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WELCOME TO THE NAVIGATOR!
An article in Time Magazine highlighting this year’s Earth Day theme of plastic pollution really put things into perspective. It calculated that if you converted all the plastic that ends up in the Ocean over a single year and moulded it into Lego® bricks, you could build the equivalent of 19 lifesize Empire State buildings… That’s insane! With statistics like that, you wonder how we ever let this plastic epidemic get so bad, and how we can get our planet back on a healthy track. Luckily, awareness of the Ocean crisis is growing – helped by initiatives such as Earth Day, the upcoming World Oceans Day and March for the Ocean, and recent environmental awards.
And speaking of awards, on Earth Day Ocean Unite Network member Danni Washington received a Global Impact Award at the EarthX Global Gala for her great work raising awareness of environmental issues, including Ocean conservation. Congratulations Danni! Also a big shout out to another of our Ocean Unite Network members, Slava Fetisov, who’s just been made the UN Environment Patron for Polar Regions – what a great 60th birthday present for this ice-hockey hero and Ocean champion!
And finally a huge CONGRATULATIONS to Claire Nouvian, Ocean defender extraordinaire, from the French NGO BLOOM, who’s just been awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for her great work campaigning to ban deep sea bottom trawling and protect deep sea marine life. We are excited to see the amazing number of women winning prizes this year, as well as the Ocean on centre stage!
Keep on reading to find out more about what’s been happening this past month and what’s coming up in the Ocean realm.
SEEN FROM THE LIGHTHOUSE –
WHAT'S HAPPENING NOW?
Ocean risk is risky business
Worried about the effects of hurricanes, cyclones and flooding? Keen to join leaders from the political, economic, environmental and risk management sectors to build a multi-sectoral approach to address Ocean risk? Curious to hear from experts about new approaches, tools and technologies to help build resilience at the local, regional and global levels? Then it’s still possible to register for the Ocean Risk Summit that (re)insurer XL Catlin, together with partners including Ocean Unite and IUCN, is convening from 8–10th May in Bermuda. Check out the new trailer here and visit the website to learn more.
Exploring the Ocean Twilight Zone
Global illegal fishing vessel list launched
Some fishing vessels and the companies that operate them regularly change identities, ownership, flags and fishing locations. While some of these changes can be legitimate, they’re also a way for illegal operators to dodge detection and the long arm of the law. To try to reduce these shady activities, this list, which is also directly linked to TMT’s Fisheries Analytical Capacity Tool, has the best-available information regarding the compliance history of vessels and companies, keeping details up to date even as names or flags change. For more info check out these FAQs.
Endangered Species Day
OCEAN SIGNALS– SHORT OCEAN ANNOUNCEMENTS
WAVES ON THE HORIZON –
WHAT'S COMING UP?
World Oceans Day & March for the Ocean fast approaching
If they’re not firmly in your diary yet, get out your big blue permanent marker pen and ring 8th and 9th June as key Ocean dates. June 8th is World Oceans Day, and this year the theme follows Earth Day’s on the need to prevent plastic pollution and encourage solutions for a healthy Ocean. Visit the World Oceans Day website to plan your Ocean celebration. There are loads of free resources including new materials for youth. Register your event to share your celebration with the world on the event map! Sign up to receive the latest updates or contact the organizers for more information.
Ocean high on G7 agenda
The Group of Seven (G7) countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK and US) will hold their annual meeting on 8th and 9th June- coinciding with World Oceans Day. This year the Summit is being hosted by Canada, which has set its environmental priorities discussions around a low carbon future, a healthy Ocean, reducing plastic pollution and new sustainable energy technologies. Canada has been taking a more active role in Ocean conservation recently. Its Fisheries Minister just spoke out urging G7 countries to shame nations engaged in illegal fishing and it has just launched an initiative to target plastic waste.
Canada has also been making efforts to catch up on its international marine conservation commitments, and in 2016 announced a plan to protect 5% of its waters by 2017 and 10% by 2020. It exceeded its 2017 protection target with 7.75% of its ocean territory protected, but not without criticism from conservationistsof the high level of concessions made to the oil, gas and fishing industries.
As a major Ocean user, Canada should encourage its fellow G7 governments to work together to scale up Ocean conservation significantly and commit to strongly protecting (ie no mining or commercial fishing) 30% of the Ocean by 2030, within country waters but also on the high seas. Including this target on the G7 Ocean agenda would significantly add to the global momentum already building behind it. A Ministerial level meeting on Climate Change, Ocean and Clean Energy is scheduled for September/October.
A LOOK BACK AT WHAT'S BEEN HAPPENING
Progress on cutting shipping emissions and heavy fuel oil ban in Arctic
A coalition of high-ambition nations, led by small Pacific Island states, was pushing for full shipping decarbonization by 2050. But resistance from major shipping countries such as Brazil and Panama, as well as the US and China, led to the compromise target of 50%. The agreement is not perfect, but it’s a step in the right direction that can hopefully be strengthened in the future.
The IMO meeting also agreed to consider banning HFO as shipping fuel from the Arctic, following a strongly worded proposal by Finland, Germany, Iceland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and the US (5 Arctic countries!) This move was strongly applauded by the Clean Arctic Alliance, which has been campaigning to eliminate use of this heavily polluting oil in one of the world’s most fragile environments. A technical group has now been set up to look at the environmental risks of using the fuel, as well as the potential disruption of shipments to northern indigenous communities – a caveat included by the Canadian government.
Commonwealth countries make plastic action commitment
The UK has been taking significant action to reduce its plastic footprint. It has already seen a drop in plastic bags littering British seas, linked to the introduction of a 5p charge per bag. A bottle and can deposit return scheme also recently got the green light in the UK. And now it has committed to banning single-use plastics such as straws and plastic cotton buds, a move that is urgently needed given single-use plastic has even reached world’s deepest Ocean trench.
Plastic action is certainly on the rise, and you can tell momentum is building just from the daily stream of reports highlighting “Better Alternatives” for plastics, the first plastic-free sporting events, how scientists accidentally created a mutant enzyme that eats plastic bottles and innovations that could end plastic waste. Advances in technology got us into this mess in the first place, but it will probably be advances in technology that will help get us out of it!
By the way- if you come across some screaming examples of #PointlessPlastic packaging- like clingfilmed coconuts- tweet the photo using #PointlessPlastic and remember to tag the supermarket. If you don’t use Twitter, you can post the photo on another social media channel (such as Facebook or Instagram) or email your picture to Greenpeace at firstname.lastname@example.org and they’ll post it for you!