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Weekly Ocean News 26.02.24

March 01, 2024

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Overseas Territories

The MPA around South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands has been enhanced with an additional 166,000 square kilometres of no-take zone.

Pravind Jugnauth, the prime minister of Mauritius, spoke at a workshop on the Chagos Archipelago this week, committing to conserving the marine environment after handover of sovereignty. The workshop was jointly organised by ZSL and the Mauritian prime minister’s office, and sounds like a step in the right direction.

The Foreign Affairs Committee’s Sub-Committee on the Overseas Territories published the written evidence submitted to its inquiry into the UK government’s engagement regarding the Chagos Islands, and then heard oral evidence on Wednesday.

An airstrip on a remote Mauritian atoll opened, the construction of which was funded by India. 

 

Fisheries

The European Commission has been investigating Norwegian salmon farmers for price fixing since 2019, because it seems you can never be too rich. UK supermarkets are getting their civil action in early.

Atlanto-Scandian herring is massively overfished, so a new paper from Ray Hilborn implores governments to rein in TACs before the population crashes in the next couple of years.

The WTO has been holding closed-door negotiations this week on fishing subsidies.

Cefas has signed an MOU with the Pelagic Freezer Trawler Association, those who catch most of the UK’s pelagic quota.

Chilean fish farm workers have been protesting against plans to allocate some coastal areas to indigenous communities.

 

MPAs

No-take MPAs are much better for fish populations than multi-use MPAs, but both are better than no protection at all, so when no-takes are unpalatable you can still get results with limited fishing.

 

Science

Hawksbill turtles have been tracked diving to reefs that are much deeper than expected, suggesting that biodiversity is richer at those depths than previously thought.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has put a stop to all manner of scientific collaboration, particularly in the Arctic.

Some Patagonian toothfish like to migrate, others like a bit of site fidelity.

Last year’s summer was cool and damp in Europe, but hot and dry in Greenland. The ice melt in Greenland and subsequent freshwater flow into the North Atlantic is likely to lead to heatwaves in Europe this summer.

Researchers used aerial surveys to map whitespotted eagle ray and giant manta ray populations around Florida, which from this footage looks like a tricky task.

Most shark species are mysterious, but we really don’t know anything about megamouths.

After a bit of a dry spell, there’s a top pun in this headline.

 

Conservation

CITES is going after Ecuador for the country’s soaring illegal shark catch rates – its ultimatum expires on March 28th.

The IMO’s subcommittee on pollution met last week to discuss a raft of new measures, including one relating to lost fishing gear.

A tiny population of elephant seals in Mexico that survived the hunting frenzy of the 19th century has rebounded to populate huge swathes of the North American Pacific coast.

People in Cornwall are mobilising to oppose plans for a seaweed farm just off the coast of Port Quinn.

The US Coastguard has launched a service to direct ships away from whales in Puget Sound.

 

Climate crisis

Antarctica’s sea ice minimum has fallen below 2 million square kilometres for the third year in a row.

Reports are coming in of coral bleaching over large stretches of the Great Barrier Reef.

 

Plastics

Every single placenta tested in a study (N=62) contained microplastics.

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