What in the marine world is changing? Highlighting golden ocean news

During the past few months, COVID-19 has flooded all major news channels globally as society has seized and ordered nations to stay at home. Perhaps you agree that the volume of reports and guidelines can seem a little overwhelming. So, let’s take a different approach and round-up some better news to celebrate the future that we still have waiting for us. We realise that darkness cannot exist without light. If you listen closely, stories of hope are speaking, let’s make those voices louder.

WHAT-ER CATCH!

We are thrilled to see two new key amendments to the Fisheries Bill passed by the House of Lords. With appreciation of effort from organisations such as MCS, UK governments now have the opportunity to place environmental sustainability at the heart of their decision and move towards a brighter future for ocean and mankind. The new commitment infuses improved technology into the commercial fishing industry by fitting remote electronic monitoring (REM) cameras to fishing boats with the aim to record everything caught including amount of fish, species and size. This includes untargeted species so will provide an effective way to monitor bycatch and ensure fisheries are following regulations. Cameras will initially be installed on all boats over 10m and use GPS to determine exactly where and when the boat is fishing, providing valuable information for scientists and data collection.

WHALE-Y QUIET SEAS

Whilst COVID-19 has restrained humans from ‘normal’ life, the stillness has evidently rippled deep down into the ocean, dampening noise otherwise caused by shipping and low frequency sonar. The question is how much, and what this means for marine life? The answer holds the treasure scientists are rushing to find during this once-in a lifetime opportunity to capture data in quieter seas. “We get this window, we get a snapshot into life without humans. And then when we come rushing back, that window will close,” remarked Cornell University marine acoustician, Michelle Fournet, published in the Narwhal. “It’s really an important time to listen.”.

Previous studies have shown the detrimental effect noise pollution has on marine life such as cetaceans (dolphins and whales), interfering with how they communicate, navigate and feed. However, this period of peace has given scientists a glimpse of life for the ocean without the constant clamour piercing deep into the ocean.

PPE FOR THE PLANET

Personal protective equipment (PPE) including masks, gloves and visors have become the new normal street wear and the highest demand within the health sector has soared. Healthcare staff have to wear up to five different pieces of PPE and may need to change these four times per shift. The BBC reported at just one hospital trust, staff used 72,000 items of PPE per day. There are 233 hospital trusts in the UK, imagine how much PPE per day that adds up to!

The government is working urgently to support the safety of our nation. While PPE is mandatory, it is coming at a massive cost. A cost that falls deeper than our pockets, plastic pollution… Regular PPE is not biodegradable or even recyclable and a huge amount will be disposed of improperly, ending up in the planets most vital resource – our ocean. Without considering solutions for the pandemic-driven spike in single use plastics, we are looking at an environmental disaster.

So, where does the good news come in?

Campaigners A Plastic Planet teamed up with packaging companies to invent the world’s first plastic-free visor. Made from FSC food-grade paper board and PEFC renewable and sustainable wood pulp, the visors cost same as regular PPE whilst minimising environmental impact without compromising on safety! This is great news and we hope more companies follow in suit to protect our planet. If you want to help, opt for plastic-free PPE or make your own DIY face covering out of materials you already have at home.

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