Version 4.0 of the Digital Observatory for Protected Areas (DOPA) Explorer is now online
The Digital Observatory for Protected Areas maps all protected areas around the world larger than 10 sqkm, including marine protected areas (MPAs). For each it provides a range of data, including biodiversity, ecosystem services, and ongoing pressures.
The unnoticed collapse of big freshwater animals
While large animals are usually prominent symbols of environmental change, large riverine species are overlooked in the public consciousness. This lack of awareness persists despite an over 80% drop in their populations over the past four decades. These species can form critical part of their ecosystems, and the high level of extinction, especially among freshwater fish, is a worrying indicator of the overall environmental health of the world’s rivers.
New whale species discovered along the coast of Hokkaido
Whales found stranded along the coast of the Okhotsk Sea have been identified as the new species Berardius minimus, rather than the closely related Berardius bairdii. The distinct species had previously been recognized by local whalers, who referred to it as Kurotsuchikujira.
Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate
A new report released by the IPCC highlights the impacts climate change is already having on the ocean, which has absorbed an estimated 90% of excess heat generated by human activities. Notable conclusions include that marine heatwaves have become twice as likely, sea levels rose around 15cm during the 20th century, and that the upper layers of the sea have lost 1-3% of their oxygen.
Climate change is forcing Asian cities to rethink their flood defences
In Asia, expanding coastal cities are facing growing threats from the ocean, with rising sea levels and more extreme climatic events increasing the risk of damage and loss of life. The rate of change threatens to overwhelm traditional engineering responses, leading to the adoption of cheaper and more responsive, if less visible, flood-control measures.
Drowning in plastic: visualising the world’s addiction to plastic bottles
Around 1 million plastic bottles are purchased every minute. They form a clear symbol of how ubiquitous plastic has become in the daily lives of people all over the world. In 2018 481.6 billion bottles were purchased, enough to form a pile towering above the world’s tallest building.
Vicious cycle: delicate wash releases more plastic microfibres
A new study has found that delicate wash cycles could release up to 800,000 more microplastics than the same clothes in standard cycles, suggesting that delicate washes should be avoided to reduce increasing microplastic burden. This unexpected result highlights how much research remains needed into microplastic pollution.
Transshipment in the Western and Central Pacific
The shifting of catch from fishing vessels to transport vessels remains a critical part of the fishing industry that lacks adequate transparency. Poor transshipment monitoring increases the risk of IUU fishing going unrecognized, damaging the sustainability of fishing stocks. Regulations and data sharing need to be strengthened by all countries to improve the management of vulnerable fisheries.
Harnessing global fisheries to tackle micronutrient deficiencies
The nutritional gain from fish is related not just to quantity, but to the species identity of the fish. A new study has found that many species found in tropical waters have significantly higher levels of key micronutrients, such as calcium, iron, and zinc, while those from polar regions have higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Fish-based strategies may thus be effective in combatting micronutrient deficiency, especially among coastal populations.
15 years after tsunami, Aceh reckons with an inconsistent fisheries recovery
The 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami caused widespread devastation in Indonesia’s Aceh province. 15 years later, its impacts are still visible. Although a major international relief and aid effort was undertaken immediately following the event, some interventions were not sustainable, and did not suit local conditions.
Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2019 report released
Investment in renewable energy over the past decade has reached almost USD 2.6 trillion, including significant investment from China and Japan. Over this time, the cost of renewable energy has greatly decreased, allowing it to become more competitive with traditional polluting energy generation methods. While significant, this investment represents only a small percentage of the total needed to meet global climate change limitation targets.
MSC, SpareBank issue first green bond for sustainable fishing
Norwegian bank Sparebank 1 SMN and the Marine Stewardship Council have released the first green bonds for the fishing industry. Companies must derive over 90% of their turnover from certified sustainable products in order to benefit from these bonds.