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NOAA awards $7.3mn for marine debris removal

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New Delhi, Sep 10: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the US Department of Commerce has announced $7.3 million in fiscal year 2021 grants supporting 25 projects to address the harmful effects of marine debris on wildlife, navigation safety, ecosystem health, and the economy.

With the addition of non-federal matching contributions, the total investment in these marine debris projects, announced on Thursday, is approximately $14.7 million.

The grants, selected after a rigorous and competitive review process, are spread across 14 states and territories, as well as eight international regions.

“Marine debris harms our coastal communities every day,” said Nicole LeBoeuf, director of NOAA’s National Ocean Service.

“These grants fund critical clean-up, while also working to prevent the problem at the source and better understand the movement of marine debris.

“These types of projects will help us remove the most harmful types of marine debris and mitigate the most harmful effects.”

Among the projects selected are the removal of up to 17 abandoned and derelict vessels from the Hudson River Estuary, representing all known abandoned and derelict vessels in the estuary; the removal of more than 100 metric tonnes of debris, including derelict fishing gear, from Hawaii, Kauai, and Maui Islands; an assessment of how marine debris moves from the upstream areas of the Guanica Watershed to the nearshore coastal waters of southwest Puerto Rico; reduction of the amount of marine debris entering the Tijuana River from the Los Laureles Canyon tributary in Mexico; and the launch of the North American Net Collection Initiative to collect and transform end-of-life fishing nets into high-value consumer goods.

Approximately $1.8 million will support 10 removal projects in Alaska, California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, and Washington.

The grantees will implement locally developed and cost-effective activities to remove marine debris, including derelict fishing gear and other medium- and large-scale debris.

Projects will benefit coastal habitats, waterways, wildlife, and surrounding communities.

Approximately $1.4 million will support five marine debris research projects in California, Delaware, Maryland, New York, and Puerto Rico. The grantees will investigate and identify the critical input pathways for marine debris introduction into the coastal zone.

Approximately $4.1 million will support 10 marine debris prevention and removal projects in the Great Lakes, Gulf of Alaska, Gulf of Maine, Gulf of Mexico, Mexico, Mexican Caribbean, North America Pacific Ocean, Salish Sea, and Tijuana River estuary. The grantees will address common marine debris issues in Mexico and the US and US-Canada border areas that impact the US marine environment, including preventing or reducing the occurrence of marine debris, or removing marine debris from the environment.

Marine debris is not only a threat to wildlife in the ocean, Great Lakes, and waterways, but can adversely affect navigation safety and the economy. To address this growing challenge, the NOAA Marine Debris Program is dedicated to identifying, determining sources of, assessing, preventing, reducing and removing marine debris and addressing the adverse impacts of marine debris in the nation’s marine environment and Great Lakes.

The Marine Debris Act authorized the NOAA Marine Debris Program in 2006 as the lead federal program for addressing the problem. This program was reauthorised in 2018 through the Save Our Seas Act, and recently amended by the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act of 2020.

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6.1 magnitude quake strikes Japan’s Tokyo, no tsunami warning

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Tokyo, Oct 8: An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.1 on the Richter Scale on late Thursday struck Japan’s Tokyo region, but no tsunami warning has been issued, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA).

The temblor occurred at around 10.41 p.m. local time, with its epicenter at a latitude of 35.6 degrees north and a longitude of 140.1 degrees east, and at a depth of 80 km.

The quake logged 5 plus in some parts of Tokyo Prefecture and Saitama Prefecture on the Japanese seismic intensity scale which peaks at 7.

According to utility officials, as of around 11.00 p.m. local time, the earthquake had triggered a blackout affecting around 250 households in Tokyo.

Some train services including subways operated by Tokyo Metro Co and shinkansen bullet trains had been suspended following the earthquake, railway companies said.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters late on Thursday he had ordered officials to help quake victims and prevent further damage.

A task force to assess and monitor the earthquake’s impact has been set up at the prime minister’s office.

According to prefectural government officials, no abnormalities have been detected at Japan Atomic Power Co’s Tokai No 2 nuclear power plant in Ibaraki Prefecture near Tokyo.

There were no reports of damage at Narita airport in Chiba, east of Tokyo after the strong quake.

Runways at Tokyo’s Haneda airport were temporarily closed for inspections, but later reopened as no damage was reported.

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NGT can take suo moto cognisance of environmental issues, rules SC

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New Delhi, Oct 7: The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has power to take suo motu cognisance – on the basis of letters, representations, and media reports — and can initiate proceedings on its own on issues pertaining to the environment.

A bench of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar, Hrishikesh Roy, and C.T. Ravikumar delivered the judgment on a batch of petitions which raised the issue whether the NGT has suo motu jurisdiction.

Senior advocate Sanjay Parikh had argued that the NGT has been conferred powers to pass orders for the restitution of environment, hence it can exercise suo motu powers. However, a battery of senior advocates opposed his arguments, stating that only constitutional courts can exercise suo motu powers and a statutory tribunal like the NGT has to act within the confines of its parent law.

Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, representing the Centre, held that the NGT does not have the power to take cognisance of a matter on its own. But she also contended that the tribunal’s powers cannot be bound by procedural constraints.

“This is a peculiar tribunal dealing with environmental matters. Often, environment ends up being nobody’s baby,” she said.

The bench had queried her that if the tribunal were to receive an information in connection with environment, will it not be duty bound to initiate process? The ASG responded that once a letter or communication is received by the tribunal, it is within its power to take cognisance of it.

On September 8, the bench had reserved verdict on the issue. Senior advocate Anand Grover, amicus curiae in the case, had opined that the NGT cannot exercise suo motu powers on the basis of letters, representations, or media reports.

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NGT has powers to take suo moto cognisance on environmental issues: SC

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New Delhi, Oct 7. The Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has power to take suo motu cognisance – on the basis of letters, representations, and media reports — and can initiate proceedings on its own on issues pertaining to the environment.

A bench of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar, Hrishikesh Roy, and C.T. Ravikumar delivered the judgment on a batch of petitions which raised the issue whether the NGT has suo motu jurisdiction.

Senior advocate Sanjay Parikh had argued that the NGT has been conferred powers to pass orders for the restitution of environment, hence it can exercise suo motu powers. However, a battery of senior advocates opposed his arguments, stating that only constitutional courts can exercise suo motu powers and a statutory tribunal like the NGT has to act within the confines of its parent law.

Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, representing the Centre, held that the NGT does not have the power to take cognisance of a matter on its own. But she also contended that the tribunal’s powers cannot be bound by procedural constraints.

“This is a peculiar tribunal dealing with environmental matters. Often, environment ends up being nobody’s baby,” she said.

The bench had queried her that if the tribunal were to receive an information in connection with environment, will it not be duty bound to initiate process? The ASG responded that once a letter or communication is received by the tribunal, it is within its power to take cognisance of it.

On September 8, the bench had reserved verdict on the issue. Senior advocate Arvind Grover, amicus curiae in the case, had opined that the NGT cannot exercise suo motu powers on the basis of letters, representations, or media reports.

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