Archive for 08/05/2011

Courtney Trenwith – 

Hundreds of people have written passionate pleas urging the federal government to reconsider its proposed network of marine reserves off the South-West, imploring what they say is a lack of protection for vulnerable marine life.

The government’s draft plan, released in May, covers waters from Geraldton in WA across the Great Australian Bight to Kangaroo Island in South Australia and declares the south-west corner off Busselton and Albany a marine national park zone, banning fishing and drilling activity.

The draft has drawn criticism from both the fishing industry, which claims the changes will be dire for businesses, and conservationists who say the network needs to be extended to include Perth Canyon, Geographe Bay, The Capes area, the Abrolhos Islands and Recherche Archipelago.

Environmentalists argue the south-west marine region is larger and contains more unique marine life than the Great Barrier Reef and deserves a higher level of protection.

Several reports have claimed the plan lacks protection for critical feeding and breeding areas for the southern right whale, the Australian sea lion, white shark and the world’s largest animal, the blue whale, and marine life remains unprotected and vulnerable to the threats of over fishing, damage from oil and gas drilling and marine pollution such as oil spills.

With public submissions closing on Monday, critics have ramped up calls for the public to join the growing chorus of commercial fisheries and environmental campaigners calling for a review.

Full story…

ABC7 – 

Two local divers can count their blessings after being stranded for 17 hours in the Gulf. They were found 14 miles off shore from the Florida Keys. The pair was drift diving from their boat.

Bill Oswald has many memories fishing on his boat ‘Reel Livin.’ But last Saturday’s fishing trip with his friend Greg Collier was one the men will never forget.

“We were out spear fishing, had an awesome day spear fishing and made one final last dive in the afternoon,” said Oswald.

Then, he says, fate took a turn for the worst.

“The wind was blowing in one direction really hard, the current was going 90 degrees in a different direction and the boat was just about 300 feet away from us and we could see it, but they couldn’t see us. And we just got separated from it quicker than you’d think,” Oswald remembered.

Another friend back on Oswald’s boat circled the area to try and find them, but had no luck.

That’s when the Coast Guard was called.

“The helicopter flew right over us. I was wearing my spear gun and he couldn’t see us,” said Oswald.

He said shortly after that, the sun began to set.

“I knew when I saw the sun go down, I was there all night,” Oswald said.

Full story…

RT – 

Russia has plans for an ambitious mining project on the Atlantic seabed. The 10,000 square kilometer area, which may have one of world’s richest deposits of gold and copper ore, was awarded to Russia by a UN seabed body.

Russia applied for the rights to do prospecting on a sub-equatorial portion of the underwater Mid-Atlantic Ridge in December last year. In late July, the International Seabed Authority (ISA), a UN body regulating all mineral-related activities in international waters, approved Russia’s application along with three others.

Prospecting in the area will be done by the VNIIOkeangeologia, a St Petersburg-based ocean research institute, and the Polar Marine Geosurvey Expedition, a state-owned company specializing in exploration of the seabed. Russia plans to invest between US$20 and $43 million into the survey over five years, reports the Kommersant business daily.

Interest in the area is well-grounded. The polymetallic sulphides, reserves of which the exploration aims to locate, are rich in metals, surpassing the ores mined in Russia, an expert of the VNIIOkeangeologia told the newspaper. There is an average one per cent of copper in the ore extracted on the land, while ores which are believed to abound on the seabed are estimated to contain 2.5 to 10 per cent with some even reaching 30 per cent. The same is true for gold content.

A source in Russia’s Foreign Ministry told Kommersant that Russia sped up its plans for seabed development and applied to the ISA sooner than it originally intended in response to similar moves by China. It also won a contract from the UN body which gives it prospecting rights for the Indian Ocean seabed.

Russia’s contract term is 15 years with the option to extend for five more. The mineral reserves are expected to be found two to four kilometers under the seabed, which makes their extraction challenging.

Full story…

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Genevieve Jerome – 

When people think about California, they often think of beaches, Hollywood, Half Dome and the Golden Gate Bridge.

But how about old shipwrecks off the coast ? How ‘bout gold mining ?

One government entity, the State Lands Commission, knows all about those shipwrecks and the treasures they may contain. And rightly so: Treasure hunters must fork over a portion of what they find to the state.

Treasure seekers, history buffs and people who are just curious must apply with the State Lands Commission to legally search for buried treasure off the California Coast.

There’s plenty to search for.

On July 30, 1865, for example, the Brother Jonathan foundered off the coast of Crescent City, a vessel that began its journey during the Gold Rush and ended it in the West Coast trades.

In another case, researchers in October 1997 set off on the Point Reyes National Seashore (Drakes Bay) and scoured the bottom of Drakes Bay looking for the San Agustin, a Spanish galleon that sank in 1595 some 400 years earlier.

But no matter how intriguing the subject matter (what’s more exciting than buried treasure?) the bureaucracy of government gets in the way, starting with the Lands Commission.

However, dealing with any government entity, notes the federal Bureau of Land Management, can be a tedious process for treasure hunters. The steps needed to obtain a permit may even deter some.

Hunting for gold isn’t limited to coastal waters. The process that made California’s reputation around the earth, gold mining, also offers attractions.

But for those determined to hunt for riches, there are some simple requirements. According to www.blm.gov, any citizen of the United States over the age of 18 can obtain a permit to mine for gold.

Full story… 

Lake County News –

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) said Wednesday that it is beginning a two-year, comprehensive study of coastal and marine archaeological sites along the Pacific Coast of the United States.

The study will analyze and inventory marine archaeological resources on the Pacific Outer Continental Shelf and existing historical sites located on the West Coast.

Findings from the study will be used in future environmental analyses and may trigger specific steps to mitigate potential environmental impacts associated with future construction and deployment of offshore renewable energy facilities.

“A thorough understanding of coastal and marine resources is critical to adequately assess potential effects of future offshore renewable energy technology testing and commercial development,” said BOEMRE Director Michael R. Bromwich. “The findings of this study will assist us in future siting decisions and enhance our ability to identify effective methodologies for protecting those resources.”

It has been more than 20 years since BOEMRE has conducted a marine archaeological study offshore California, Oregon and Washington.

Since that time, there have been a number of significant archaeological discoveries along the Pacific coast, including historic shipwrecks and now submerged prehistoric sites.

The study is intended to broaden the understanding of known and potential submerged cultural resources, as well improving our understanding of potential visual impacts to coastal historic properties along the Pacific coast.

Full story…