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Tiny Pacific Nations Open World's Biggest Marine Parks

Tiny Pacific Nations Open World's Biggest Marine Parks | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it
Two of the world's smallest countries are to place nearly 2.5 million square kilometres of south Pacific Ocean in newly created marine protected areas. (RT @KayleighSSSOSL: "@stopfinning: Tiny Pacific Nations Open World’s Biggest Marine Parks!

The reserve, which covers more than 600,000 square miles, is the largest area in history by a single country for integrated ocean conservation and management. This is pretty amazing for a country whose combined landmass is 93 square miles, barely larger than that of Washington DC, but whose waters include environmentally valuable coral reefs, seagrass beds and fisheries.

The new Cook Island marine park will be zoned for multiple uses including tourism, fishing, and potentially deep-sea mineral extraction but only if these activities can be carried out sustainably.

The second country to announce a new marine park is New Caledonia, the Cook Islands’ Pacific island neighbor, which announced it will create a new marine protected area roughly half the size of India, covering 1.4m square kilometers.

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New NASA Satellite Gets the Dirt on Soil Moisture | Climate Central ("how bad is global drought?")

New NASA Satellite Gets the Dirt on Soil Moisture | Climate Central ("how bad is global drought?") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it
NASA's SMAP satellite has sent back the first global look at soil moisture, a key drought indicator.

Soil moisture is a critical indicator of drought. For decades, ground observations have done the heavy lifting but they’re few and far between. That’s why NASA spent $1 billion to launch a soil moisture monitoring satellite earlier this year. After months of calibration, the satellite dubbed the Soil Moisture Active Passive mission or SMAP (go ahead and try not to say “oh, SMAP” in your head), has sent back the first global view of soil moisture.

SMAP uses two instruments — a radar and radiometer — to measure soil moisture at a 5.6-mile resolution, all with the goal of providing a better view of how water moves across the planet, particularly on land (a helpful piece of knowledge for humans). The above map was created using the radar, which sends microwave pulses from the satellite down to the Earth’s surface 426 miles below, and then measures the backscatter that pops back up. For the map, good soil moisture in places such as the Amazon basin and forests of northern Canada is indicated in red. In comparison, drier spots from the Arctic tundra to the Sahara Desert are in blue.

The shifts in soil moisture from week-to-week or year-to-year is a key piece of information for people working in fields and forests. It provides a key measure of drought and an indicator for forecasting out river flows, reservoir levels, the severity of wildfire season and crop irrigation availability.

SMAP’s equipment also allow it to monitor whether soil is frozen, muddy or dried out. The frozen-or-not part could prove particularly insightful for Arctic permafrost, which stores large quantities of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. That permafrost is expected to thaw as the planet warms, but observation stations in the region are sparse and estimates of that thaw could get a boost with the new data.

More soil moisture data is also key for climate scientists looking to understand what areas are likely to get drier due to climate change. SMAP’s high-resolution data means they’ll be able to refine their models and help everyone from farmers to firefighters understand what the future could have in store.


Bert Guevara's insight:

Here is a preview of the new satellite equipment that measures soil moisture. Red is good; blue is bad.


SMAP uses two instruments — a radar and radiometer — to measure soil moisture at a 5.6-mile resolution, all with the goal of providing a better view of how water moves across the planet, particularly on land (a helpful piece of knowledge for humans). The above map was created using the radar, which sends microwave pulses from the satellite down to the Earth’s surface 426 miles below, and then measures the backscatter that pops back up. For the map, good soil moisture in places such as the Amazon basin and forests of northern Canada is indicated in red. In comparison, drier spots from the Arctic tundra to the Sahara Desert are in blue.

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Banks are now realizing importance and potential for water investments ("risen to economic concern")

Banks are now realizing importance and potential for water investments ("risen to economic concern") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

According to the World Economic Forum, water scarcity ranks first among all long-term risks worldwide.
Australia, Brazil and the United States are only a few examples of where droughts have affected everything from agriculture, hydropower and those everyday tasks most of take for granted. California’s annual snowpack this year was only 12 percent of normal — which has had a huge impact on the state’s skiing industry as well as its growing dairy sector. Finding solutions has proven to be a political minefield.
Meanwhile more businesses are starting to grasp the impact that the global water crises will have on their businesses, especially the financial sector. Recent announcements by both Wells Fargo and Bank of America indicate that banks are starting to take a larger interest in the threats that global water shortages will long have on society and the global economy.
“We’re in a unique position as the country’s number one commercial real estate lender, the number one agriculture lender, and the leading energy lender,” Ashley Grosh, a Wells Fargo vice president and the company’s environmental affairs business initiatives manager, tells Sustainable Brands. “We have built a strong relationship with many of these organizations, including Imagine H2O, and realized the immediate thing we can be doing related to water was putting our resources on scalable technologies.”
"Successful water innovation businesses represent self-financing solutions to water challenges," explains Imagine H2O Chief Operating Officer Scott Bryan. Collaboration with businesses such as Wells Fargo has allowed Imagine H2O to offer support to at least 60 companies, out of the 450 who have applied the past six years.
By working with several universities in California alone, Grosh says, “We are learning about what tools are needed to prepare farmers for the ‘new normal.’ How can we help them adjust their entire operations to do more with less?”
Grosh explained further that observations of what is going on at the university level can give the company an idea of which water technologies are ripe for investment, and then can be taken to the next level, by an organization such as Imagine H2O. The big question, however, is whether new irrigation methods, desalination, water-filtration technologies and smartphone apps will be enough to help California and other regions cope with what could be a long-term drought crisis. In the meantime, Wells Fargo sees plentiful opportunities to be an engaged investor and corporate citizen as more entrepreneurs in regions such as Silicon Valley flock from smartphones to smarter water systems.

Bert Guevara's insight:

Water has become a long-term investment.


"Meanwhile more businesses are starting to grasp the impact that the global water crises will have on their businesses, especially the financial sector. Recent announcements by both Wells Fargo and Bank of America indicate that banks are starting to take a larger interest in the threats that global water shortages will long have on society and the global economy."

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Insecticide contamination of global surface waters substantially higher than expected

Insecticide contamination of global surface waters substantially higher than expected | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it
A new study evaluated for the first time comprehensive global insecticide contamination data for agricultural surface waters using the legally-accepted regulatory threshold levels (RTLs) as defined during the official pesticide authorization procedures. The results are alarming: more than 40% of the water-phase samples with a detection of an insecticide concentration, exceeded respective RTLs. Concerning the exposure of sediments (i.e., deposits at the bottom of the surface water bodies), more than 80% of the insecticide concentrations exceeded RTLs, which, however, often are less binding from a regulatory perspective. Overall, the results of this study indicate that insecticides pose substantial threats to the biodiversity of global agricultural surface waters and that the current regulatory risk assessment schemes and pesticide authorzsation procedures fail to protect the aquatic environment.

The results of this study fundamentally challenge the current regulatory risk assessment procedures for pesticides and indicate threats to the freshwater biodiversity at the global scale. "Potential reasons for these findings are failures of current risk assessment procedures or farmers` non-adherence to pesticide application prescriptions" says Ralf Schulz, one of the authors of this study. Fundamentally reforming global conventional agricultural systems and the adoption of promising approaches from organic farming are possible ways to meet the twin challenges of providing sufficient food for a growing human population and reversing the adverse impacts of agricultural pesticides on global ecosystems such as surface waters.

Bert Guevara's insight:

The continued use of poisons to protect man, is now threatening man.

"The authors conclude that the acute environmental risk for surface waters apparently even increased with the development of newer insecticide classes. In addition, the risks of insecticides for aquatic ecosystems are unacceptably high even in highly regulated countries such as the EU or the US although currently used major pesticide legislations were enforced in the regions already at the beginning of the 1990s. Moreover, an in-depth analysis showed that in less regulated countries (e.g., countries in Africa or Asia), 42% of the insecticide concentrations exceeded the RTL; surprisingly, this figure is only slightly lower (i.e., 40% RTL exceedances) in highly regulated countries such as the US, EU, Canada, Japan or Australia."

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Nearly 150 Dolphins Die In Mass Beaching On Japan's Coast ("the oceans have turned upside down")

Nearly 150 Dolphins Die In Mass Beaching On Japan's Coast ("the oceans have turned upside down") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it
Locals, police, and coast guard officials tried to save the animals that became beached on the coast Friday, but news agencies reported only three survived.

Dozens of people were seen pouring buckets of water on the dolphins, trying to keep them wet, the Associated Press reported.

The animals were found on a stretch of sand in Hokota, about 60 miles northeast of Tokyo.

“They are alive. I feel sorry for them,” one man at the scene told Japanese broadcaster NHK.

Some of the dolphins reportedly were moving their fins, but many were badly scratched, presumably from swimming in shallow water.

Despite efforts to save the animals, most of them died, Agence France-Pressreported. Only three of 149 are believed to have been successfully returned to the water. The others were to be buried.

Tadasu Yamadao, a researcher at the National Museum of Nature and Science, told AFP the dolphins may have become lost if the sonar waves emitted by the animals were absorbed by other fish, causing them to become disoriented.

“We see one or two whales washing ashore a year, but this may be the first time we have found over 100 of them on a beach,” a coast guard official said.

 

Bert Guevara's insight:

This mass beaching is unusual! The reason is still unknown. Poor dolphins.

 

"Tadasu Yamadao, a researcher at the National Museum of Nature and Science, told AFP the dolphins may have become lost if the sonar waves emitted by the animals were absorbed by other fish, causing them to become disoriented.

“We see one or two whales washing ashore a year, but this may be the first time we have found over 100 of them on a beach,” a coast guard official said.

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Scientists Have Found A New Way To Save The World’s Coral Reefs, And It’s Pretty Fishy ("it's doable")

Scientists Have Found A New Way To Save The World’s Coral Reefs, And It’s Pretty Fishy ("it's doable") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it
For a healthy coral reef, just add fish.

The researches found that reefs with no fishing had about 1,000 kilograms (2,204 pounds) of fish biomass per hectare (2.47 acres), and that to avoid a total collapse of ecosystem health, reefs needed to stay above a minimum of 100 kgs (about 220 lbs) of fish biomass per hectare. To keep their ecosystems healthy and be able to sustain fishing needs, reefs needed to keep fish biomass at at least 500 kgs (1,102 lbs) of fish biomass per hectare.

Unfortunately, according to the study, most of the world’s coral reefs aren’t succeeding at maintaining this biomass level. The researchers found that 83 percent of the coral reefs studied didn’t have a fish biomass of 1,102 lbs per 2.47 acres. But this doesn’t mean those reefs can’t still recover, said Aaron MacNeil, lead author of the study and senior research scientist for the Australian Institute of Marine Science.

MacNeil told ThinkProgress in an email that, because of the wide range of regulatory measures that can be put in place to regulate fishing methods or limit the amount or type of fish taken from a region, even poorer countries can take steps to improve their reef health.

“Our study is important because it shows that there are a range of management options available, including gear restrictions, limits on the species that can be caught, and caps on who can access the fishery,” he said. “Ultimately the most effective regulations are those that will be complied with and it is up to local people (and governments) to figure out what those are.”

Bert Guevara's insight:

Saving our coral reefs has a formula - maintain the desired fish population. The missing element is the political will of regulators, although there are other problems that aggravate the problem.


"Despite the study’s confirmation that more fish leads to a healthier reef, and that there are many steps regions can take to protect their reefs, the authors write that marine reserves and fishing regulations aren’t enough to combat the threats reefs face from climate change and ocean acidification."

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California farmers resign themselves to drought: 'Nobody's fault but God's' ("why not ask God's help?")

California farmers resign themselves to drought: 'Nobody's fault but God's' ("why not ask God's help?") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it
Despite efforts to dig deeper into the earth to get at diminishing groundwater, the spectre of desertification may cost Central Valley farmers too much to carry on

As California faces a likely fourth year of drought, demand for drilling in the Central Valley has exploded. Hammond’s company, Arthur & Orum, can barely keep up: its seven rigs are working flat-out, yet a white folder with pending requests is thicker than three telephone books.

“We’re having to go deeper and deeper,” said Hammond. “They say we’re tapping water millions of years old. That boggles the mind. I can hardly grasp it.”

Meagre rain has depressed the water table so much that in some areas drills bore more than 1,500ft. Sucking up water stored long underground can cause soil to subside and collapse. In some places the land has dropped by a foot. Hydrogeologists have warned that pumping out groundwater faster than it can recharge threatens springs, streams and ecosystems.

The spectre of desertification inched closer this week. The Sierra Nevada snowpack, which supplies about a third of California’s water, is paltry. The California Cooperative Snow Surveys Program found just 6.7in of snow – close to the lowest on record – at a survey spot near Echo Summit.

Storms in December and February mean reservoirs hold more water than this time last year, but they remain well below average. Conservation efforts are slipping. In January urban areas used 9% less water than January 2013, far below the official target of 20%.


Bert Guevara's insight:

When we run out of people to blame; we blame God!

In the Philippines, we turn to God instead using prayers.

“They’ll keep growing crops around here until they pump the valley dry. If something doesn’t change, everything will dry up and die. It won’t be farmable anymore.”

"The community had hoped for a “miracle March” of bountiful rain but that seems unlikely, he said, scanning azure skies. “Nobody’s fault but God’s.”"

 
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California Imposes First-Ever Mandatory Water Restrictions ("we better start getting used to this")

California Imposes First-Ever Mandatory Water Restrictions ("we better start getting used to this") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it
The state is facing a historic drought

California’s governor issued unprecedented mandatory water restrictions for the entire state on Wednesday, in the face of a persistent drought that is growing dire.

Governor Jerry Brown directed the State Water Resources Control Board to cut the state’s water usage by 25% by enacting a series of water-reduction practices, which could translate to savings of about 1.5 million acre-feet of water over the next nine months. The plan would include replacing 50 million sq. ft. of lawns throughout the state with drought-tolerant landscaping, replacing appliances with energy-efficient models and enforcing restricted water use for places like golf courses and cemeteries. Additional measures will address agricultural water use and investment in water-saving technologies.

“Today we are standing on dry grass where there should be five feet of snow. This historic drought demands unprecedented action,” said Brown in a statement referring to the record-low snowpack in the Sierra Nevada. “Therefore, I’m issuing an executive order mandating substantial water reductions across our state. As Californians, we must pull together and save water in every way possible.”

The order also asks local water agencies to implement conservation pricing, which can encourage water reductions and discourage waste. Local water suppliers will be required to report water usage, conservation and enforcement actions every month.

A year ago, Governor Brown declared the drought a state of emergency. The drought has lasted four years so far.

Bert Guevara's insight:

Severe droughts were foreseen many years ago when we started discussing climate change. But instead of preparing for it, many didn't care and went about doing the usual thing (and even denying it). This is an example of what a delayed reaction looks like.

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Infographic: Why Waste Water?

Infographic: Why Waste Water? | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it
Requiring all water to be drinkable, regardless of its planned use, wastes water, energy and money. There is a better way.
Bert Guevara's insight:

Why waste water when we can reuse it?

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Starving Sea Lions Washing Ashore by the Hundreds in California ("innocent victims of warming oceans")

Starving Sea Lions Washing Ashore by the Hundreds in California ("innocent victims of warming oceans") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it
Animal rescuers are reporting five times more sea lion rescues than normal. Experts suspect unusually warm waters are driving mothers away to look for food, leaving pups to swim from home.

Experts suspect that unusually warm waters are driving fish and other food away from the coastal islands where sea lions breed and wean their young. As the mothers spend time away from the islands hunting for food, hundreds of starving pups are swimming away from home and flopping ashore from San Diego to San Francisco.

Many of the pups are leaving the Channel Islands, an eight-island chain off the Southern California coast, in a desperate search for food. But they are too young to travel far, dive deep or truly hunt on their own, scientists said.

This year, animal rescuers are reporting five times more sea lion rescues than normal — 1,100 last month alone. The pups are turning up under fishing piers and in backyards, along inlets and on rocky cliffs. One was found curled up in a flower pot.

“They come ashore because if they didn’t, they would drown,” said Shawn Johnson, the director of veterinary science at Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito. “They’re just bones and skin. They’re really on the brink of death.”

This year is the third in five years that scientists have seen such large numbers of strandings. Researchers say they worry about the long-term consequences of climate change and rising ocean temperatures on a sea lion population that has evolved over thousands of years to breed almost exclusively on the Channel Islands, relying on circulating flows of Pacific upwellings to bring anchovies, sardines and other prey.


Bert Guevara's insight:

Why are the baby sea lions (pups) dying of starvation? What other species are starving?

"This year is the third in five years that scientists have seen such large numbers of strandings. Researchers say they worry about the long-term consequences of climate change and rising ocean temperatures on a sea lion population that has evolved over thousands of years to breed almost exclusively on the Channel Islands, relying on circulating flows of Pacific upwellings to bring anchovies, sardines and other prey."

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Massive Sinkholes Break Open As Dead Sea Shrivels ("nature's revenge for water mismanagement")

Massive Sinkholes Break Open As Dead Sea Shrivels ("nature's revenge for water mismanagement") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it
There are more than 3,000 sinkholes on the banks of the Dead Sea -- and they're multiplying exponentially, according to environmentalists, as the body of water dries up.
"It's nature's revenge," said Gidon Bromberg, the Israeli Director at EcoPeace Middle East, an organization that brings together...

"These sinkholes are a direct result of the inappropriate mismanagement of water resources in the region."

More than 1,400 feet below sea level, the Dead Sea is the lowest point on land. The first sinkhole was spotted in the 1980s. By 1990, there were 40, and 15 years later new chasms are breaking open every day.

With salinity levels ten times that of the Atlantic Ocean, the Dead Sea is evaporating at a rate of nearly four feet per year and large salt pockets are left behind as the water recedes. As ground water dissolves the salt, washing it back into the Dead Sea, empty cavities develop creating massive sink holes.

Bromberg explained that sinkholes develop in clusters, collapsing into each other and creating even larger craters.

"The big fear is that overnight, the road will collapse," Bromberg said of Route 90, which runs along the Dead Sea.

A portion of Route 90 was closed for repairs this week after parts of the road sank some two inches.

Bromberg said the only way to halt the opening of these chasms is to "stabilize" the Dead Sea.

The Dead Sea relies on the fresh water of the Jordan River -- but only about 5 percent of the historic flow is currently flowing into the Dead Sea.

Bert Guevara's insight:

If something can be done to remedy the situation, then go ahead and do it! This is an example of possible human intervention to save a natural resource. In the Philippines, water bodies that are dying need to be saved from siltation, poillution, encroachments, etc.

"It's nature's revenge," ....

"Bromberg's organization argues that 30 percent of the historic flow would at least be a step in the right direction.

"If nothing is done, it's only a matter of time until someone dies," he said."

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Rio de Janeiro water pollution a safety issue for 2016 Olympics - CCTV-America

Rio de Janeiro water pollution a safety issue for 2016 Olympics - CCTV-America | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it
Concerns Rio de Janeiro won't be ready in time for the 2016 Olympics turn to a particular focus on the city's water pollution. CCTV America's Lucrecia Franco filed this report from Rio de Janeiro. ...

Floating debris forms a peninsula in one of the water ways that lead to the Guanabara Bay, some 10 kilometers (about six miles) from the starting point for the 2016 Olympic sailing events.

On a three-day visit, inspectors from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) encountered heavy pollution in the city’s bay, which is the venue for the sailing events.
Mario Moscatelli, an independent biologist who has been monitoring pollution in Rio’s bay for more than 18 years, said the city’s waters are not suitable for the games.

“We have now practically all the rivers that flow in the Guanabara bay transformed in ditches of garbage and sewage,” Moscatelli  said. “All the water inside the bay has huge volumes of debris.”

The Guanabara Bay is one of Rio’s most famous post card views, but is heavily polluted. Officials have vowed to treat 80 percent of the sewage by the time of the games that will take place in just 18 months.

Water pollution has become a major hazard for Rio de Janeiro ahead of the Olympic Games, but a team of international Olympic inspectors visiting venues believes the city will meets its promises.

“We want every single venue to be ready for the athletes to compete in a secure and safe manner,” Nawal El Moutawakel, Head of the IOC inspection team said. “We still confirm because we have been given the reassurance that all the venues will meet the level of sustainability and environmentally respected the aspects so that athletes can compete, again, in a safe and secure manner.”

Bert Guevara's insight:

From hereon, hosting the Olympics includes having clean rivers and lakes, not just having big domes. If Metro Manila wants to host the Olympics in the future, it has to clean up Laguna Lake, Manila Bay and Pasig River first.

But how about doing it for the citizens of Metro Manila first?

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Raphael Michels's curator insight, March 3, 1:13 PM

Brazilian government  just worry with the construction of domes, but forgets that we still have other important issues to solve that will influence directly with the well-being of the population and the tourists that'll come to 2016 Olympics.

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DENR urges stakeholders to address water pollution in Boracay (greed choked goose that laid gold eggs)

DENR urges stakeholders to address water pollution in Boracay (greed choked goose that laid gold eggs) | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it

hlTHE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) raised concern on Saturday over the water quality problems in Boracay, which could turn off tourists.Environment Secretary Ramon Paje sai...

THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) raised concern on Saturday over the water quality problems in Boracay, which could turn off tourists.

Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said that concerned agencies should immediately address the problem.

"All stakeholders, who benefit from the various tourism and business opportunities of the island, should help maintain the good quality of its beaches," he said.

He said the evident cause of beach pollution, which can be a big turn off for most of the tourists, is the lack of proper drainage system in the area.

Thus, he called for completion of the ongoing sewerage and drainage improvements on the island to help reduce the amount of pollutants directly discharged to surface water and groundwater.

"Concerned authorities, particularly the local government of Malay, Aklan and the Department of Tourism which heads the Boracay Task Force should look into the situation especially since the summer season is fast approaching and we are expecting highest tourist influx at this time," he said.

The DENR's Environmental Management Bureau office in Western Visayas had earlier reported that coliform bacteria levels in a drainage outlet that empties into the sea in Sitio Bulabog in Boracay exceed safe standards and reach 47,460 most probable number (mpn) per 100 milimeter (ml).

The safe level is 1,000 mpn/100ml for waters for swimming and other human contact activities.

Bert Guevara's insight:

This concern was raised many years ago. Why is the alarm raised only now? 

The truth is, tourists have aired this warning over social media in recent years and it's common knowledge by now. I am sorry to repeat the cliche: "I told you so."

"Apart from posing serious health and sanitary problems, coliform bacteria could also adversely affect aquatic resources, including marine life and coral reefs, which, aside from the powdery white sand beaches, form part of the island’s main attractions."

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Record numbers of stranded and starving sea lion pups worry rescue workers ("ocean chaos & mass kills")

Record numbers of stranded and starving sea lion pups worry rescue workers ("ocean chaos & mass kills") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it
2015 could be the worst year for stranded sea lions, which have been on the rise for three winters in a row.

In the past two years, high numbers of starving sea lion pups have washed onto California’s beaches and this year may set a record. More than 470 young sea lions have been admitted to rehab centers in the state, and what is considered to be peak stranding season is likely still on the way.

Not only are these young California sea lions sometimes found weighing half of what they should, they are often at an age when they should still be with their mothers—and depending on their milk. "They're extremely emaciated, basically starving to death," veterinarian Shawn Johnson told National Geographic.

Marine biologists aren’t exactly sure what’s lead to the surge of strandings, which began in 2013 when some 1,600 sea lion pups came ashore. That year, NOAA described the situation as an “Unusual Mortality Event” and researchers began looking for a cause.According to The Marine Mammal Center, a rescue facility in Sausalito, “so far there is no evidence of underlying primary infectious disease or toxic insult to suggest what has caused these sea lion pups to strand.”

One theory is that a drop in fish populations may be leading mother sea lions to ween their pups a few months earlier than normal. A related theory is that fewer fish are causing mothers to venture further away from their young in search of food, and the pups—who usually stay on the shores of the Channel Islands—are jumping in the water after them, but are too weak to swim in strong currents.

Bert Guevara's insight:

What's wrong with our oceans? Whales and sea lions dying in large numbers!!! The capacity of these sea creatures to adapt to changing ocean environment appears to be low. This is where we need man to intervene and remedy the situation, if possible.

"Whatever the cause of the strandings may be, rescue workers are on alert and are doing their best to keep the young animals from dying, with the hope that they can eventually be returned to the wild."

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Our public water future - closing out the corporate profiteers ("rift between private & public owners")

Our public water future - closing out the corporate profiteers ("rift between private & public owners") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it
Private water companies have never been more aggressive in their sabotaging of efforts to 'make water public', writes Satoko Kishimoto, with legal threats and challenges launched under 'free trade' agreements. But as citizens worldwide reject corporate water profiteering, the trend of water re-municipalisation has gathered unstoppable momentum.

Unfortunately on the ground, the promise of private water services has all too often turned into a mirage. Starting in 2000, increasing numbers of cities (from Atlanta to Accra, Berlin to Buenos Aires) have demanded a return to public water services as prices rose and services declined.

In the face of growing criticism, the World Water Forum has toned down its talk of privatisation - this year the language is all about "innovative investment", promoted most typically through Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs).

But on closer examination, this is another mirage. PPPs are not an "innovative" financing mechanism but a cherry-picking exercise: one that allows water multinationals the most attractive contracts (and all profits), while governments assume the risks.

In the case of Bandung in Indonesia, for example, the PPP guaranteed a private company a 20% profit rate in exchange for an investment of $500 million in water infrastructure, that could only be paid back because of the presence of profitable local industries.

But this cherry-picking means that the public sector is left operating only in regions where cost recovery is not possible - and it prevents the public sector - that can borrow at cheaper rates and is not required to pay back shareholders - to use earnings from more profitable districts to support extending service in less well-serviced low income areas.

Research by Public Services International Research Unit shows that despite the big expansion of PPPs in recent years, financing for all infrastructure across the world still predominantly comes from public sources, as high as 90%.


Bert Guevara's insight:

Water should be accessible to the public at the least possible cost. Infrastructure investments, however, bring in private profiteers who are exercising ownership over water resources. The public should be more aware.

 

"Investment in the public sector can deliver far better results than public-private partnerships. 'Our Public Water future' shows that the 235 cities (that have remunicipalised) provide better services - not only because they can reinvest all profits into infrastructure, but also because they are better placed to consider other issues such as labour rights, environmental conservation and democratic accountability.

"Undistracted from competing for markets, public water operators are also linking up through Public Public Partnerships to share learning and best practice, and build capacity of less well-resourced utilities."

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New Study Predicts Murky Future for Global Water Quality ("from volume shortage to poor quality")

New Study Predicts Murky Future for Global Water Quality ("from volume shortage to poor quality") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it
First-of-its-kind study underscores that rapidly deteriorating water quality - not just water quantity - is escalating a global water crisis.

According to a global study by the International Food Policy Research Institute and Veolia, the world is on a path toward rapidly deteriorating water quality in many countries.  The first-of-its-kind study indicates that up to 1 in 3 people will be exposed to a high risk of water pollution in 2050 from increased amounts of nitrogen and phosphorous.  Up to 1 in 5 people will be exposed to a high risk of water pollution reflected by increased levels of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD).  

Even using the most optimistic socio-economic models, water quality is projected to rapidly deteriorate over the next several decades which, in turn, will increase risks to human health, economic development and thousands of aquatic ecosystems in developed and developing economies alike.

A major consequence of excessive nitrogen and phosphorous in water bodies is eutrophication, when algae grow faster than normal, killing other aquatic life by depleting oxygen. In addition, the presence of nitrogen-based compounds in drinking water can be harmful to human health. High levels of nitrates can have particularly harmful effects on infants through the so-called “blue-baby” syndrome. Prolonged intake of high levels of nitrates by adults can also lead to gastric problems. 

The new study follows previous substantial research conducted by the two organizations indicating that half the world's population (52% of the global population or 4.8 billion people), approximately half of global grain production and 45% of total GDP ($63 trillion) will be at risk due to water stress by 2050 unless more sustainable water resource management practices are adopted.

Bert Guevara's insight:

The negative trends for water sustainability can be observed everywhere. There is little good news to look forward to.

 

"First-of-its-kind study underscores that rapidly deteriorating water quality - not just water quantity - is escalating a global water crisis."

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The Evolution Of Seafood Sustainability ("fish lovers' concern if you want long-term supply")

The Evolution Of Seafood Sustainability ("fish lovers' concern if you want long-term supply") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it
In this post we take a look at some of the key sustainability issues in the seafood industry.

Over the last five years, during my most intense immersions into the expo, there has been a clear evolution in seafood sustainability, a constant move forward. This is not a new evolution and has been occurring ever since the idea of seafood sustainability was first broached. In some ways, the evolution of seafood sustainability has been quicker and more significant than that occurring in any other food industry. For example, early aquaculture saw serious problems, such as pollution and disease, yet many of those problems have been resolved. The problems of factory farms that raise chickens, pigs and cows have not been addressed as quickly or as successfully as aquaculture.

The relatively rapid evolution of seafood sustainability has unfortunately been an obstacle in some regards to the average consumer. Due to the complexities of sustainability, and its rapid changes, consumers get overwhelmed and fail to properly understand the issues. Instead, they often tend to rely on sensationalist media reports, usually outdated, mentioning the dangers of seafood. But consumer education is starting to be addressed, as well as the development of ideas which will make it much easier for consumers to understand what is most important.

As my own contribution to correcting the misconceptions of consumers, I want to address some of the key points of the sustainability issue as it presently stands, pointing out some of its evolution as well.

Bert Guevara's insight:

What does seafood sustainability include?

 

1. Seafood sustainability is vital

2. Seafood sustainability still isn’t a major consumer concern

3. Seafood sustainability isn’t an either/or issue

4. Seafood sustainability is a complex issue

5. Seafood sustainability is about trust

6. Aquaculture is the future of seafood sustainability

7. Seafood sustainability is about diversity of species

8. Seafood sustainability should include a social element

Besides extreme cases like those in Thailand, there also needs to be a concern for local fishing communities and their economic well being. There needs to be a balancing act between strict fishing regulations and protecting the livelihoods of fishermen. It is far from an easy task, and the important point is that we need to consider these social issues in seafood sustainability discussions.

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The Pacific Ocean may have entered a new warm phase — and the consequences could be dramatic ("not part of warming")

The Pacific Ocean may have entered a new warm phase — and the consequences could be dramatic ("not part of warming") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it
The 2013-2014 "warm blob" was just the beginning.

Two new studies have just hit about the “warm blob” in the northeast Pacific ocean — a 2 degree C or more temperature anomaly that began in the winter of 2013-2014 in the Gulf of Alaska and later expanded. Scientists have been astonished at the extent and especially the long-lasting nature of the warmth, with one NOAA researcher saying, “when you see something like this that’s totally new you have opportunities to learn things you were never expecting.”

The Post’s Sarah Kaplan has covered some of the most immediate consequences of the “blob,” such as weird appearances of strange marine species more typical of warm water, like ocean sunfish, off the Alaskan coast. She also notes that the blob may be linked to the California drought and other odd weather phenomena.

According to Mantua, the emergence of the new and consolidated “blob” may be a very significant development with global consequences. That’s because it may relate to a much larger pattern of ocean temperatures called the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, or PDO. A shift in this oscillation, in turn, may be a sign that the planet is on the verge of getting warmer, some scientists say.

“People are seeing a lot of ecological impacts related to this warm water, and people are looking for the story, why is this happening, what is it?” Mantua says. “And it, to me, looks like just an extreme shift into the warm state of the PDO.”

The PDO is kind of like a far more long-term version of the much better known El Niño-La Niña cycle. It is not thought to be related to global warming — rather, it is believed to be the result of “natural internal variability” in the climate system.

Bert Guevara's insight:

The Pacific WARM BLOB is puzzling climate and ocean scientists. Read about it and become curious too. It will have a significant effect on Philippine climate because it happens in the Pacific.

"So in sum — there’s some oddness happening in the Pacific right now, including very warm water off the U.S. coast and what looks like a shift in the PDO. And some scientists think this could lead to a step-change upwards for global warming, and the end of the so-called pause or slowdown. But there’s also plenty of uncertainty; Trenberth, who told the climate blogger Joe Romm recently that he thought we were in for a new uptick in temperatures, also commented there that he was “sticking my neck out.”

"So for now, I’ll just leave you with an indisputable point — namely, the Pacific Ocean is sublimely gigantic, so it’s no surprise that what happens there can have ramifications everywhere. And scientists are now examining those changes very closely indeed — because they know how much they might matter."

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Watch: Amid Drought, California Water Virtually Draining Away ("fear of agri job loss drying up CA water")

Watch: Amid Drought, California Water Virtually Draining Away ("fear of agri job loss drying up CA water") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it
The state is exporting water-intensive alfalfa hay to fuel China's growing demand for dairy.

Critics of the governor’s plan argue that excluding agriculture from the restrictions is shortsighted, since farming accounts for 80 percent of the state's water usage. Brown defended the decision explaining that cutting allocations would result in major job losses and decreased food production. “There are people in agriculture areas that are really suffering,” he said.

Some have questioned the production of so much food for export during a water shortage. Even as many farmers struggle to meet their crops’ demand for water in drought-stricken California, every year they also send billions of virtual gallons to other countries—in the form of the food and animal feed grown with that water.

Virtual water flows are a global phenomenon. Africa, North America, South America, and Australia export more virtual water than they import in the form of traded crops and goods, while Europe and Asia are net importers. The United States exports about 82 trillion gallons of water a year–more than twice as much virtual water as any other country. That’s largely because American farms are a big supplier of the global food chain.

Historically, water rights in California make it relatively inexpensive for some farmers to buy water. This low cost allows them to sell their crops at competitive prices on the global market. The resulting low pricing of thirsty crops like alfalfa and almonds can mask the true cost of their production during a drought. “Water is a public good,” says Hoekstra, “so allocation systems should support its sustainable use.”

 

Bert Guevara's insight:

Long-term drought and dwindling water supply calls for smart agriculture. Product choices have to change, otherwise, everybody goes down when the water dries up. Exports have to come second.


"Some have questioned the production of so much food for export during a water shortage. Even as many farmers struggle to meet their crops’ demand for water in drought-stricken California, every year they also send billions of virtual gallons to other countries—in the form of the food and animal feed grown with that water."

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Bloomberg, Steyer: Think CA drought is bad? That's just a preview ("big biz still obstinate; exempted")

Bloomberg, Steyer: Think CA drought is bad? That's just a preview ("big biz still obstinate; exempted") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it
As California continues to waffle on industrial-scale drought measures, Michael Bloomberg, Tom Steyer and Hank Paulson urge businesses to take action on climate risk.

The day after California officials measured an alarming new low in the snow pack that feeds California’s water supply and its governor ordered the first ever water restrictions, a group of high profile business leaders warned of nationwide economic risk that could ripple from climate change impacts on even just this one state.

“The business and investment community have to incorporate climate risks into the DNA of their decision making," said Kate Gordon, editor of the report. "These risks should be evaluated when they are making capital decisions on infrastructure investments and supply chain decisions."

But even as the Risky Business group suggests that their business peers mitigate climate change risks, Gov. Jerry Brown excused the state's biggest agricultural operations and oil and gas firms from making significant change in how they do business, critics complained. Large farms are excused from the 25 percent water use reductions.

Businesses headquartered in California include several of the world's largest companies — more among the S&P 500 than any other state. Apple, which has been the world's largest company by market capitalization, is headquartered here, along with runner up Google as well as some of the nation's largest defense contractors and agriculture companies. 

In addition to in-house corporate sustainability measures, that business stature could be put to use on advocacy, Gordon said.

"Business plays an outsized roll in influencing U.S. policy makers," he explained. "They should do so on climate change mitigation and adaptation. The business community needs to have a strong and vocal role."


Bert Guevara's insight:

Knee-jerk solutions will not alleviate the water crisis, as Big Biz and Big Agri consumers are still enjoying exemptions because of political patronage. 

With the El Niño phenomenon battering the Philippines, we should also put our act together at this early stage. Some regions are already suffering from the dry spell.

"It is disappointing that Governor Brown’s executive order to reduce California water use does not address the state's most egregious corporate water abuses. In the midst of a severe drought, the Governor continues to allow corporate farms and oil interests to deplete and pollute our precious groundwater resources that are crucial for saving water," said Adam Scow, director of Food & Water Watch California.  

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Ocean Acidification Hurts The Basis Of Marine Life - Clapway ("slow dying of ocean food & marine life")

Ocean Acidification Hurts The Basis Of Marine Life - Clapway ("slow dying of ocean food & marine life") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it
Phytoplankton are the microscopic organisms found in abundance in the world's oceans. They form the basis of the food chain, and are crucial to marine life.

Phytoplankton are the microscopic organisms found in abundance in the world’s oceans. They form the basis of the food chain, and are thus crucial to marine life. They also play a central role in the global carbon cycle, helping to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. However, scientists have found that the numbers of certain crustacean species, like Emiliania huxleyi, one of the commonest forms of phytoplankton, seem to be decreasing in the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica.

Researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder believe this is due to the growing acidification of the world’s oceans, caused by global climate change. In an article published in Geophysical Research Letters, they wrote: “These results suggest that large-scale shifts in the ocean carbon cycle are already occurring and highlight organism and marine ecosystem vulnerability in a changing climate.”

E. Huxleyi or EHUX is a coccolithophore, a type of “calcifying” plankton that uses sunlight to build its microscopic shell of calcium carbonate. It is the source of more than half the calcium carbonate present in the oceans. Satellite data show a 24 per cent decline in the amount of calcium carbonate in the Southern Ocean over the past 17 years. This is attributed to a decline in numbers of EHUX as well as the observation that the shells are thinner. The CU – Boulder study used statistical analysis and data collected by the SEAWifs and MODIS satellites.

Bert Guevara's insight:

Carbon pollution caused by human activity is slowly killing our oceans. Find out how.

"Ocean acidification occurs when carbon dioxide is dissolved in the water. Scientists at the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration estimate that the world’s oceans have become 30 per cent more acidic since the Industrial Revolution in the early nineteenth century. Environmental groups estimate that in 2013, the world’s oceans absorbed 3 billion tonnes of carbon produced by human sources."

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The incredibly stupid way that Americans waste 1 trillion gallons of water each year ("fix that leak!")

The incredibly stupid way that Americans waste 1 trillion gallons of water each year ("fix that leak!") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it
Much of the problem is household leaks that are right before our eyes.

And amazingly, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, it may also be the amount of water that Americans needlessly waste, every year, because of leaky kitchen and bathroom faucets, malfunctioning toilets, errant sprinkler systems and much else. These leaks “can waste more than 1 trillion gallons annually nationwide. That’s equal to the annual household water use of more than 11 million homes,” the EPA said.  The agency gets the figure — which is at the center of its “Fix a Leak Week” campaign, running this week — by combining together data on home water use with population statistics.

How could we cluelessly waste such a vastness of water? “I think how it goes unnoticed is, people see a couple of drips coming out of their shower head, or sprinkler outside, or faucet, it doesn’t seem like that much,” said Karen Wirth, who does marketing and outreach for the EPA’s WaterSense program.

Leaky pipes notwithstanding, much of the problem is hardly invisible. Rather, it comes from things we’re all aware of, like leaking faucets. A simple tool from the U.S. Geological Survey allows you to calculate how much water these can waste, showing that one faucet leaking one drip per minute adds up to 34 gallons per year — so you can begin to see how this adds up. The number for 1 million homes with a single faucet leaking at this rate, meanwhile, would be more than 34 million gallons. And of course many leaks drip much more than once per minute — and many homes have more than one leaky faucet.

Bert Guevara's insight:

When the government-run MWSS ran Metro Manila's water system, the water loss due to leakage was 60%!!! I wonder what the figure is today, after the privatization.

"The agency recommends not only fixing leaky faucets and toilets (of course) but running a home water leakage test. It’s really simple: Look at your water meter just after leaving your home (with all water using fixtures and devices turned off) and then upon returning. And see if it has moved.

“I think what people don’t understand is what the magnitude of the compounded problem is,” Wirth said .

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World's Top Chefs Say Eat Small Fish to Make Big Difference ("everyone can choose to cooperate")

World's Top Chefs Say Eat Small Fish to Make Big Difference ("everyone can choose to cooperate") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it
Want to make a big impact on the health of our oceans? Think small, top chefs say. As in anchovies and sardines. That's the message from 20 of the world's leading chefs, who gathered in northeastern Spain on Tuesday to draw attention to what they hope is a simple solution to the threat...

Driving the chefs' involvement is the campaign by Oceana aimed at convincing consumers to embrace eating more small oily fish. Known as "forage fish," they're part of the food chain that feeds larger fish, such as tuna or swordfish, both of which are threatened. The smaller fish are abundant enough to feed both the larger predators as well as plenty of people, says Oceana chief scientist Michael Hirshfield.

But though anchovies, sardines and similar small fish are treated as delicacies in much of the Mediterranean, in the rest of the world they often end up as feed for farmed salmon, chicken and pigs.

"They feed 3 pounds of fish to make 1 pound of salmon. That's not a great way to feed a planet," said Andy Sharpless, Oceana's CEO and author of "The Perfect Protein." ''We can feed tens of millions more people if we simply eat anchovies and other forage fish directly rather than in form of a farmed salmon or other animals raised on fish meal and fish oil."

Their point isn't to criticize the farmed seafood industry, the chefs said. Rather, they want to lead by example. They agreed to serve small oily fish at their restaurants as much as they as they can, to train younger chefs that the fish are as good for the planet as for the plate, and to develop recipes that make it easy for the average consumer to prepare them at home.

"We need to take advantage of species that there are in great abundance," Acurio said. "We as chefs with the magic and the passion and the talent we have can provoke and convince people to consume them and influence the market. As chefs we can create a consciousness to inspire many other cooks."

Bert Guevara's insight:

Acurio said the chefs' best contribution to promoting consumption of small fish might be creating simple meals anyone could cook. "If we can invent concept products, like the best burger you have ever eaten mixed with anchovies, that's one way to popularize it," he said.

"This campaign is trying to raise ethical and environmental public awareness," he said. "If you take care of your health, you also take care of the planet's health. It is as simple as that and it is something that everyone needs to understand."

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California has about one year of water left. Will you ration now? ("not much left for future gen")

California has about one year of water left. Will you ration now? ("not much left for future gen") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it
Given the historic low temperatures and snowfalls that pummeled the eastern U.S. this winter, it might be easy to overlook how devastating California's winter was as well.

Statewide, we've been dropping more than 12 million acre-feet of total water yearly since 2011. Roughly two-thirds of these losses are attributable to groundwater pumping for agricultural irrigation in the Central Valley. Farmers have little choice but to pump more groundwater during droughts, especially when their surface water allocations have been slashed 80% to 100%. But these pumping rates are excessive and unsustainable. Wells are running dry. In some areas of the Central Valley, the land is sinking by one foot or more per year.

As difficult as it may be to face, the simple fact is that California is running out of water — and the problem started before our current drought. NASA data reveal that total water storage in California has been in steady decline since at least 2002, when satellite-based monitoring began, although groundwater depletion has been going on since the early 20th century.

Right now the state has only about one year of water supply left in its reservoirs, and our strategic backup supply, groundwater, is rapidly disappearing. California has no contingency plan for a persistent drought like this one (let alone a 20-plus-year mega-drought), except, apparently, staying in emergency mode and praying for rain.
Bert Guevara's insight:

If this happened in the Philippines, what can we do?

Several steps need be taken right now. First, immediate mandatory water rationing should be authorized across all of the state's water sectors ...

Second, the implementation of the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act of 2014 should be accelerated. 

Third, the state needs a task force of thought leaders that starts, right now, brainstorming to lay the groundwork for long-term water management strategies. 

Finally, the public must take ownership of this issue.


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Australia Uses the Motion of the Ocean to Generate Zero-Emission Electricity ... - GOOD Magazine

Australia Uses the Motion of the Ocean to Generate Zero-Emission Electricity ... - GOOD Magazine | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it
The Carnege Perth Wave Energy Project is the first wave-generated, grid-connected power array in the world.

CETO 5 (the fifth iteration of the CETO technology) is a modular array of three, entirely-submerged 240 kW buoys and water pumps. As oceanic waves move the buoys, they in turn activate the pumps, pushing pressurized water through power turbines, while simultaneously feeding into a desalinization system. This short video created by Carnegie Wave Energy, the company behind the CETO system, shows how it works.

According to Carnegie Wave, CETO has a number of potential commercial advantages over other wave power generating systems (as attn asks: “there’s more than one?”): CETO’s modular design allows for customizable scalability, and its being entirely submerged renders the equipment less susceptible to damage from storms and air erosion. What’s more,explains Australian Energy Minister Ian Macfarlane, the ebb and flow of the ocean is a much more reliable source of power than comparable green-energy systems, such as wind and solar. 

Plans are already underway for a CETO 6, expected to generate four times as much power as the current system. As Carnegie Wave Energy CEO Michael Ottaviano told The West Australian: "The great thing about it is we know it works. The challenge from here on is really about scale and cost."

 

Bert Guevara's insight:

Australia Uses the Motion of the Ocean to Generate Zero-Emission Electricity and Desalinate Water Simultaniously - a game changer!!!


The potential of wave energy is tremendous. We just need someone smart enough to make it happen... or maybe it's already here.

 

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House OKs bill penalizing dumping of ships waste into sea ("another good law that awaits enforcement")

House OKs bill penalizing dumping of ships waste into sea ("another good law that awaits enforcement") | Water Stewardship | Scoop.it
The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a measure that will prevent and control pollution caused by waste materials from ships.

The House of Representatives has approved on third and final reading a measure that will prevent and control pollution caused by waste materials from ships.
Among the prohibited acts under the bill are the discharge of oil, oily mixture, noxious liquid substances, and other harmful substances in packaged form, sewage, garbage from any Philippine ship or any other ship while within Philippine waters.
House Bill 5377 seeks to implement the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from ships or Marpol 73/78, including its annexes and subsequent amendments.
The measure, known as the proposed “Prevention of Pollution from Ships Act,” shall cover Philippine ships, wherever they may be found, and foreign-flagged ships, whether or not they are registered with state parties to the Convention.
Exempted from the coverage of the proposed law, however, are warships, naval auxiliary ships and man-of-war vessels.
A violator may face a fine ranging from P200,000 to P10 million, while the dumping of garbage or sewage will pay not less than P25,000, but not more than P2 million.

Bert Guevara's insight:

This is an important development in solid waste management. If we are complaining about ocean garbage, then we have to help the government enforce this new law.

The meat is in the IRR (Implementing Rules and Regulations) and of course, the implementation.

"A violator may face a fine ranging from P200,000 to P10 million, while the dumping of garbage or sewage will pay not less than P25,000, but not more than P2 million.
"A corresponding fine ranging from P200,000 to P10 million will be slapped on ships that emit other harmful substances.
"HB 5377 creates the Marine Pollution Adjudication Board with quasi-judicial powers to hear marine pollution cases."

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Bert Guevara's curator insight, February 16, 12:36 AM

This is an important development in solid waste management. If we are complaining about ocean garbage, then we have to help the government enforce this new law.

The meat is in the IRR (Implementing Rules and Regulations) and of course, the implementation.

"A violator may face a fine ranging from P200,000 to P10 million, while the dumping of garbage or sewage will pay not less than P25,000, but not more than P2 million.
"A corresponding fine ranging from P200,000 to P10 million will be slapped on ships that emit other harmful substances.
"HB 5377 creates the Marine Pollution Adjudication Board with quasi-judicial powers to hear marine pollution cases."