Dear Friend of Blue Marine,
It feels as if there is a sea change in international policy, starting with Montreal in December, with the commitment to protect 30 per cent of biodiversity by 2030, followed by the breakthrough High Seas Treaty in March. All this is coming not a moment too soon, with the recently published IPCC report reminding us just how little time we have to combat the climate
and biodiversity crises. But it is encouraging that Blue Marine’s goal to protect 30 per cent of the ocean by 2030 is now a global ambition.
Meanwhile, we are happy to share some spring optimism with our whole ecosystem restoration project in the Solent having started in earnest.
‘Together we have done something amazing for nature’: a great start to the Solent Seascape Project
Saltmarsh and oyster restoration has begun in the Solent, marking the start of the wildly ambitious five-year Solent Seascape Project which plans to restore marine habitats across the region.
Working closely with the River Hamble Harbour Authority and local contractors Jenkins Marine, Blue Marine finished laying the foundations for the largest oyster restoration reef in the Solent on 31 March. A mixture of shingle and cockleshell, known as ‘cultch’, has been placed over 2,500 square metres of seabed in the River Hamble and will provide a home for 30,000 oysters to attach and grow in the coming weeks.
“After a year of logistical planning we carefully laid 468 tons of cultch on the seabed of one of the UK’s busiest waterways to form the foundation of our largest oyster restoration reef in the Solent. Seeing this project eventually come to fruition was such a proud moment for the whole Solent team as well as the contractors and regulators we have worked with to reach this milestone. Together we have done something amazing for nature.” said Louise MacCallum, Solent Project Manager at Blue Marine.
Meanwhile, Blue Marine’s project partners Chichester Harbour Protection & Recovery of Nature, moved 2500 cubic meters of dredged sediment from
Chichester marina to near Itchenor at the end of February. The work is part of an innovative trial to rebuild the shoreline and reverse saltmarsh decline in Chichester harbour, using a revolutionary ‘Saltmarsh Restoration Drag Box’.
Find out more here.
A historic deal to protect the High Seas
Nearly two decades of negotiations culminated in a gruelling 40-hour session on 5 March, resulting in UN member states finally agreeing on a framework which will provide protection in the High Seas. Areas beyond national jurisdiction, known as the High Seas, cover two thirds of the ocean and until now have been largely unprotected. The UN Ocean Treaty opens a path to place 30 per cent of the High Seas into protected areas by 2030, to safeguard marine species and preserve the climate and biodiversity functions on which our planet and species depend.
There is still a long way to go before we see marine protected areas on the High Seas; the treaty only comes
into force once enough countries have signed up and legally passed it. But a framework for protection is a huge leap forward after decades of stalemate.
“At last, international policymakers are recognising that we are at crisis point and unless we make meaningful efforts to protect rather than plunder nature, the future habitation of the planet is at threat,” said Blue Marine’s CEO, Clare Brook, in the Economist.
Read more about
the High Seas Treaty here.
Complaint filed over London insurance firms enabling “dark” vessels to catch tuna
Tackling overfishing in international waters head-on, Blue Marine submitted a report to the regulators of the UK insurance industry highlighting the role of London-based insurance firms in enabling EU-owned vessels to turn off their mandatory satellite tracking equipment and fish for tuna in the already overfished Indian Ocean.
The report is based on a peer-reviewed legal article which found that EU-owned vessels
operating in the Indian Ocean switching off their automatic identification system (AIS) for extended amounts of time were likely breaching international, flag state and coastal state laws.
Jess Rattle, Head of Investigations at Blue Marine, said the report is especially important “for the transparency of distant-water fishing fleets operating out of sight across a vast ocean and exploiting shared public resources in the form of tropical tuna stocks – two out of three of which are currently overfished in the Indian Ocean – and upon which so many developing coastal states depend for livelihoods and food security”.
Read the full story in The Guardian.
Code of conduct launched to help protect the gentle giants of the South Ari Marine Protected Area
Blue Marine, Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme and Maldives Resilient Reefs launched a campaign last month urging tourists to choose tour operators who have signed up to a whale shark code of conduct when visiting the Maldives’ magnificent marine wildlife.
#BeGentleToGiants encourages both tourists and tour operators to protect whale sharks from the negative impacts of marine encounters.
Shaha Hashim of Blue Marine and MRR said: “The current whale shark tourism in the South Ari MPA is not only unsustainable but also dangerous
for whale sharks and tourists. It is crucial that all tour operators who use the area sign up to the #BeGentleToGiants code of conduct, and abide by it, to safeguard the whale sharks and their businesses while providing an enjoyable experience to their guests.”
If you’re planning a wildlife adventure to swim alongside these gentle giants, find a tour operator flying the #BeGentleToGiants flag here.
New measures to reduce harmful fishing devices a ‘huge win’ for tuna stocks
There has been some progress in the Indian Ocean, as a resolution was adopted to improve the management of harmful drifting fish aggregating devices (FADs) in the Indian Ocean – described as a ‘giant step forward’ for tuna populations and marine life.
The deal follows warnings from retailers, including Marks & Spencer, environmental groups and coastal nations that the use of drifting FADs is one of the main contributors to the overfishing of Indian Ocean yellowfin and bigeye tuna.
The new measure, adopted by the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) in February, will put in place a 72-day closure period for drifting FADs as well as a phased reduction in the number of FADs permitted per vessel. However, objections to the new resolution threaten to undermine its effectiveness.
Blue Marine calls on all IOTC members to implement the new resolution as adopted, to rebuild overfished stocks, protect ecosystems and safeguard the livelihoods of coastal communities.
Read more in The Guardian.