Nature Conservancy Receives $165M to Preserve Coastal California
The Nature Conservancy purchased eight miles of coastal habitat in Santa Barbara County in California with a $165 million gift from the founders of the mapping software Esri. The donation, the largest in The Nature Conservancy’s history, will allow the organization to protect 24,000 acres of the Cojo/Jalama Ranch at Point Conception in Santa Barbara County, which is home to two cattle ranches and 39 species of threatened or special status species. It will be named the Jack and Laura Dangermond Preserve after the donors.
Read more at The Nature Conservancy.
Webinar Today on DoD Funding Opportunity for Environmental Science, Technology R&D
The Department of Defense’s (DoD) Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) is seeking to fund environmental research and development proposals.
SERDP Acting Executive Director Dr. Herb Nelson and Deputy Director Dr. Andrea Leeson will host an informational webinar about the funding opportunity today, September 25, 2017, from 1:30 – 2:30 p.m. ET.
SERDP is DoD’s environmental science and technology program, planned and executed in partnership with DOE and EPA with participation by numerous other organizations. The program invests across the broad spectrum of basic and applied research, as well as advanced development.
The SERDP program requests proposals is in the following areas:
Environmental Restoration — Research and technologies for the
characterization, risk assessment, remediation, and management of
contaminants in soil, sediments and water.
Resource Conservation and Resiliency — Research that advances DoD’s
management of its installation infrastructure in a sustainable way.
Weapons Systems and Platforms — Research and technologies to reduce,
control and understand the sources of waste and emissions in the
manufacturing, maintenance and use of weapons systems and platforms.
Proposals are due October 19, 2017 by 2:00 p.m. ET.
Learn more at the SERDP website: https://www.serdp-estcp.org/
Support Marine Sanctuaries
NOAA has reopened the public comment period on national marine sanctuaries and marine national monuments until August 15.
If you want the Trump Administration to hear your thoughts on the importance of marine protected areas, you can sign this letter electronically: www.marinesanctuary.org/advocate/standupformarinesanctuaries.
Deep-Sea Corals to Help Replenish Shallow Reefs
The world’s coral reefs are dying at alarming rates. FIU researcher Mauricio Rodriguez-Lanetty believes deep-sea corals could help replenish their more imperiled, shallow counterparts. That’s because shallow reefs are affected by fishing, pollution, global warming and sunscreen more than deep reefs.
Rodriguez-Lanetty’s research team has built the world’s deepest coral nursery residing at 90 ft. below the ocean surface. Using PVC pipe and fiberglass, they have constructed artificial trees in partnership with the Coral Restoration Foundation. Plastic cards dangle from the fiberglass branches where young corals can grow.
These trees were deployed to FIU’s Aquarius Reef Base, the world’s only underwater research lab, off the shores of Islamorada, Florida. NASA astronauts training for the isolated and extreme environments of space at the Aquarius Reef Base planted the trees in 2015.
Since then, FIU scientists and NASA astronauts have regular visits to monitor the progress and maintain the health of the growing corals. It is the first step in finding solutions to one of the oceans’ greatest environmental threats.
Record-Breaking Coral Planting in FL Keys
Members of the Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge (CWVC) and SCUBAnauts International joined forces with half-a-dozen scientists from Mote Marine Laboratory for a one-day, record-breaking mission on a Florida Keys reef. They planted 500 corals in a day.
The number of corals planted marked the most-ever the groups have planted in a single day since they began working together in 2012. All told, the groups have planted more than 1,600 corals in an area unofficially named “Hero’s Reef” in honor of all current and former members of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Sea Technology took some time out from the office to attend the opening day of Capitol Hill Ocean Week (CHOW), which runs from June 13 to 15 at the Ronald Reagan Building in D.C. this year. 2017 marks the largest crowd thus far for CHOW, with more than 1,000 people registered.
UN Ocean Conference
The day started off with a panel on the UN Ocean Conference that took place June 5 to 9 in New York City, coinciding with World Oceans Day on June 8. The panelists were: Ambassador David A. Balton, deputy assistant secretary for Oceans and Fisheries, U.S. Department of State; Rolando Morrillo, vice president, Rockefeller & Co.; Mara A. Murillo Correa, senior program officer, intergovernmental affairs, UN Environment Programme; and Karen Sack, managing director, Ocean Unite.
The UN conference focused on SDG (Sustainable Development Goal) 14, aspiring to sustainable ocean development and conservation. There are 17 SDGs, and they apply to the whole world, not just developing nations, unlike the UN Millennium Goals.
The conference in June was the first UN conference on SDG 14, chaired by Fiji and Sweden. Originally, the plan was to hold the conference in Fiji, but holding it in NYC allowed access to/for the business community, which needs to be a part of sustainable ocean development efforts, according to the panel. None of the SDGs exist or can be achieved in isolation.
The conference was a call to action for stakeholders and resulted in more than 1,300 voluntary commitments to work toward SDG 14. Monitoring will be part of the process, with a follow-up planned for 2020 in a meeting to be hosted by Portugal and Kenya.
During the Q&A session, Morrillo addressed the notion of a circular economy, which is new to the U.S.–attaching value to waste and developing it as a product. He also said that while the idea of carbon taxing has been out there, as of yet, there is no international standard, which means efforts around the world are uncoordinated. Balton pointed out that marine nutrient pollution is another major problem, which requires working with the agriculture industry. Correa said environmental sustainability must be integrated into industry best practices. Sack praised U.S. President Barack Obama for his administration’s work on the oceans, which paved the way for the high-level global engagement happening today.
Next up for the morning was a panel comprising three former NOAA administrators: Dr. D. James Baker, now a consultant for the UN Food and Agriculture Organization; Dr. VAdm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., now CEO of GeoOptics Inc.; and Dr. Jane Lubchenco, now a professor and advisor in marine studies at Oregon State University.
Baker said that NOAA has progressed from a budget of $2 billion under his leadership to $5.5 billion under Kathryn D. Sullivan. “This progress was made possible by a continuity of ideas,” he said.
The panelists discussed their concerns about programs cut from President Donald Trump’s FY 2018 budget, including the Sea Grant program, which destroys a network for protection and sustainability of the coasts, said Lautenbacher. Baker brought up that the new budget takes out ice-modeling research, which will have a direct effect on the U.S. because the Arctic could be ice free in 2030 to 2050, leading to big changes in/extreme weather.
“Much of what NOAA does is not widely appreciated,” said Lubchenco. Weather forecasting is an example.
All three were wary of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s review of marine national monuments, ordered by Trump.
“We are trashing the world,” and we need to do something about it, Lautenbacher said in his closing remarks. “I encourage you to work for a sustainable world.”
Technology as a Game Changer
Bill Hilf, CEO of Vulcan Inc., gave an introductory talk for the afternoon Technology panel. Vulcan was founded by Paul G. Allen, co-founder of Microsoft and a philanthropist. The company uses data to support conservation efforts by tracking illegal fishing. Vast amounts of data are turned into actionable, near-real-time intelligence.
The Technology panelists were: Roger Hine, co-founder and chief technology officer, Liquid Robotics, a Boeing Co.; Keith Rosema, executive director, technology advancement, Vulcan Inc.; Dr. Mario Tamburri, director, Alliance for Coastal Technologies; and Dr. Jyotika Virmani, senior director, XPRIZE.
The panelists discussed cutting-edge ocean tech, such as constellations of small satellites with lower price tags; machine learning to analyze big data; 3D printing; AI; robotics; sensor development for smaller, cheaper instruments; open-source tech; and data as a service/product.
They also discussed the need to share the risk load for tech development, which requires public and private partnerships.
While there has been an explosion in computational ability, the ocean still lacks a system of network connectivity from the depths to the surface, Hine said. Corals could be gone by 2050. Saving the ocean with tech takes will, he said.