global cooperation is on the rise

Countries have been working together to improve the state of our oceans.

A reduction in shipping emissions on a global scale was on the agenda at a recent meeting of the United Nations International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London.

At the meeting, the UN adopted a climate change strategy for international shipping. Its aim is to reduce total emissions from the industry by at least 50% by 2050. It’s an initial strategy, with the ultimate goal of phasing out emissions entirely.

In April, the 53 Commonwealth heads of government agreed to a Blue Charter, geared towards protecting the ocean from climate change, pollution and overfishing. The charter covers one-third of the world’s national coastal waters.

Among the countries taking action are Australia, Belize and Mauritius, which are spearheading the protection and restoration of coral reefs; Sri Lanka, which is initiating collaboration on mangrove restoration; Kenya, which is pioneering the development of “blue” economic growth; and New Zealand, which is championing action on ocean acidification caused by man-made C02 emissions.

Meanwhile, Canada announced it would use its 2018 presidency of the G7 to tackle climate change, improve the health of the world’s oceans, and transform the way we produce, transport and use energy.

Last December, the UN declared 2021-2030 to be the International Decade for Ocean Science, in an effort to “mobilize the scientific community, policy-makers, business and civil society around a programme of joint research and technological innovation”.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

One more country to test the EU project: Kaczynski’s Poland

The megatrend that will shape our working future

New rules for audiovisual media services approved by Parliament

How to stop data leaks

Two EU Commissioners fire at will against the US

Nicaragua: MEPs condemn brutal repression and demand elections

We finally have a life-saving vaccine for Ebola

Tech companies could achieve much more by serving the common good. Here’s 3 steps they should take

From Kenya to China, here’s why countries should start working together on AI

How to rebuild trust and integrity in South Africa

Refugees now make up 1% of the world’s population

The financial crisis always prefers the south of Eurozone

EU budget: Boosting cooperation between tax and customs authorities for a safer and more prosperous EU

How secure is blockchain?

Central African Republic militia leader and football executive, transferred to ICC

Moscow’s Eurasian Union lost significance after the crisis in Ukraine

Is euro to repeat its past highs with the dollar?

Earthquake: Monte Dei Paschi Di Siena

Pumping more money into banks but leaving them unregulated doesn’t help

Here are 6 big ideas to help the environment

Yemen war: UN-backed talks to silence the guns due to begin in Stockholm

Modern society has reached its limits. Society 5.0 will liberate us

Recreational cannabis poses ‘significant’ health challenges to youth: drugs control body

Maros Sefcovic Canete European Commission Energy

Better late than never? Commission runs now to fight energy dependency on Russia with the sustainable energy security package

Iran nuclear talks’ deadline extended: the match is still open for many

A Young entrepreneur cries out: “start in Europe, stay in Europe”

A lack of affordable homes is forcing young Britons to live with their parents

Stronger European Border and Coast Guard to secure EU’s borders

The three US financial war fleets

Apple’s tax avoidance scheme remains as creative as their new iPhone

Mali: Presidential elections critical to consolidate democracy, says UN peacekeeping chief

Russia won’t let Ukraine drift westwards in one piece

How tomorrow’s buildings will make you – and the planet – healthier

What could a no-deal Brexit mean for developing countries?

Trump denies climate change existence while Paris Agreement is not fully supported by G20 ahead of COP24

This Chinese tech giant’s latest gadget is… a bus

Innovative urban financing can make our cities stronger

What just happened? 5 themes from the COP24 climate talks in Poland

Education critical to ensure future of forests, and reverse their destruction

Consumer product quality: Parliament takes aim at dual standards

Estonia is making public transport free

COP21 Breaking News_10 December: the final sprint of the Final Agreement Negotiations

These countries have the highest minimum wages

Do you dare to go to China?

Mobile World Congress Shanghai 2019, in association with The European Sting

Is there a de facto impossibility for the Brexit to kick-start?

Tackling water scarcity: 4 ways to pull H20 out of thin air

Terrorism and migrants: the two awful nightmares for Europe and Germany in 2016

Climate change is a disruptor. Here’s how to harness it for innovation

A record one million Syrians displaced over six months, during six key battles: UN investigators

Guterres underlines climate action urgency, as UN weather agency confirms record global warming

3 reasons all countries should embrace the Global Compact for Migration

Mobile World Congress 2015 first to debate EU’s new stance on Net Neutrality and Roaming Charges

Not enough resettlement solutions for refugees worldwide, says UN

Silk Road Unlimited

The EU patent space and Unified Court are born

Eurostat: Real unemployment double than the official rate

ECOFIN: Choosing between the re-unification of Eurozone and a stalemate

G20 World Exclusive Interview: “The world, especially emerging economies and developing countries, require a more sustainable and quality development”, the Spokesperson of Japan underscores live from Antalya Turkey

What we need is more (and better) multilateralism, not less

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s