Welcome to the first edition of The OpenChannels Overview! Here, we'll briefly summarize each week's most interesting and/or important information going on in the world of sustainable ocean management and conservation. Check back regularly, as we'll continually update this post throughout the week as we add more news.
53 nations adopt the Commonwealth Blue Charter, a collaborative framework for sustainable ocean management
The Commonwealth of Nations (formerly the British Commonwealth) agreed last week to adopt a Commonwealth Blue Charter - a collaborative approach to action on ocean governance and conservation. Under the Blue Charter, countries and action groups will address multiple issues in a cooperative way, including climate change, ecosystem protection, ocean plastics, Blue Growth, aquaculture, maritime security, and more. Together the 53 Commonwealth nations oversee one-third of the world's national waters (via Commonwealth press release).
A key to fighting coastal inundation in Louisiana? Tabasco sauce
Decades of questionable land use and water policies have resulted in the loss of vast coastal wetlands in Louisiana: the US state is losing 14 football fields of land a day. And as sea levels rise from climate change, the state faces a double whammy of higher storm surges and fewer wetlands to blunt the impact. To restore and conserve the coast, the Louisiana company that makes Tabasco hot sauce has forged a novel partnership with other major coastal landowners to create new marshes and change land-use practices. It’s showing promise (via Earther).
The Man Swimming Across the Pacific Ocean for Science
Ben Lecomte hopes to become the first man to swim across the Pacific ocean - and back again. From this daring feat, Lecomte aims to bring awareness to the impacts humans are having upon our world’s ocean, while collecting scientific data. Within his planned route, his journey will take him straight through the Great Pacific Garbage Patch where scientists are excited to study the samples obtained (via News Deeply).
'Wake-up call': microplastics found in Great Australian Bight sediment
Scientists from the Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) recently discovered microplastics kilometers deep within the Great Australian Bight. Renowned as a “biodiversity hotspot and marine treasure” and located hundreds of kilometers offshore, this finding was particularly stunning to the researchers. Though Australia does have measures to reduce aquatic wastes, this newest finding is a further empowerment that more effort is needed to reduce microplastic debris (via The Guardian).
Climate change will make most atolls uninhabitable by mid-century
New research published in ScienceAdvances shows that by the middle of the 21st century, over 1,000 small islands will likely become uninhabitable, potentially displacing millions. The news isn't great for the US Government, either, which operates a number of military installations in the Marshall Islands. Nor a $1 billion radar installation, currently being constructed on Kwajalein Atoll, which seeks to track "space junk" to keep satellites and astronauts out of the collision course (via The Washington Post).
EPA to require "fully open" science for decision-making
The US Environmental Protection Agency has announced that it will soon require all data behind scientific research to be publicly available if it is to be used to guide the agency's decision-making. This is at odds with existing legislation like HIPAA which strictly prohibits sharing information publicly. Even outside of HIPAA regulations, it is rare that scientists engage in "open science" principles like sharing datasets of published work. The result is that much less science will be used to guide the agency's regulations, appeasing conservatives who generally deny climate change and oppose environmental regulations (via The New York Times).
Nearly 4,000 French researchers have signed a petition pledging to go without subscription-access to journals published by Springer
This follows a breakdown in renewal negotiations between Springer and French universities, where the publisher was demanding subscription price increases despite more content being freely-available due to Open Access publishing fees (via Times Higher Education). French universities are now saving millions of euros a year in subscription costs (via Times Higher Education).