A monthly round-up of news and trends important to the AltaSea community.
For the first time, anyone with an internet connection can see global fishing activity and track commercial fishing vessels in near real-time — for free. Actor and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio unveiled this Global Fishing Watch tool to the public at the 2016 Our Ocean Conference hosted by U.S. State Department in September. Global Fishing Watch is the result of a partnership between Oceana, SkyTruth and Google. The goal of the program is to engage the public in tracking illegal fishing, global overfishing and habitat destruction. Crowdsourcing tools like this put the power of environmental change in the hands of everyday people. Now you, too, can feel like the king of the world.
More Than $1 Billion Pledged for Ocean Science, Conservation (Philanthropy News Digest)
Public and private funders have recently announced commitments totaling more than $1 billion for ocean conservation, science and management. The announcements were made at the U.S. State Department’s 2016 Our Ocean Conference and came from organizations as diverse as the Gordon and Betty Moore, Packard, Walton Family, and Waitt foundations; the blue moon fund; the Wildlife Conservation Society; and the Global Environment Facility. These commitments will support the expansion and improved effectiveness of marine protected areas across the world for people, marine wildlife and ecosystems.
Whenever humans enter an ecosystem, historically the larger animals are lost to extinction first. A new study from the journal Science shows that the oceans are no different. TIME spotlights the findings of a recent study, reporting that “in the past, smaller animals tended to face greater extinction risk than their larger counterparts. Today, that has been flipped thanks largely to human fishing and hunting. And the problem has only worsened in recent years as technology has allowed humans to hunt for animals further from the coast and in deeper waters.”
Obama Designates the First-Ever Marine Monument Off the East Coast, in New England (The Washington Post)
President Obama has made history by establishing the first National Monument…in the Atlantic Ocean. The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument is a vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean and the topography beneath it that is now a federally protected area where industrial fishing, energy extraction and other forms of commercial exploitation are prohibited. “Obama’s previous marine conservation declarations have focused on some of the most remote waters under U.S. jurisdiction, including last month’s expansion of a massive protected area in Hawaii. But the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument is more accessible, lying 130 miles off the southeast coast of Cape Cod.”
Sustainable and Innovative Business
As the Seaweed Industry Booms, How Can We Farm Seaweed More Sustainably? (Public Radio International)
Is seaweed getting too popular? The seaweed industry was worth more than $6 billion in 2014, and today, farms of cultivated seaweed continue to spread off the coasts of China, Korea, Indonesia and elsewhere. But while seaweed’s popularity brings with it plenty of economic and nutritional benefits, a new report from scientists at the United Nations University cautions that the way we’re farming the crop may be putting our supply at risk. PRI explores what the boom in seaweed demand means for the future of seaweed.
More Than Half of All Businesses Ignore UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (The Guardian) Last year, 193 governments came together to identify goals for making progress against 17 major world issues by 2030, now known as the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs.) The goals were a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. However, the business sector’s participation has been disappointing in the first year since the goals were introduced, and there is a $3 trillion gap in funding. Several of the 17 goals are directly related to ocean conservancy, including: clean water and sanitation, climate action and life below water. Two surveys reveal that less than half of businesses plan to engage with the goals. Regionally, respondents from North American companies report the lowest levels of planned engagement.
Prehistoric “Movie Monster” Mollusk Re-created With 3-D Printer (National Geographic)
3D printers can bring animals back from extinction…sort of. Scientists from University of Texas at Austin used 3D printers to help create a replica of a spikey, well-armored mollusk that lived 390 million years ago. Scientists had only known the creature, less than an inch long, from a few partial fossils and specimens. Using three-dimensional technology the team was able to create a physical model of the specimen. Scientists hope that creating accurate models that can be seen and felt could inspire kids to explore paleontology.
We are pleased to share that AltaSea was recently awarded a $3 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration. This grant will go a long way in establishing San Pedro and the Port of Los Angeles as a centerpiece for marine research and commerce. More specifically, the funds will go toward critical infrastructure improvements to help entrepreneurs working in our Business Hub develop new ocean-related technologies. This grant is just the latest example of how AltaSea is continuing to bring millions of dollars of new investments into the Harbor community and creating hundreds of new jobs for residents.
Congratulations to our friends and partners at Catalina Sea Ranch for receiving a $500,000 grant to boost their work in expanding sustainable aquaculture off of the Southern California coast. Currently, 91 percent of seafood in the US is imported from China, but that won’t be the case for long if Catalina Sea Ranch has its way. The organization, based at AltaSea, is the first offshore shellfish ranch in U.S. federal waters and aims to increase commercial shellfish aquaculture while improving ecosystem health.
Doug Aitken Plans Underwater Art Installation (New York Times)
Is underwater the new frontier for art? Doug Aitken thinks so. Later this month, Aitken will premiere “Doug Aitken: Underwater Pavilions,” a large-scale installation consisting of three underwater sculptures that will float off the coast of Santa Catalina Island. The geometric, reflective pieces will be suspended five, 10 and 50 feet below the surface. And, unlike most art exhibits, these sculptures will be interactive: water-savvy art lovers will be able to swim inside and through them.