Commissioners Joe Borg and Stavros Dimas have backed a proposal to suspend international trade of Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna to protect ailing stocks from overfishing.

The European Commission agreed to adopt a joint position supporting a proposal submitted by Monaco in July to list Atlantic bluefin tuna on Appendix I of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Faunas and Flora), which would effectively ban international trade of the species.

The UN Secretary General Review of UN resolution 61/105 was published today.

The report, requested by the UN General Assembly, outlines the measures taken by high seas fishing nations to implement a 2006 UN General Assembly resolution designed to protect deep-ocean biodiversity from the harmful impact of deep-sea bottom trawling and other methods of bottom fishing.

Many Swedish fishermen have applied for subsidies to scrap their boats.

In the UK it is estimated that 20% of west coast fishermen would welcome a similar scheme.

The European Union has given three quarters of the funds to the decommissioning programme in Sweden, which aims to reduce Sweden's capacity to catch cod by 50% by 2015.

Marine scientists from California are venturing out into the Pacific to find out more about the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch".

A research vessel carrying a team of about 30 researchers, technicians and crew members embarked on Sunday on a three-week voyage from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, based at the University of California at San Diego.

Marine pest species costing billions in damage to fisheries, coastal communities and infrastructure are spreading as the world’s shipping nations continue to largely neglect bringing into effect an international treaty setting out requirements for consistent handling and treatment of ships’ ballast water.
 

A new scientific discussion paper released yesterday outlines mounting evidence that human activity is changing the world’s oceans in profound and damaging ways.

July was the hottest month for the world's oceans in almost 130 years of record-keeping.

The average water temperature worldwide was 17 Celsius, according to the National Climatic Data Center, the branch of the U.S. government that keeps world weather records. June was only slightly cooler, while August could set another record, scientists say. The previous record was set in July 1998 during a powerful El Nino in the Pacific.

Germany is the latest country to support Monaco's call to list Atlantic bluefin tune on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES.

President Sarkozy has announced France's support for a ban on international trade of bluefin tuna. Monaco and the UK have supported France's position.

The backing of two major EU countries for a ban on the international bluefin tuna trade has instantly given weight and momentum to the campaign by Monaco to have the bluefin listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) next year.

Despite growing pressure from the UNFCCC and a strong push by the International Maritime Organisation’s Secretary General, the IMO has made little progress this week on developing measures to reduce GHG emissions from shipping.

A two-year work plan (see below) to develop "Market-Based Instruments" - either a fuel levy or an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) - was watered down, after pressure from China, Saudi Arabia and South Africa, and European supporters of the scheme showed little appetite to fight for a more ambitious plan.

Twelve years after the Kyoto Protocol handed responsibility to IMO to address emissions from international shipping, the Organisation still has not adopted one single binding measure to do so. Global measures to reduce emissions, in the form of a levy or an ETS, have now been identified, but any decision to adopt either process will not be taken before 2012 at the earliest and could take a further 5-10 years to enter into force, so in practice it could be 2020 before the measure takes effect. By that time, shipping’s share of CO2 , if left unchecked, will have potentially doubled and could represent up to 6% of global CO2 emissions.

The meeting saw the conclusion of several years’ work on developing energy efficiency indices for the design of new vessels and the operation of existing ones, which could be used as very effective tools to make shipping more energy efficient. However, so far the IMO only intends to use these indices in voluntary trials. Any discussion this week of whether to make the measures mandatory was ruled out even before the meeting started.

This raises serious questions as to whether the Copenhagen process should reconfirm the IMO’s responsibility for shipping-related climate issues, and the organisation’s continued anchor-dragging also highlights the need for the EU to progress its own work on a regional European shipping scheme, similar to its policy on aviation.