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November 2016 Issue


Additions to Ocean
Hope Spots List

Fourteen new ocean Hope Spots—marine areas critical to the health of the ocean and deserving special protection—were announced by Mission Blue and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawaii. The announcement follows rigorous scientific vetting of nominations from citizens and organizations around the world.

There are currently a total of 76 Hope Spots worldwide. The new 14 Hope Spots, which include Hatteras in North Carolina and Malpelo off the coast of Colombia, were evaluated for their exceptional qualities by the joint Mission Blue/IUCN Hope Spots Council.

While about 15 percent of terrestrial regions is currently under some form of protection, less than 4 percent of the ocean is protected, leaving it vulnerable to overfishing, pollution and overexploitation.

Sylvia Earle introduced the concept of Hope Spots in her 2009 TED talk, which has garnered support from National Geographic and Rolex. With the support of Google, Hope Spots will be integrated into the Google platform to allow users to explore, understand and appreciate the great living systems of the ocean.


Rare Earth Elements in
Cook Islands Deep Seabed

Recent discoveries indicate potential new sources of rare earth elements (REEs) in the deep seabed, according to Ocean Minerals LLC, which has identified areas of potential in the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Cook Islands and has entered into an agreement with the Cook Islands government for exclusive rights to prospect and explore these areas.

REEs are critical to high-tech, green energy and defense applications. New applications of REEs are constantly being discovered, including the use of scandium in the next generation of high-strength aluminum alloys for aerospace applications.

The areas in the Cook Islands were discovered by Houston-based Deep Reach Technology Inc. (DRT). Ocean Minerals has entered into a licensing agreement with DRT for engineering technology and information gained during DRT’s research study. DRT is working on an economic means of processing the sediments on board the production vessel at sea. Ocean Minerals plans during the next few years to undertake several phases of seabed sampling that will incorporate the collection of environmental baseline data.


¡VAMOS! Reaches
‘Design Freeze’ Stage

After 18 months, the ¡VAMOS! Consortium has reached the “design freeze” stage of the prototypes to be built. ¡VAMOS!, the Viable Alternative Mining Operating System, is a 42-month research and development project featuring 17 partners from nine EU countries. ¡VAMOS! develops novel technology for the extraction of mineral deposits from flooded open pit mines, including a system to launch a remotely operated mining vehicle from a waterborne carriage so that the underwater mining equipment can operate without adverse effects on groundwater levels. The project is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program.

Over the past months, the system architecture of the equipment for ¡VAMOS! was further developed into designs for the equipment prototypes, which have been evaluated.

The technical partners of the consortium will now start procurement and construction. The build phase should be completed by the end of this year, then each component will undergo functional testing before being assembled. The cutter boom and chassis of the mining vehicle is being constructed at Sandvik, Austria. The high-pressure slurry pump is ready for performance testing at Damen Dredging Equipment in the Netherlands.


USCGC Sequoia Returns
From Fishing Patrol

The USCGC Sequoia (WLB-215) crew returned home to Guam after a near month-long patrol of the Western and Central Pacific Ocean to deter illegal fishing of highly migratory fish stocks such as tuna and build relationships with Pacific island nations.

The vessel patrolled more than 3,970 mi. over 25 days and conducted 14 at-sea boardings that resulted in the reporting of 11 potential Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Convention violations to the applicable flag states for further investigation and enforcement.

The Western and Central Pacific Ocean is home to the “tuna belt” and supplies about 60 percent of the global tuna supply, worth an estimated $7 billion a year.

During each fisheries patrol, the U.S. Coast Guard is protecting the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone from foreign fishing vessel encroachment, enforcing domestic living marine resources laws, and ensuring compliance with international agreements.


Conservation Agreement on
Nautiluses, Devil Rays, Sharks

Conservation actions for chambered nautiluses, devil rays and sharks were agreed among member nations (parties) to the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Johannesburg, South Africa. These species are at risk of overexploitation due to commercial trade for their shells, fins, gill rakers or meat. CITES protections will strengthen the ability to address illegal trade in these species.

The U.S. trades in several of these species. Nearly 1 million nautiluses have been imported into the U.S. in the last decade.

Similar to manta rays, which are included in CITES, devil rays are vulnerable species increasingly found in international trade due to the growing demand for their gill rakers (the appendages used for breathing) in Asian markets. Few countries have enacted regulations to protect devil rays, and there is a lack of regional and international measures to ensure sustainable harvest.

The U.S. has been a strong supporter of shark conservation and supports the requests by the Maldives and Sri Lanka to include the silky and thresher shark in Appendix II.

These listings will go into effect in one year to give countries the necessary time to ensure effective implementation.


2016:  JAN | FEB | MARCH | APRIL | MAY | JUNE | JULY | AUG | SEPT | OCT | NOV
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Sea Technology is read worldwide in more than 110 countries by management, engineers, scientists and technical personnel working in industry, government and educational research institutions. Readers are involved with oceanographic research, fisheries management, offshore oil and gas exploration and production, undersea defense including antisubmarine warfare, ocean mining and commercial diving.