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Motor oil leaks from the engines of eco-friendly hybrids and gas-guzzling SUVs onto our roadways, where rain washes it into lakes, rivers and oceans. Every year 10 billion gallons of petroleum-based motor oil and other industrial lubricants are released into our oceans and environment globally from human activity. Nearly 40% of pollution in America’s waterways is caused by used motor oil.

How can you change this?

Go Green! Support non-toxic, environmentally friendly plant-based motor oil to protect the environment and us. Replacing petroleum-based oils with safer, cleaner alternatives could dramatically protect and improve the quality of our vital water resources and protect us from having these harmful pollutants enter our body.

Once upon a time, bio-based motor oils were unimaginable. Today, scientific advancements have made this petroleum alternative a reality. A recent study showed that bio-based lubricants – from field crop to engine – would reduce greenhouse gas emission by more than 88% compared to petroleum-based motor oil lubricants. Replacing petroleum based lubricating oil with a renewable alternative would be the equivalent of taking 7.5 million cars off the road.

If used, plant-based motor oil lubricants could minimize this environmental pollution related to motor oil. Both the environment and the consumer benefits – its keeps engines cleaner, it may require fewer oil changes and the price will likely be cheaper than the petroleum-based, fully synthetic oil currently on the market – with the same great performance!

However, currently there are no political or market-based incentives for major motor oil manufacturers to provide consumers with a bio-based alternative.

We need support from consumers, NGOs and the environmentally conscious public to help encourage our Elected Officials and private Oil Companies to let consumers have a choice about how they change their oil.

Isn’t it time for an oil change?

Learn more about how you can support non-toxic, environmentally friendly plant-based motor oil by visiting: www.TimeForAnOilChange.org

Help Us Amplify Why Bio Messages to get plant-based oil alternatives in the hands of consumers:

Get E-alerts: Sign up for e-news alerts to stay informed on how you can take action in support of bio-based motor oil alternatives. Sign Up Now: http://www.timeforanoilchange.org/#getinvolved

Sign On: Sign the petition to let Elected Officials and private Oil Companies know that consumers want environmentally friendly motor oil now. Sign On Now: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/582/483/354/stop-silent-oil-spills/

Tweet It: RT if you support eco-friendly, plant-based motor oil to protect us & the environment. It’s time for an #oilchange ow.ly/lKuh5

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This is a historic day for ocean protection. The first statewide network of marine protected areas in the U.S. went into effect Dec. 19 along California’s 1,100-mile coastline.

Strategic Ocean Solutions consultants had the opportunity to provide media relations and public outreach support for the California Marine Life Protection Act Initiative planning process. Watch our video below of the stakeholder-driven process in California’s north coast region.

Designing a network of marine protected areas sounds like an easy task, however it isn’t. There are many people who rely on the ocean for enjoyment, work and food. These devoted fans of the ocean didn’t always see eye-to-eye, leading to moments of anger and frustration.

As the La Times reporter Ken Weiss describes in his article:

“The size of the network is exactly what filled auditoriums with red-shirted, shouting fishermen, angry at impending closures of favored fishing spots. The fight has continued in the courts. So far, none of the lawsuits has prevailed”

“The American Sportfishing Assn., the Virginia-based trade group of the tackle and sport fishing industry, hired Sacramento lobbyists and public relations firms, and organized anglers by the busload to try to derail the process.”

However, in the end there was compromise.

In a Nov. 11, 2009 San Diego Union-Tribune article fishing reporter Ed Zieralski wrote:

“The bottom line, and it’s always about the bottom line in fishing, is it could have been a lot worse for recreational and commercial anglers here yesterday when a state panel settled on a network of fishing closures for Southern California.”

“While some were saying it was a dark day for fishing in the state, and for some, unfortunately, it was, those closest to this more-than-yearlong process saw what the Blue Ribbon Task Force voted on yesterday as a livable compromise in the shady political process of trying to carry out the Marine Life Protection Act of 1999.”

This final outcome is a beautiful thing – a scientifically supported network of marine protected areas designed by stakeholders for stakeholders that struck a balance between resource use and protection. Stakeholder-driven public processes aren’t easy, that’s for sure, but they are definitely essential to protect our ocean for future generations.

– Annie Reisewitz, Director of Communications at Strategic Ocean Solutions

Follow Annie on Twitter @annelore

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New York City’s Chinatown is overflowing with ocean life – dried, bagged and ready for sale to those seeking alternative Chinese medicines.

I recently went on a search for shark fins in the famous lower Manhattan district. I expected to find shark fins, and I did, but what surprised me the most were the many types and quantities of other sea life lying lifeless in the pharmacies. In Chinatown, traditional Chinese medicine markets are a major business and each storefront is stocked wall-to-wall with thousands of animal parts believed to hold medical cures. These markets are well stocked with some pricey sea life including, shark fins, abalone, sea cucumbers and sea horses.

Thought to be the “ginseng of the sea,” sea cucumbers are being sold for $200 a pound and up. According to scientists, the lack of trade information on sea cucumber from both exporting and importing countries makes it difficult to accurately quantify the international trade of this animal.

Sea cucumbers or Hai shen, as they are known in Chinese, are pickle-sized relatives of the starfish. Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners believe they hold cures for variety of diseases and were one of the eight immortal ingredients used in Confucius cuisine. (The seven others are: shark’s fin, abalone, shrimp, fishbone, fish maw, asparagus, and ham). Fish maw, which is actually a fish’s swim bladder, is also widely available in Chinatown.

I came across a bag of dried “extra large” seahorses for $48 per ounce. The bigger, the better, according to Chinese folklore. Seahorses, when steeped in rice wine, are thought to enliven the blood to cure impotence. The reality, however, is that more than 20 million seahorses are harvested from the ocean each year for traditional Chinese medicine as the “Viagra of the sea.”

In 2004, under threat with extinction from overfishing, the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species set export quotas on the international trade of seahorses. This international trade measure has not entirely worked. According to a 2011 report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization seahorse gathering in the Philippines may be increasing despite a national law banning their gathering and trade.

Perhaps it’s time to pay closer attention to the consumption and use of threatened and endangered sealife for alternative medicine before they are completely dried up.

 

– Annie Reisewitz, Director of Communications at Strategic Ocean Solutions

Follow Annie on Twitter @annelore

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9th Sep, 2012

A High-Seas Escape

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It wasn’t an emigrant looking for economic freedom lying there on a Florida beach, but instead plastic trash hightailing it out of Chavez’s Venezuela. Is this a sign of a bigger problem offshore?

This transatlantic ocean cruiser found washed ashore in the Atlantic waters off North Palm Beach, Florida, was a plastic soda bottle produced by Pepsi-Cola of Venezuela (producto de Pepsi-Cola Venezuela C.A.).

Along its northerly journey out of the Caribbean Sea, it likely drifted north into the Gulf of Mexico through the Yucatan Straits, between Mexico and Cuba, before hitching a ride in the Florida Straits and onto the Gulf Stream. Along the way it picked up oceanic passengers, namely gooseneck barnacles looking for a suitable oceanic drifter to call its home. By the looks of it after finally washing ashore, the bottle had quite an adventurous tale to tell.

Today, plastic bottles and other unsightly plastic trash inhabit all oceans on Earth and originate from every distant corner of the planet. Our global plastic problem has gained some worldwide notoriety, most notable in the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” in waters off California and Japan where our plastic world is piling up in the middle of the ocean.

Although data is scare on the extent of the global marine litter problem, the United Nations Environment Programme says that despite the raising global attention to the issue, our global marine litter problem is mounting with “some 8 million items of marine litter entering the oceans every day and “over 13,000 pieces of plastic litter floating on every square kilometre of ocean surface.”

This recent Bolivarianism defector that washed up on this once pristine Florida beach is an indicator of the Atlantic’s global trash problem.

A study published in 2010 by the Massachusetts-based Sea Education Association documenting 22 years of marine pollution on the US East Coast showed dense concentrations of marine debris along the western North Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea.

Like it’s Pacific counterpart that gives rise to the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” the Atlantic Ocean also has a convergence zone at its center, produced by a network of strong ocean currents, where trash accumulates. The SEA researchers noted that the highest concentration of plastic corresponded with this oceanographic sub-tropical convergence zone in the Atlantic.

Is it possible that Pepsi’s plastic drifter make a wrong turn on its way to the “Great Atlantic Garbage Dump?”

 

By: Annie Reisewitz

Director of Communications at Strategic Ocean Solutions

Twitter@annelore

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More than 700 dead penguins have washed up on Brazil’s beaches since June, including more than 500 this week along the Rio Grande do Sul coast in southern Brazil. According to today’s CNN report, the Brazilian Center for Coastal Studies concluded that these Magellanic penguins died of natural causes.

I would disagree that these iconic seabirds, named after explorer Ferdinand Magellan, are dying from natural causes. Over the last decade, scientists have observed these seabirds traveling longer distances to find food.

With their distinctive white bands that loops around their eyes and down the side of the neck, these birds typically migrate in the winter months from their breeding grounds off the coasts of Argentina, Chile and the Falkland Islands to the waters off southern Brazil, Uruguay, and Northern Argentina in search of food.

However, human competition for their main food staples – anchovy, sardines, and squid– as well as changes in the ocean conditions due to climate change and oil pollution, are having a real effect on these animals’ ability to survive.

Ocean Indicator Species All Washed Up at Rio+20

This June, along Rio de Janeiro’s famed Ipanema Beach, I witnessed a lone starved baby penguin, far off track in search of food, warmth and rest. This was a particularly interesting find, since the Rio+20 Earth Summit was happening only a few miles away.

The juvenile penguin I saw was likely starving to death and headed ashore because it was cold and wanted to be more comfortable and rest, according to University of Washington Conservation Biologist Dee Boersma.

“Penguins are good indicators of ocean health because they depend on ocean water without petroleum and abundant small fish, so if there is pollution or few fish, penguins will be among the first to come ashore and indicate the problem,” said Boersma.

So, although the birds showed no obvious signs of death, the continued and rapid decline in ocean health from human causes – such as overfishing, ocean pollution, oil spills and climate change – is putting the Magellanic penguin populations at risk.

And, clearly this is not a natural cause of death.

– By Annie Reisewitz

follow Annie on Twitter @annelore

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Philippe Cousteau, grandson of famed ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau, opened the Rio+20 Oceans Dialogue today as moderator of a panel of 10 international ocean experts sitting on stage alongside 10 recommendations critical to advance global ocean management.

“Oceans are considered too big to fail, but in fact they are failing,“ said panelist Richard Delaney of the Global Ocean Forum at the start of the public discussion organized by the Brazilian government.

Each panelist acknowledged the myriad problems facing the oceans – from ocean acidification, unsustainable and illegal fishing to land- and marine-based pollution – with an eye toward sending a strong message to the United Nations delegates charged with producing a final political document on June 22 at the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development.

We are drawing down on our natural assets,” said Her Deepness Dr. Sylvia Earle. “We now have the knowledge and need to take action while we still have time.”

All panelists emphasized the urgent need to utilize science and technology to help mitigate the negative environmental impacts that are degrading the oceans. Others conveyed the need for a strong international global framework to protect the high seas and its biodiversity, which is the 68% of ocean areas not under national jurisdictions or currently protected by international policies.

The global blue economy is losing 10-20 million tons of fish a year from ocean mismanagement, according to British Columbia University professor Ussif Rashid Sumaila. His recent study shows that ocean conservation’s return on investment is $3-7 per dollar spent.

“The economics are there, we just need the political will,” said Sumalia, who considers fish as an indicator of global ocean health.

Following the panel remarks, the microphones were turned over to the audience to ask questions and provide their input on the 10 recommendations that came out of an interactive online discussion and voting initiative.

The Rio+20 Dialogues were set up by the Brazilian government to offer a venue for the public to provide their input on the seven critical issue areas being discussed in the UN policy-making process.

Finally, the audience was prompted to choose two recommendations to be sent to the UN delegates meeting on June 20-22. Audience votes were tallied with 36% of the audience in favor of advancing the recommendation to  ‘launch a global agreement to save high seas biodiversity.’

The panel of ocean experts concluded the discussion with the agreement of a third recommendation offered by Earle, which stated “immediately act to create a global network of marine protected areas using ecosystem-based fisheries management principles that accommodates the needs of all stakeholders.”

 

– Annie Reisewitz, Strategic Ocean Solutions

Follow Annie on Twitter @annelore

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Valuable on-the-ground discussions about community outreach are happening alongside the deep political negotiations at the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Today, the Sylvia Earle Alliance and Global Foundation for Democracy and Development presented, “Oceans in Google Earth as an Educational Tool: A Dominican Republic Perspective,” a real-world example of how to connect the world to the global ocean through technology. GFDD environmental manager Emy Rodriguez took us on an interactive Google Earth tour of the state’s diverse marine environment, rich with singrays and fish cruising along the Dominican colorful coral reefs.

In 2009 Google launched Oceans in Google Earth and the “Explore the Ocean” layer, which is curated by the Sylvia Earle Alliance. The layer allows organizations and individuals around the world to populate the Google ocean with videos and pictures that tell the deeply personal stories and unique regional prospective of the ocean.

“Having a variety of media content is what makes it work,” said Charlotte Vick, Director of Strategic Partnerships for the Sylvia Earle Alliance.

The GFDD Google Ocean project is part of a broader Dominican Republic educational outreach initiative to create greater environmental literacy among its citizens and tourists.

This event clearly illustrated that we have the technology to connect diverse people across the globe to the ocean and, these tools are being used to visually teach the world the value of the global oceans in hopes of improving ocean health for future generations.

This apolitical Rio+20 side event offered a real-world example of how cutting-edge technology can help advance public awareness about ocean issues and bring about the future we want at Rio+20. The Sylvia Earle Alliance plans to launch Explore the Ocean in Spanish later this year.

Annie Reisewitz, Strategic Ocean Solutions

Follow Annie on Twitter @annelore

Follow SOS on Twitter @Healthy_Ocean

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World Oceans Day 2012 comes less than two weeks before the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro. The conference, referred as Rio+20, brings together world leaders to strengthen international policies to achieve sustainable development through a green economy and improve international coordination for sustainable development.

The first major commitments toward environmental sustainability were made 20 years ago at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio. This event is a follow up to the Earth Summit and a major opportunity for ocean advocates to enforce the environment commitment made twenty years ago.

Hundreds of events across seven theme areas will be taking place during the two-week period leading up to the official UN meeting. These events, sponsored by governments and NGOs, are designed to communicate the critical environmental issues that need to be included in the final policy document adopted by the UN delegates.

Oceans” is one of the seven priority areas being highlighted at Rio+20. The ocean protection measures adopted at the 1992 Earth Summit by UN member countries are laid out in Chapter 17 of Agenda 21, as well as the UN Convention on Biological Diversity’s Aichi Biodiversity Targets.

Here is how the ocean commitments made through the Convention on Biological Diversity are doing:

Aichi Biodiversity Target 6

By 2020 all fish and invertebrate stocks and aquatic plants are legally and sustainable harvested to avoid overfishing and the impacts of fisheries on stocks, species and ecosystems are within safe ecological limits.

In 2012: The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that 85% of the world’s marine fish stocks are over exploited. Illegal, unregulated, and unreported (IUU) fishing, destructive fishing practices remain as major threat to fish populations.

Aichi Biodiversity Target 10

By 2015, the multiple anthropogenic pressures on coral reefs, and other vulnerable ecosystems impacted by climate change or ocean acidification are minimized, so as to maintain their integrity and functioning.

In 2012: The World Resources Institute’s Reefs at Risk Revisited report shows that nearly 75% of the world’s coral reefs are in dire straits due to overfishing, pollution and unsustainable management practices. According to the IPCC, future losses of coral reef ecosystems are expected as ocean temperatures increase by 2-4 degrees Celsius (3-7 degrees Fahrenheit) by 2100.

Aichi Biodiversity Target 11

By 2020 at least 10% of the world’s oceans are conserved through an effective network of marine protected areas.

In 2012: less than 2% of the world’s oceans are designated as marine protected areas.

Ocean advocates around the world can participate in the Rio+20 Dialogues to vote for the ocean future you want. Stay tuned for more news and commentary from the front lines of international ocean politics as I report from Rio+20.

 

 

By Annie Reisewitz, Director of Communications, Strategic Ocean Solutions

Follow Annie on Twitter @annelore

Follow SOS on Facebook

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Earlier this week President Obama took a seemingly apolitical lunch stop for Chinese takeout at the famous Great Eastern Restaurant in San Francisco’s Chinatown.

For ocean activists this stop prompted an occasion to highlight the issue of shark finning, a process where sharks are caught solely to remove their fins and their finless bodies are dumped back in the sea.

Susan Walsh/AP

The media likely got tipped off from the many ocean advocates working to end this brutal practice that the Great Eastern serves a $48 bowl of braised shark fin soup. Although Obama did not indulge in the Chinese delicacy, the San Francisco Chronicle and NY Daily News took the bait and put shark finning, and the ease of finding the fin soup, in the national spotlight.

In Jan 2011, Obama signed the Shark Conservation Act, which strengthens existing laws banning fishing for sharks’ fins. A law banning the sale of shark fins also went into effect in California in 2011.

It’s great to see sharks get some attention on the Obama campaign trail and I hope more ocean issues get trusted in the national spotlight during this campaign year.

The National Ocean Policy is under attack by Republican-controlled House National Resources Committee.  Remember, Mitt Romney initiated the Massachusetts ocean planning initiative, which is now a model for the national marine spatial planning initiatives laid out in the National Ocean Policy.

Perhaps Romney needs to be reminded that he supported healthy oceans in Massachusetts before he was against it.

– Annie Reisewitz

Director of Communications at Strategic Ocean Solutions

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If the ocean is the blue heart of the planet, then wetlands are the kidneys, naturally filtering out impurities from our drinking water supply.

Once considered useless mosquito-infested swamplands, many of the world’s wetlands have been drained or cemented over, giving way to farmlands and shopping malls.

Nature’s delicate design can be seen in wetlands. On the outskirts, they provide a nursery for young-ocean life like shrimp and fish, and, at the core, a place of last resort for many endangered plants and animals.

Today, on World Wetlands Day, we pay homage to what remains of these picturesque landscapes that provide the vital link between land and sea.

 
Wetland Facts:

  • The Pantanal, which covers 150,000 km2 (57,915 mi2) and straddles Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay, is the largest and best-preserved wetland in the world.
  • The “wettest” wetlands in the world are in Southeast Asia, where heavy rains can provide up to 10,000 mm (about 200 in) of water a year.
  • An international treaty, known as the Ramsar Convention, was signed by 160 countries on Feb. 2, 1971 in Ramsar, Iran, to help preserve the world’s wetlands. The member nations have designated over 190,000,000 hectares to date.
  • The Florida Everglades is the largest wetland restoration project in the world, which is expected to take 30 years and cost over $13 billion dollars.

Get more wetland facts

Annie Reisewitz, Director of Communications at Strategic Ocean Solutions

Follow Annie on Twitter @annelore

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