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March 2013 Issue

More Rain From Climate Change Could Strengthen Marshes
Rising sea levels from a warming climate are predicted to threaten many coastal sea marshes around the world in the coming decades. Global climate change is also predicted to increase the frequency and severity of storms. A research study in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface takes into account how increased storminess could affect the ability of coastal marshes to withstand sea level rise.

Researchers ran simulations of marshes on the German island of Sylt in the Wadden Sea for the period from 2010 to 2100. They analyzed simulations of 48 sea level-rise scenarios and 13 storm scenarios to identify the critical rate of sea level rise that would allow marshes to survive just until 2100.

They found that with no increase in storminess and with constant sea level rise, the maximum rate of sea level rise the marshes could withstand was 19 to 21 millimeters per year. But when they took into account storminess, the marshes' ability to withstand sea level rise increased: Marshes survived an additional 3 millimeters per year of sea level rise with increasing frequency of storms, though only an additional 1 millimeter per year if storm intensity, but not frequency, increased.

Flooding from storms tends to transport sediment to the marshes from adjacent areas, helping to build up the marshes. Thus, the effects of increased storminess on a particular marsh's ability to withstand sea level rise will depend on the availability of erodible fine-grained material near the marsh, the researchers said.

Public Can Weigh in on Gulf Coast Restoration
The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, established by the U.S. Congress' Resources and Ecosystem Sustainability, Tourism Opportunities and Revived Economies of the Gulf Coast States (RESTORE) Act of 2012, held public engagement sessions in February in Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida to allow for initial input into the comprehensive plan for Gulf Coast restoration. The council will announce additional dates and locations for public sessions as they become available. In January, the council released The Path Forward to Restoring the Gulf Coast, a report describing how it will develop an initial comprehensive plan. A draft plan will be released for public comment in the spring.

The plan's goals are to restore and conserve habitat, restore water quality, replenish and protect living coastal and marine resources, enhance community resilience, and restore and revitalize the gulf economy.

Indonesia Government Promotes National Blue Economy
Indonesia's Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry has chosen Nusa Penida, Lombok and Batam islands for a national pilot project to develop a blue, sustainable economy, The Jakarta Post reported. Development potential and investment costs are currently being calculated.

To improve infrastructure in the eastern parts of the country to support the project, the ministry plans to provide incentives on sea transportation to ease access and facilitate connectivity between islands. The ministry will also improve fishery commodity-processing plants in eastern Indonesia.

In 2013, the maritime and fishery sector is expected to contribute $6.8 billion to the GDP. The ministry is targeting a 2013 export value from the sector of $5 billion, compared to $4 billion in 2012.

Exports of marine and fishery products constituted 86 percent of total trade in 2012, while imports accounted for only 14 percent.

Fish Discovered at Record Depths In Kermadec Trench
Scientists from the University of Aberdeen's Oceanlab, New Zealand's National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA), and Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa have discovered a new species of fish and gained new knowledge of life at previously unexplored depths during seven days of ocean sampling on the edge of the Kermadec Trench at 1 to 6.5 kilometers depth. They took more than 6,500 photographs of deep-sea fish and caught about 100 fish.

Among the discoveries were a new species of eelpout at 4,250 meters depth, a new depth record of 5,500 meters for a rattail fish, another rattail fish at 2,000 to 4,500 meters depth and a new depth record of 3,500 meters for large, deep-sea cusk eels.

On board the RV Kaharoa, the scientists used landers with cameras attached that free fall to the seafloor, as well as baited fish traps to attract the animals.

The amount of data recovered adds to the information collected on three previous voyages to the Kermadec Trench by the Aberdeen-NIWA collaboration aboard the Kahora.

All the equipment used in these research cruises was designed and constructed at Oceanlab.

The results are improving understanding of biodiversity in the deep sea around New Zealand, and assessment of potential risks to the ecosystem from future climate change and human activities, such as seabed mining.

EU Could Limit Fish Catches For Sustainability
The European Parliament approved in February a plan to reform the European Union's (EU) Common Fisheries Policy, ScienceInsider reported. The plan will limit catches, ban discards of unwanted species and improve the use of scientific data for long-term planning.

The European Commission said 68 percent of the EU's stocks are overfished. If the new rules are fully adopted, fish stocks should 'recover by 2020, enabling us to take 15 million tons more fish, and create 37,000 new jobs,' said Ulrike Rodust, a German member of the parliament.

Starting in 2015, regulators would set catch limits according to a maximum sustainable yield (MSY), preventing fishermen from catching more than a fish stock can reproduce in a given year. MSY is common in the U.S.

Europêche, a European fishing lobby, thinks MSY should be postponed to 2020.

The reform plan must be discussed with governments from the EU's 27 member states. If an agreement is reached by the end of June, the plan could be enacted next year.

Spain and France, two of the EU's top fishing nations, oppose the reform, according to Greenpeace.


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