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Sights on CITES: Coral Fail

This is the latest in a series of posts from CITES. See the rest of the dispatches here.

Over the weekend, CITES failed to include 31 species of red and pink coral in Appendix II, trade protections that were promised during the last CITES Conference more than two and a half years ago.

These corals are harvested to meet the growing demand for jewelry and souvenirs. The unregulated and virtually unmanaged collection and trade of these species is driving them to extinction. 

Many of the corals are long-lived, reaching more than 100 years of age, and grow slowly, usually less than one millimeter in thickness per year. These colonies are fragile and extremely vulnerable to exploitation and destruction, and their biological characteristics severely limit their ability to recover.

Oceana campaign director Dave Allison had this to say about the corals decision (first video), as well as the failure of CITES to protect marine species in general (second video.)

 


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The Scanner: On the Bright Side Edition

surfing alpaca

© REUTERS/Pilar Olivares

Happy Friday, ocean fans. It's almost spring, and a surfing alpaca exists in the world. Things are looking up.

Before we get to the week's best marine tidbits, an important announcement: Oceana board member Ted Danson will be answering questions live on CNN.com on April 1, so send your ocean queries in, stat!

Also, don't forget that today is the last day to take the Ocean IQ quiz for a chance to win prizes, including a trip with SEE Turtles.

This week in ocean news,

…Yes, CITES failed to deliver on bluefin tuna yesterday, but as Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Julie Packard pointed out, at least the conversation is changing. Bluefin is now in the same rhetorical realm as endangered land creatures such as tigers and elephants.

…Deep Sea News wrote a requiem for a robot -- the Autonomous Benthic Explorer (ABE) that was lost at sea last week during a research expedition to the Chilean Subduction Zone. On a recent dive, ABE had detected evidence of hydrothermal vents. At the time of its loss, ABE had just begun a second dive to home into a vent site and photograph it.


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Sights on CITES: Bad News for Bluefin

This is the fifth in a series of dispatches from CITES. You can read the other dispatches here.

Breaking news out of Doha: a trade ban on bluefin tuna (Appendix I listing) has been defeated, 20 votes to 68.

Although there were repeated calls from delegates from the E.U., U.S. and Monaco to allow time for parties to meet and arrive at a compromise position, a Libya delegate forced a preemptory vote on the E.U. proposal, which resulted in a 43 to 72 vote, with 14 abstaining.

Campaign director Dave Allison called the defeat "a clear win by short-term economic interest over the long-term health of the ocean and the rebuilding of Atlantic bluefin tuna populations."

The decision could spell the beginning of the end for the tigers of the sea.

Here's Oceana's Maria Jose Cornax on the decision: 

 

 

 


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Sights on CITES: Rough Day for Sharks

This is the fourth in a series of posts from CITES. Read the rest of the CITES dispatches here.

It was an eventful day at CITES for sharks. Oceana released a report today about the international trade of shark fins, and a non-controversial, non-binding measure on sharks failed to pass. Marine scientist Elizabeth Griffin talks about today's roller coaster ride. 

 


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Sights on CITES: An Insider's Tour

This is the third in a series of posts from CITES. Check out the rest of our dispatches here,

In today's dispatch from Doha, Oceana shark scientist Rebecca Greenberg gives us an insider's tour of CITES, from the main conference hall to one of the most important strategic lobbying areas: the coffee station.

You can also read updates from author Charles Clover on MarViva's Doha Diary blog.

 


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Sights on CITES: Getting Started

Here's a second CITES video dispatch from today, this time from Max Bello, a campaigner from our Chile office. (Read the rest of the dispatches here.)

 


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Sights on CITES: En Route

This is the first in a series of posts from CITES. Read the rest of the dispatches here.

CITES is now in session in Doha, Qatar. Our team will be there for the next 10 days pushing for further trade restrictions on corals, sharks and the Atlantic bluefin tuna. They sent us this video dispatch of campaign director Dave Allison from the airport en route. Stay tuned for more!


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The Scanner: Sights on CITES Edition

bluefin tuna

© Oceana/Keith Ellenbogen

Happy Friday!

As we speak, an Oceana team is headed to the CITES conference in Doha, Qatar, which begins tomorrow. We will be bringing you updates from the conference as we push for trade restrictions for bluefin tuna, corals and sharks.

CITES wasn't the only thing on the ocean radar this week, though. Check out the rest of this week's stories:

…Scientists have found that oxygen-starved pockets of the ocean, known as dead zones, can contribute to climate change. The increased amount of nitrous oxide produced in low-oxygen waters can elevate concentrations in the atmosphere, exacerbating the impacts of global warming and contributing to holes in the ozone layer.

… OK, this one’s a little gross -- but also really cool. Forensic researchers recently dropped several dead pigs into an ocean dead zone off Vancouver Island to gain insight into how fast cadavers in an ocean can disappear thanks to scavengers. Marine researchers took advantage of the study to do their own by using an underwater camera to see what kinds of animals fed on the disintegrating dead pigs -- and how long they could tolerate low-oxygen zones. While crabs, shrimp and starfish normally stay at shallower depths (where there’s more oxygen), the scavengers pushed their limits for the pig pickin’. Who knew swine could be such a boon for ocean science?


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The Scanner: Bluefin Win Edition

Happy Friday, ocean lovers! Lots of juicy ocean news to review this week.

And don't forget, you can get pithy ocean updates all week long by following us on Twitter and Facebook. Without further ado:

...The big ocean story of this week was a positive one: the U.S. backed the bluefin tuna trade ban at the upcoming CITES meeting. The Washington Post published a great slideshow of bluefin photos and the New York Times ran an editorial urging the U.S. to convince the EU and others to follow their lead.

...Chile's fishing industry, which produces 4 percent of the world's annual catch of seafood, was hit hard by the recent earthquake. Meanwhile, the country's salmon farms, which are located hundreds of miles south of the quake's epicenter, suffered minimal damage, but have been affected by the slowdown in transportation.

...Turns out the Great Pacific Garbage Patch has a cousin in the Atlantic, hundreds of miles off the North American coast, roughly in the latitudes between Cuba and Virginia. Researchers from Woods Hole found more than 520,000 bits of trash per square mile in some areas.


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U.S Backs Bluefin Trade Ban

bluefin tuna

Some great news for the imperiled bluefin tuna: Today the U.S. announced that it supports a total ban on the international trade of the tigers of the sea, which could make a big difference in the two weeks leading up to the CITES meeting in Doha.

Thanks to all of you who have taken action leading up to CITES. Now let's hope the European Union follows suit.


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