Category Archives: maritime

World Bank issues SOS for oceans, backs alliance

NewsDaily: World Bank issues SOS for oceans, backs alliance.


By David FogartyPosted 2012/02/24 at 12:41 am EST

SINGAPORE, Feb. 24, 2012 (Reuters) — The World Bank announced on Friday a global alliance to better manage and protect the world’s oceans, which are under threat from over-fishing, pollution and climate change.

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Oceans are the lifeblood of the planet and the global economy, World Bank President Robert Zoellick told a conference on ocean conservation in Singapore. Yet the seas have become overexploited, coastlines badly degraded and reefs under threat from pollution and rising temperatures.

“We need a new SOS: Save Our Seas,” Zoellick said in announcing the alliance.

The partnership would bring together countries, scientific centers, non-governmental groups, international organizations, foundations and the private sector, he said.

The World Bank could help guide the effort by bringing together existing global ocean conservation programs and support efforts to mobilize finance and develop market-mechanisms to place a value on the benefits that oceans provide.

Millions of people rely on oceans for jobs and food and that dependence will grow as the world’s population heads for 9 billion people, underscoring the need to better manage the seas.

Zoellick said the alliance was initially committed to mobilizing at least $300 million in finance.

“Working with governments, the scientific community, civil society organizations, and the private sector, we aim to leverage as much as $1.2 billion to support healthy and sustainable oceans.”


A key focus was understanding the full value of the oceans’ wealth and ecosystem services. Oceans are the top source of oxygen, help regulate the climate, while mangroves, reefs and wetlands are critical to protecting increasingly populous coastal areas against hazards such as storms — benefits that are largely taken for granted.

“Whatever the resource, it is impossible to evolve a plan to manage and grow the resource without knowing its value,” he said.

Another aim was to rebuild at least half the world’s fish stocks identified as depleted. About 85 percent of ocean fisheries are fully exploited, over-exploited or depleted.

“We should increase the annual net benefits of fisheries to between $20 billion and $30 billion. We estimate that global fisheries currently run a net economic loss of about $5 billion per year,” he said.

Participants at the conference spoke of the long-term dividends from ocean conservation and better management of its resources. But that needed economists, bankers and board rooms to place a value on the oceans’ “natural capital”.

“The key to the success of this partnership will be new market mechanisms that value natural capital and can attract private finance,” Abyd Karmali, global head of carbon markets at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, told Reuters.

He pointed to the value in preserving carbon-rich mangrove forests and sea grassbeds and the possibility of earning carbon offsets for projects that conserve these areas.

“The oceans’ stock is in trouble. We have diminished its asset value to a huge degree and poor asset management is poor economics,” Stephen Palumbi, director of the Hopkins Marine Station, Stanford University, told the conference.

(Editing by Robert Birsel)

2011 Sea Ice Minimum at near-record level

2011 Sea Ice Minimum : Image of the Day.

2011 Sea Ice Minimum

acquired September 9, 2011
Color bar for 2011 Sea Ice Minimum
acquired September 1, 2010 – September 30, 2011 download animation (8 MB, QuickTime)

In September 2011, sea ice covering the Arctic Ocean declined to the second-lowest extent on record. Satellite data from NASA and the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) showed that the summertime ice cover narrowly avoided a new record low.

The image above was made from observations collected by the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSR-E) on NASA’s Aqua satellite. The map—which looks down on the North Pole—depicts sea ice extent on September 9, 2011, the date of minimum extent for the year. The animation (link below the image) shows the growth and decline of sea ice from September 2010 to September 2011.

Ice-covered areas range in color from white (highest concentration) to light blue (lowest concentration). Open water is dark blue, and land masses are gray. The yellow outline shows the median minimum ice extent for 1979–2000; that is, areas that were at least 15 percent ice-covered in at least half the years between 1979 and 2000.

Melt season in 2011 brought higher-than-average summer temperatures, but not the unusual weather conditions that contributed to the extreme melt of 2007, the record low. “Atmospheric and oceanic conditions were not as conducive to ice loss this year, but the melt still neared 2007 levels,” said Walt Meier of NSIDC. “This probably reflects loss of multi-year ice in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, as well as other factors that are making the ice more vulnerable.”

The low sea ice level in 2011 fits the pattern of decline over the past three decades, said Joey Comiso of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Since 1979, September Arctic sea ice extent has declined by 12 percent per decade.

“The sea ice is not only declining; the pace of the decline is becoming more drastic,” he noted. “The older, thicker ice is declining faster than the rest, making for a more vulnerable perennial ice cover.”

While the sea ice extent did not dip below the record, the area did drop slightly lower than 2007 levels for about ten days in early September 2011. Sea ice “area” differs from “extent” in that it equals the actual surface area covered by ice, while extent includes any area where ice covers at least 15 percent of the ocean.

Arctic sea ice extent on September 9, 2011, was 4.33 million square kilometers (1.67 million square miles). Averaged over the month of September, ice extent was 4.61 million square kilometers (1.78 million square miles). This places 2011 as the second lowest ice extent for both the daily minimum and the monthly average. Ice extent was 2.43 million square kilometers (938,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average.

Climate models have suggested that the Arctic could lose almost all of its summer ice cover by 2100, but in recent years, ice extent has declined faster than the models predicted.

  1. Further Reading

  2. NASA (2011, October 4) Arctic Sea Ice Continues Decline, Hits 2nd-Lowest Level. Accessed October 4, 2011.
  3. NASA Earth Observatory (n.d.) World of Change: Arctic Sea Ice.
  4. NOAA Climate Watch (2011, October 4) Old Ice Becoming Rare in Arctic. Accessed October 4, 2011.

NASA Earth Observatory images created by Jesse Allen, using AMSR-E sea ice concentration data provided courtesy of the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Caption based on text from Patrick Lynch (NASA) and Katherine Leitzell (NSIDC), edited by Michael Carlowicz.

Aqua – AMSR-E

At least 55 dead, dozens missing after ship sinks in Russia

At least 55 dead, dozens missing after ship sinks in Russia – CNN.

A wee bit late posting this, but it’s hell keeping up with all the disasters!!!

At least 55 people are now known to have died when a ship sank with more than 200 people aboard on Russia’s Volga River, state-run media reported Monday, citing the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry.

Dozens of people are still missing after the ship “Bulgaria” went down on Sunday, the ministry said. Divers have been unable to reach parts of the boat where the largest number of people had congregated shortly before the accident, the state-run RIA Novosti news agency reported.


Many children are reported to have been aboard the pleasure cruise when the ship sank in the Russian republic of Tatarstan.

At least 79 people have been rescued, some of whom have been released from hospitals after receiving medical treatment, according to government agencies.

The ship did not have a license to transport passengers, it was overloaded, and was last repaired more than 30 years ago, the Russian Prosecutor’s Office said Monday.

Prosecutors also established that the left engine of the ship was damaged, they said on their website.

Russian state TV reported the vessel had an operational limit of about 150 passengers, citing a top government official on the accident site. State TV also reported, citing law enforcement officials, that there were life vests on board for only 156 people.

Russian Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu said that according to the latest information, there were 208 people aboard the ship, of whom 25 passengers were not officially registered and didn’t have tickets.

President Dmitry Medvedev is declaring Tuesday a day of national mourning for the victims, he said in an emergency government meeting Monday.

The president appointed Transport Minister Igor Levitin to head a special government commission to investigate the case.

“It is clear that such an accident couldn’t have taken place if safety rules were followed, even despite the difficult weather situation,” Medvedev said. “We have to establish why the owner of the ship operated a ship that was in such a poor technical condition.”

He also called for “a total inspection of all public carriers in Russia,” he said, adding that it is “obvious that this ship was not the only one with issues.

“The number of old tubs that are now in use (in Russia) is just staggering,” he said.

“We can see from the information we have that the vessel was not in the appropriate condition,” Medvedev said of the Bulgaria.

He instructed the Prosecutor General’s Office to investigate everyone involved in the Bulgaria cruise, including “ship-owners, those who issued the navigation permit and those who were involved in organizing that boat tour, especially given the large number of children aboard.”

Officials are making arrangements to lift the ship from the river bed, he said, saying that planning for the project will be completed later on Monday.

More than 80 scuba divers are now working on the site of the accident, with more arriving by the end of the day, the ministry said.


Cruise ship sinks in Russia with 182 aboard

Cruise ship sinks in Russia with 182 aboard –

Moscow (CNN) — A cruise ship carrying 182 people sank in Russia’s Volga River on Sunday, leaving at least one person dead and large numbers missing, emergency officials said.

The ship, the Bulgaria, sank with about 2 p.m. (6 a.m. ET) with 125 passengers and a crew of 57 aboard, Russia’s Emergency Situations Ministry reported. A total of 84 people had been rescued Sunday evening, the ministry said.

The state-run news agency RIA Novosti reported that police have opened a criminal investigation into allegations of safety violations aboard the vessel. One woman was confirmed dead and 88 remained missing, RIA Novosti said.

The agency said double-deck cruise ship went down near the village of Syukeyevo, in the Russian republic of Tatarstan. Russian officials said two ships and two helicopters responded to the incident, about 50 miles south of the city of Kazan — about 450 miles east of Moscow.

In all, 22 rescue units including 80 people were involved in the operation, RIA Novosti reported.

Many missing as Russian boat Bulgaria sinks on Volga

More than 110 people are missing after a tourist boat sank on the Volga River in Russia, officials say.

They say one person was confirmed dead and dozens were rescued after the boat sank in the republic of Tatarstan, about 750km (450 miles) east of Moscow.

More than 180 passengers and crew were believed to be on the Bulgaria, which was sailing from the town of Bulgar to the regional capital, Kazan.

The cause of the accident is not clear. A rescue operation is continuing.

The search and rescue effort will continue throughout the night, but hopes of finding survivors are fading, says the BBC’s Steve Rosenberg in Moscow.

Miles from shore

The Bulgaria – a 55-five year old vessel which is believed to be owned by a local tourism company – was on a two-day cruise when it came into difficulty at about 1400 on Sunday, sinking within minutes, says our correspondent.


It sank several kilometres from the shore near the village of Sukeyevo, about 80km south of Kazan.

While dozens of people were rescued by another pleasure boat that was passing nearby, more than 110 are still missing.

Relatives of those on board have gathered at a port in Kazan waiting for news of their loved ones.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered an investigation into the incident.

The Volga, a wide river, is popular with cruise boats at this time of the year, says our correspondent.