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International News

SCIENTISTS SUCCESSFULLY DEVELOP HEAT RESISTANT CORAL TO FIGHT BLEACHING

A team of scientists has successfully produced in a laboratory setting a coral that is more resistant to increased seawater temperatures. The team included researchers from CSIRO, Australia's national science agency, the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and the University of Melbourne.

Corals with increased heat tolerance have the potential to reduce the impact of reef bleaching from marine heat waves, which are becoming more common under climate change.

"Coral reefs are in decline worldwide," CSIRO Synthetic Biology Future Science Platform (SynBio FSP) science lead Dr Patrick Buerger said.

"Climate change has reduced coral cover, and surviving corals are under increasing pressure as water temperatures rise and the frequency and severity of coral bleaching events increase."

The white skeleton of the soral is visible because it suffered from extensive heat stress and lost their important algal symbiont, which supplies most of the coral’s nutrition through photosynthesis (credit: Chris Jones)

The team made the coral more tolerant to temperature-induced bleaching by bolstering the heat tolerance of its microalgal symbionts – tiny cells of algae that live inside the coral tissue.

"Our novel approach strengthens the heat resistance of coral by manipulating its microalgae, which is a key factor in the coral's heat tolerance," Dr Buerger said.

The team isolated the microalgae from coral and cultured them in the specialist symbiont lab at AIMS. Using a technique called "directed evolution", they then exposed the cultured microalgae to increasingly warmer temperatures over a period of four years.

This assisted them to adapt and survive hotter conditions.

"Once the microalgae were reintroduced into coral larvae, the newly established coral-algal symbiosis was more heat tolerant compared to the original one," Dr Buerger said.

The microalgae were exposed to temperatures that are comparable to the ocean temperatures during current summer marine heat waves causing coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef.

The researchers then unveiled some of the mechanisms responsible for the enhanced coral bleaching tolerance.

"We found that the heat tolerant microalgae are better at photosynthesis and improve the heat response of the coral animal," Professor Madeleine van Oppen, of AIMS and the University of Melbourne, said.

"These exciting findings show that the microalgae and the coral are in direct communication with each other."

The next step is to further test the algal strains in adult colonies across a range of coral species.

"This breakthrough provides a promising and novel tool to increase the heat tolerance of corals and is a great win for Australian science," SynBio FSP Director Associate Professor Claudia Vickers said.

This research was conducted by CSIRO in partnership with AIMS and the University of Melbourne. It was funded by CSIRO, Paul G. Allen Family Foundation (U.S.A.), AIMS and the University of Melbourne.

FAIRTRADE TUNA FISHERY IN INDONESIA ACHIEVES CERTIFICATE FOR SUSTAINABILITY

A small-scale Indonesian fishery operating on small one or two-man boats using hooks and lines has successfully demonstrated its sustainability to the globally recognised standard set by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). The North Buru and Maluku Fair Trade Fishing Association tuna fishery is the first handline yellowfin tuna fishery in the world and the second in Indonesia to be certified to the MSC Fisheries Standard.

The fishery in Buru, Maluku Province has been in a Fishery Improvement Project since April 2013. It was certified under the FairTrade USA Capture Fisheries Standard in October 2014. The Buru handline tuna fishery consists of 123 fishers who are organized in 9 FairTrade associations.

The Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries Republic of Indonesia, Edhy Prabowo said: “We’re extremely proud of seeing the first Indonesian handline yellowfin tuna fishery meet the highest standard for sustainability.

“Indonesia commits to support its small-scale fishers and sustainable tuna fisheries, and this MSC certification sets an example for other small-scale fisheries in Indonesia and around the world.”

Asia Pacific Director at the Marine Stewardship Council, Patrick Caleo said: “We congratulate Indonesia Handline Yellowfin tuna fishery and their partners for becoming MSC certified. They are demonstrating true leadership in sustainable fishing. To maintain their certification, the fishery will need to work with other fishing organisations and the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission to agree to important management measures to safeguard yellowfin tuna stocks.”

Blane Olson from Anova Food LLC said: “The journey towards MSC certification has been a true collaboration between all parties of the client group as well as Yayasan Masyarakat dan Perikanan Indonesia and MMAF both provincially and nationally. Together we were able to implement fisheries improvement project activities such as data collection, vessel registration and co-management committees, in order to meet both the Fair Trade and MSC standard.”

£500,000 FROM SEAFARERS UK FOR FISHERS IMPACTED BY THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on merchant seafarers, fishers and their families, the Seafarers UK charity has created a new Seafarers UK COVID-19 Emergency Fund of £2million, with £500,000 immediately allocated to assist fishing communities across Britain.

Included in the grants that have been awarded to charity partners providing advice and support arising from the widespread impacts of the coronavirus are:
? £250,000 to provide match funding with The Fishmongers’ Company’s Fisheries Charitable Trust for innovative projects to support fish and seafood businesses, benefiting the fish-catching sector.
? £200,000 to The Fishermen’s Mission to provide hardship welfare grants to fishers and their families, based on requests received via the Mission’s frontline staff.
? £50,000 reserved for organisations working with fishers around the UK.

Seafarers UK’s Chief Executive Officer, Catherine Spencer said: ‘We are feeling very motivated by the scale of this Emergency Fund. It will provide hardship support through our long term charity partners, and our new work with The Fishmongers’ Company, which demonstrates our cause approach to helping fishers.’

‘We are supporting welfare and providing hardship grants, but also tackling the underlying causes of financial difficulty. We will help fishers keep fishing by creating new online routes to consumers. We are supporting fishers during the collapse of hospitality and export sales to create new supply chains to a previously untapped domestic market in the UK that we hope will endure beyond the COVID-19 crisis. Our ambition is for fishers to receive fair value for their fish while bringing wholesome food and a reasonable price to consumers too.’

Grants from Seafarers UK are offered to charities and other organisations providing services to fishers and their families. Applications should be made via email to grants@seafarers.uk. See grant funding guidance for applicants or phone 020 7932 0000 for more information.

Individual fishers seeking support should contact SAIL (Seafarers’ Advice and Information Line), a dedicated free Citizens Advice facility that receives an annual grant from Seafarers UK. Phone 0800 160 1842, email advice@sailine.org.uk or visit www.sailine.org.uk

OTTAWA ORDERS TEMPORARY SHUTDOWN OF MARITIME ELVER FISHERY

According to CBC / Radio Canada, the multimillion-dollar baby eel or elver fishery in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick has been shut down amid escalating conflict between commercial and Indigenous harvesters, according to an industry representative.

Riverside disputes and threats of violence during the spring elver fishery in 2020 rose to the point where local police intervention was required, according to Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

A ministerial order prohibiting all elver fishing in both provinces was issued on April 27 and is in effect for 45 days.

The department order was a response to "an unexpected and significant rise in people fishing for eels under 10 centimetres in length outside the commercial fishery."

The order says estimated elver removals were "far above the established catch limits in areas where fishing is occurring, which represents a threat to the conservation and protection of the species."

"It is imperative that fishing of elvers stop immediately in order for the department to review the management and conservation measures for this fishery."

According to an email from Genna Carey, president of the Canadian Committee for a Sustainable Eel Fishery, the overfishing that prompted the ministerial order was related to fishing from Indigenous food, social and ceremonial (FSC) licences.

Carey also said a ministerial order had never been issued to shut down the fishery before.

The order does not identify the non-commercial harvesters nor does it refer to their actions as illegal.

"Conflict on the water between harvesters has escalated to threats of violence and the safety of harvesters is at risk, which constitutes a threat to the proper management and control of the fishery," the order states.

DEVELOPMENT ON WORLD’S FIRST ELECTRIC AND AUTONOMOUS CONTAINER VESSEL PAUSED DUE TO PANDEMIC

Plans to launch the world’s first all-electric autonomous container vessel Yara Birkeland have been shelved due to the coronavirus pandemic and uncertain market conditions, said Yara International, the Norwegian company behind the project.

"Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the changed global outlook, Yara has decided to pause further development of the vessel and will assess next steps together with its partners," the company said.

The hull of the Yara Birkeland was launched to sea in Romania in February 2020 and was expected to arrive in Norway in May where she was to be fitted with various control and navigation systems and undergo testing before delivery.

When completed, the 120 TEU open hatch container feeder will have a fully battery powered propulsion system and be prepared for autonomous operation. Yara and technology company Kongsberg teamed up in 2017 with the ambition to build her: the world's first autonomous and zero-emission container vessel.