Scientist Pool Data to Create the $3B Ocean Map
For experts in the field of ocean mapping it is no small irony that we know more about the surfaces of the Moon and Mars than we do about our planet's sea floor."Can you imagine operating on the land without a map, or doing anything without a map?" asked Larry Mayer, director of the U.S.-based Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping, a research body that trains hydrographers and develops tools for mapping."We depend on having that knowledge of what's around us - and the same is true for the ocean…
India Plans Deep Dive for Seabed Minerals
In the 1870 Jules Verne classic "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea", underwater explorer Captain Nemo predicted the mining of the ocean floor's mineral bounty - zinc, iron, silver and gold.India is catching up with that only now, as it prepares to unearth treasures down below, aiming to boost its economy.The floor of the world's seas is scattered with vast beds of black potato-shaped polymetallic nodules comprising copper, nickel, cobalt, manganese, iron and rare earth elements.These natural goodies are key to making modern gadgets…
New Kenyan Coastguard Targets Illegal Fishing
The launch of a coastguard in Kenya - one of a handful in Africa - could cut illegal fishing and boost the economy, experts said on Tuesday, although the service only has one boat so far.Kenya loses about $97 million a year to foreign boats fishing without permission, President Uhuru Kenyatta said at the launch on Monday, vowing to crack down on drug, people and arms smuggling along Kenya's lengthy coast."The role of the coastguard is quite pivotal," said David Obura, coordinator for a coastal research organisation, Cordio East Africa. "Just like on land, until you establish security of tenure its very challenging to manage it."Africa's fish stocks are being depleted by industrial trawlers which comb the oceans to feed European and Asian markets…
Zero carbon at sea? Rotterdam port eyes a greener future
In Rotterdam, ships from around the world cruise in and out of Europe's busiest port, a bustling industrial hub that employs almost 200,000 people and produces 20 percent of the Netherlands' climate-changing gases.As Rotterdam tries to cut its emissions - in line with global goals to curb global warming - shipping emissions are a particular challenge, not least because many fall outside the targets set by the Paris Agreement to curb climate change.But the city's bustling port…
Indian Fishermen Hail US Supreme Court Decision to Hear World Bank Suit
Farmers and fishermen in western India have welcomed a U.S. Supreme Court decision to hear their lawsuit against a World Bank agency, which financed a power plant they blame for damaging the environment and their livelihoods.The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear an appeal by the villagers of a lower court ruling that the International Finance Corp (IFC) was immune from such lawsuits under federal law.The court must now consider for the first time whether international organisations are immune from such suits under federal law…
Kenyan Fishermen Win Millions for Loss of Rights to New Port
Activists hailed a Kenyan court for ordering that almost 5,000 fishermen at a 14th century World Heritage Site receive millions in compensation for the loss of traditional fishing rights due to the construction of a major port.The fishermen in Lamu, the oldest Swahili settlement in East Africa, won 1.76 billion shillings ($18 million) in compensation this week from a court in the nearby town of Malindi, which also said their rights to culture and information had been violated."We were happy with the judgment…
Efforts to Curb Plastic Litter in Oceans are Working
The number of plastic bags found in the seas around Britain has significantly dropped since 2010 as European governments crack down on their use, researchers said on Thursday. The percentage of trawls by fishermen that catch at least one plastic bag in the greater North Sea, off Britain's east coast, more than halved since 2010 to 16 percent, scientists in Britain and the Netherlands said. Prior to 2010, the average was 40 percent, said the study which spanned 25 years. Several European countries…
Rising Tide of Innovation at Davos to Keep Plastic out of the Sea
Technology that could avoid the equivalent of 100 garbage bags of plastic waste being created per second received a funding boost at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Tuesday. The five winners of the "Circular Materials Challenge", which focuses on the 30 percent of plastic packaging that is too small or complex to be recycled and often ends up in the ocean, will share the $1 million prize to develop their solutions, said the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and innovation network NineSigma.
Rising Seas Will Swallow 14,000 U.S. Historic Sites - study
Almost 14,000 archeological sites and national monuments in the United States could be lost by the year 2100 as seas rise due to climate change, scientists said on Wednesday. The findings offer a glimpse into the vast amount of global cultural heritage that could be destroyed, the study said. One in 10 archeological sites that it analysed on nine southeastern coastal states risk inundation. "The data are sobering: projected sea level rise ... will result in the loss of a substantial portion of the record of both pre-Columbian and historic period human habitation…
Multi-million Dollar Deal for Somaliland's Historic Port Sparks Land Rush
The land along the road into Berbera is barren and empty. Somaliland's small, rusty Gulf of Aden port which for centuries made the town prosperous rises suddenly out of the ground as the road hits the coast. The crumbling town has languished for decades, but its fortunes look set to change following a multi-million dollar deal to revamp the port which has triggered a rush to buy land. Berbera, along the coast from Djibouti, has been a backwater since 1991 when Somaliland broke away from Somalia following a bloody civil war. The town's buildings, some dating back to the Ottoman era, stand neglected. Unemployment is rampant, exacerbated by a devastating drought that has decimated livestock, a backbone of the export economy.
Biofuels Can Cut Some Transport Emissions
Growing use of electric vehicles around the world is helping lower climate changing emissions, but some means of transport will be hard to electrify, particularly air travel and shipping, energy experts say. To “decarbonise” those, the world will need to rapidly develop and bring to market biofuels – while trying to ensure they don’t crowd out food production, say the authors of a report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). With “the right selection of the right raw material” about 12 percent of transport fuel could come from renewable sources by 2030…
Smartphone App Aims to Aid Migrant Sea Rescues
A smartphone application that allows users to scan the Mediterranean for boats in distress is being tested by a migrant rescue service, which hopes that crowdsourced information will help it save more people. The I SEA App, available on iTunes, divides a satellite image of the sea route migrants are taking into millions of small plots which are, in turn, assigned to registered users. Each user then monitors their plot through the app and can send an alert to the Malta-based Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) and the authorities if they spot potential trouble.
MSF Restarts Mediterranean Migrant Rescues
The medical relief charity Medecins sans Frontieres has relaunched rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea, accusing European governments of failing to act to save migrants in peril at sea, it said on Monday. MSF halted its maritime rescue programme in January, saying it hoped European Union member states would take up the task of search and rescue of migrants and refugees attempting the crossing from north Africa to Europe. But with rising numbers of people trying to navigate the "deadly stretch of water" between Libya and Italy as the weather warms…
Smugglers Use Facebook to Advertise Boat Trips to Italy After EU-Turkey Deal
Smugglers based in Turkey are offering to take migrants to Italy instead of Greece where they are likely to be deported under a deal between the Ankara government and European Union, according to a newspaper report. The Guardian said on Thursday that smugglers had used Facebook to advertise a boat trip to Italy from the Turkish port of Mersin - at a cost of $4,000 per person, four times the price of a journey from Turkey to Greece. "The trip is on Saturday, from Mersin to Italy, on a merchant ship 110 metres long, equipped with food, water, life jackets and medicine," the Guardian quoted the post as saying. The advert, which was no longer visible on Facebook on Friday…
MSF Ends Mediterranean Rescues, Appeals to EU
The medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) has ended its sea rescue operation aimed at reducing the number of migrants and asylum seekers killed while trying to cross the Mediterranean from north Africa to Europe, it said on Tuesday. MSF said its three ships had rescued more than 20,000 people in over 120 search and rescue operations during eight months at sea. The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has said 3,771 people died in 2015 while trying to reach Europe by sea, making the year the deadliest on record for those seeking sanctuary from conflict and poverty. "Whilst we remain absolutely convinced of the importance of dedicated search and rescue in saving lives…
Record Number of Migrants Killed Crossing Mediterranean
More than 3,770 migrants and refugees died in 2015 trying to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean Sea, making the year the deadliest on record for those seeking sanctuary from conflict and poverty, an international migration group said on Thursday. Most of those deaths occurred along a perilous central Mediterranean route used by smugglers operating out of Libya, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The deadliest month was April, when nearly 1…
One Million Migrants Traveled to Europe by Sea in 2015
More than one million refugees and migrants braved the seas in 2015 seeking sanctuary in Europe, nearly five times more than in the previous year, the United Nations' refugee agency said on Wednesday. About half of the 1,000,573 men, women and children who made the perilous journey came from war-torn Syria, while Afghans accounted for roughly a fifth, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees agency said in a statement. Most people who took to the water for Europe made their way on the Aegean Sea to Greece's islands from Turkey, it said. From Greece, many travel to wealthier western Europe. A photograph of a 3-year-old Syrian boy who drowned trying to reach Greece with his family in September appeared around the world, prompting sympathy and outrage over the refugee crisis.
Warming Could Make Oil-rich Gulf 'Intolerable' by 2100 - Study
Global warming could make life in the oil-rich, desert kingdoms of the Gulf "intolerable," with summer temperatures exceeding 60 degrees Celsius (140 F) by 2100 if action is not taken to curb fossil fuel emissions, a study warned on Monday. Using climate models and other scientific data, researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Loyola Marymount University found five of the region's major cities, including Doha, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, would exceed the limit of human habitability in summer months. "If greenhouse gas emissions continue on their current trajectory, then temperatures in that region will reach levels intolerable to humans," Elfatih A.B. Eltahir, an MIT engineering professor and the study's co-author, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Fishermen's Messaging Service Saves Lives, Boosts Income in East India
A fisherman's son and now a fisherman himself, Kulamani Tarai knows all too well that while the sea has provided sustenance to his family for generations, it can also be a cruel and deadly place. Every morning, when he leaves his mud-and-thatch home on India's east coast to venture out on his wooden boat into the Bay of Bengal, he knows there is a chance he will not return. Deaths of fishermen are common along this coastal belt of Odisha state, where calm seas can suddenly turn violent and swallow flimsy boats his, leaving families back home to grieve fathers, sons and brothers lost at sea. But a new state-run voice messaging mobile service for fishermen, which provides weather updates, ocean status forecasts and locations of where to scout for a fish, is trying to change this.
'Mass Casualties' Unless Thailand Meets Migrant Obligations
Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia should fulfil their obligations under international maritime law by rescuing thousands of migrants adrift at sea and avoiding "mass casualties", shipping experts said on Friday. landing, despite a request by the United Nations to rescue them. "We will have mass casualties on our hands if there is not an immediate and concerted search-and-rescue operation by countries in the region," said David Hammond, a maritime law expert and founder of charity Human Rights At Sea. The migrants have been at sea in rickety boats for weeks with little water and food following a crackdown by the Thai government on human trafficking.
Thieves Fry Kenya's Power Grid to Cook Fast Food
(Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The morning scene is increasingly routine for Kenyans. When it's time to start the day, the power is already out. Somewhere nearby, the shell of a wrecked electrical transformer lies on its side underneath the pole where it had been fixed 20 feet off the ground. The culprit is an unusual one: A vandal who is selling the toxic oil, drawn from the transformer, to chefs who use it for frying food in roadside stalls. Five liters of the viscous, PCB-laden liquid sells for $60. It looks like cooking oil, but lasts much longer, users say. Kenyans' appetite for fried food and cheap frying oil is stalling the country's urgent efforts to build a modern electrical grid, even as it sews the seeds of a public health crisis, experts say.
Egypt Eyes Suez Container Port Renegotiation
Egypt is trying to renegotiate an extension of an agreement worth $1.5 billion with Suez Canal Container Terminal which has a concession to run a port near the entrance to the canal, a government official said. Ahmed Amin, an advisor to Egypt's transport minister, attended talks two weeks ago with SCCT, which is 55 percent owned by APM Terminals, part of the Maersk group. Amin told Aswat Masriya, a news website sponsored by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, that talks in December would focus on the 14-year extension of the concession for the port, East Port Said. The extension agreement partially exempted SCCT from rent and other fees in exchange for the company building an $80 million pier. Amin said the terms of the extension were worth more than $1.5 billion.