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29th April – the People’s Climate March

Hot on the heels of last Saturday's March for Science is the People’s Climate March on the 29th April. People in Washington DC, but also all around the world, will take to the streets again, this time to march for jobs, justice and the climate. This march takes on an even greater significance than previous climate marches because of the U-turn in climate policy the new US administration has taken. But it’s a total misconception to think that preventing climate change negatively impacts jobs and the economy. It is, in fact, just the opposite. Luckily, not only the environmental movement, but business heavyweights and a coalition of 17 US States are challenging Trump’s reckless climate change policy.

It’s been truly impressive to see the level of engagement around the world during this year’s Earth Day. People in their millions from more than 600 different places, including the Arctic and Antartica, marched in defense of science, sending the message that science is valued, important for society, and crucial for protecting future generations. Apparently the crowds in DC were even greater than the recent US Presidential inauguration… with many uniting in protest at the US’s decision to slash funding for environmental science. There were lots of brilliantly clever and nerdy signs, including The Navigator’s personal favourite – “The Oceans are rising and so are we”.

To find out more about the Climate March activities, check out this facebook page.

Join NGOs in urging the EU to step up action to promote sustainable fisheries

Ocean NGOs have been putting extra pressure on the EU this month. Firstly, on the 18th April a letter signed by 112 Europe-based organizations asked members of the European Parliament to oppose a proposed amendment to re-introduce subsidies for the construction of fishing vessels in an upcoming vote on the 27th April. The re-introduction makes no sense, especially considering efforts to reduce harmful subsidies globally at the WTO and the Sustainable Development Goal on the Ocean (SDG14). There is still time to urge MEPs to do the right thing by tweeting “@Europarl_EN 27 April- subsidising overcapacity in fleets won’t help fishermen or fish stocks. Reject re-intro of harmful subsidies”.

On the 21st April, NGOs sent a letter to Karmenu Vella, the European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, urging effective implementation of the new EU deep-sea fisheries regulation, which entered into force in January of this year. This means no more deep-sea bottom trawling (below 800 metres) and putting conservation measures in place quickly. Get involved by tweeting “New EU #deepsea fishing reg will effectively protect corals & sponges if @EU_MARE acts to implement quickly http://buff.ly/2pLohik”.

And just a couple of days ago, organizations that are part of the Our Fish campaign shone a light(literally!) on the EU’s poor performance on implementing the Common Fisheries policy at a large seafood expo fair in Brussels.

#StopSucking – let everyone know that plastic straws really suck

Ocean plastic is definitely the poster child of everything that is going wrong with the Ocean, and plastic straws are perhaps the most poignant example of the throwaway culture we have created. Apparently, Americans use 500 million plastic straws every single day – enough to span the world twice… And not all of them end up in the bin, they litter waterways and the Ocean, just like the other 8.8 million tonnes of plastic we use per year. Lots of different initiatives are underway to tackle plastic – from 5 Gyres’ #topless4Oceans campaign on styrofoam, to Plastic Menace’s Instagram page, to the UN Environment’s global #CleanSeas campaign, to Ocean Conservancy’s massive, international, volunteers' coastal clean-up efforts.

And now the Lonely Whale Foundation, co-founded by actor and Ocean Unite Network member, Adrian Grenier has added its voice to a new campaign called Strawless Ocean, telling people to #StopSucking on plastic straws. Share this video and take the pledge (scroll down), and post a photo of yourself going straw-less on #stopsucking.

Arctic Council warming up for new Chairmanship

Last month’s Navigator gave a heads up that the Arctic Council (a body focusing on sustainable development and environmental protection in the Arctic) will soon be changing leadership, from the US government to the Finnish government, at its Ministerial meeting from 10–11th May.

There has been criticism of the effectiveness of the Council in the past, due to the fact that it only makes non-binding, voluntary recommendations. However, more recently it has been the forum for the signing of 2 new legally binding agreements on Search and Rescue and Oil Spill Response by the Arctic states. It is also seen as playing a key role by being a platform for deeper cooperation and stability in the region.

An ongoing project within the Council is trying to give it a more longer-term outlook, rather than setting new priorities at the start of every 2-year Chairmanship. The hope is to finalise these plans during the Finnish Chairmanship – which could lead to a multi-year strategic plan – potentially lasting up to 10 years. Which makes sense. Read here to find out more about what has been going on at the Council.

For example, the Council’s Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) just released a number of new scientific reports at the International Conference on Arctic Science: Bringing Knowledge to Action, including a new scientific assessment of climate change in the Arctic and findings on snow water, ice and permafrost in the Arctic that show “…the Arctic will not return to previous conditions this century”.