Latin America and the Caribbean

World Heritage in the High Seas: An Idea Whose Time has Come

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he time has come for the conservation of the high seas and its outstanding universal value!

A new report launched by UNESCO titled World Heritage in the High Seas: An Idea Whose Time has Come, presents five sites that illustrate different ecosystems, from biodiversity-rich areas to the natural phenomena that can only be found in the depths of the ocean. It also explores three ways in which the protection of the Convention could be expanded to protect these zones in the high seas.

Political momentum is increasing to support the development of a new legally binding instrument for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction.

Click here and read the report:

Game-changing negotiations on marine biodiversity in ABNJ are now underway at the UN!

“The ocean holds a value to humankind that goes far beyond the monetary. It makes our planet habitable and there isn’t a price tag large enough to reflect that. Our collective commitment to preserving its value should be just as limitless.”

Starting today, States have an extraordinary opportunity to change the trajectory of ocean decline and loss, and protect the biodivesity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ).

On 19 June 2015, General Assembly Resolution 69/292 committed Member States to “develop an international legally-binding instrument under the Convention on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.”

 A Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) has the task to make “substantive recommendations to the General Assembly on the elements of a draft text of an international legally-binding instrument,” by the end of 2017. The resulting draft will then be negotiated at an Intergovernmental Conference, the timing of which be decided by the UNGA before September 2018.

This is a hugely exciting, positive, and long-awaited development! A robust and far reaching Treaty to protect the marine biodiversity in ABNJ will change the way the world engages with its largest ecosystem and biosphere.

You can follow the development of the discussions, State´s submissions and other relevant information in this link:


Brazil signs contract with the International Seabed Authority to promote scientific exploration in the Area


[dropcap]O[/dropcap]n november 2015, a contract was signed between the Brazilian Geological Survey (CPRM) and the International Seabed Authority (ISA) for implementing the work plan for the exploration of cobalt crusts in the Rio Grande Rise region, an Area of the South Atlantic. The recent geological and environmental recognition of the Rio Grande Rise allowed Brazil to submit, in 2013, the first proposal for exploration of cobalt crusts in the Atlantic Ocean. This process, approved in 2014, highlighted the Brazilian scientific capacity to exercise such leadership. The approved Plan proposes  geological and environmental studies at the Rio Grande Rise for the next 15 years, to conduct scientific exploration activity. The program is divided into three stages, each with 5 years duration. The signing of this contract will start the process set out in the Work Plan.

More info here.

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Climate Change WARNING – NOAA declares third ever global coral bleaching event

Andrei Polejack

Received by email and retransmitting.

In times in which we talk much on the effects of global warming, it is important to see how the concentration of Carbon in the atmosphere is directly impacting our daily lives. This is a year of strong El Nino event, so wait for more news like this one.

For full website, please follow this link:


Bleaching intensifies in Hawaii, high ocean temperatures threaten Caribbean corals

October 8, 2015

October 2015-January 2016: NOAA's standard 4-month bleaching outlook shows a threat of bleaching continuing in the Caribbean, Hawaii and Kiribati, and potentially expanding into the Republic of the Marshall Islands. (Credit: NOAA)
October 2015-January 2016: NOAA’s standard 4-month bleaching outlook shows a threat of bleaching continuing in the Caribbean, Hawaii and Kiribati, and potentially expanding into the Republic of the Marshall Islands. (Credit: NOAA)

As record ocean temperatures cause widespread coral bleaching across Hawaii, NOAA scientists confirm the same stressful conditions are expanding to the Caribbean and may last into the new year, prompting the declaration of the third global coral bleaching event ever on record.

Waters are warming in the Caribbean, threatening coral in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, NOAA scientists said. Coral bleaching began in the Florida Keys and South Florida in August, but now scientists expect bleaching conditions there to diminish.

February-May 2016: An extended bleaching outlook showing the threat of bleaching expected in Kiribati, Galapagos Islands, the South Pacific, especially east of the dateline and perhaps affecting Polynesia, and most coral reef regions in the Indian Ocean. (Credit: NOAA)
February-May 2016: An extended bleaching outlook showing the threat of bleaching expected in Kiribati, Galapagos Islands, the South Pacific, especially east of the dateline and perhaps affecting Polynesia, and most coral reef regions in the Indian Ocean. (Credit: NOAA)

“The coral bleaching and disease, brought on by climate change and coupled with events like the current El Niño, are the largest and most pervasive threats to coral reefs around the world,” said Mark Eakin, NOAA’s Coral Reef Watchcoordinator. “As a result, we are losing huge areas of coral across the U.S., as well as internationally. What really has us concerned is this event has been going on for more than a year and our preliminary model projections indicate it’s likely to last well into 2016.”

While corals can recover from mild bleaching, severe or long-term bleaching is often lethal. After corals die, reefs quickly degrade and the structures corals build erode. This provides less shoreline protection from storms and fewer habitats for fish and other marine life, including ecologically and economically important species.

This bleaching event, which began in the north Pacific in summer 2014 and expanded to the south Pacific and Indian oceans in 2015, is hitting U.S. coral reefs disproportionately hard. NOAA estimates that by the end of 2015, almost 95 percent of U.S. coral reefs will have been exposed to ocean conditions that can cause corals to bleach.

The biggest risk right now is to the Hawaiian Islands, where bleaching is intensifying and is expected to continue for at least another month. Areas at risk in the Caribbean in coming weeks include Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, and from the U.S. Virgin Islands south into the Leeward and Windward islands.

The next concern is the further impact of the strong El Niño, which climate models indicates will cause bleaching in the Indian and southeastern Pacific Oceans after the new year. This may cause bleaching to spread globally again in 2016.

Extensive stand of severely bleached coral at Lisianski Island in Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument (Hawaii) documented during an August 2014 NOAA research mission. (Credit: NOAA)
Extensive stand of severely bleached coral at Lisianski Island in Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument (Hawaii) documented during an August 2014 NOAA research mission. (Credit: NOAA)

“We need to act locally and think globally to address these bleaching events. Locally produced threats  to coral, such as pollution from the land and unsustainable fishing practices, stress the health of corals and decrease the likelihood that corals can either resist bleaching, or recover from it,” said Jennifer Koss, NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program acting program manager. “To solve the long-term, global problem, however, we need to better understand how to reduce the unnatural carbon dioxide levels that are the major driver of the warming.”

This announcement stems from the latest NOAA Coral Reef Watch satellite coral bleaching monitoring products, and was confirmed through reports from partner organizations with divers working on affected reefs, especially the XL Catlin Seaview Survey and ReefCheck. NOAA Coral Reef Watch’s outlook, which forecasts the potential for coral bleaching worldwide several months in the future, predicted this global event in July 2015.

The current high ocean temperatures in Hawaii come on the heels of bleaching in the Main Hawaiian Islands in 2014 ― only the second bleaching occurrence in the region’s history ― and devastating bleaching and coral death in parts of the remote and well-protected Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

“Last year’s bleaching at Lisianski Atoll was the worst our scientists have seen,” said Randy Kosaki, NOAA’s deputy superintendent for the monument. “Almost one and a half square miles of reef bleached last year and are now completely dead.”

Bleached and dead Acorpora coral in the NOAA Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary in American Samoa. Warm Pacific ocean temperatures may lead to an increase in coral bleaching, NOAA scientists said. (Credit: NOAA).
(Credit: NOAA)

Coral bleaching occurs when corals are exposed to stressful environmental conditions such as high temperature. Corals expel the symbiotic algae living in their tissues, causing corals to turn white or pale. Without the algae, the coral loses its major source of food and is more susceptible to disease.

The first global bleaching event was in 1998, during a strong El Niño that was followed by an equally very strong La Niña. A second one occurred in 2010.

Satellite data from NOAA’s Coral Reef Watch program provides current reef environmental conditions to quickly identify areas at risk for coral bleaching, while its climate model-based outlooks provide managers with information on potential bleaching months in advance.

The outlooks were developed jointly by NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service and the National Centers for Environmental Prediction through funding from the Coral Reef Conservation Program and the Climate Program Office.

For more information on coral bleaching and these products, visit:

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on FacebookTwitter, Instagram and our other social media channels.

Latin American and the Caribbean Alumni Meeting (2015) – Mexico

The LACA Alumni debrief (written by them):

The LACA region has come together this week to consider critical issues related to climate change within the maritime sectors and ways in which they may be addressed in an integrated manner at all levels.

The meeting took place in Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico, where alumni spent a week of teaching and learning through a mixture of theoretical, practical and case study examples. The alumni also applied expertise and lessons learnt in an intense role playing, simulation exercise that was intended to mimic a real world situation dealing with issues surrounding climate change impact, trans-boundary resource management and sustainable development.  The alumni assumed roles of governments negotiating plans for developing their countries and collaborating in managing regional marine and coastal resources.

The LACA Regional meeting brought together Alumni and current fellows to share valuable information on climate change within the Region. The variety of backgrounds within the Alumni enriched discussions and showed once again the strength of the network and the growing friendship among the Alumni. In this sense, it was also an opportunity to remind the expertise of the fellows and how each of them can contribute from their disciplines to address common issues related to the oceans.

The Alumni had the opportunity to hear some experiences on management, as well as challenges and programmes being done for mitigation and adaptation in the face to climate change from different categories of MPAs in this region of the Yucatan Peninsula (Marine National Park Occidental Coast of Isla Mujeres, Punta Cancun and Punta Nizu, National Park Arrecifes de Xcalak, Biosphere Reserve Sian Ka’an and Arrecifes de Sian Ka’an).

It is also important to note that the alumni got strong, factual and up to date information on the scientific basis of the process underlying the interaction between oceans and climate. It was shown to us how the oceans are a major player in the climate arena and yet to be properly addressed with the collection of new scientific data.

Moreover, the alumni had the opportunity to know the work of organizations and communities on the protection, research and management within the “Puerto Morelos” marine protected area. The alumni was very grateful to the organizations and fishermen who shared their experiences and lessons learned. It was an unique experience, because the alumni had also the opportunity to dive and snorkel and to see one of the most important coral barriers in the Mesoamerican Reef System. The Alumni also had the opportunity to try the lion fish ceviche in the restaurant of the fishermen cooperative as it is being used as a strategy to reduce this invasive species in the region.

The Alumni simulation training sessions gave hands on experience on State level negotiation processes. These activities served as a very useful capacity building component especially in this time when Oceans agenda are at the forefront. Considering the high level of the discussions and the experience in field, the meeting was very valuable in terms of learning and sharing of experiences.

The alumni meeting is once again a unique occasion for alumni from the region to talk and organize themselves in order to improve the efficiency of the network and the mean of communication. The discussions pointed out the need to streamline the communication means and to continue working together in order to keep improving the alumni.

In addition, this meeting was an a opportunity used by  LACA Fellows to interact, share experiences, define common interests and establish general commitments for the next months as individual experts and as a group.