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Ridding the Arctic of the world’s dirtiest fuel

The Ecologist: Ridding the Arctic of the world’s dirtiest fuel

This article appeared on The Ecologist, on behalf of the Clean Arctic Alliance

Ban on heavy fuel oil transportation from Arctic waters is on the agenda of the world’s shipping experts.

Shipping specialists from around the world are shuttering themselves in the International Maritime Organization’s central London headquarters this week to thrash out a number of issues surrounding the threat of pollution to the climate and oceans from the global shipping industry.

This is an industry that for most of us remains unseen, but which we depend on for bringing us stuff from all over the planet.

At this meeting, the elegantly titled “PPR6”, delegations will be tasked with designing a ban on the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil, as fuel, from Arctic waters, and the identification of measures which will reduce emissions of black carbon from the burning of fossil fuels.

Read More »The Ecologist: Ridding the Arctic of the world’s dirtiest fuel
Waves breaking on rocks, Mizen Head, Cork, Ireland

Fish and Ships: What’s On Your Plate?

Back in early 2017, I wrote a blog, 2016 in review: What I Got Up To and What Happens Next, about what I’d been working on, and who I had been working with. It was a way of thanking everyone I had collaborated with during the year, to take stock and to get me thinking about  the future.

I also wanted to explore how people really use social media tools like LinkedIn. Despite time spent – or wasted – making connections on digital social networks, we often have no idea what our friends, and colleagues – and even family are working on. I wanted to see who was engaged, and what ideas could be fired up.

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Magdalenefjorden, Svalbard

Which Shipping Companies Are Ready for the Coming Arctic Heavy Fuel Oil Ban?

First published on the shipping news website Splash 24/7 on 13/9/2018

In April this year, a meeting of the International Maritime Organization’s Marine Environment Protection Committee (MEPC72) in London agreed to move forward on developing a ban on heavy fuel oil – for use and carriage as fuel from Arctic shipping. My colleague Dr Sian Prior and I wrote about how the world’s dirtiest shipping fuel would be banned from the Arctic – why it should be banned, and how the ban was going to take place.

Heavy fuel oil is a dirty and polluting fossil fuel accounting for 80% of marine fuel used worldwide. Around 75% of marine fuel currently carried in the Arctic is HFO. With climate change fuelling high winter temperatures and driving sea ice melt, Arctic waters are opening up to increased shipping in search of shorter transit times – and greatly increasing the risks of HFO spills.

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Greenpeace ship Esperanza on her route towards Antarctica in a Force 10 storm.

Some Good News: We are all crew on this voyage

About a month ago, Deutsche Welle journalist Irene Quaile AKA Iceblogger wrote, in a piece titled Some Arctic good news – not #fakenews!

“With the environment and climate under constant fire from the actions of President Trump, it is great to end the week with a little piece of good news”.

“One thing that made me smile was the announcement that the famous cruise ship operator Hurtigruten had signed the Arctic Commitment, calling for a ban on the use of marine heavy fuel oil (HFO) in the Arctic.”

“So let’s go into the weekend with a round of applause for the tireless campaigners for a clean Arctic. It is hard for an environment journalist to be optimistic in these difficult times. But every little helps. And winning over the cruise ship industry which so many people associate with holiday expeditions into remote areas with intact nature and spectacular wildlife would be a great way to get a wider public “on board” for the voyage to protecting the icy regions of our warming planet.”

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Iceberg, Southern Ocean, Antarctica

Russia, how long must we wait?

Iceberg, Southern Ocean, Antarctica
Iceberg, Southern Ocean, Antarctica

As I write, the dozens of delegates attending this years meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) should be sound asleep in their Hobart hotel rooms, if they’re not out tasting Tasmania’s finest wines in the the Salamanca neighbourhood.

Until the end of the month, the officials from 24 countries – plus the EU – will consider a range of issues, the most notorious of which is the long-delayed establishment of marine reserves in the Ross Sea and in the waters of East Antarctica. I can’t tell you what’s happening at the meeting so far, as CCAMLR meets behind closed doors. The Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition is the only non-governmental organisation representing civil society at CCAMLR – but my colleagues in the room are prohibited from reporting on proceedings until they have formally ended. We will know if the news is good or bad by the end of October.

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The Slaney River and the World

For all the travelling I’ve done, it’s always good to come home. I am writing these words 50m away from the River Slaney, in the south east of Ireland, with a a copy of Crossabeg: The Parish and its People (Vol 2) waiting for me. And I’m honoured to be featured in the book. When my neighbour here, Alice Devine, one of the team who put the book together asked me to write something about my travels, I thought the best way was to show how my upbringing in Crossabeg provided the foundation for everything that followed – including my trips to the Arctic and the Antarctic. For those of you not able to get your hands on the book, here’s what I wrote:

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Chinese Zombie Ships

Return of the Chinese Zombie Ships

This article was first posted on the “Defending our Oceans” blog by Greenpeace on April 6th, 2006. That site has been retired, but here’s the original on the Internet Archive.

Last week, we told the story of the Chinese zombie ships of West Africa – this week we went back, and interviewed the men on board.

The Chinese fisherman clears his throat and gives a nervous glance to his right. “When I’m fishing I will be busy – it will be easy to forget”.

We’re standing on the deck of one the shattered ‘zombie ships’, theLian Run 16, anchored 120km from the coast of Guinea. 38-year-old Jia, a lean, hardy man with sad eyes and a ready smile, is telling us how, five days ago, he said goodbye to his wife and 11-year old son, Xinyi. The next time he sees them, his son will be 13. It’s easier to forget, it seems, than torture oneself.

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Chinese Zombie Ships

Happiness: The Chinese zombie ships of West Africa

This article was first posted on the “Defending our Oceans” blog by Greenpeace on March 29, 2006. That site has been retired, but here’s the original on the Internet Archive.

We’re in the big African Queen inflatable, cruising alongside an anchored trawler. It’s more rust than metal – the ship is rotting away. The foredeck is covered in broken machinery. The fish deck is littered with frayed cables, and the mast lies horizontally, hanging over the starboard side. A large rusty Chinese character hangs on railings above the bridge, facing forward. It reads ‘happiness’.

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