Humpback Whale Entangled in Illegal Gillnet Saved by Sea Shepherd Crew
The crew of Sea Shepherd's research vessel R/V Martin Sheen spotted last week a humpback whale entangled in a gillnet in the Vaquita Refuge in the Gulf of California in Baja California, Mexico. While Captain Oona Layolle, campaign leader and captain of the M/V Farley Mowat, notified the Mexican Navy and the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (PROFEPA), the crew began the rescue operation. The whale was estimated to be 35 feet long and crews from both vessels worked to free the whale by cutting the gillnet off the whale's head and torso.
This is not the first humpback whale entangled in an illegal gillnet found by Sea Shepherd crew. On Christmas Eve, the crew of the R/V Martin Sheen spotted a humpback whale weighed down by a gillnet. Upon further investigation, the crew determined that the humpback whale was a calf and was already dead. Sea Shepherd then sought permission from the Mexican government to be able to begin removing gillnets. Permission was granted on Dec. 31, 2015.
Sea Shepherd's newest vessel, the M/V Farley Mowat, a retired U.S. Coast Guard interceptor ship, joined the R/V Martin Sheen, in January 2016. On its first day of Operation Milagro, the crew of the M/V Farley Mowat spotted an illegal gillnet and spent six hours removing it. The Mexican Navy were notified and seized the illegal gillnet. Since then, the crews of both vessels have developed net retrieval devices to trail behind the R/V Martin Sheen and the M/V Farley Mowat's speedboat the Wolf. The use of these devices has already resulted in removal of seven gillnets and three longlines in just the past few weeks. Three totoaba, seven rays, one whale and dozens of juvenile sharks have been saved by the recent removals of illegal fishing equipment. This total does not taken into account the countless animals who will not become trapped and die in the illegal gillnets and illegal fishing lines.
The crew of the M/V Farley Mowat was recently joined by Survivorman Les Stroud. Upon assisting in freeing the whale, he commented, “This is true conservation in action. Today, we were able to save the whale and remove another illegal gillnet. It is an honor to be a crew member with Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Cutting that net and freeing the whale was a life changing experience."
In April 2015, President Enrique Peña Nieto announced a two year ban on the use of gillnets in the Gulf of California. The intent was to protect the vaquita porpoise, the world's most endangered marine mammal. Vaquita are the unintended victims of gillnets used to catch the totoaba bass, another endangered species. The totoaba are targeted for their swim bladders for sale on the black markets in Asian. Vaquita are native only to the northernmost part of the Gulf of California.
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Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
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While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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