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Ocean levels continue to rise – Copernicus Marine Service presents its new Ocean State Report

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The Copernicus Marine Service has released its fifth Ocean State Report. The report reveals how rapidly the ocean is changing and describes some of the consequences, including rising sea levels, ocean warming, ocean acidification, ocean de-oxygenation, sea ice loss and fish migration.

The Copernicus Marine Service, implemented by Mercator Ocean International on behalf of the European Commission, has released the 5th edition of its Copernicus Ocean State Report. It includes a concise summary that illustrates the impacts of climate change for the ocean. Released annually, it also highlights key trends observed and their significant consequences, including rapidly rising sea levels, ocean warming, ocean acidification, ocean de-oxygenation, and a decline in sea ice.

Using satellite data, in situ measurements and models, the Ocean State Report offers a comprehensive overview of the current state, natural variations and ongoing changes in both the global ocean and European regional seas. Written by over 150 scientists from more than 30 renowned European institutions, it is meant to act as a reference for the scientific community, national and international bodies, decisionmakers and the general public.

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Key highlights of the Ocean State Report include:

  • Ocean warming and melting land ice is causing sea levels to rise by 3.1 mm per year
  • Arctic sea ice extent is steadily decreasing; between 1979 and 2020, it lost an equivalent in area of sea ice to about 6 times the size of Germany
  • Extreme variability from cold-spells and marine heatwaves in the North Sea are linked to changes in catches of sole, European lobster, sea bass, red mullet and edible crabs
  • Pollution from land-based activities such as farming and industry is causing ocean eutrophication, impacting delicate ecosystems
  • Ocean warming and salinity increases have intensified in the Mediterranean in the past decade
  • Arctic Ocean warming estimated to contribute nearly 4 % to global ocean warming

The report is focussing on key ocean monitoring indicators to track how the ocean is changing and analyses the impact of these changes. In addition, the report includes sections on ocean governance and the development of new tools and technologies for ocean monitoring, like a new satellite-derived plankton-to-fish index, supporting ocean management and fisheries, or a forecasting system for jellyfish in the Mediterranean Sea. The ocean indicators are grouped into three sets: the ocean’s physical state (Blue Ocean), the ocean’s biological and biochemical state (Green Ocean) and the life cycle of floating ice in polar regions (White Ocean).

Blue Ocean – Changes and impact

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The physical ocean is undergoing unprecedented changes; this has a huge impact on both human well-being and marine environments. Surface and subsurface sea temperatures are increasing around the world, and sea levels continue to rise by alarming rates: 2.5 mm a year in the Mediterranean and up to 3.1 mm a year globally.

These and other factors can sometimes combine to cause extreme events affecting vulnerable areas such as Venice. In November 2019, an unusually high average sea level, a strong spring tide and extreme local and regional weather conditions combined to cause exceptional tide peaks in the Italian city – a so-called Acqua Alta event – when water levels rose to a maximum of 1.89 m. This was the highest water level recorded since 1966 and more than 50% of the city was flooded.

Green Ocean: Changes and impact

Nutrient pollution from land-based activities such as farming and industry have a devastating effect on the ocean’s water quality. Through eutrophication, increased plant growth can lead to reduced oxygen levels in seawater and even block natural sunlight, with potentially severe effects on coastal environments and marine biodiversity. The Copernicus Marine Service has therefore introduced a new ocean monitoring indicator to measure annual mean percentages for eutrophic and oligotrophic waters; this will support monitoring of European regional seas and safeguard delicate marine ecosystems from continuing anthropogenic threats. For instance, the report shows that the oxygen content has been decreasing in the Black Sea since measurements started in 1955.

In addition, warming ocean waters have caused some marine life to migrate to cooler waters, prompting the introduction of non-native species. An example occurred in 2019 when the venomous lionfish migrated from the Suez Canal to the Ionian Sea due to increased temperatures in the Mediterranean Basin.

White Ocean: Changes and impact

The report also reveals that Arctic sea ice remains well below average and is declining at an alarming pace. Over the past 30 years, Arctic sea ice has decreased steadily in extent and thickness. Since 1979, the ice cover for September (the summer low) has reduced by 12.89% per decade, with record lows in the last two years. Continued Arctic sea ice loss could contribute to further regional warming, erosion of Arctic coastlines and changes in global weather patterns.

Karina von Schuckmann, oceanographer at the Copernicus Marine Service and Chair of the Ocean State Report, said: “Climate change, pollution and overexploitation have created unprecedented pressure on the ocean, which not only makes up 71% of the Earth’s surface but is also responsible for regulating Earth’s climate and sustaining life. Accurate and timely monitoring and reporting is crucial for understanding the ocean so we can adapt to its changes. The Ocean State Report provides simple and easy to understand parameters to assess the state of the ocean, how it varies and how it changes. It also highlights the necessity of governance to help us all work together to reduce harmful effects and adapt to protect this most precious resource and its ecosystems.”

Copernicus Marine’s Ocean State Report is now available here.

All Copernicus Marine Ocean State Reports can be found here.

Maritime

Russia’s fishing fleet gears up for success

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Already the fourth largest global exporter of seafood by volume, Russia plans to nearly double its total seafood exports by 2024. To achieve this, Russian fishing operators have unveiled plans to encourage greater investment in the industry, seeking to accelerate the roll-out of state-of-the-art vessels, modern seafood processing plants, and improved railways.

‘There has been around $5 billion invested in the Russian fish industry,’ said Petr Savchuk, deputy head of

Already the fourth largest global exporter of seafood by volume, Russia plans to nearly double its total seafood exports by 2024. To achieve this, Russian fishing operators have unveiled plans to encourage greater investment in the industry, seeking to accelerate the roll-out of state-of-the-art vessels, modern seafood processing plants, and improved railways.

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‘There has been around $5bn invested in the Russian fish industry,’ said Petr Savchuk, deputy head of Rosrybolovstovo, the Russian Federal Agency for Fishing. ‘But this is just the beginning’.

In 2018, Russia started the construction of 35 new fishing trawlers and 20 new seafood processing plants, centred primarily around the country’s largest fishing ports on the Far East seaboard. In addition, Rosrybolovstovo set a target of building at least 100 new vessels by 2025, a 50% increase in the fleet’s overall capacity. However, since then, investment has begun to soar. In particular, Russia has unveiled plans to build railway hubs across the country, helping to speed up the movement of raw goods from the major fishing ports in Kamchatka to Russia’s Atlantic side, including its primary fishing export hub in Murmansk.

On 12 April this year, FESCO Transportation Group began transporting containerised fish along the Trans-Siberian route, with products travelling at speed from Vladivostok to St. Petersburg. From there, the shipment was shipped across to Bremerhaven in Northern Germany. According to FESCO, this new route is twice as fast as transporting products via Suez and it shows that Russian firms are upgrading their logistics with great success.

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To reduce congestion, Russian authorities have also begun opening several more fishing export hubs throughout the country. As Savchuk explains: ‘[hubs are] being developed, for example in Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Rostov-on-Don and other big cities in Russia where big cold-store facilities are being built.’

One company making an outsize contribution, both in the Far East and in the cod fisheries of the North Atlantic, is Norebo. Investing $45m in a new shipping terminal in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Norebo looks to create an end-to-end service for fishing vessels in Russia. The terminal will allow vessels to store their fish in refrigerating containers in the Far East before shipping them to western Russia, the US, and Europe.

Following the implementation of its fleet renewal programme in 2017, Norebo will soon have some of the most modern vessels operating not just in Russia but in the world. Radicalising how Russia’s fishing industry operates, Norebo’s new state-of-the-art vessels are set to increase energy efficiency, decrease waste, and create more comfortable working conditions for crews.

‘A modern fleet is a requirement of our times. Only new vessels with high-tech equipment can offer optimal catch processing, as well as high standards of safety and comfort for the crew,’ said a Norebo spokesperson.

It appears Norebo strives to achieve this and more with its latest fleet of vessels under construction.

Indeed, one of the group’s vessels, named Captain Korotich, incorporates architectural design elements never used before on a Russian fishing vessel. The hull is capsule shaped with an Enduro Bow line, which allows for increased working space on board and improved seaworthiness. It also has an incredibly powerful engine (6200kW), which enables the vessel to reach speeds of up to 15.5 knots and operate in ice up to 0.5m thick, while using less fuel than other comparable engines.

Designed with energy efficiency in mind, the vessel will also use electricity generated by the trawl winches for lighting and repurpose the excess heat from the main engine to heat the ship’s rooms, including the cabins. Ingeniously, on Pacific vessels such as Captain Korotich, fish oil collected during waste processing is even put towards powering the boiler. These innovations reduce carbon emissions and eliminate unnecessary waste, all of which contributes to the excellent sustainability of the end product.

The company’s newest longline vessels will also be equipped with modern multi-functional factories that allow for advanced catch processing directly on board. This means that the time between catching the premium quality fish and creating the final product, ready for cooking, is shortened dramatically, with processing waste also reduced to almost zero. Norebo has found the provision of onboard factories has even improved the final product that reaches kitchens, as processing the fish immediately after it is caught helps to preserve its freshness, taste and nutrients.

Five years has passed since Norebo first announced its fleet renewal programme. Since then, the company has revealed plans to build ten state-of-the-art vessels, with more still to come. But every time a new keel is laid, it feels like the first time all over again. As Norebo founder Vitaly Orlov reflected at the unveiling of the first vessel in 2018: ‘Although Norebo’s current fishing fleet is up to date, the time to renew is coming. Today is a very emotional moment when we lay the keel of the first vessel. I hope that this event today will give a positive signal to the shipbuilding industry that Russia intends to build vessels that are as good as, or even better, than [from] shipyards anywhere in the world.’

With Norebo leading the way, Russia’s fishing fleet already competes with the leading fishing nations of the world in terms of consistency, quality of product and commitments to sustainable practices. Considering the future investment plans already announced, Russia is well on its way to meet the target of nearly doubling exports by 2024, confirming its status as a world leader, ranking alongside the legendary fishing fleets of old.

In 2018, Russia started the construction of 35 new fishing trawlers and 20 new seafood processing plants, centred primarily around the country’s largest fishing ports on the Far East seaboard. In addition, Rosrybolovstovo set a target of building at least 100 new vessels by 2025, a 50% increase in the fleet’s overall capacity. However, since then, investment has begun to soar. In particular, Russia has unveiled plans to build railway hubs across the country, helping to speed up the movement of raw goods from the major fishing ports in Kamchatka to Russia’s Atlantic side, including its primary fishing export hub in Murmansk.

On the 12th of April this year, FESCO Transportation Group began transporting containerized fish along the Trans-Siberian route, with products travelling at speed from Vladivostok to St. Petersburg. From there, the shipment was shipped across to Bremerhaven in Northern Germany. According to FESCO, this new route is twice as fast as transporting products via Suez and it shows that Russian firms are upgrading their logistics with great success.

To reduce congestion, Russian authorities have also begun opening several more fishing export hubs throughout the country. As Savchuk explains: ‘[hubs are] being developed, for example in Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Rostov-on-Don and other big cities in Russia where big cold-store facilities are being built.’

One company making an outsize contribution, both in the Far East and in the cod fisheries of the North Atlantic, is Norebo. Investing $45m in a new shipping terminal in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Norebo looks to create an end-to-end service for fishing vessels in Russia. The terminal will allow vessels to store their fish in refrigerating containers in the Far East before shipping them to western Russia, the US, and Europe.

Following the implementation of its fleet renewal programme in 2017, Norebo will soon have some of the most modern vessels operating not just in Russia but in the world. Radicalising how Russia’s fishing industry operates, Norebo’s new state-of-the-art vessels are set to increase energy efficiency, decrease waste, and create more comfortable working conditions for crews.

‘A modern fleet is a requirement of our times. Only new vessels with high-tech equipment can offer optimal catch processing, as well as high standards of safety and comfort for the crew,’ said a Norebo spokesperson.

It appears Norebo strives to achieve this and more with its latest fleet of vessels under construction.

Indeed, one of the group’s vessels, named Captain Korotich, incorporates architectural design elements never used before on a Russian fishing vessel. The hull is capsule shaped with an Enduro Bow line, which allows for increased working space on board and improved seaworthiness. It also has an incredibly powerful engine (6200kW), which enables the vessel to reach speeds of up to 15.5 knots and operate in ice up to 0.5m thick, while using less fuel than other comparable engines.

Designed with energy efficiency in mind, the vessel will also use electricity generated by the trawl winches for lighting and repurpose the excess heat from the main engine to heat the ship’s rooms, including the cabins. Ingeniously, on Pacific vessels such as Captain Korotich, fish oil collected during waste processing is even put towards powering the boiler. These innovations reduce carbon emissions and eliminate unnecessary waste, all of which contributes to the excellent sustainability of the end product.

The company’s newest longline vessels will also be equipped with modern multi-functional factories that allow for advanced catch processing directly on board. This means that the time between catching the premium quality fish and creating the final product, ready for cooking, is shortened dramatically, with processing waste also reduced to almost zero. Norebo has found the provision of onboard factories has even improved the final product that reaches kitchens, as processing the fish immediately after it is caught helps to preserve its freshness, taste and nutrients.

Five years has passed since Norebo first announced its fleet renewal programme. Since then, the company has revealed plans to build ten state-of-the-art vessels, with more still to come. But every time a new keel is laid, it feels like the first time all over again. As Norebo founder Vitaly Orlov reflected at the unveiling of the first vessel in 2018: ‘Although Norebo’s current fishing fleet is up to date, the time to renew is coming. Today is a very emotional moment when we lay the keel of the first vessel. I hope that this event today will give a positive signal to the shipbuilding industry that Russia intends to build vessels that are as good as, or even better, than [from] shipyards anywhere in the world.’

With Norebo leading the way, Russia’s fishing fleet already competes with the leading fishing nations of the world in terms of consistency, quality of product and commitments to sustainable practices. Considering the future investment plans already announced, Russia is well on its way to meet the target of nearly doubling exports by 2024, confirming its status as a world leader, ranking alongside the legendary fishing fleets of old.

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Baltics

Listen to the ocean: EU AGRIFISH fisheries minister demand to end Baltic overfishing

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As EU fisheries ministers arrived for the AGRIFISH Council meeting on 11 October in Luxembourg, they received a musical exhortation from a quartet of classical musicians and an opera singer, calling on them to Listen to the Ocean and the science, by setting fishing limits within scientific advice. Arel Ensemble performed excerpts from String Quartet No. 4 by Bacewicz, String Quartet No. 8 by Shostakovich, String Quartet in E Minor by Czerny, and Movement for String Quartet by Copland, and were joined by mezzo-soprano opera singer Luisa Mauro for Il Tramonto by Respighi outside the European Convention Centre in Luxembourg, where EU fisheries ministers are gathering to set fishing limits for Baltic Sea fish populations for 2022.

Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius attended the performance. “I’m performing this morning because I am sensitive to the future of our planet and music is my way of expression,” said mezzo-soprano opera singer Luisa Mauro.

“I believe it is important to use an ecosystem-based approach to regulate access to marine resources, in order to ensure sustainability, and to prohibit destructive fishing methods”.

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“The Arel Ensemble is proud to play outside the AGRIFISH meeting here in Luxembourg this morning, to promote the need to fight for the planet and a better, sustainable future!” said Bartłomiej Ciastoń, first violin. “With our Polish roots, the musicians of Arel Ensemble are well placed to respond to, and understand the need, to protect the Baltic Sea from overfishing. As musicians, we are taking action to preserve nature and help the marine environment in a way that we do the best and with heart - by playing music.”

“Today, the EU AGRIFISH Council will set fishing limits for Baltic Sea fish populations for 2022. We are running against the clock to stop the collapse of the Baltic Sea ecosystem and deliver on political promises to halt the climate and nature crises”, said Rebecca Hubbard, Our Fish Program Director. “The setting of fishing opportunities at sustainable levels is an essential precondition to deliver on these promises. Baltic Fisheries Ministers must listen to the ocean and the science, by setting fishing limits within scientific advice.”

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Brexit

French minister Beaune: French fishermen must not pay for UK's Brexit failure

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Fishing trawlers are docked at Boulogne-sur-Mer after Britain and the European Union brokered a last-minute post-Brexit trade deal, northern France, December 28, 2020. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

French European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune said today (8 October) that French fishermen must not pay for the failure of Britain's exit from the European Union, writes Dominique Vidalon, Reuters.

"They failed on Brexit. It was a bad choice. Threatening us, threatening our fishermen, will not settle their supply of turkey at Christmas," Beaune told BFM TV.

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"We will hold firm. The Brits need us to sell their products," he added.

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Jean Castex said France was ready to review bilateral cooperation with Britain if London continues to ignore the agreement reached over fishing rights in its post-Brexit trading relationship with the European Union. Read more.

Paris is infuriated by London's refusal to grant what it considers the full number of licenses due to French fishing boats to operate in Britain's territorial waters, and is threatening retaliatory measures.

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French fishermen have also said they could block the northern port of Calais and Channel Tunnel rail link, both major transit points for trade between Britain and continental Europe, if London does not grant more fishing licences in the next 17 days.

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