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Marine Resources


April 2014 Issue

NOC Wins Funds for Research on Ocean Mineral Resources
The U.K.'s National Oceanography Centre (NOC) has been awarded €1.8 million to study massive sulfide deposits on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean, 3 kilometers beneath the surface. The research is part of a wider, international program to assess seafloor mineral resources that has received €10 million in funding from the European Commission (EC). The €1.8 million research grant is to enable geologist Dr. Bramley Murton (Sea Technology, June 2013) from NOC's Marine Geoscience Group to lead an international partnership studying the evolution, preservation and subsurface expression of massive sulfide deposits on and under the floor of the Atlantic Ocean.

The EC aims to use research and innovation to help address the need for a secure and sustainable supply of these raw materials to the EU. In lieu of this, the EC has awarded two multimillion-euro programs for research into deep-sea mineral resources.

One of these is the €10 million program Blue Mining, which will focus on deep-sea resources over the next four years, aiming to develop new methods for exploring and assessing ocean floor mineral deposits, as well as developing low-carbon, low-impact and sustainable extraction technologies. The €1.8 million research grant awarded to NOC is part of this program.

NOC is a major partner in another new EC-funded program called 'MIDAS' (Managing Impacts of Deep-Sea Resource Exploitation). This '8 million project focuses on the environmental impacts of deep-water mining, including commercial extraction of polymetallic nodules/crusts, seafloor massive sulfides, methane hydrates and rare earth elements.

Cod Population Back Up for Newfoundland Fishery
Newfoundland's only commercial cod fishery is back on the map after entering full assessment against the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) standard, the world's best for sustainable and well-managed fisheries.

The MSC assessment is being led by Icewater Seafoods Inc. (Arnold's Cove, Canada) and Ocean Choice International (St. John's, Canada), members of a client group that supported a WWF-led Fishery Improvement Project (FIP) on the southern Newfoundland cod fishery, which is commonly referred to as 3Ps. The Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union, Newfoundland and Labrador's Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada were also key supporters of the project.

'This milestone for the 3Ps fishery is of huge historical significance,' said David Miller, president and CEO of WWF Canada. 'It demonstrates that good management and collaboration can lead to the recovery of cod populations'and that struggling fisheries can once again thrive, not only in Atlantic Canada but across the world.'

In January 2011, WWF and Icewater started Canada's first FIP in the 3Ps cod fishery. With most of the cod stocks in the region depleted or slowly recovering from collapse in the 1990s, the project set out a conservation action plan over a three-year period.

The MSC assessment is a timely initiative given that the 2013 stock assessment by Fisheries and Oceans Canada showed a positive biomass trajectory for the next three years.

OMM and Geofabrics Repurpose ELCOROCK for Offshore Wind
Offshore Marine Management (OMM), based in Cambridge, England, has teamed up with Geofabrics Australasia (Malaga, Australia) to create a new and effective, environmentally sensitive and sustainable solution for scour protection at the base of wind turbines.

OMM will be using Geofabrics ELCOROCK system, a robust sand-filled container made from the highest durability geotextile fabric, to provide an alternative to rock placement protection, which also helps marine life to thrive and could assist in securing planning permission.

International Declaration Signed for Conservation of Sargasso Sea
Bermuda, the Azores, Monaco, the U.K. and the U.S. signed a declaration committing to the conservation of the Sargasso Sea. The 'Hamilton Declaration on Collaboration for the Conservation of the Sargasso Sea' is a nonbinding political statement that seeks protection for the Sargasso Sea using international bodies that regulate areas beyond national jurisdiction, such as the International Maritime Organization, regional fisheries authorities and the Convention on Migratory Species.

The Sargasso Sea serves as an ecological crossroad in the Atlantic Ocean. Its floating Sargassum seaweeds shelter a wide variety of species. Some of them, like the Sargassum anglerfish, are unique to the area. Some 30 species of whales, dolphins and porpoises breed, live in or migrate through the Sargasso Sea, as do species of tuna, turtles, sharks, rays, and European and American eels. The area faces numerous threats that undermine its long-term viability and health, including wastewater discharge from ships, pollution, fishing, harvesting of Sargassum algae for fertilizer and biofuel production, seabed mining, climate change, and ocean acidification.

The Hamilton Declaration will provide a platform for the creation of a Sargasso Sea Commission to minimize the adverse effects of shipping and fishing in the area.

Greece, Turkey Encouraged to Cooperate on ICZM
Representatives of local authorities and NGOs from Greece and Turkey called for cross-border cooperation on Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) and other urban and environmental issues common to both sides.

The EU-funded Mare Nostrum Project partners' meeting in Alexandroupolis, Greece, which took place in February, brought together representatives of local authorities, NGOs and universities from Greece and Turkey. Participants expressed their desire to improve cooperation at the local and regional level.

'Issues such as sea level rise, coastal and cliff erosion and water pollution from the Evros River threaten both sides,' said Professor Rachelle Alterman from The Technion in Israel, initiator and head of the Mare Nostrum Project. 'Local authorities don't need to wait for the central governments to take steps and can start collaborating with their counterparts on the other side of the river.'


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