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Environmental Monitoring


October 2014 Issue

Derelict Fishing Trap Problems Found to be Preventable
Thousands of fishing traps are lost or abandoned each year in U.S. waters and become derelict traps, which continue to catch fish, crabs and other species such as turtles. These traps result in losses to habitat, fisheries and the watermen who depend on the resources from the environment—losses that are largely preventable, according to a new NOAA study.

The report looks at the results of seven NOAA-funded studies in different fisheries across the U.S. and compares the severity of the problem and common management challenges. It also reports estimates of derelict trap numbers and how long they remain in the environment.

Researchers concluded that derelict traps have a cumulative, measurable impact which should be considered in fishery management decisions. They identified several key gaps in research and suggested a management strategy that emphasizes a collaborative approach, including studying how derelict traps and ghost fishing affect fishery stocks and the fishing economy; involving the fishing industry in collaborative projects to find solutions to ghost fishing; and examining the regional challenges to derelict traps to find effective policy solutions to manage, reduce and prevent gear loss.

Fisheries in the study include the Dungeness crab fisheries in Alaska and Puget Sound; the blue crab fisheries in Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina; the spiny lobster fishery in Florida; and the coral reef fishery in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

OSIL Corers to Sample Deepwater Sediment in Gulf
CSA Ocean Sciences (Stuart, Florida) has purchased two Mega Multiple Corers from Havant, England-based Ocean Scientific International Ltd. (OSIL) for use in a month-long deepwater sampling effort to assess sediment chemistry and infaunal communities in the Gulf of Mexico.

The OSIL Multiple Corer can collect up to 12 simultaneous high-quality undisturbed sediment samples, including the sediment/water interface and overlying supernatant water. The 600-millimeter-long core tube collects approximately 450 millimeters of sediment and 150 millimeters of water. The OSIL Multi Corer design has recently been updated to a lead-free version, with features that make it easier to clean and an improved core tube insertion/removal system, which improves usability and handling of both the corer and subsequent samples on deck.

Ecoships Rolls out Greenlotus 32 Bulk Carrier
Ecoships (Istanbul, Turkey) has introduced a next-generation bulk carrier design inspired by the low friction to water flow and self-cleaning properties of the lotus flower, a symbol of purity and beauty in Buddhist and Hindu philosophy.

The Greenlotus 32 is a 32,500-deadweight-ton bulker designed to meet existing and future carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide and sulfur oxide emissions regulations. This configuration provides a heavy fuel oil consumption of just 15.6 tons per day at a service speed of 14 knots and 7.6 tons per day at 11 knots.

The Greenlotus 32 is also equipped with built-in technology for voyage and weather routing, trim optimization and a system to provide real-time analysis of ship data, including bunker quality and emissions. Exhaust gas recirculation and waste heat recovery systems are included.

Uson Marine to Distribute Environmental Navigator
Uson Marine AB (Kista, Sweden) and Marine Position AB (Stora Höga, Sweden) have reached an agreement for Uson Marine to be the distributor of the Environmental Navigator, a product developed by Marine Position. The product will be sold and marketed under the name Uson Clean Pilot.

The Environmental Navigator greatly simplifies complying with marine waste regulations at sea. Connected to a ship’s GPS, the Environmental Navigator provides an update in real time of the applicable regulations (IMO/ MARPOL and most regional and local regulations) at th e current position. The information is graphically visualizedon the bridge or in the engine control room.

The unit displays information on bilge water, sewage and grey water, garbage and food waste, incinerator and sulfur emissions, cargo, and ballast water. It reduces the risk of illegal/faulty discharge and assists in the optimization of fuel handling (high/low sulfur).

Western US Drought Causing Land to Uplift
The severe drought gripping the western United States in recent years is changing the landscape well beyond localized effects of water restrictions and browning lawns.

Scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography have now discovered that the growing, broad-scale loss of water is causing the entire western U.S. to rise up like an uncoiled spring. Results of the study were published in Science.

Investigating ground positioning data from GPS stations throughout the west, Scripps researchers found that the water shortage is causing an uplift effect up to 15 millimeters (more than half an inch) in California’s mountains and on average 4 millimeters (0.15 of an inch) across the west. From the GPS data, they estimate the water deficit at nearly 240 gigatons, which is equivalent to a 4-inch layer of water spread out over the entire western U.S.

While poring through various sets of data of ground positions from highly precise GPS stations within the National Science Foundation’s Plate Boundary Observatory and other networks, Scripps noticed the same pattern over the 2003 to 2014 period: All of the stations moved upwards in the most recent years, coinciding with the timing of the current drought.

The GPS data can only be explained by rapid uplift of the tectonic plate upon which the western U.S. rests (the uplift, however, has virtually no effect on the San Andreas Fault and therefore does not increase the risk of earthquakes).

These results quantify the amount of water mass lost in the past few years and represent a powerful new way to track water resources over a very large landscape. This technique can be used to study changes in freshwater stocks in other regions around the world, if they have a network of GPS sensors.


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