YOUR WEEKLY BRIEFING FROM PARLEY
Over the holidays, the Japanese Government confirmed it will restart commercial whaling in July and exit the International Whaling Commission (IWC). This will end its so-called scientific whaling in the Antarctic region, and limit the country’s catch to seas near Japan and the country's exclusive economic zone. Australia’s ABC news has a detailed analysis of what this means for whales and the wider environmental movement, declaring it a disaster.
But not everyone sees it that way. Sea Shepherd has worked for years to oppose Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean – both in court and on the high seas. Founder Paul Watson issued a statement on why this is a good thing, namely that the move officially ends whaling in the Southern Ocean and leaves Japan, Norway and Iceland isolated as the last remaining rogue nations. “Whaling as a ‘legal’ industry has ended,” he writes. “All that remains is to mop up the pirates.”
Bali has introduced a ban on single-use plastics including shopping bags, styrofoam and straws in efforts to curb pollution in its waters. The new policy aims for a 70% reduction in Bali's marine plastics in 2019, and Jakarta plans to follow suit. Meanwhile, South Korea also announced a plastic bag ban – a welcome move after a study found a 30% drop in bags on the seabed in northern Europe after the introduction of charging.
Seahorses, little terns and crawfish are among the creatures making a comeback with the help of conservation action around the UK’s coasts, the country’s Wildlife Trusts has said. The Scotsman reports that it has also been a good year for sightings of marine wildlife, nudibranch sea slugs, curled octopus and basking sharks. It’s not all good news though – plastic is now present in almost 100% of gannet nests on the island of Aldernay.
The Ocean Cleanup’s plan to collect plastic at sea has been sidelined, reports NBC. The system’s 2000-foot-long screen — which was already failing to capture plastic — broke apart just before New Year's under the constant wind and waves of the Pacific Ocean. Critics say the failure was predictable and that systems deployed closer to shore stand a greater chance of slowing the deluge of plastics spilling into the world’s oceans.
Climate change is transforming California’s coast, and with habitats hemmed in by cliffs, condos and farms, pre-emptive action is needed to preserve biodiversity reports The Guardian. More than two-thirds of Californians live in coastal counties, and manmade pressures from development and pollution make it hard enough to protect coastal habitats, according to experts. Sea-level rise will only increase the challenge.