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As 2022 draws to a close, Conservation News is revisiting some of our most significant stories of the year. 

Innovation and collaboration were at the heart of ocean conservation in 2022. As experts warned that the time to turn the tide on marine protections is dwindling, conservationists and governments came together to advocate for the oceans, coral reefs and mangroves that make life on Earth possible.

From cutting-edge tools designed to protect sharks and manta rays, to “safe swimways” for whales and sea turtles, here are a few of the big ideas and innovative initiatives that marked the year. 

In Hawai’i, invasive fish finds a new foe: chefs 

For decades, an invasive little bluestripe snapper, known locally as taʻape, has been decimating native species in Hawai‘i. To undo its damage, scientists cooked up a creative new strategy: “Eat ‘em to beat ‘em.” Conservation News spoke with Jhana Young, a sustainable seafood expert at Conservation International, and local chefs about an ongoing effort to bring taʻape to dinner tables across Hawai‘i. 

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New app aims to take a bite out of illegal shark fin trade 

Every day massive amounts of shark fins pass through airports and seaports across Singapore, one of the busiest shipping hubs in the world. Customs officials are faced with a near impossible task: identifying thousands of illegally trafficked species with almost no tools to help. Conservation News investigated how newly developed artificial intelligence technology is helping inspectors tackle the illegal wildlife trade using a device most already have in their pockets — their cell phones. 

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A ‘manta ray ruler’ could help protect these gentle giants

A manta ray’s size tells a lot about the health of its overall population. But measuring mantas is a time-consuming process that can be stressful for the animals. So, Conservation International scientists “MacGyvered” a simple but effective new way to measure the gentle marine giants using a drone and a piece of PVC pipe. We spoke with Mark Erdmann, a Conservation International marine biologist, about this inventive new tool, which is helping scientists better understand and protect mantas. 

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New study shows where manta rays thrive

Rounding out an array of manta ray coverage this year, Conservation News explored the remarkable comeback mantas have made in a protected area off the coast of Indonesia. We spoke with marine experts working in Raja Ampat — a pristine archipelago deep in the heart of the Bird’s Head Seascape — to find out how restoration efforts and the dedication of local communities have helped this threatened species recover.

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4 things you may have missed at the UN Ocean Conference 

At the UN Ocean Conference this summer, UN Secretary General António Guterres declared that humanity is facing an “ocean emergency,” and urged governments to do more to restore marine ecosystems. Conservation News highlighted four ways in which governments and conservationists are stepping up to help turn the tide.

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Ecuador expands marine reserve to protect threatened species 

A new marine reserve spearheaded by a coalition of Latin American nations has made a vital swath of the Pacific Ocean off-limits from destructive fishing practices. We spoke with Luis Suarez, Vice President of Conservation International Ecuador, to learn how these new protections will create a vital migratory swimway for whales, sharks, sea turtles and manta rays. 

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