This post comes to us from our Oceana offices in Europe. Click here to read the post in the original Spanish version.
August 7, 2013
In an event attended by José Ramón Bauzá, the President of the government of the Balearic Islands, and Gabriel Company, Minister of Agriculture, Environment and Territory, the Cabrera National Park hosted the yearly tradition of returning rescued sea turtles to the sea. This event inspires us to take a moment to recognize the benefits of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) like the Cabrera National Park -- safe havens that are essential to the conservation of loggerhead sea turtles and many other species.
Because you can’t keep pulling out the same stale old facts at your Shark Week parties, we're going to hook you up with some fresh new shark facts to astound and amaze your friends and family! When we told a few of these shark facts to the basking shark in the photo below, his jaw dropped:
1. The basking shark uses its enormous mouth to filter plankton out of up to 395,000 gallons (1.5 million liters) of seawater through the huge gills that almost encircle its head
2. The curiously named cookiecutter shark is a parasite that bites circular chunks out of its prey. Holding onto its victim by suction, it twists itself around, using its razor-sharp lower teeth to bite out a cookie-shaped piece of flesh. As if that wasn’t freaky enough, the nocturnal cookiecutter shark lures its victims with glowing green bioluminescent lights on its belly.
Big news for offshore wind! Yesterday, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) held the first-ever competitive offshore wind lease sale in the U.S. off the coasts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The Wind Energy Area, located 9.2 nautical miles offshore, covers about 164,750 acres and is divided into two lease areas, referred to as the North Lease Area, and the South Lease Area, which cover 97,500 and 67,250 acres, respectively. This is an important and momentous step towards developing a clean, abundant energy source in the U.S.
Today the U.S. Congress took one step closer to passing legislation to combat illegal, unreported, and unregulated international fishing, or “pirate fishing.” The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation reported out two bills, the International Fisheries Stewardship and Enforcement Act (S.269) and the Pirate Fishing Elimination Act (S.267), which would put in place important measures to prevent, deter, and eliminate pirate fishing around the world. The two bills, which were introduced in the last Congress by the late Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, received sweeping bipartisan support. Following today’s success in the Senate committee, the bills will head to the Senate floor for final passage.
When we told Rory and Maeve McCracken that they had won our 2013 Ocean Hero Awards in the Youth category, they were excited, to say the least: “I could barely breathe, I couldn’t move. I was so happy and so shocked at the same time,” ten-year-old Maeve explained. “I couldn’t really comprehend it at first. To me it’s just a huge honor to be listed with everyone else, let alone to win,” said fourteen-year-old Rory. The competition was stiff, but after 300 nominees, a dozen accomplished finalists, and weeks of voting, Rory and Maeve’ work to save the Gulf of Mexico won the day.
We are thrilled to announce Jean Beasley as the winner of our 2013 Ocean Hero Award. Jean established and runs a sea turtle rehabilitation center that has rescued and released over 300 sea turtles over the last sixteen years. After hundreds of nominations, a dozen inspiring finalists, and over 7,000 votes, Jean was voted the clear winner! Upon hearing of the win, Jean said, “[I was] a bit incredulous. I know that all the people that were nominated were worthy…I also have really strong feelings about the fact that it takes us all – whatever people are passionate about and whatever they’re doing and wherever they are – to help the oceans, and help the planet, and it benefits us all.”
With Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signature today, New York joins Maryland and Delaware as the third state on the East Coast to ban the sale, trade, distribution and possession of shark fins throughout the state, and the eighth state in the nation to adopt the ban. Every state that passes similar laws moves our country closer to shutting down the U.S. market for shark fin soup. This newly minted victory is already threatened, however, by proposals by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to block these important measures.
We always knew that dolphins were incredible, but this story made our jaws drop – a dolphin, captured and held in captivity for several years, escaped from her pen and reunited with her pod. The dolphin, named Sampal, was accidentally caught by fishermen off Jeju Island, near South Korea, as reported by the environmental blog Take Part, which has been charting this epic tale. Instead of being released, however, Sampal was then illegally sold by fishermen to the Pacific Land Aquarium, where she was forced for years to perform tricks for food.
In a House Natural Resources Committee meeting last week, Congressman Frank Pallone of New Jersey expressed his strong opposition to proposed seismic airgun testing along the Atlantic coast, and even delivered a question on seismic testing from Oceana directly to Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell. Pallone, a senior member of the committee, stated that because he is “staunchly opposed to drilling in the Atlantic,” he is against the proposed seismic airgun testing for oil and gas in the region. Seismic airgun testing, which uses dynamite-like blasts of compressed air to search for fossil fuels under the ocean floor, is the first step towards offshore drilling for oil and gas. A proposed plan for seismic airgun testing will span the Atlantic Ocean from Delaware to Florida.
We’re pleased to share with you that yesterday the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld necessary protections for the endangered Western Population of Steller sea lions, recognizing that this threatened population still needs protection from industrial fishing. The protections, originally established in 2010 by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), were designed to reduce competition for fish between large-scale commercial fisheries and endangered Steller sea lions. With this victory, Oceana and Greenpeace, represented by Earthjustice, successfully defended these 2010 regulations against legal attacks from the Seattle-based fishing industry and the Alaskan state government, which had appealed an earlier decision supporting the protections.