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Monday, 25 January 2021

North Sea cod, herring and crab are in a 'critical state' due to overfishing as charity warns 60 PER CENT of UK's fish stocks are at risk of collapse

  • Marine conservation advocacy group Oceana has published its first fish audit
  • They found that only 37 of the 104 fish stocks are currently at a healthy size
  • This includes UK favourite cod — which has been 'significantly overfished' 
  • Oceana is calling on Defra to follow the science when setting future catch limits
  • Without such measures, the fishing industry will suffer in the long run, they saidOverfishing has put 60 per cent of the UK's fish stocks at risk of collapse — with North Sea cod, crab and herring among those in a critical state, a report has warned.

    The audit — by marine conservation charity Oceana — found that only 37 of the 104 stocks examined were of a healthy size and only 38 were exploited sustainably.

    Oceana is calling on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to follow scientific guidance when setting catch limits to preserve our fish.These fishing rate recommendations are calculated to allow populations to recover and reproduce as to maintain fish stocks in the long run.

    Without such measures, they warned, marine life, coastal communities and the fishing industry itself will suffer in the long run.

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    Overfishing has put 60 per cent of the UK's fish stocks at risk of collapse — with North Sea cod, crab and herring among those in a critical state, a report has warned. Pictured: a fishing boat

    Overfishing has put 60 per cent of the UK's fish stocks at risk of collapse — with North Sea cod, crab and herring among those in a critical state, a report has warned. Pictured: a fishing boat

    The fate of cod — an iconic species in the UK — is of particular concern, with Oceana attributing its significant overfishing in recent years to 'political decisions' that have lead to a series of declines and collapses in cod stock. Pictured, a crate of cod

    The fate of cod — an iconic species in the UK — is of particular concern, with Oceana attributing its significant overfishing in recent years to 'political decisions' that have lead to a series of declines and collapses in cod stock. Pictured, a crate of cod

    Oceana is calling on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to follow scientific guidance when setting catch limits to preserve our fish. Pictured: the difference between the advised and set catch limits for the UK's most economically important fish

    Oceana is calling on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to follow scientific guidance when setting catch limits to preserve our fish. Pictured: the difference between the advised and set catch limits for the UK's most economically important fish

    'It is shocking to find that 6 out of 10 of the UK's most important fish stocks are overfished or in a critical situation,' said Oceana's head of UK policy, Melissa Moore.

    'This report provides clear evidence that setting catch limits higher than those recommended by scientists is causing stocks of some of the UK's best-loved fish, like cod, to rapidly decline.'

    'Those currently taking part in negotiating catch limits for 2021 must set them in line with scientific advice and not push for continued overfishing.'

    'There is an opportunity and a responsibility for the UK to lead the way in achieving sustainable fisheries.'The audit revealed that the majority of the UK's ten most economically important fish stocks have either been overfished or are at a critical low level.

    These include North Sea cod, North Sea herring, Southern North Sea crab, Eastern English Channel scallops, North East Atlantic blue whiting and North Sea whiting.

    The fate of cod — an iconic species in the UK — is of particular concern, with Oceana attributing its significant overfishing in recent years to 'political decisions' that have lead to a series of declines and collapses in cod stock. 

'It is shocking to find that 6 out of 10 of the UK's most important fish stocks are overfished or in a critical situation,' said Oceana's head of UK policy, Melissa Moore. Pictured, an edible crab trapped in an abandoned pot off the Scottish coast
'It is shocking to find that 6 out of 10 of the UK's most important fish stocks are overfished or in a critical situation,' said Oceana's head of UK policy, Melissa Moore. Pictured, a European plaice (right)

'It is shocking to find that 6 out of 10 of the UK's most important fish stocks are overfished or in a critical situation,' said Oceana's head of UK policy, Melissa Moore. Pictured, an edible crab trapped in an abandoned pot off the Scottish coast (left) and a European plaice (right)

Only stocks of the North East Atlantic mackerel, North Sea haddock and West of Scotland Nephrops, a type of lobster are both healthy and being sustainably fished.

This is because catch limits for these species have been set at, or below, the recommended sustainable limits in recent years, demonstrating the positive impact of following marine conservation guidelines, Oceana experts said.

For North Sea anglerfish — the other of the UK's top ten economically important fish — there is presently insufficient data to make a reliable assessment, they added. 

The audit revealed that the majority of the UK's ten most economically important fish stocks have either been overfished or are at a critical low level

The audit revealed that the majority of the UK's ten most economically important fish stocks have either been overfished or are at a critical low level

These include North Sea cod, North Sea herring, Southern North Sea crab, Eastern English Channel scallops, North East Atlantic blue whiting and North Sea whiting

These include North Sea cod, North Sea herring, Southern North Sea crab, Eastern English Channel scallops, North East Atlantic blue whiting and North Sea whiting 

The findings of the audit come as the UK and the European Union begin negotiations to set so-called 'total allowable catch' limits for shared fish stocks for this year.

According to Oceana, the strong EU fisheries regulatory framework — including the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) — has seen the overfishing rate for fish populations drop from around 66 to 38 per cent.

However, the report warns, the Fisheries Act 2020 — which has replaced the CFP in the UK's waters — is less rigorous, laying out sustainability objectives but failing to compel all stocks to be fished in accordance with scientific guidance.Overfishing must be made 'a thing of the past', Oceana experts said, in order to allow marine life the chance to rebound and build resilience to large-scale threats such as climate change.

The full findings of the report are published on the Oceana website.

The findings of the audit come as the UK and the European Union begin negotiations to set so-called 'total allowable catch' limits for shared fish stocks for this year. Pictured: Herring

The findings of the audit come as the UK and the European Union begin negotiations to set so-called 'total allowable catch' limits for shared fish stocks for this year. Pictured: Herring

COD AND HADDOCK AT RISK 

Overfishing has decimated cod and haddock stocks a number of times.

Most recently, haddock from three North Sea and west of Scotland fisheries were removed from sustainable seafood lists because stocks had fallen below acceptable levels in 2017.

During the 1990s, Newfoundland in Canada was forced to ban cod fishing because stocks were nearly wiped out.

While rising sea temperatures reduces the size of cod and haddock, it also forces the fish further north in search of cooler waters.

Other fish not traditionally found in UK waters will appear more frequently too  — with mixed consequences.

For example, cuttlefish and sardines are being caught in increasing numbers, but experts have warned slipper limpets could ruin oyster and mussel beds.

Sunday, 24 January 2021

Say cheese! Mars' 'Happy Face' crater has significantly grown over a decade due to ongoing thermal erosion that is removing polar frost from the surface


  • A NASA orbiter first captured a grinning face near Mars' south pole in 2011
  • Comparing that image to one from 2020 shows the smile's gotten much bigger
  • The face is actually geological features exposed by ongoing erosion of CO2
  • The figure's 'nose' has also grown from two small holes to one large depressioMars has something to smile about! The infamous 'Happy Face' crater near the Red Planet's south pole has gotten noticeably bigger over the last decade.

    NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter first recorded the grinning visage in 2011, using its powerful High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera.

    Researchers compared an image of the crater from October 2011 to one from December 13, 2020 and report the 'mouth' has gotten larger.n
    The growing smile is actually caused by thermal erosion, as carbon dioxide evaporates and exposes more soil.

    The 'nose' on the face has also grown, from two small dots to one large depression.

    The MRO began analyzing Mars shortly after its arrival in 2006.

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    Comparing images of the 'happy face' crater at Mars' south pole from 2011 and 2020, researcher say a decade of erosion has made the 'mouth' larger and turned the nose from two small depressions into one combined hole

    Comparing images of the 'happy face' crater at Mars' south pole from 2011 and 2020, researcher say a decade of erosion has made the 'mouth' larger and turned the nose from two small depressions into one combined hole

    'You can see how nine years of this thermal erosion have made the 'mouth' of the face larger,' said Ross Beyer, a planetary scientist with the Sagan Center at the SETI Institute.

    The 'face' also got something of a nose job: At first it consisted of two circular depressions. The "Happy Face" crater snapped by HiRISE on December 13, 2020. Monitoring features like this 'helps us understand longer term climate trends on the Red Planet,' says researcher Ross Beyer

    The 'Happy Face' crater snapped by HiRISE on December 13, 2020. Monitoring features like this 'helps us understand longer term climate trends on the Red Planet,' says researcher Ross Beyer 

    'Measuring these changes throughout the Martian year help scientists understand the annual deposition and removal of polar frost,' Beyer said.

    'And monitoring these sites over long periods helps us understand longer term climate trends on the Red Planet.' 

    The smile on the figure appears larger because of how much frost has been lost to thermal erosion, revealing more of the surface. 

    Though it evaporates elsewhere on the planet, carbon dioxide ice forms near the poles — and shifts throughout the year as the climate changes — making certain 'features' seem to appear.

    The facial features we see actually represent different elevations and different ice densities on the surface.

    NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter arrived at the Red Planet in 2006 and recorded the 'happy face' in 2011, using its powerful High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera

    NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter arrived at the Red Planet in 2006 and recorded the 'happy face' in 2011, using its powerful High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera

    'The 'blobby' features in the polar cap are due to the Sun sublimating away the carbon dioxide into these round patterns,' Beyer explained.

    That means the CO2 goes straight from solid to gas without turning into a liquid, which causes more erosion in the soil. 

    Seeing human faces and other familiar images in landscapes and on inanimate objects is called pareidolia and it's hardly uncommon when it comes to Mars.

    In late December, the European Space Agency's Mars Express satellite captured a photo of what looks like an angel, complete with halo and wings, near the Red Planet's southern pole.

    The Christmas 'angel' was spotted between Ultimata Lingula, where the polar cap meets the surrounding plains, and Ultima Chasma. 

    The European Space Agency captured what appeared to be an 'angel' on the surface of Mars last Christmas, caused by dune fields exposed by thawing ice caps. Other images spotted on the planet include a gorilla, the Bat Signal and even Ed Asner

    The European Space Agency captured what appeared to be an 'angel' on the surface of Mars last Christmas, caused by dune fields exposed by thawing ice caps. Other images spotted on the planet include a gorilla, the Bat Signal and even Ed Asner 

    That region is typically covered by an ice cap a mile thick but, in summer, the ice is at its lowest point and certain 'features' can emerge.

    The angelic shape was visible because of the pattern and composition of nearby dune fields, which are rich in dark, rocky minerals like pyroxene and olivine.

    The angel's hand, which looks like it is reaching to the left, is a actually large sublimation pit, a seasonal feature that forms as ice turns to gas and leaves empty pockets and depressions in the planetary surface.

    Over the years keen-eyed observers have also spotted a rabbit, a dragon and the Bat signal.

    Last year, the MRO uncovered an impact crater that looked like Ed Asner, CNET reported.

    The first time a face was spotted on the surface of Mars was in 1976, in images taken NASA's Viking 1 Orbiter.

    Conspiracy theorists went wild, but it was eventually proven to be a chance alignment of mineral dunes.  

    WHY DO WE SEE STRANGE THINGS ON THE SURFACE OF MARS?

    Pareidolia is the psychological response to seeing faces and other significant and everyday items in random stimulus.

    It is a form of apophenia, when people see patterns in random, unconnected data.

    There have been multiple occasions when people have claimed to see religious images and themes in unexpected places.

    On the red planet, one of the most famous is the 'face on Mars' spotted by one of the Viking orbiters in 1976.

    This was later proven to just be a chance alignment of sand dunes

3.9-billion-year-old moon rock collected by the last men to walk on the moon during the 1972 Apollo 17 mission is put on display in the Oval Office at the request of the Biden Administration

  • A moon rock collected during the Apollo 17 mission in 1972 is in the Oval Office
  • NASA loaned the sample at the request of the Biden Administration
  • The rock is supported by a metal clamp and encased in a glass box
  • The moon rock is placed on a bookshelf inside the Oval Office
  • The Apollo 17 mission was the last NASA crew to step foot on the moon 
  • However, NASA is looking at 2024 to return humanity back to the moon When the Apollo 17 crew returned from the moon they brought back a 3.9-billion-year-old lunar rock that is now on display inside the White House’s Oval Office.

    The small boulder held by a metal clamp and encased in glass, sits located on a bookshelf that features items intended to remind Americans of the ambition and accomplishments of earlier generations.

    NASA loaned the moon rock, at the request of the Biden Administration, from its Lunar, from the Lunar Sample Laboratory Facility at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.At the base of the structure is an inscription dedicated to the three men of the Apollo 17 mission, which was the last NASA astronauts to walk across the lunar surface.

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    When the Apollo 17 crew returned from the moon they brought back a 3.9-billion-year-old lunar rock that is now on display inside the White House’s Oval Office

    When the Apollo 17 crew returned from the moon they brought back a 3.9-billion-year-old lunar rock that is now on display inside the White House’s Oval Office

    ‘Apollo 17 astronaut Ronald Evans and moonwalkers Harrison Schmitt and Eugene Cernan, the last humans to set foot on the Moon, chipped this sample from a large boulder at the base of the North Massif in the Taurus-Littrow Valley, 3 km (almost 2 miles) from the Lunar Module,’ the inscription on the base reads.

    ‘This 332 gram piece of the Moon (less than a pound), which was collected in 1972, is a 3.9-billion-year-old sample formed during the last large impact event on the nearside of the Moon, the Imbrium Impact Basin, which is 1,145 km or 711.5 miles in diameterThe moon rock features a number of tiny craters formed by micrometeorite impacts that have blasted it for over millions of years.

    There is also a flat side of the sample that was created in NASA’s Lunar Curation Laboratory when slices were cut for scientific research.

    The small boulder held by a metal clamp and encased in glass, sits located on a bookshelf that features items intended to remind Americans of the ambition and accomplishments of earlier generations

    The small boulder held by a metal clamp and encased in glass, sits located on a bookshelf that features items intended to remind Americans of the ambition and accomplishments of earlier generations

    NASA loaned the moon rock, at the request of the Biden Administration, from its Lunar, from the Lunar Sample Laboratory Facility at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston

    NASA loaned the moon rock, at the request of the Biden Administration, from its Lunar, from the Lunar Sample Laboratory Facility at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston

    During the Apollo 17 mission, Cernan and Schmitt spent 22 hours on the moon’s surface in the Taurus-Littrow valley, while colleague Ronald Evans orbited overhead.

    The team carried out a series of experiments including seismic profiling, atmospheric composition analysis and lunar sampling, and brought a few souvenirs home with them including the rock now showcased in the Oval Office.

    Prior to arriving at the White House this week, the moon rock was on display at the German Museum of Technology in Berlin.

    President Joe Biden is the first president to request this specific sample, but it is the second to take a place in the White House.

    In 1999, former President Bill Clinton invited the Apollo 11 astronauts, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, to the White House in honor of NASA’s 30th anniversary of the first moon landing and was loaned lunar sample 10057,30 – a moon rock taken during the 1969 mission

    In 1999, former President Bill Clinton invited the Apollo 11 astronauts, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, to the White House in honor of NASA’s 30th anniversary of the first moon landing and was loaned lunar sample 10057,30 – a moon rock taken during the 1969 mission

    In 1999, former President Bill Clinton invited the Apollo 11 astronauts, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, to the White House in honor of NASA’s 30th anniversary of the first moon landing and was loaned lunar sample 10057,30 – a moon rock taken during the 1969 mission.

    The moon rock currently sitting in the Oval Office, cataloged as lunar sample 76015,143, also marks history, as it was the last time NASA went to the moon, but is a sign of the future as the US prepares to make its return in 2024.

    Dubbed the Artemis mission, this will see the first woman and next moon step foot on the moon for the first time since 1972.

    During the Apollo 17 mission, Cernan and Schmitt (pictured) spent 22 hours on the moon’s surface in the Taurus-Littrow valley, while colleague Ronald Evans orbited overhead

    During the Apollo 17 mission, Cernan and Schmitt (pictured) spent 22 hours on the moon’s surface in the Taurus-Littrow valley, while colleague Ronald Evans orbited overhead

    However, the mega-rocket set to return America to the moon has had trouble during firing tests.

    On January 16, NASA’s Space Launch System was set to undergo a hot fire test at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, which would be the last test as part of a 'Green Run' of eight tests.

    But, a 'major component failure' occurred in one of the rockets, which forced the safe shutdown of all four rockets.

    There's no timeline on potentially running the test again, but SpaceNews reports that it would likely take at least another week to run a new test, should NASA decide to do so.

    NASA planned on sending the Space Launch System's core to the Kennedy Space Center in February to combine with the Orion spacecraft, but that is now in doubt.

    The Trump Administration set out a timeline that would have the Space Launch System be part of getting astronauts back to the moon by 2024, but President Biden has not committed to that same timeline.

    NASA will land the first woman and next man on the Moon in 2024 as part of the Artemis mission

    Artemis was the twin sister of Apollo and goddess of the Moon in Greek mythology. 

    NASA has chosen her to personify its path back to the Moon, which will see astronauts return to the lunar surface by 2024 -  including the first woman and the next man.

    Artemis 1, formerly Exploration Mission-1, is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions that will enable human exploration to the Moon and Mars. 

    Artemis 1 will be the first integrated flight test of NASA’s deep space exploration system: the Orion spacecraft, Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and the ground systems at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.  

    Artemis 1 will be an uncrewed flight that will provide a foundation for human deep space exploration, and demonstrate our commitment and capability to extend human existence to the Moon and beyond. 

    During this flight, the spacecraft will launch on the most powerful rocket in the world and fly farther than any spacecraft built for humans has ever flown.

    It will travel 280,000 miles (450,600 km) from Earth, thousands of miles beyond the Moon over the course of about a three-week mission. 

    Artemis 1, formerly Exploration Mission-1, is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions that will enable human exploration to the Moon and Mars. This graphic explains the various stages of the mission

    Artemis 1, formerly Exploration Mission-1, is the first in a series of increasingly complex missions that will enable human exploration to the Moon and Mars. This graphic explains the various stages of the mission

    Orion will stay in space longer than any ship for astronauts has done without docking to a space station and return home faster and hotter than ever before. 

    With this first exploration mission, NASA is leading the next steps of human exploration into deep space where astronauts will build and begin testing the systems near the Moon needed for lunar surface missions and exploration to other destinations farther from Earth, including Mars. 

    The will take crew on a different trajectory and test Orion’s critical systems with humans aboard.

    The SLS rocket will from an initial configuration capable of sending more than 26 metric tons to the Moon, to a final configuration that can send at least 45 metric tons. 

    Together, Orion, SLS and the ground systems at Kennedy will be able to meet the most challenging crew and cargo mission needs in deep space.

    Eventually NASA seeks to establish a sustainable human presence on the Moon by 2028 as a result of the Artemis mission.

    The space agency hopes this colony will uncover new scientific discoveries, demonstrate new technological advancements and lay the foundation for private companies to build a lunar economy. 

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