Cuba supports investments in the sea in search of metals

Juan Ruiz Quintana, Director General of Mining, of the Ministry of Energy and Mines, today supported a proposal by the 70th anniversary regular Council meeting of the Interoceanmetal Joint Organization to attract investment in the oceans in search of metals.

We support this initiative and urge the countries that make up the organization to update the legal framework for its management in order to undertake it, suggested the representative of the Island in one of his speeches at the meeting, which is being held in Burgas, a city on the Bulgarian coast of the Black Sea.

According to sources from the Ministry of Energy and Mines from the venue of the event, the Cuban representative indicated in this regard the need to take into account the Convention on the Sea, also known as the Law of the Sea, and the legislation of each member of Interoceanmetal, not only in terms of law, but also environmental requirements.

The deliberations of the meeting in plenary will be held until Thursday to analyze the progress of the mining project to extract cobalt (Co), copper (Cu), nickel (Ni), zinc (Zn) and manganese (Mn) from the marine nodules.

Such a project is international in nature because it is sponsored by Russia, Bulgaria, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Cuba.

Mineral resources are finite and this reality has caused many countries to look to the sea in order to find sources for obtaining metals, as was once the case for oil production, according to specialists in the sector.

They considered that this will be the future secure source for the continued development of information technology and electric cars, based on the mineral resources deposited on the ocean floor.

With this perspective in mind, the plenary sessions of the Interoceanic Council have been held in the Bulgarian city of Burgas, which advocates the granting of a geological research concession in the zone located between the Clarion and Clipperton fractures in the Western Pacific, southwest of Baja California, with potentialities in polymetallic marine nodules.

On the last day of its sessions, a protocol will be signed, setting out the action plan until its meeting in November, when the date of the next geological campaign, which precedes the mining operation, will be evaluated.

One day later, Interoceametal representatives will attend the European Mining Business Forum to be held at Hotel Mariela in Sofia, which will be attended by European mining authorities and their main companies.

A conference by Dr. Tomasz Abramowski, CEO of Interoceanmetal, based in the port city of Szczecin, Poland, is also planned.

Interoceanmetal has a project in which Cuban entities of the business groups CUBANÍQUEL and Geominero Salinero (GEOMINSAL) play an important role in the metallurgical technologies for its processing.

  • Published in Cuba

Global Quantity Of Plastic In Oceans To Nearly Double To 250 Million Tonnes By 2025

Kochi: About eight million tonnes of plastic end up in the oceans each year and the global quantity will nearly double to 250 million tonnes by 2025, says a new analysis paper.

The new International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) co-authored analysis paper, released recently, warned that the 'plastic soup' contains toxic chemicals, which could pose risks to marine species and humans.

It said reliable quantitative estimations of input loads, sources and originating sectors represent a significant knowledge gap, "but it is suggested that every year almost eight million tonnes leak to the ocean."

It said estimates are that oceans may already contain over 150 million tonnes of plastic, of which around 250,000 tonnes, fragmented into five trillion plastic pieces, may be floating at the oceans' surface.

"It has also been estimated that the global quantity of plastic in the ocean will nearly double to 250 million tonnes by 2025, which likely also represents a pollutant load of millions of tonnes of chemical additives," it said.

Marine species ingest potentially contaminated plastics directly, and by eating contaminated prey, says the paper titled 'Marine litter plastics and microplastics and their toxic chemicals components: the need for urgent preventive measures'.

"Seabirds are particularly vulnerable, with studies showing the presence of additives used as flame retardants in plastics, as well as foams and textiles, which were discovered in their stomachs and fatty tissue," said the paper, published in Environmental Sciences, Europe.

The paper said that at a global level, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has estimated the economic impact of marine plastics (excluding microplastics), including losses incurred by fisheries and tourism due to plastic littering, as well as beach clean-up costs, at around USD 13 billion per year.

"Looking at the scale of the marine plastic problem today and at the projections for future growth in production of plastic globally, it is clear we are in the midst of a major crisis," said Carl Gustaf Lundin, Director of IUCNs Global Marine and Polar Programme.

Ludin said urgent action was needed to reduce toxic chemicals leaching into oceans from plastic.

To reduce amount of contaminants in marine plastics, the authors recommend addressing issues in the life-cycle design of plastic products and creating products that minimise use of hazardous substances, an approach known as 'green chemistry'.

They also concluded that the development of best practice codes for industry is likely to be more efficient than relying on 'end-of-pipe' solutions; and existing scientific evidence and precautionary principles should drive action from scientists, industry, policy and civil society to curb leaking of plastics into the marine environment in the short term.

"Societies need to act at multiple levels," said Joao Sousa, IUCN Project Manager for Marine Plastics, co-author of the report.

"Developed countries need to identify and adopt less harmful production processes and promote alternatives, whilst sound waste management and awareness-raising should be the main priority for developing nations," said Sousa.

The paper was authored by members of a working group associated with the Stockholm and Basel Conventions multilateral environmental agreements aimed at protecting human health and the environment from hazardous chemicals and wastes and other authors.

Climate change may be vastly underestimated due to ocean temperature miscalculations - study

Scientists have discovered a flaw in the method used to measure past ocean temperatures which, if correct, could mean we have underestimated the rate of climate change over the past 100 million years.

According to the current methodology, the temperature of the ocean depths, and the surface of the polar ocean, was some 15C (59F) higher 100 million years ago, compared to now.

These estimates have been challenged, however, by a joint team of researchers from the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL).

In their study, published in Nature Communications, the team posits that ocean temperatures may have remained relatively stable throughout this period, raising serious concerns about the current level of climate change being experienced by Mother Earth.

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“If we are right, our study challenges decades of paleoclimate research,” EPFL’s Anders Meibom said. “Oceans cover 70 percent of our planet. They play a key role in the Earth's climate. Knowing the extent to which their temperatures have varied over geological time is crucial if we are to gain a fuller understanding of how they behave and to predict the consequences of current climate change more accurately.”

Researchers believe that over the last 50 years certain processes used in current methodology were overlooked. Scientists have used foraminifera, which are tiny marine fossils found in the sediment cores extracted from the ocean floor, to calculate ocean temperatures.

This is done by calculating the levels of oxygen-18 content in the calcareous shells of foraminifera. The level of oxygen-18 is dependent on the temperature of the ocean in which the foraminifera live.

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The problem now, it seems, is that all of these estimates were based on the principle that the oxygen-18 content remained constant while the fossils were in the sediment. To test this theory, the team exposed the foraminifera to high temperatures in simulated seawater that only contained oxygen-18.

The results show that “the level of oxygen-18 present in the foraminifera tests can in fact change without leaving a visible trace, thereby challenging the reliability of their use as a thermometer.”

“What appeared to be perfectly preserved fossils are in fact not,” CNRS researcher Sylvain Bernard said. This basically means that previous estimates of ocean temperatures are simply incorrect and instead of showing the aforementioned 15C-degree drop over the last 100 million years, the study notes that “these measurements simply reflect the change in oxygen-18 content in the fossil foraminifera tests.”

“This change appears to be the result of a process called re-equilibration: during sedimentation, temperatures rise by 20 to 30C, causing the foraminifera tests to re-equilibrate with the surrounding water,” the study says.

But what next? Well, Meibom says scientists will now have to revisit the ocean's paleotemperatures and “carefully quantify this re-equilibration, which has been overlooked for too long.”

The researchers say that they will now focus on a number of other marine organisms to see if they can “clearly understand what took place in the sediment over geological time.”

 

Local fidelity key to ocean-wide recovery of humpback whales

Humpback whales can migrate thousands of miles to reach feeding grounds each year, but a new study concludes that their fidelity to certain local habitats -- as passed on through the generations -- and the protection of these habitats are key to understanding the ultimate recovery of this endangered species.

The study documents the local recruitment of whales in Glacier Bay and Icy Strait in Alaska over a 30-year period. The researchers found that contemporary whales that utilize these rich feeding grounds overwhelmingly are descendants of whales that previously used the area.

In other words, the population recovery of humpback whales in the region depends on cultural knowledge of migratory routes passed on from mothers to their calves; it is not a product of whales from outside the area suddenly "discovering" a rich feeding ground.

Results of the study are being published this week in the journal Endangered Species Research.

"Humpback whales are recovering from exploitation on an ocean-wide basis, but ultimately their individual success is on a much more local scale," said Scott Baker, associate director of the Marine Mammal Institute at Oregon State University and a co-author on the study.

"Humpback whales travel globally, but thrive locally."

The study compares records of individual whales returning to Glacier Bay. The first, referred to as the "founder's population," included whales documented by a local high school teacher, Charles Jurasz, beginning in the 1970s. Jurasz was one of the first researchers to realize that individual whales could be identified by photographs of natural markings -- a technique now widely used to study living whales.

Over the years, other researchers -- including the authors of this study -- continued to record the return of these whales by photo identification and they later collected small genetic samples to confirm the relatedness between individual whales.

Using a large database maintained by Glacier Bay National Park and the University of Alaska Southeast, the records of the founding population were then compared to records of the "contemporary population" returning to Glacier Bay, more than 30 years after Jurasz's initial studies. The results were striking.

Of the 25 "founding females" that were also sampled for genetic analysis, all but one was represented in the contemporary group -- either as still living, or by a direct descendant, or in many cases, both. Several of the founding females were even grandmothers of individuals in the contemporary population.

"We looked at three possibilities for population increase over a 33-year period including local recruitment from Glacier Bay/Icy Strait, recruitment from elsewhere in southeastern Alaska, and immigration from outside the region," said Sophie P. Pierszalowski, a master's student in OSU's Department of Fisheries and Wildlife and lead author on the study.

"It is clear that the contemporary generation of whales is based on local recruitment, highlighting the importance of protecting local habitat for recovering species, especially those with culturally inherited migratory destinations."

Humpback whales in the North Pacific were once estimated to number more than 15,000 individuals based on catch data before commercial whaling took a toll, reducing the population to less than a thousand by 1966. Humpback whales were first protected by the International Whaling Commission in 1965, then listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act in 1973.

Since the protection, the oceanic population has increased to an estimated 21,000 individuals based on photo-identification studies and other evidence. The recovery has been slow, in part because humpback whales can live to be 70 years of age and their recovery is driven primarily by local fidelity and recruitment.

"Limiting vessel traffic in important habitats is one way to help protect humpback whales," Pierszalowski said, "along with maintaining legal distances by vessels, reducing the risk of entanglement with fishing gear, and maintaining stranding networks that have the capacity to quickly disentangle whales."

OSU's Marine Mammal Institute is based at the university's Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, Ore.

Eliminating Use of Plastic Bags is First Step in Cleaning Up Oceans

SAN JOSE – Activist Stuart Coleman, who led the effort to make Hawaii was the first U.S. state to eliminate using plastic bags in grocery stores, is emphasizing the need for greater efforts by civil society and the private sector to help “cure” the environment in Costa Rica and elsewhere.

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