Happy Headlines

Monthly Marine Happy Headlines – June 2023

Welcome to our newest feature, Monthly Marine Happy Headlines!

Each month, we spotlight several marvellous marine discoveries, spreading ocean joy around the globe. From conservation success stories to empowering community action, the discovery of new species, and ground-breaking research articles,  join us for some ocean joy!

Headline 1 – Fin whaling in Iceland is suspended after officials say hunts are unlawful

Reported by Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC), it has been revealed that the end of whaling in Iceland may be in sight as Iceland Fisheries Minister Svandís Svavarsdóttir has called off this season’s planned fin whale hunt. In fact, all fin whaling has been suspended until the end of August (at least) and no new licenses have been issued for 2024 or beyond. The reason behind this current ban is that it ‘break’s Iceland’s own animal welfare laws’. 

The news has been welcomed by campaigners who have worked tirelessly for decades in an attempt to end whaling in Iceland. Most Icelandic people now oppose whaling and both campaigners and the general public have been sending the government a powerful message for years – the slaughter of whales is not acceptable. 

It is hoped that this groundbreaking decision will pave the way for the ending of whaling in other countries, namely Japan and Norway. 

Headline 2 – United Nations adopts High Seas Treaty to protect marine biodiversity

Following 20 years of discussions and debates, the UN has adopted the world’s first treaty to protect the high seas and preserve marine biodiversity in international waters. 

Over 100 countries have approved the agreement, which is said to provide hope for the world’s oceans. The agreement will be open for signature in New York for two years, beginning September 20th, the day following a UN summit on sustainable development goals (SDG’s). The key aspect of the treaty will be to ensure that 30% of our world’s land and sea is under environmental protection by 2030. 

Headline 3 – Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area to ban gillnets by June 2027

The Queensland and Australian Government have committed to remove gillnets from the Great Barrier Reef

Reported by the Australian Marine Conservation Society, the majority of gillnets are to be removed this year, with the phasing out being achieved by 2027. This is a huge win for both the reef, and threatened species that rely on it e.g., dugongs, sea turtles, and various shark species. 

Phasing out of gillnets, which are large fishing nets used to catch fish such as mackerel but are indiscriminate, will include the creation of new net-free zones, including in key areas for threatened species such as the dugong. Furthermore, threatened hammerhead sharks can no longer be taken. 

Headline 4 – Humpback whale spotted off Cornwall coast in special sighting

As seen in The Guardian, a rare sighting of a humpback whale off the Cornwall coast in the UK delighted conservationists. 

Humpback whales undertake some of the longest migrations of of any mammal, feasting in the cooler waters before travelling to tropical seals to give birth. 

So far this year, 10 different humpbacks have been recorded by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust however there has only been one previous summer sighting. Scientists hope that this may indicate that the species is recovering and that we may be witnessing a comeback of whales in UK waters.

Headline 5 – Macquarie Island Marine Park set to be declared

More positive news from Australia as the Australian Marine Conservation Society reported that the Australian Government has just made its decision to create the new Macquarie Island Marine Park! Most importantly, the vast majority of the park – an area larger than Germany – will be a marine sanctuary, the strongest level of protection possible.

This is welcome news for the concerned community who have sent letters, signed petitions and made submissions, and for the millions of penguins, seals, and seabirds who call the island home! 

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