The cargo ship that ran aground off the coast of Mauritius on 25 July, causing incalculable damage, has split in two and its captain has been arrested.
14,000-container ships to travel the new Panama Canal
The Panama Canal is now 100 years old. To celebrate it, Panamanians decided to turn it into a highway for ships: each ship will be able to transport up to 14,000 containers.
In 2006, Panamanian citizens approved (75.25%) through a referendum the expansion of the centenarian canal that divides America and connects the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean. The project, designed by the Italian company Salini Impregilo, will double the channel capacity and allow larger ships to transit.
Work started in 2007, and the artificial Gatun Lake will be submerged and flooded in order to allow ships loaded with 14,000 containers to transit, i.e. three times as much the current limit. The Italian company announced on 22 June that “flooding of part of the new set of locks on the Pacific side is being carried shortly after the successful operation was conducted on the Atlantic”.
In March, 16 massive steel gates, weighing an average of 3,100 tons each, were built in Italy and shipped to Panama to be installed in the new locks. The functioning tests on the opening and closing of the sliding gates are set to start in July for the entire year. The opening of the new Panama Canal has been set for April 2016.
The canal was inaugurated on 15 August 1914, and since then the international trade has changed radically. Sailing times have reduced significantly, up to 50% less for a ship to sail from Los Angeles harbour, California, to Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
But what’s the price? Human costs of the canal’s first realisation were really high. Over 33 years of work, 27,000 people have died. From the environmental point of view, it’s complicated to provide precise figures, but most of the Panamanian virgin forest has been wiped out, submerged by water, whilst 50,000 people have been forced to move out. At present, the lack of vegetation and habitat degradation due to the channel expansion is causing significant damages to territory, soil and to region’s water balance. On the one hand, during the wet season, floods and landslides due to a fragile soil are more and more frequent; on the other hand, the scarcity of water for agricultural and nutritional use is more and more severe, because soil is no longer able to detain water during dry season.
The largest coral reef in the world is severely threatened by climate change, but researchers are developing strategies that could contribute to saving the Great Barrier Reef.
Seychelles have extended its marine protected area, which now covers over 400,000 square kilometres, an area larger than Germany.
Norwegian oil giant Equinor had pulled out of drilling for oil in the Great Australian Bight, one of the country’s most uncontaminated areas. A victory for activists and surfers who are now campaigning for the area to be protected forever.
30 per cent of the planet needs to be protected to stop precipitous species decline. The UN has set out its aims for the the COP15 on biodiversity scheduled for Kunming, China in October.
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Refusing the anthropocentric vision and respecting the laws of ecology is the only way to safeguard the future of our and all other species, Sea Shepherd President Paul Watson argues in this op-ed.
Once a year on Christmas Island something incredible happens: millions of crabs cross the whole island to reach the ocean, where they drop their eggs.
Malaysian activist Gabby Tan’s mission is to raise awareness about the risks faced by our oceans, and the need to protect them. She spoke to us about her passions and what inspires her.