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European Union Moves to Close Shark Finning Loopholes

The European Parliament voted to close loopholes which had permitted some forms of shark finning to occur. The EU had previously banned shark finning but special permits allowed some finning to continue. Parliament’s vote, with almost 90% in favor, closes loopholes in the existing law and ends special permits. The details of implementation will now be considered by EU ministers.

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The Fiscal Cliff's Marine Consequences

As negotiations in Congress begin over the looming fiscal cliff, an across-the-board budget sequester could have major impacts on ocean conservation initiatives. If lawmakers do not find a solution, an 8.2% cut will apply to all federal agencies beginning in 2013. Agencies like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Ocean Council would be forced to seriously curtail their operations. As a result, the ability to uphold responsibilities like regulating the fishing industry or cleaning up oil spills would be diminished.

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New Zealand Challenges Japanese Whaling

New Zealand joined Australia in a lawsuit before the United Nations’ International Court of Justice (ICJ) challenging Japanese whaling practices. Under international convention, countries are allowed a special permit for killing whales for scientific research. However, New Zealand joins Australia in accusing Japan of using these permits as a cover-up for commercial whaling. Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said the lawsuit was a last resort after three years of failed diplomatic talks with the Japanese.

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2012 Election Results and the Ocean

With the results of the 2012 election being finalized, Michael Conathan, the Director of Ocean Policy at the Center for American Progress, analyzes ocean policy from all branches of government. In his article for National Geographic, Conathan maps out specific consequences and likelihoods in ocean policy that will come from the President, the Senate, and the House of Representatives in the next term. Conathan provides a detailed analysis of certain races and their impact on ocean policy in addition to making conclusions about the future of ocean conversation in American politics.

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