World Oceans Day

8th June 2020

Today is World Oceans Day. Sue Wells introduces the day in a blog here for CCI. Despite the fact that we are a land-locked county, many CCF members work in the marine sector. Here’s a round-up of some of their work.

You can read about IWC‘s collaborative work here

RSPB work to protect seabirds globally. This is done through a wide range of activities, from exciting citizen science projects such as Project Puffin in which people can submit photos of puffins carrying food in their bills to build up a long-term dataset of dietary changes, to island restoration work aimed at enhancing breeding conditions for roseate terns and extensive tracking studies to identify marine hotspots for some of the UK’s most threatened seabirds.

JNCC work to monitor Marine Protected Zones in order to better understand and protect them for the future.

FFI published a piece today about the effects of Covid-19 on the marine world and their response to it. Read more here

Synchronicity Earth work with partners including BLOOM who recently published this report on the MSC label. Meanwhile, in Papua New Guinea (PNG) BRG and partners worked to protect the seabed from deep sea mining activities. Anna Heath of Synchronicity Earth reports:

“The company Nautilus Minerals first proposed to start a seabed mining operation in PNG in 2009. The proposed site, named “Solwara 1”, was to be the first of its kind and is located just 25km off the coast of New Ireland Province in PNG. Seabed mining is a rapidly emerging threat which was kick-started by recent advances in technology and perceived value in minerals found in the deep sea. However, scientific studies have found that seabed mining would destroy sensitive habitats in the deep sea, with unclear consequences for surrounding areas. This damage is very likely irreversible as regeneration possibilities in the deep sea are highly uncertain. In PNG, there is anecdotal evidence of shark and dolphin populations dropping in the Bismarck Sea since Nautilus began its exploration activities in the area. This is highly significant for local communities, many of which rely on a traditional practice of “shark calling” – attracting sharks to small boats to be caught for meat.

Since 2009, grassroots organisations in PNG, including Bismarck Ramu Group, the Alliance of Solwara Warriors, and Act NOW! PNG, have been supporting communities to organise against this industrial development. This has included protests, petitions, and even a court case against the project in PNG courts. Nautilus Minerals has suffered serious financial setbacks over the past few years, including significant divestments from the company. In November 2019, Nautilus Minerals was officially declared bankrupt and it was agreed the company would be liquidated. The PNG government has also seemingly done a U-turn on its stance on seabed mining. While it was originally a strong proponent of the industry, its new Prime Minister, James Marape, made a statement in late 2019 that he supports a ten-year moratorium on seabed mining until mining technology is environmentally sound. These developments in 2019 were major successes, largely influenced by activism from local organisations and communities. It is hoped this will be the first step in stopping mining in the Bismarck Sea from ever going ahead. Given the seabed mining industry has been looking to PNG as a test case for seabed mining, it is hoped that this major ‘setback’ will also prevent mining going ahead in other regions.”