After a record-breaking warm Arctic winter, sea ice hit a record low for the largest area it covers during the winter months. The ice covered only 5.60 million square miles on March 24— surpassing last year’s record low of 5.61 million square miles.
We now have the opportunity to keep offshore drilling out of the Arctic Ocean. Every five years, the US government draws up a five-year planning outlining where oil companies can drill. The Arctic’s Beaufort and Chukchi seas are on the line. We have a chance to persuade our government to remove these pristine places from their list.
Do you have the best recipe for a seaweed shake? Have you been inspired by other ways we can farm fish? If so, you need to check out the Blue Economy Challenge. Together with the innovationXchange of the Australian Government, Conservation X Labs, NineSigma, SecondMuse, WWF has launched a new competition to source creative solutions and engage new solvers to rethink the future of aquaculture—also known as farmed fish.
Alaska's Lake Iliamna is home to a population of around 400 harbor seals, which feast on fish and bask on the rocky islands at the lake’s northeastern end. They are under threat from Pebble Mine, the enormous open-pit gold and copper mine proposed for headwaters just 17 miles northwest of the seals’ haul-out sites
The government of Belize has announced its commitment to a new coastal management plan that will boost the health of the country’s coastal and marine areas, on which more than 40 percent of Belizeans rely.
Growing demand for seafood has left Malaysia's seas nearly empty. As communities face the reality that fishing is no longer enough to support the economy, they are hoping tourism can create new opportunities. Community members like Yusef Bural, chairman of the Banggi Youth Club, and his brother, are working to protect Malaysia's islands and coasts and are inspiring youth to do the same.
In a critical step forward to stop the trade of illegal and unreported fish in seafood imports, the US government has proposed a new rule for a seafood program that will trace from the moment fish are caught, until they reach the US border.
Apayo Moore and other young leaders like Alannah Hurley, Verner Wilson, and Katherine Carscallen have helped organize resistance to a mine that would negatively impact Bristol Bay: through public meetings, letter-writing campaigns and demonstrations, and testifying to all who will listen about the splendors of bay's salmon runs.
The interaction between climate and oceans is altering, and the exchange is intensifying. As the climate responds to decades of increasing carbon emissions, the store of energy and heat from the atmosphere builds up in the ocean. If we reach a tipping point, we will likely see more extreme weather events, changing ocean currents, rising sea levels and temperatures, and melting of sea ice and ice sheets.
Every so often, it’s important to pause, take a step back, and celebrate the progress we’ve made together in conserving the world’s wildlife and beautiful places. And this year gave us much to applaud. Though our conservation challenges persist and there’s still much work to be done, we all need take a moment to appreciate just how far we’ve come by working in tandem to protect the planet we love.
In a landmark victory for the Great Barrier Reef, the Australian government passed a much-anticipated bill to ban dredge dumping in the World Heritage waters. This law closes for good a legal loophole that could have allowed 46 million cubic meters of seabed to be dug up and dumped in this fragile ecosystem.
The pressures driving desires to develop the Arctic are not unfamiliar to us. We see them in these other magnificent places. Expedited transportation routes. New fossil fuel reserves. Robust new fisheries. But we need to ensure that the push to exploit these resources does not overrun efforts to conserve them. We need to keep in mind some guiding principles.
Experts around the globe are collaborating to develop a recovery plan for polar bears. In the past year, a team of more than 30 polar bear experts—including WWF’s Elisabeth Kruger—put their heads together with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to map out a path toward polar bear resiliency in the Arctic.
When you think about the impacts of climate change on the marine environment, your first thought might be the melting polar ice caps. Yet corals are among the most sensitive ecosystems to warming oceans and may be the most impacted by climate change in the near future.
The Obama Administration has cancelled the two potential Arctic offshore oil lease sales in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas that were threatening the future of this region. The newly cancelled leases were scheduled for 2016 and 2017 under the current five-year offshore oil and gas leasing program for 2012-2017, and the decision was made based on the poor “current market conditions and low industry interest.”
WWF is urging the US government to establish regulations, including the proposal of a national traceability program to track seafood from the point where it is caught to its entry into the US, under which all species of fish are eventually covered.
In another critical step to protect oceans and conserve marine ecosystems, President Obama announced the development of important new tools to combat the global threat of illegal fishing at the ‘Our Oceans’ conference in Valparaiso, Chile. A new global initiative will focus on fisheries enforcement at sea.
After years of searching for oil in the cold and turbulent waters of Alaska’s Chukchi Sea, Royal Dutch Shell has abandoned its plans to drill for the “foreseeable future.” This announcement is the conclusion of weeks of summer exploration, where results of drilling to a depth of 6,800 feet indicated oil and gas findings were “not sufficient to warrant further exploration.”
WWF’s Living Blue Planet Report on the health of the ocean finds that the marine vertebrate population has declined by 49 percent between 1970 and 2012. The report tracks 5,829 populations of 1,234 mammal, bird, reptile, and fish species through a marine living planet index. The evidence, analyzed by researchers at the Zoological Society of London, paints a troubling picture.
For another year, Arctic sea ice will cover much less of the Arctic Ocean than it used to. And with less ice comes more killer whales—predators that feed on other whales, including some recovering species.