Massive boom will corral Pacific Ocean’s plastic trash

Massive boom will corral Pacific Ocean’s plastic trashPhoto: AP Photo.

https://www.whec.com/news/-massive-boom-will-corral-pacific-oceanrsquos-plastic-trash-/5063246/

September 08, 2018 03:03 PM

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Engineers will deploy a trash collection device to corral plastic litter floating between California and Hawaii in an attempt to clean up the world’s largest garbage patch in the heart of the Pacific Ocean.

The 2,000-foot (600-meter) long floating boom will be towed Saturday from San Francisco to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — an island of trash twice the size of Texas.

The system was created by The Ocean Cleanup, an organization founded by Boyan Slat, a 24-year-old innovator from the Netherlands who first became passionate about cleaning the oceans when he went scuba diving at age 16 in the Mediterranean Sea and saw more plastic bags than fish.

“The plastic is really persistent and it doesn’t go away by itself and the time to act is now,” Slat said, adding that researchers with his organization found plastic going back to the 1960s and 1970s bobbing in the patch.

The buoyant, a U-shaped barrier made of plastic and with a tapered 10-foot (3-meter) deep screen, is intended to act like a coastline, trapping some of the 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic that scientists estimate are swirling in that gyre but allowing marine life to safely swim beneath it.

Fitted with solar power lights, cameras, sensors and satellite antennas, the cleanup system will communicate its position at all times, allowing a support vessel to fish out the collected plastic every few months and transport it to dry land where it will be recycled, said Slat.

Shipping containers filled with the fishing nets, plastic bottles, laundry baskets and other plastic refuse scooped up by the system being deployed Saturday are expected to be back on land within a year, he said.

The Ocean Cleanup, which has raised $35 million in donations to fund the project, including from Salesforce.com chief executive Marc Benioff and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, will deploy 60 free-floating barriers in the Pacific Ocean by 2020.

“One of our goals is to remove 50 percent of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in five years,” Slat said.

The free-floating barriers are made to withstand harsh weather conditions and constant wear and tear. They will stay in the water for two decades and in that time collect 90 percent of the trash in the patch, he added.

George Leonard, chief scientist of the Ocean Conservancy, a nonprofit environmental advocacy group, said he’s skeptical Slat can achieve that goal because even if plastic trash can be taken out of the ocean, a lot more is pouring in each year.

“The plastic is really persistent and it doesn’t go away by itself and the time to act is now,” Slat said, adding that researchers with his organization found plastic going back to the 1960s and 1970s bobbing in the patch.

The buoyant, a U-shaped barrier made of plastic and with a tapered 10-foot (3-meter) deep screen, is intended to act like a coastline, trapping some of the 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic that scientists estimate are swirling in that gyre but allowing marine life to safely swim beneath it.

Fitted with solar power lights, cameras, sensors and satellite antennas, the cleanup system will communicate its position at all times, allowing a support vessel to fish out the collected plastic every few months and transport it to dry land where it will be recycled, said Slat.

Shipping containers filled with the fishing nets, plastic bottles, laundry baskets and other plastic refuse scooped up by the system being deployed Saturday are expected to be back on land within a year, he said.

The Ocean Cleanup, which has raised $35 million in donations to fund the project, including from Salesforce.com chief executive Marc Benioff and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, will deploy 60 free-floating barriers in the Pacific Ocean by 2020.

“One of our goals is to remove 50 percent of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in five years,” Slat said.

The free-floating barriers are made to withstand harsh weather conditions and constant wear and tear. They will stay in the water for two decades and in that time collect 90 percent of the trash in the patch, he added.

George Leonard, chief scientist of the Ocean Conservancy, a nonprofit environmental advocacy group, said he’s skeptical Slat can achieve that goal because even if plastic trash can be taken out of the ocean, a lot more is pouring in each year.

Free-Diving Family Saves Whale Shark Stuck in a Fishing Net

While free-diving off of Hawaii, a family encounters a whale shark with a gigantic rope around its neck and decides to try to free it.

A family encountered an endangered whale shark in Hawaii with fishing rope around its neck—so the father dove to cut the rope with a knife.

While free-diving off the shore of Kaunolū on Hawaii’s island of Lanai, a Hawaiian family saw something they’d never seen before: A young whale shark.

Even for people who spend a lot of time in Hawaii’s crystalline waters, this endangered animal—the world’s largest fish—is a rare and joyous sight.

But the initial wonder faded as Kapua Kawelo and her husband Joby Rohrer, both of whom work on endangered species for the O‘ahu Army Natural Resources Program, noticed the creature had a thick, heavy rope wrapped around its neck.

“It looked really sore,” says Rohrer. “There were these three scars from where the rope rubbed into the ridges on her back. The rope had cut probably three inches into her pectoral fin.”

After filming the shark for a while, the family decided to try to cut the rope with a dive knife. Using only his experience as a free-diver and a small, serrated dive blade, Rohrer dove down again and again at depths of 50 to 60 feet for spans of up to two minutes at a time.

Finally, after about half an hour of careful work and a little bit of support from the couple’s son Kanehoalani and from Jon Sprague, a wildlife control manager for Pūlama Lānaʻi, the shark was free.

Then the family’s 15-year-old daughter, Ho’ohila, swam the 150-pounds worth of rope to shore.

“It’s a family story,” says Kapua.

Will It Survive?

Clearly, the whale shark is better off now that it’s without “an unbreakable rope lei,” as Kapua puts it. But will the whale shark be able to recover from the ordeal?

According to Brad Norman, a National Geographic Explorer and one of the world’s foremost experts on whale sharks, you can tell the rope had been strangling the animal for at least a few months because of all the barnacles that had colonized it. Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources had actually been alerted to the shark’s plight in mid-July by SCUBA divers and had since sent out a call for people to report any future sightings.

But Norman says that, all things considered, the shark appeared to be in pretty good condition. He also estimated that the animal was at least 20 years old, giving it excellent odds to survive.

“Although globally, all whale sharks are endangered and threatened with extinction,” says Norman. “If we don’t reverse the declining trend in their numbers, it’s dire for the species as a whole.”

What’s more, lost fishing gear doesn’t just harm whale sharks. According to a recent report by World Animal Protection, more than 700,000 tons of new gear enters earth’s oceans each year. (Read National Geographic’s special series “Planet or Plastic”)

Did The Whale Shark Come To Humans For Help?

Whale sharks typically swim away when they’re touched, says Norman, so the fact that the shark remained even after Rohrer began to saw at the rope is evidence that it was comfortable with the situation. Norman calls it “amazing to see.”

“The shark appears to allow the diver to assist,” says Norman, “seemingly knowing he’s helping.”

Kapua credits her husband’s zen-like demeanor and heroic free-diving ability for allowing him to be able to free the entangled shark.

“We all wanted to help but none of us could hold our breath that long,” she says.

But there was also something else about the experience, she says. In Hawaiian mythology, ancestors sometimes come back as guardian animals, called ʻaumakua. These guardians are thought to protect families, who also must help protect them.

“And we’ve never seen a whale shark before but, just like native peoples around the world, you feel like you have a special connection to the resources that surround you and your family,” says Kapua.

“I like to think that we were there for a reason and that the least we could do for having that amazing experience, seeing that beautiful creature, was to help it survive.”

Court grants ban of fish imports from Mexico caught with nets that hurt endangered porpoise

http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/398995-court-grants-ban-of-fish
-imports-from-mexico-caught-with-nets-that

A trade court Thursday ordered the Trump administration to implement a ban
on seafood imports from Mexico caught with a method tied to harming an
endangered porpoise species.

The United States Court of International Trade ruled that the government
must ban Mexican imports of seafood caught using gillnets, a fishing
technique that has been found to injure and kill the critically endangered
vaquita porpoise.

Scientists believe there are only 15 vaquitas left in the wild, which could
leave the species extinct by 2021.

The court denied the Trump administration’s motion to dismiss the case
writing, “Evidence shows that vaquita are killed by gillnet fishing and are
on the verge of extinction: because the statutory duty to ban fish imports
resulting in such excessive marine mammal bycatch is mandatory, the
Government must comply with it.”

Gillnets are a type of fishing net that is hung in the water to catch
passing-by seafood.

The case brought by three conservation groups, the Natural Resources Defense
Council, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Animal Welfare
Institute against the Department of Commerce argues that it is the U.S.
government’s duty to enact a ban on Mexico under the Marine Mammal
Protection Act for the vaquita, the world’s smallest porpoise.

The court agreed, determining that the “law commands” that “the Secretary of
the Treasury shall ban imports of fish and fish products from northern Gulf
fisheries that utilize gillnets and incidentally kill vaquita in excess of
United States standards.”

The vaquita is most often found in the upper Gulf of California. Seafood
products typically caught with gillnets include shrimp, corvina, Spanish
mackerel and bigeye croaker.

According to data compiled by the National Marine Fisheries Service under
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. imported more than
$55 million worth of seafood from Mexico in 2017.

More than 90 percent of the seafood eaten in the U.S. is imported.

Shark fisheries hunting dolphins, other marine mammals as bait: Study

Researchers work to free whale with jaw wrapped in fishing line for years

Researchers in Massachusetts are hopeful they’ll finally be able to free an endangered North Atlantic right whale who has had a fishing line wrapped around her jaw for several years.

The adult female named “Kleenex” was first spotted in the Cape Cod Bay in 1977, but has had a fishing lined wrapped around her jaw for at least three years, according to the Cape Cod Times.

Researchers and scientists attempted to remove some of the line on Thursday by using a method to weaken and deteriorate the rope, since there was no trailing line and the whale couldn’t be slowed to remove it.

Southern right whales, known in Spanish as ballena franca austral, swim in the waters of the Atlantic Sea, offshore Golfo Nuevo,  Argentina's Patagonian village of Puerto Piramides, September 19, 2014. The whales regularly come to breed and calve in this marine reserve from June to December.        REUTERS/Maxi Jonas (ARGENTINA  - Tags:  ANIMALS ENVIRONMENT) - GM1EA9K0GDZ01

Southern right whales, known in Spanish as ballena franca austral, swim in the waters of the Atlantic Sea, offshore Golfo Nuevo, Argentina’s Patagonian village of Puerto Piramides, September 19, 2014.  (REUTERS/Maxi Jonas)

“For more than a half century, Kleenex has defied the odds of survival and been a pillar of the right whale’s modest recovery,” New England Aquarium spokesman Tony LaCasse said in a statement. “Let’s hope that she sheds the entangling gear.”

‘BEGINNING OF THE END?’ NO NEW BABIES FOR ENDANGERED WHALES

The whale is a great-grandmother to six calves, which is 5 percent of the North Atlantic right whale population. Right whales recorded no new births in this year’s calving season, making preserving reproductive females extremely important to researchers.

As of now, the species has dwindled to no more than 450 animals, further strengthening conservation efforts. A total of 17 right whales washed up dead in the U.S. and Canada last year, far outpacing five births.

SPERM WHALE SWALLOWS 64 POUNDS OF TRASH, DIES OF ‘GASTRIC SHOCK’

With no rebound in births this past winter, the overall population could shrink further in 2018. One right whale was found dead off the coast of Virginia in January.

Kleenex hasn’t been seen since the disentanglement attempt, but that is typical of whale rescue efforts, Cathrine Macort, a spokeswoman for the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, told the Associated Press. Macort said rescuers will keep looking for the whale so they can remove the gear.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Sushi parasite that embeds in the stomach is on the rise, doctors warn

Eating raw fish can lead to anisakiasis, a disease caused by parasitic worms.

Sushi has a healthy reputation – it can be low fat and high in protein – but a new report serves as a stark reminder that sushi made with raw fish can carry a dangerous parasite. Doctors warn that it’s becoming a greater problem in Western countries as more people eat sushi, and they documented one recent case that serves as a cautionary tale.

The case of a previously healthy 32-year-old man from Lisbon, Portugal, is featured in the medical journal BMJ Case Reports this week. The man was suffering from a bout of stomach pain for more than a week, and experienced vomiting and a fever.

When doctors questioned him about his symptoms and history, he revealed that he had recently eaten sushi.

Doctors performed an endoscopy – a scope test that uses a tiny camera on the end of a long, flexible tube to view the upper digestive system – and discovered he had parasite larvae attached to the lining of his stomach wall.

The culprit: Anisakiasis, a disease caused by parasitic worms.

“It is caused by the consumption of contaminated raw or undercooked fish or seafood,” the authors wrote in their case study.

Photos published with their account of the case show a worm “firmly attached” inside the man’s stomach.

Surgeons used a special device, called a Roth net, to remove the parasite, and the man’s symptoms resolved.

Most cases of the parasite have previously occurred in Japan, but the disease has been increasingly recognized as a problem in the West, the authors wrote.

Patients can have other symptoms too, including nausea, digestive bleeding, bowel obstruction, inflammation of the abdomen and allergic symptoms including itching and anaphalaxis, a severe and life-threatening reaction, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Daniel Eiras, assistant professor of infectious diseases at NYU Langone Medical Center, told CBS News that it’s pretty rare to see cases in the U.S. He’s only seen one case about two years ago, in a 45-year-old man.

“He was having reflux and severe abdominal pain. They thought he had a mass in his belly, cancer in his small intestine, so they took out the mass and looked at it under the microscope and it was one of these worms,” said Eiras.

Cases of anisakiasis are probably widely underreported, though, he said, because primary care doctors and pharmacists, the first health care professionals an infected person might consult with, typically aren’t aware of or looking for this type of parasite.

“We don’t do endoscopies on every person with stomach complaints, so we don’t know. Presumably there are many people who get anisakiasis and it gets sloughed out of their digestive system. It doesn’t lay eggs or continuously infect the intestine,” Eiras said.

So, only cases where the parasite actually embeds in the stomach or intestine wall may actually come to light, he explained.

The parasite can crop up in raw or undercooked seafood such as cod, fluke, haddock and monk fish.

Dr. Donald Hensrud, medical director of the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program and specialist in nutrition and preventive medicine, told CBS News that pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems, such as HIV patients or individuals taking biologic drugs, should avoid raw or undercooked fish and seafood. They can carry a risk for other illnesses, too.

Two years ago, a salmonella outbreak was linked to raw tuna.,” said Hensrud, the author of the Mayo Clinic Diet book.

Don’t eat raw fish at sketchy restaurants, either, Eiras recommended.

“I would not go to a restaurant with a ‘C’ rating in New York largely for this reason. It’s a big red flag when a sushi restaurant can’t maintain an ‘A’ rating, because one of the main things they get rated on is refrigeration. They’re not cooking the fish so that is the only prevention method, keeping it cold,” he said.

The same goes for eating ceviche — a dish made from raw fish and cured in lemon or lime juice — and poke, a Hawaiian raw fish salad that’s increasingly popping up on menus.

When preparing fish at home, cook seafood to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends. The FDA says freezing fish can kill parasites, too.

Moratorium on cownose ray fishing contests passed by Maryland General Assembly

ANNAPOLIS, Md. – (AP) – A moratorium on fishing for cownose rays has been passed by the Maryland General Assembly.

The legislature voted Wednesday to send the bill to Gov. Larry Hogan.

It creates a moratorium on contests that involve killing the rays until July 1, 2019. It also requires the Department of Natural Resources to prepare a fisheries management plan by Dec. 31, 2018.

The Humane Society of the United States has condemned the contests. The organization is calling the bill a major step in protecting Chesapeake Bay wildlife.

Legislation initially called for a ban. The moratorium was part of a compromise. Opponents of a permanent ban say the rays have been identified as damaging to bay oyster populations, but supporters say science has shown the rays are not responsible for oyster declines.

Humpback whale “anchored” by fishing gear rescued off Boston

Read more at http://www.grindtv.com/wildlife/humpback-whale-anchored-fishing-gear-rescued-off-boston/#1XMtfstShYiBILVH.99

A juvenile humpback whale that had become “anchored” to the sea floor by fishing ropes has been rescued off the Boston area.

Ropes attached to submerged fishing traps were wrapped around the base of the whale’s fluke, or tail. While the mammal could surface to breathe, it struggled to swim.

The whale had been in this perilous situation since at least last Thursday, when it was discovered by commercial fishermen. “The whale had likely been anchored by its entanglement for the better part of a week,” the Center for Coastal Studies said in a statement posted Monday.

Rough weather hampered the rescue effort until the weekend, but on Sunday a team involving the CCS, Massachusetts Environmental Police, and U.S. Coast Guard completed a successful disentanglement.

RELATED: Humpback whale calf isn’t about to let stranded mom die; video

Rescue work was performed from an inflatable vessel. The team used a hook-shaped knife attached to a 30-foot pole to remove ropes from the whale’s injured fluke

After the 30-foot whale was freed, the team followed the cetacean for two hours and reported, “While the prognosis for the whale is now much better, it will take time for it to heal.”

Last week off Northern California, commercial fishermen took matters into their own hands and cut loose a humpback whale that had become badly entangled in crab-fishing gear.
Read more at http://www.grindtv.com/wildlife/humpback-whale-anchored-fishing-gear-rescued-off-boston/#1XMtfstShYiBILVH.99

World’s Biggest Sockeye Run Shut Down as Wild Pacific Salmon Fight for Survival

     Climate

 Salmon have been swimming in Pacific Northwest waters for at least 7 million years, as indicated by fossils of large saber-tooth salmon found in the area. During that time, they’ve been a key species in intricate, interconnected coastal ecosystems, bringing nitrogen and other nutrients from the ocean and up streams and rivers to spawning grounds, feeding whales, bears and eagles and fertilizing the magnificent coastal rainforests along the way.

Salmon have been swimming in Pacific Northwest waters for at least seven million years.iStockFor as long as people have lived in the area, salmon have been an important food source and have helped shape cultural identities. But something is happening to Pacific coast salmon.

This year, British Columbia’s sockeye salmon run was the lowest in recorded history. Commercial and First Nations fisheries on the world’s biggest sockeye run on British Columbia’s longest river, the Fraser, closed. Fewer than 900,000 sockeye out of a projected 2.2 million returned to the Fraser to spawn. Areas once teeming with salmon are all but empty.

Salmon define West Coast communities, especially Indigenous ones. The West Coast is a Pacific salmon forest. Today, salmon provide food and contribute to sustainable economies built on fishing and ecotourism. West Coast children learn about the salmon life cycle early in their studies.

Salmon migrations, stretching up to 3,000 kilometers, are among the world’s most awe-inspiring. After spending adult lives in the ocean, salmon make the arduous trip up rivers against the current, returning to spawn and die where they hatched. Only one out of every thousand salmon manages to survive and return to its freshwater birthplace.

So what’s going wrong? Climate change is amplifying a long list of stressors salmon already face. Sockeye salmon are sensitive to temperature changes, so higher ocean and river temperatures can have serious impacts. Even small degrees of warming can kill them. Low river flows from unusually small snowpacks linked to climate change make a tough journey even harder.

Oceans absorb the brunt of our climate pollution—more than 90 percent of emissions-trapped heat since the 1970s. Most warming takes place near the surface, where salmon travel, with the upper 75 meters warming 0.11 C per decade between 1971 and 2010. Although ocean temperatures have always fluctuated, climate change is lengthening those fluctuations. A giant mass of warmer-than-average water in the Pacific, known as “the blob,” made ocean conditions even warmer, with El Niño adding to increased temperatures. Salmon have less food and face new predators migrating north to beat the heat.

Beyond creating poor environmental conditions for salmon, climate change increases disease risks. Warm conditions have led to sea lice outbreaks in farmed and wild salmon, and a heart and muscle inflammatory disease has been found in at least one farm. Scientists researching salmon movement through areas with farms are finding wild fish, especially young ones, with elevated parasite levels. Diseases that cause even slight deficiencies in swimming speed or feeding ability could make these marathon swimmers easy prey.

More: http://www.ecowatch.com/wild-salmon-climate-change-2011395747.html

UK to ban fishing from a million square kilometres of ocean

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/sep/15/uk-to-ban-fishing-from-a-million-square-kilometres-of-ocean

Government creates marine protected areas around four islands in the Pacific and Atlantic, with commercial fishing banned in some areas
One of the world’s biggest marine protected ares will be created around the Pitcairn Islands

Adam Vaughan
Thursday 15 September 2016 06.

In total, the government is creating marine protected areas around four islands in the Pacific and Atlantic, including the designation this week of one of the world’s biggest around the Pitcairn Islands.

A 840,000 sq km (320,000 sq mile) area around Pitcairn, where the mutineers of the Bounty settled, becomes a no-take zone for any fishing from this week. St Helena, around 445,000 sq km of the south Atlantic ocean and home to whale sharks and humpbacks, is now also designated as a protected area.

The foreign office said it would designate two further marine protection zones, one each around two south Altantic islands – Ascension by 2019 and Tristan da Cunha by 2020.
The stories you need to read, in one handy email
Read more
Sir Alan Duncan, minister of state for Europe and the Americas, said: “Protecting 4m sq km of ocean is a fantastic achievement, converting our historic legacy into modern environmental success.”

Commercial fishing will be banned in all of Pitcairn’s zone – excepting ‘sustainable’ local fishing – and half of the 445,390 sq km Ascension protected area. Fishing will be allowed in the other areas, but activities such as oil drilling will be prohibited.

Conservationists welcomed the new protections. “By protecting the vast array of marine life within these rich waters, the United Kingdom has solidified its position as a leader in ocean conservation,” said Joshua S Reichert, of the Pew Charitable Trusts, which is working with the UK on technology to monitor the Pitcairn area.

Jonathan Hall, the RSPB’s head of UK Overseas Territories, said: “This is simply enormous and shows world-leading vision.”

Advertisement

The UK announcement, at the Our Oceans summit in Washington, came as the White House said the US would ban fishing in a 5,000 sq km area in the Altantic, known as the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts marine national monument. That followed Barack Obama’s expansion last month of the Papahānaumokuākea monument off Hawaii.

In his speech at the Washington conference, Duncan quipped: “this was going to have been my big moment, because until last week the Pitcairn MPA would have been the largest in the world. But President Obama sort of rather blew that out of the water by announcing an even bigger MPA in Hawaii – trust the Yanks to indulge in a bit of one-upmanship over us poor Brits.

“But we’re happy as our loss is the world’s gain and we congratulate the United States.”

This week, scientists warned that humanity is driving an unprecedented extinction of the largest marine creatures that could affect ocean ecology for millions of years. Experts said the large range required for such creatures meant large-scale marine protected areas would be a key part of addressing the problem.