11 innovations protecting life below water – and above it

Arc Marine’s innovative Reef Cubes can help boost large-scale coral restoration projects and provide eco-friendly marine habitats while also protecting man-made assets.

Atlantic Sea Farms is creating products made from sustainably farmed sea greens, while also expanding opportunities for fishing communities and helping them to mitigate the effects of ocean acidification.

Cascadia Seaweed provides healthy plant-based nutritional food, climate action and ocean regeneration, and economic resiliency for Indigenous communities through seaweed cultivation in British Columbia.

CHARMthe innovative coral farming robot, combines scientific research with computer automation to reduce costs, save time, and grow resilient coral colonies at economies of scale.

Kelp Blue is a restorative large-scale offshore kelp cultivation enterprise that produces sustainable agri-foods and bio-stimulants which displace environmentally damaging alternatives.

Mussel Farm Mechanization in Brazil aims to increase productivity and competitiveness of small-scale mussel farms in Santa Catarina, through the adoption of mechanized farming systems and the integration between farmers and processing companies.

Plant a Million Corals and their adaptable, low-cost coral restoration units, can be deployed to not only increase coral growth but also to empower communities to take an active role in conservation.

Sea6 Energy modernizes tropical seaweed farming to produce large quantities of inexpensive biomass from which a whole range of products are derived.

Australian Seaweed Institute is developing seaweed biofilter technology to protect the Great Barrier Reef through a network of seaweed biofilters that can be harvested for use in products such as animal feed and biofertiliser.

SharkSafe Barriers help promote a friendly coexistence between sharks and humans by installing vertical bio fences that mimic kelp forests and use magnetism to deter shark species.

WIPSEA specializes in digital environmental surveys and deep-learning techniques to map large marine mammals and human activities at sea.

Source: WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM, 2021/1/22

How Smart Fishing Nets and Scanners Could Help Keep Marine Life Alive in the Ocean

Commercial fishing is draining our oceans of life. Trawlers are catching fish faster than stocks can replenish, while dolphins and turtles are also snared in their huge nets.

More than a third of global fish stocks were classified as overfished in 2017, and while the problem is most acute in developing countries, the European Union is hoping that investing in technology can help fix a problem in its waters.

It is funding a project called SmartFish H2020, led by Norwegian company SINTEF Ocean, which partners with fishing companies, tech suppliers and universities to design equipment to reduce the industry’s impact on marine life.

Among the innovations it is testing is a new kind of trawling net called SmartGear. It emits sounds and uses LED lights of different colors and intensities to attract only target species to the net, encouraging other fish to swim away.

“We want to make life easier for the fishers,” Rachel Tiller, senior research scientist at SINTEF Ocean, tells CNN Business. “The problem is that we don’t have data. We don’t know how much fish is in the ocean and we need to find this information.”

SINTEF is trying to plug that gap by using lasers to scan the fish being pulled aboard a vessel. Another technology being trialed is CatchScanner. It produces a 3D color image of the fish, which is analyzed using AI to estimate the weight and identifying the species.

CatchScanner could also help tackle rule-breaking; some fishing vessels catch more fish than EU quotas allow, as well as fish of the wrong size and species. CatchScanner could prevent this by automatically collecting catch information in a database and making it available to authorities such as national coastguard agencies.

In Europe, the fishing industry employs around 75,000 people. With demand for seafood increasing and growing pressure on sea life, the 2014-2020 European Maritime and Fisheries Fund set aside €6.4 billion ($7.6 billion) for projects like SmartFish, to modernize fisheries, monitor quotas, collect data around commercial species, and create sustainable jobs.

Our idea is to fully digitalize along the supply chain,” says Vivian Loonela, the European Commission spokesperson for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries. She says developments like SmartFish could help. “We need smart technologies and we are tapping into the potential of AI and machine learning.”

The European Union cannot oblige member states to adopt the SmartFish innovations, and their success will depend on market demand. However, Tiller says that many fishing companies across Europe have shown interest. “Some of these technologies can be very expensive to put onboard fishing vessels,” she says. “So in order for the fishers to want to have them onboard, they need to see the benefit.”

Fisherman Aitor Larrañaga will soon test the SmartGear trawl net off the coast of Spain, with his company Larrasmendi Bi.

He’s enthusiastic about smart tech and believes the fishing industry needs to innovate to become more sustainable. “The world moves on,” he says. “We can’t work like we did 200 years ago.”

Source: news18.com, 2021/1/31


Belgian heavy lift major Sarens is in the process of switching to biodegradable oil for all its ballasting systems on its barges.

As part of this important environmental initiative, all Sarens ballasting systems will convert to using Biohydran TMP hydraulic fluid in 2020, and 40% have already made the switch. This move represents Sarens’ commitment to protecting the environments in which it operates.

Oil is necessary for heavy lifting work where hydraulic systems are used to move heavy loads in an efficient way. The zinc added to commercial hydraulic oils, however, can cause environmental damage in the case of a malfunction or oil spill. This has serious implications for aquatic environments where barges operate.

Biodegradable oil replaces zinc with a natural additive to help maintain hydraulic components like motors and cylinders. This is important because Sarens uses submersible ballasting pumps with up to 1.000l/h pumping capacity to load out heavy modules. Because this system operates within water environments, using more environmentally-responsible oil creates an added layer of protection for fragile ecosystems and marine life.

Sarens has invested €500K in this important environmental project, which includes implementing the new hydraulic oil, regenerating it for reuse, and modifying older ballast pumps to avoid oil spills in the case of malfunction. As part of this initiative, Sarens is bringing all ballasting equipment, which is spread across Europe, back to its base in Wolvertem, Belgium to make the switch.

By Jake Frith

Source: Maritime Journal, Oct 20, 2020

Team aims sea change in waste control

MARINE POLLUTION: A waste cleanup team formed by the Taoyuan City Government hopes to change the public’s behavior and reduce production of waste at the source

By Cheng Shu-ting and William Hetherington / Staff reporter, with staff writer

A marine waste cleanup team established last year by the Taoyuan City Government hopes to inspire change in public behavior by exposing the extent of waste near the coast, it said on Saturday.

The team — which conducted its first cleanup on July 28 — is headed by Taoyuan Office of Coast Administration Construction Director Lin Li-chang (林立昌).

“Our mission is not to clean up all of the waste in the sea, but rather to improve public awareness of the marine ecosystem and thereby reduce the production of waste at the source,” he said.

Photo courtesy of the Taoyuan Office of Coast Administration Construction

Waste is a common sight along Taiwan’s west coast and when the team cleans up a section of the coastline, it finds waste at the same spot again the following day, he said.

“Part of it drifts here with the ocean currents from other countries, and part of it is domestic waste that washes into the sea through streams and rivers,” Lin said.

Lighter waste, such as plastic and polystyrene foam, generally float on the ocean’s surface, while heavier garbage — including fishing nets, glass, dense plastic items, such as disposable utensils, and metal items — sink to the bottom, he said.

“All of this is human-made waste. It is not uncommon even to see discarded bicycles on the ocean floor,” he said.

The team performed its first cleanup at the Guanxin Algal Reefs Ecosystem Wildlife Conservation Area (觀新藻礁生態系野生動物保護區) in Taoyuan.

The team chose the spot because, unlike other areas along the west coast where drifting sand makes the water murky, the clear water allowed the team to clearly demonstrate the extent of the waste problem, Lin said.

However, even there team members could only see about 30cm ahead in the water, he added.

The team later went on to clean up Keelung’s Chaojing Bay Conservation Area (潮境公園) and Pingtung County’s Siaoliouciou Island (小琉球).

“I believe that through these cleanup operations we can slowly influence the behavior of people living nearby,” he said.

However, safety was also a concern, and the team limited its activities to waters near the coast, and always took the season and weather into account, Lin said.

“The northeasterly winds that blow during the winter have a major effect on Taiwan’s waters, so we largely limit our operations to the period between May and October,” he said.

The team also works with fisheries officials and uses data analysis to determine when visibility in the water would be least affected by coastal sand drifts, he said.

Source: TAIPEI TIMES, Oct 19, 2020


New grant funded research into the sustainable protection of vulnerable coastal areas aims at using seagrasses for their boosts to biodiversity and wave dampening.

The presence of seagrass is decreasing worldwide due to poor water quality, plant diseases, climate change and coastal erosion. With the innovation project ‘PLANT ME’, the research team wants to enable the restoration of this ecosystem by developing a new planting technique for seagrass.

The research partners Ghent University, Jan De Nul Group, DEME Group and CCMAR combine their expertise as researchers and hydraulic engineers to boost the planet’s biodiversity. The partners also work together in the Coastbusters project, a research project on a nature-based type of coastal defence. This is where the ‘PLANT ME’ concept came into being, with its specific focus on protecting coastal strips by planting seagrass beds.

Worldwide, seagrass beds have been disappearing dramatically for decades and continue to do so as a result of poor water quality, plant diseases, climate change and coastal erosion. However, these seagrass beds are of great importance for shallow marine coastlines, because they provide a habitat for a high diversity of underwater fauna and flora and capture more CO2 than rainforests. In addition, seagrasses dampen waves to lose up to 75% of their strength, thus significantly reducing erosion.

With ‘PLANT ME’, the research partners want to enable the restoration of this precious coastal ecosystem by developing a new planting technique for seagrass. The great advantage of this method is that it is cheap to produce and that the used materials are biodegradable. With this new technique, new seagrass beds can be easily and quickly planted in shallow coastal ecosystems.

Emile Lemey, Project Development Engineer at Jan De Nul Group: “Seagrass is one of the most important breeding habitats in the sea, providing shelter for juvenile fish and securing the bottom it is growing in. Within PLANT ME Jan De Nul wants to contribute to saving this valuable marine ecosystem through researching novel grow-out and planting techniques.”

Tomas Sterckx, Project Manager at DEME: “As part of our sustainability efforts, DEME wants to build and revive marine, coastal, inland waterways and terrestrial ecosystems adding to a broad spectrum of nature-based solutions. This initiative fits perfectly with our own sustainability goals and we want to make full use of our expertise to support this innovative project.”

Riccardo Pieraccini, PhD student at Ghent University: “Seagrasses occur in every coastal zones on each continent, except Antarctica. Seagrass beds create unique habitats, supporting the biodiversity of coastal ecosystems, benefiting humans and animals. Seagrasses act as ecosystem engineers, stabilizing the seabed and reducing coastal erosion. The PLANT ME project has the ambitious mission of reverting the loss of seagrass ecosystems by creating an innovative, large-scale restoration technique based on natural biodegradable substrates overgrown with seagrass plants.”

Aschwin Engelen, researcher at CCMAR: “This project and its unique collaboration between science and industry to develop new large-scale applicable sustainable techniques for seagrass restoration will contribute strongly to the required future restoration of seagrass beds and coastal marine biodiversity.”

Climate change and coastal erosion pose major challenges. ‘PLANT ME’ fits within a new research trend focusing on innovative solutions to protect coasts in a sustainable and efficient way. In the past, breakwaters and dikes were built, but in many cases they disrupted the natural supply of sand. Today, scientists are working on solutions that also involve nature, hence the term ‘nature-based solutions’. Elements provided by nature are used in an innovative, sustainable and resilient way to protect the same natural habitat. This does not only protect people, but also promotes services provided by nature such as biodiversity on the land-water boundary.

The ‘PLANT ME’ project is one of a series of projects that encourages industry to innovate and search for future-proof and sustainable solutions for a better world. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are a valuable reference framework for this. With ‘PLANT ME’, the research team contributes to a set of objectives that focuses on climate and biodiversity. Moreover, this project unites the academic and business worlds with the aim to achieve concrete results.

By Jake Frith

Source: Maritime Journal, Oct 13, 2020

New research shows the Atlantic Ocean just had its hottest decade in 3000 years

  • This past decade has been the Atlantic Ocean’s warmest in three thousand years, according Massachusetts Amherst University and Quebec University.
  • Ocean temperatures are known to rise and fall, but this recent spike falls outside of scope of natural patterns.
  • Their work shows there had been an unprecedented increase in the speed at which the ocean is heating up.

Hot pot

This past decade has been the Atlantic Ocean’s warmest in nearly three full millennia.

Oceanic temperatures tend to rise and fall in a cyclical pattern over decades and even centuries. But the recent spikes in temperature are well beyond the scope of that natural pattern, Earther reports. It’s a dire sign for the state of the oceans, in part because rising temperatures are linked to increasingly-severe hurricanes.

Fossil record

Scientists from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the University of Quebec were able to track the Atlantic’s fluctuating temperature back about 2,900 years by studying sediment cores in the Canadian Arctic, which fluctuate along with temperature, according to research published in the journal PNAS.

Climate Change The Ocean Environment and Natural Resource Security
Scientists tracked the Atlantic’s fluctuating temperature back about 2,900 years.
Image: PNAS

The cores showed the regular rise and fall of Atlantic temperatures, but they also showed that in recent decades there’s been an unprecedented increase in the speed at which the ocean is heating up.

Boiling up

The team’s study didn’t seek to identify the causes of the temperature changes, but given that the recent increases are well beyond normal fluctuations, all signs point to global climate change.

Rising temperatures in the Atlantic can mean even worse storm seasons and mass extinction — and unfortunately, according to this study, the problem is continuing to get worse.

Source: Global Economic Forum

‘Blue’ Ammonia Breakthrough Announced

40 tons shipped from Saudi Arabia to Japan for zero-carbon power generation

Saudi Aramco said it has shipped 40 tons of “blue” ammonia from Saudi Arabia to Japan for use in zero-carbon power generation.

The announcement comes amid growing appreciation of the role hydrogen will play in the global energy system. Ammonia, a compound consisting of three parts hydrogen and one part nitrogen, can contribute to addressing the challenge of meeting the world’s growing energy needs in a reliable, affordable and sustainable manner, the company said.

“The use of hydrogen is expected to grow in the global energy system, and this world’s first demonstration represents an exciting opportunity for Aramco to showcase the potential of hydrocarbons as a reliable and affordable source of low-carbon hydrogen and ammonia,” said Ahmad O. Al-Khowaiter, Aramco’s chief technology officer. “This milestone also highlights a successful transnational, multi-industry partnership between Saudi Arabia and Japan. Multinational partnerships are key in realizing the Circular Carbon Economy, championed by the Saudi Arabian G20 Presidency. Aramco continues to work with various partners around the world, finding solutions through the deployment of breakthrough technologies to produce low-carbon energy and address the global climate challenge.”

The Saudi-Japan blue ammonia supply network demonstration spanned the full value chain, including the conversion of hydrocarbons to hydrogen and then to ammonia, as well as the capture of associated carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

It overcame challenges associated with the shipping of blue ammonia to Japan for use in power plants, with 30 tons of CO2 captured during the process designated for use in methanol production at SABIC’s Ibn-Sina facility and another 20 tons of captured CO2 being used for Enhanced Oil Recovery at Aramco’s Uthmaniyah field.

This milestone highlights one of several pathways within the concept of a global Circular Carbon Economy, a framework in which CO2 emissions are reduced, removed, recycled and reused as opposed to being released into the atmosphere.

Toyoda Masakazu, chairman and chief executive officer of IEEJ, said blue ammonia is critical to Japan’s zero carbon emission ambitions to sustain the balance between the environment and the economy.

“About 10% of power in Japan can be generated by 30 million tons of blue ammonia,” Masakazu said. “We can start with co-firing blue ammonia in existing power stations, eventually transitioning to single firing with 100% blue ammonia. There are nations such as Japan which cannot necessarily utilize Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) or EOR due to their geological conditions. The carbon neutral blue ammonia/hydrogen will help overcome this regional disadvantage.”

Dr. Fahad Al-Sherehy, vice president of Energy Efficiency and Carbon Management at SABIC, said SABIC can economically leverage existing infrastructure for hydrogen and ammonia production with CO2 capture.

“Our experience in the full supply chain along with integrated petrochemicals facilities will play an important role in providing blue ammonia to the world,” he said.

Ammonia contains approximately 18% hydrogen by weight and is already a widely traded chemical on the world stage. It releases zero CO2 emissions when combusted in a thermal power plant and has the potential to make a significant contribution to an affordable and reliable low-carbon energy future. SABIC and Mitsubishi Corp., which is represented on the IEEJ study team involved in the project, are overseeing the transport logistics in partnership with JGC Corp., Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Engineering, Ltd., Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co., Ltd. and UBE Industries, Ltd.

Source: Diesel & Gas Turbine Worldwide

Opening Ceremony of Mediterranean and Asia Marine Alliance

Ocean is the asset of all human kinds in the world. Ocean resources bring enormous functions and benefits to human beings, and are the important assets for the living and development of generations of Taiwanese people.

Taiwan is surrounded by ocean. Being an Ocean Nation, ocean affairs has significant strategic implications. The recent confrontation of USA and China with intensive military exercises in the South China Sea has accelerated geopolitical wrestling to an unprecedented level, which further demonstrates the importance of ocean governance and national maritime rights. In April 2018, Taiwan government established“Ocean Affairs Council”, a ministry level agency; in November 2019, the “Ocean Basic Act” is passed and promulgated; and in June of this year (2020), the new edition of “National Ocean Policy White Paper” is issued and released. These consecutive actions strongly demonstrate the government’s emphasis on ocean policy and affairs, its proactive measures to encourage national people to focus on ocean related issues, and its determination to achieve the sustainable development of ocean.

Mediterranean is also an important geopolitical center in the world, and Israel is an important country in the Mediterranean area. Due to the complementary development of technology and economy, there are increasing interactions among Taiwan, Israel and Mediterranean area in recent years. Now it is the best time to connect resources across the regions through the dialogue of ocean.

Mediterranean and Asia Marine Alliance (abbreviated MAMA) is jointly established by Lian Tat Company (LTC) and Tunghai Industry Smart-Transformation Center (TISC), with deep cooperation from Israel strategic partners. This is the first platform initiated and established by private enterprise and organization in Taiwan to facilitate the cooperation and interaction of industry, government, and academic sectors in Taiwan and abroad. The Alliance is founded responding to government’s call and expectation for private sector to assist in promotion of marine related research and affairs, and to align with global ocean trends.

MAMA is composed of six areas of Ocean Policy, Smart Ocean, Ocean Biology, Ocean Resources, Ocean Industry and Ocean Culture. By chaining resources of each area, the Alliance is aimed to promoting ocean related research, providing policy advice, creating cooperation of industry and academia, fostering international exchange and cooperation, and upgrading Taiwan’s world visibility in participation of ocean affairs.

Time: September 23, 2020 (Wed) 2:00 pm
Place: B1 East Gate, Shangri-La’s Far Eastern Plaza Hotel
Address: 201 Tun Hwa S. Road, Sec. 2, Taipei

Sea turtles return safely to ocean

RARE OCCURRENCE: Most sea turtles go to beaches in Siaoliouciou, Orchid Island or Penghu to lay their eggs, and do not often visit Dawan Beach, a veterinarian said.

By Shella Shan

Twenty-four baby sea turtles on Sunday night safely returned to the ocean at Kenting National Park’s Dawan Beach with help from government workers and National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium veterinarians.

This was the second time since 2017 that baby sea turtles were found in Kenting National Park.

The turtles were discovered on Sunday night by Kenting Chateau Beach Resort employees, who quickly contacted the Kenting National Park Administration Office.

Representatives from the office, coast guard and the museum arrived at the beach, as the turtles were crawling toward the lights at the hotel.

As baby turtles can die of exhaustion if they do not find their way to the sea, staff from the agencies worked to help them along.

After measuring their shells and checking their bodies for injuries, staff used a white container to carry the turtles to the beach and carefully released them into the ocean.

Museum veterinarian Lee Tsung-hsien (李宗賢) yesterday said that the breeding season for sea turtles is from May to October, with the peak occurring in July and August.

Due to topographical changes and abandoned fishnets littering the coastline, sea turtles in the past few years rarely come ashore to lay their eggs in Taiwan proper, he said.

Most turtles lay their eggs at beaches on Siaoliouciou Island (小琉球), Penghu and Orchid Island (Lanyu, 蘭嶼), he said.

Kenting is a natural habitat for sea turtles, but not many frequent the beaches in the park, because the sands are often packed with tourists, making it difficult for turtles to dig holes to lay their eggs, Lee said.

As such, turtle eggs are mostly found on beaches with relatively few people, he added.

Animal conservationists last month found traces that could have been left by sea turtles on Dawan Beach, Lee said, adding that female turtles were probably looking for a proper beach to lay their eggs.

Once they find a suitable place, they tend to return to the same beach six to seven times, he said.

The 24 baby sea turtles probably came from different mothers which laid the eggs about two months ago, he said, adding that more sea turtle eggs could be hatched at the beach in the days to come.

“It is exciting to know that sea turtles have returned to the Hengchun Peninsula again to lay their eggs. We hope that visitors will avoid Dawan Beach at night, when turtles would come ashore,” Lee said. “We will also speak with hotels about dimming their lights so that baby sea turtles would not go astray.”

“Beach visitors should refill the sandpits before they take off and leave no items behind to facilitate the sea turtles’ trips to the beach,” Lee added.


Penghu coral reefs endangered by warming, tourism

By Liu Yu-ching and William Hetherington

Environmentalists raised concerns that coral reefs near islands in southern Penghu County are at risk due to warming ocean waters and the tourism industry.

Near-shore waters off Penghu’s southern islands have been much warmer this year, which has caused coral bleaching, Academia Sinica Biodiversity Research Center fellow Chaolun Allen Chen (陳昭倫) said on Sunday last week.

On Dongyuping (東嶼坪) — one of the islands that comprise the South Penghu Marine National Park — corals are covered with sand, while other reefs have been damaged by tourism, he said.

Coral bleaching — which has worsened this year due to fewer typhoons reducing the water temperature — has been detected near Dongjiyu (東吉嶼), Dongyu-pingyu (東嶼坪嶼) and Cimei (七美嶼) islets, he said.

Marine biologist Chen Chin-chuan (陳盡川) said that during a dive close to the marine park’s Siji Islet (西吉嶼), he saw that coral bleaching had spread there, too.

However, coral damaged by natural phenomena — such as a typhoon or heavy rainfall — can potentially recover, he said.

Sand that had been piled up near the port on Dongyupingyu for a public project was swept up by a storm and deposited on corals along the islet’s coast, covering them with a 20cm layer and likely killing them, Chen said.

Boats have been anchoring above corals so that tourists can easily find them while diving, he said, adding that this would harm the reefs.

The marine park headquarters has installed moorings throughout the park that allow boats to anchor near the reefs without damaging the corals, the park said.

Boat operators who engage in activities that could damage the corals would face fines of NT$3,000 per incident, in addition to the cost for coral reef recovery measures.