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Credit: Singularity Hub

Every year, eight million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean, threatening just about every marine species and ecosystem. As the global population grows and countries develop, this is only going to increase, eventually threatening us as well—if it isn’t already.

Founded in 2013 by Boyan Slat, an 18-year-old from the Netherlands, The Ocean Cleanup has been dubbed “the largest cleanup in history.” With the help of a growing list of international partners as well as some advanced technology, Ocean Cleanup’s mission is to help remove the five trillion pieces of plastic currently in the ocean, with deployment scheduled for next year.

In August 2017, the project finalized the design for a u-shaped buoy made of high-density polyethylene nearly two kilometers in length, with a screen extending a few meters below. The system will be positioned based on a series of data points like ocean currents, weather, and location of the plastic and nets. These data points are fed into an algorithm to determine the buoy’s ideal point of deployment.

Read the full article on the massive project to clean up the ocean here.

By  for the Singularity Hub.

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Humpback whales are among the species found in the Revillagigedo archipelago. Photograph: Ullstein Bild/Getty Images

Fishing, mining and new hotels will be prohibited in the ‘biologically spectacular’ Revillagigedo archipelago

Mexico’s government has created the largest ocean reserve in North America around a Pacific archipelago regarded as its crown jewel.

The measures will help ensure the conservation of marine creatures including whales, giant rays and turtles.

The protection zone spans 57,000 sq miles (150,000 sq km) around the Revillagigedo islands, which lie 242 miles (390 km) south-west of the Baja California peninsula.

Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto, announced the decision in a decree that also bans mining and the construction of new hotels on the islands.

Read the full article on the creation of this new marine reserve here.

By   for The Guardian.

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Over a year ago, the United Nations adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which collectively represent millions of dreams and aspirations. GreenBiz, in partnership with the Yale Center for Business and the Environment, is publishing 17 letters by Yale University students that highlight the ideas of youth regarding the 2030 developmental agenda. This series seeks to drive forward the collective will to translate the SDGs into reality.

Dear Secretariat of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN),

A friend recently told me about Ko Tao, a scuba diver’s dream of an island in Thailand where scuba enthusiasts from all over the world converge to spend morning to night submerged in a vast underwater wonderland of coral and fish, and then fill their remaining waking hours discussing dive sites and marine sights. This went on my list of future vacation spots — an ever-growing list of (mostly) dive sites in Southeast Asia that I wonder if I ever actually will see.

 

Read the rest of the letter and the full article here. 

By Maki Tazawa from GreenBiz.

 

 

 

 

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How to enjoy the coral reefs responsibly

Categories: Green Tips, Planet, Sea, Wildlife
Comments Off on How to enjoy the coral reefs responsibly

Credit: Shutterstock

 

Coral reefs are part of the most beautiful ecosystems on our planet. They attract many tourists worldwide, and, in many developing countries, the local community is highly dependent upon tourism generated by divers and snorkellers visiting the reefs.

 

Not only are the reefs extremely beautiful but they are also very important as they are home to numerous marine species and protect us from storms and floods.

 

Sadly the coral reefs are degrading every day because of unsustainable tourism. Diving and snorkelling are extremely popular and are the main cause of reef degradation with fins being the most damaging.

 

Dive and snorkel operators as well as tourists must act responsibly when visiting our planet’s reefs. Here are some basic tips to remember:

 

  1. Do not touch the coral

 

Coral is to be admired from a distance. Coral is alive and touching it can damage it. It can also be dangerous as some corals sting to protect themselves. Don’t remove a piece of coral to take home with you and never buy coral souvenirs. It can take 15 years to grow one centimetre of coral.

 

  1. Swim with care

 

When diving or snorkelling, make sure that you keep your distance and swim horizontally in order to prevent stepping on the reefs. If you are not a confident diver or snorkeller you should practice first in an area without coral reefs  

 

  1. Never leave your rubbish on the beach.

 

Rubbish discarded on beaches can be dragged into the ocean as the tide recedes. This is highly damaging to coral and the fish living amongst the reefs.

 

  1. Spread the word

 

Create awareness and explain to others how we may enjoy the beauty of our reefs without damaging them. For diving and snorkelling centres, make sure the tourists are briefed and know how to dive and snorkel responsibly.

 

Learn more about responsible diving and snorkelling from our Sustainability Partner, Reef-World.  

 

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How to communicate about plastic and the seas around us

World Oceans Day was first ratified at the UN General Assembly on December 5, 2008 when June 8 was designated as the annual day for this celebration. The theme for this year is ‘Our Oceans – Our future’.

Today, for World Oceans Day, we are highlighting ideas about how to communicate effectively with your colleagues and your customers about the massive dangers associated with the accumulation of plastic waste. Sadly, we still have so much plastic in our oceans.

 

  1. Be inspiring

Inspire customers and business partners by showcasing durable and reusable solutions that are healthier for our communities and oceans. Inspire your community by showing people gathering together to clean up beaches. It’s important to personalise your message in order to stir emotions and inspire reactions to this pressing global problem.

 

  1. Show how animals or communities are hurt by plastic

Explain the linkage between marine well-being and plastic pollution. Plastic in our oceans has serious health and economic consequences

 

  1. Be proactive

Start an initiative such as lobbying for a ban on plastic bottles and containers at your local beach or park. Engage your community and encourage your colleagues, friends and neighbours to consider their individual environmental footprints. Community presence not only builds your brand image but it also helps to boost morale within your organisation. Read more about community involvement and going green here.

Visit the website PlasticOceans to learn more about plastic pollution in the oceans.

 

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Credit: Shutterstock

 

Biodiversity and Sustainable Tourism

 

This theme has been chosen to coincide with the observance of 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development as proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in its Resolution 70/193 and for which the United Nations World Tourism Organization is providing leadership.

Biodiversity, at the level of species and ecosystems, provides an important foundation for many aspects of tourism. Recognition of the great importance to tourism economies of attractive landscapes and a rich biodiversity underpins the political and economic case for biodiversity conservation. Many issues addressed under the Convention on Biological Diversity directly affect the tourism sector. A well-managed tourist sector can contribute significantly to reducing threats to, and maintain or increase, key wildlife populations and biodiversity values through tourism revenue.

Tourism relates to many of the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets. For some Targets (for example 5, 8, 9, 10 and 12) this is primarily about ensuring greater control and management to reduce damage to biodiversity from tourism. For others (1, 11, 15, 18, and 20) this is about pursuing the positive contribution of tourism to biodiversity awareness, protected areas, habitat restoration, community engagement, and resource mobilization. A further dimension is the better integration of biodiversity and sustainability into development policies and business models that include tourism, thereby supporting Aichi Biodiversity Targets 2 and 4.

Celebration of the IDB under this theme therefore provides an opportunity to raise awareness and action towards the important contribution of sustainable tourism both to economic growth and to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Furthermore, the theme also provides a unique opportunity to contribute to ongoing initiatives such as the Sustainable Tourism Programme of the 10-Year Framework of Programmes on Sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns and to promote the CBD Guidelines on Biodiversity and Tourism Development.

We invite Parties and organizations that have already initiated national plans for activities to celebrate the International Day for Biological Diversity to keep the Secretariat informed of such plans and other noteworthy activities organized by NGOs or other organizations so that they may be included in these pages.

Read the notification here.

By the Convention on Biological Diversity

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Credit: Shutterstock

Did you know?

Our planet cannot digest plastic

Plastic makes up about 90% of ocean pollution in the world

In China, 3 billion single-use plastic bags are used every day

The average plastic bag is only used for less than 15 minutes

 

The problem with plastic is that it’s inexpensive and therefore disposable. And when it’s so disposable, there is a lot of it, and a lot of litter, creating unsightly cities, and clogged and polluted waters.

 

We, the tourism industry, are dependent on clean oceans, pristine beaches, and ecological diversity. Local communities are dependent on fresh water and clean cities. It is time to take leadership and proactively reduce the use of plastic in the travel industry.

 

Here are some ways we can tackle plastic pollution in the tourism industry:

 

  1. Charge for it:

It can be difficult to change the legislation on plastic bans, but it isn’t impossible. Charging the customer an additional fee can be an incentive to reduce the demand for plastic products. Read more one the example of Ireland, who was able to reduce the plastic bag consumption by approximately 98 per cent within a week in 2007 by increasing the price for plastic bags.

 

  1. Replace your plastic products

 

  • Use only reusable glasses, mugs, and water bottles at conferences instead of plastic bottles
  • Simply do not allow plastic straws at your hotel or venue, or replace with biodegradable, paper, or bamboo straws
  • Replace single use toiletries with large pump bottles that can be refilled; replace plastic toothbrushes for giveaways with wooden ones
  • Initiate green meeting policies: check out this example

 

  1. Educate stakeholders, staff and travellers

Because everyone uses plastic, it is important to engage with every person involved in the business to educate them about the negative impacts of plastic use and how to make a positive, plastic-free change.

 

What to tell stakeholders:

Reducing plastic means reducing costs! Unnecessary material usage can be avoided, saving a lot of money in production and in waste management. Uptake of environmental management methods may attract new customers or partners who are seeking more environmental friendly businesses. Read more about the benefits of an environmental friendly business.

 

What to tell staff:

Employees play a very important role in doing the right thing with your business. It is important to understand that waste separation and the time and labour involved can not only be costly for the employer, but also very mundane for the worker. It is by no means a glamourous task, so actively reducing plastic means less work in the end. Often, particularly in an office environment, out of sight is out of mind. Once a person puts a piece of plastic is in the trash, they will never see it again. Help staff understand plastic’s lifecycle, and that reducing plastic can make an enormous impact on our planet and communities. Read more on how to engage employees in CSR.

 

What to tell my guests:

Empower your staff to teach guests about your company’s sustainability policy, as it relates to plastic. Explain why you are not using plastic straws or bags, and actively tell your story! Read more on communicating sustainability to guests.

 

Plastic is a global problem, but one that is being tackled all over the world. See how some African countries governments even banned the use of plastic, and consider how we can learn from this example. It is important to move proactive and be the change you wish to see in the Asia Pacific region.

 

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Sustainability in tourism isn’t just about re-using that hotel towel a second day. It’s thinking deeply about how visitors get in and out of a destination while doing the least harm.

— Jason Clampet

With 2017 being the United Nations’ International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, now is as good a time as ever to take stock of the opportunities and challenges faced by tourism providers trying to ensure the long-term sustainability of the industry.

While tourism is important to many local and national economies, overcrowding is changing the perception of the benefits of mass tourism. Spain is a prime example of a country struggling with its popularity.

Barcelona’s relationship with tourism has been shaky for a number of years now. Already in 2014, the documentary “Bye Bye Barcelona” highlighted the negative impact of mass tourism on the city. Locals fear that they will be priced out of the housing market, eventually resulting in Barcelona losing population diversity and character. The local government has stopped issuing licences for new hotels and has banned change-of-use permits required for holiday lets.

And Barcelona is not alone. As of 2017, Santorini is limiting the number of cruise visitors to 8,000 per day. Local activists in Venice have asked government to ban cruise ships stopping in its harbour, as cruise visitors have quintupled in the past 15 years. Cinque Terre on the Italian coast is capping the number of visitors to 1.5 million per year. Popular attractions including Machu Picchu and Mount Everest are capping the number of visitors and require visitors to be accompanied by a recognised guide, and Zion National Park is looking at proposals to limit visitors through a reservation system.

Capping tourists is a drastic measure, and surely not something destinations would like to do. It is often seen as a last resort, and the fact that more and more tourist destinations see no other way to remain sustainable and competitive is telling of the apparent failure of other initiatives.

 

Read more here.

By Wouter Geerts, Euromonitor from Skift

 

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Severe bleaching last year on the northern Great Barrier Reef affected even the largest and oldest corals, like this slow-growing Porites colony.
TERRY HUGHES ET AL. / NATURE

SYDNEY, Australia — The Great Barrier Reef in Australia has long been one of the world’s most magnificent natural wonders, so enormous it can be seen from space, so beautiful it can move visitors to tears.

But the reef, and the profusion of sea creatures living near it, are in profound trouble.

Huge sections of the Great Barrier Reef, stretching across hundreds of miles of its most pristine northern sector, were recently found to be dead, killed last year by overheated seawater. More southerly sections around the middle of the reef that barely escaped then are bleaching now, a potential precursor to another die-off that could rob some of the reef’s most visited areas of color and life. Read more here.

From The New York Times. By Damien Cave and Justin Gillis.

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Cruise companies have been encouraged to improve their environmental policies and introduce more clean technology. Photograph: Enrique Calvo/Reuters

 

Environmental standards for shipping are so low, cruise companies have a huge opportunity to improve their policies

Not many of the 25 million people enjoying the sea breeze on a cruise ship this year are likely to think about the air pollutants being emitted from the vessel.

Mostly running on heavy fuel oil, a medium-sized cruise ship produces around the same volume of air pollutants – including greenhouse gases, sulphur, nitric oxides and particulate matter – as 5m cars going the same distance, estimates the German environmental NGO Nabu.

“The standards for the shipping industry are really low compared to what we can see in road transport,” says Dietmar Oeliger, head of environmental policy at Nabu. “For a long time, politics served it well. People didn’t care about emissions on open water.”

Most countries devolve responsibility for regulating the industry to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), says Tristan Smith, shipping and climate change expert at University College London. He adds that many smaller countries do not have the resources to regulate it themselves and some choose not to restrict it – after all, the industry is a boon to local economies, bringing in tourists and providing jobs.

 

Read more about sustainable sea travel by following this link. By Sarah Shearman.

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