Archive for Agriculture, Fishing, and Hunting
www.guardian.co.uk 9th February 2013
David Milliband, the brother of Ed the leader of the Labour Party, is to lead the newly formed Global Ocean Commission, a body to tackle the lawlessness of the open ocean. Mr Milliband will be alongside Nelson Mandela’s former finance minister, Trevor Manuel, and the former president of Costa Rica, José María Figueres, as well as yet-to-be-announced commissioners picked from former heads-of-state and senior ministers. The oceans are beginning to feature more prominently in global politics as their fate is looking increasingly uncertain. The open seas are beyond any national legislation and are therefore lawless. Preventable problems like over-fishing and pollution are causing severe damage to the marine eco-system and the former could lead to a collapse of numerous fish-stocks by the 2040. David Milliband is a good candidate for his role in the Global Ocean Commission. During his position as Foreign Secretary under the last UK labour government he established the world’s largest marine reserve around the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean; an area of no-fishing covering 640,000 square kilometres. ”The worst of the current system is plunder and pillage on a massive scale,” David Miliband told the Observer. “It is the ecological equivalent of the financial crisis. The long-term costs of the mismanagement of our oceans are at least as great as long-term costs of the mismanagement of the financial system. We are living as if there are three or four planets instead of one, and you can’t get away with that.”
www.latimes.com 25th January 2013
Texas has lodged a complaint against the neighbouring state of New Mexico with the US Supreme Court this month. Texas claims New Mexico “has been diverting water it is obligated to send downstream under the 75-year-old Rio Grande Compact.” The compact was created in 1938 between Texas, New Mexico and Colorado and established a “formula” for allocating the Colorado river’s water to the various states. Two giant reservoirs, the Elephant Butte and Caballo, were built in New Mexico as a result yet Texas now claims that as many as 2500 wells have been installed below the Elephant Butte diverting water from the river to the underground aquifer. This, says Pat Gordon, Texas’ representative on the Rio Grande Compact Commission, has reduced water for the irrigation network. New Mexico denies the allegations claiming those drawing water from the river actually have water-rights that predate the compact. A prominent water law specialist Charles DuMars seemed to back New Mexico in the dispute when he stated that the compact “only requires that New Mexico deliver a set amount of water into Elephant Butte Reservoir…as to what happens to the river between there and Texas, New Mexico’s water law probably applies, not the compact.”
Quoted from independent.co.uk 16th January 2013
Trees in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest are being fitted with mobile phones in an attempt to tackle illegal logging and deforestation. Devices smaller than a pack of cards are being attache d to the trees in protected areas to alert officials once they are cut down and the logs are transported. Location data is sent from sensors once the logs are within 20 miles of a mobile phone network to allow Brazil’s environment agency to stop the sale of illegal timber. The technology, called Invisible Tracck, which is being piloted by Dutch digital security company Gemalto, has a battery life of up to a year and has been designed to withstand the Amazonian climate. It will also allow officials to track trees in real time rather than relying on slower traditional means of monitoring through satellite images. Ramzi Abdine, general manager of Cinterion M2M, the wireless technology arm at Gemalto Latin America, said the new device could help overcome the difficulty of tracking trees over a large area. “The rainforest in Brazil is approximately the size of the United States so it’s impossible to monitor each and every acre,” he said. Marcelo Hayashi, general manager of Cargo Tracck, added: “Gemalto’s Cinterion M2M was vital in enabling us to develop a tracking and tracing solution rugged enough to withstand the heat and moisture of the Amazon. “It is unique because it’s small for inconspicuous deployment in the field and power-efficient enough to operate over long stretches of time without recharging batteries, which is crucial when tracking trees in remote areas.”
Quoted from bbc.co.uk 10th January 2013
‘Figures from the South African government indicate that poaching for rhinoceros has increased substantially in the last year. A record 668 rhinos were killed for their horns in 2012, up almost 50% on the number for 2011. The majority of the animals were killed in the Kruger national park, the country’s biggest wildlife reserve. Experts say that growing demand for rhino horn in Asia is driving the slaughter. South Africa is home to around three quarters of the world’s rhinoceros population of around 28,000 animals. In 2007 a mere 13 animals were lost to poachers. But since then the killing has increased substantially. It is being fuelled by the belief in countries like China and Vietnam that powdered rhino horn has medicinal powers and can impact diseases like cancer. Horns can sell for around $65,000 a kg. The rich rewards have attracted criminal gangs who deploy a range of sophisticated technologies in their efforts to capture and dehorn the animals. The South African government have attempted to fight back using soldiers and surveillance aircraft, but the numbers indicate they are losing the fight.’
In other poaching news, Zambia has banned the hunting of big cats after the ministry of Tourism decided more money was to be made in keeping the animals alive. ‘Blood-sport’ only raised $3 million (£1.9 million) in 2012.
www.bbc.co.uk 5th January 2013
A new record has been set for the sale of a single Bluefin Tuna at the first sale of the year of Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market. The tuna, weighing in at 222kg, was sold to a sushi restaurant owner by the name of Kiyoshi Kimura for 155m yen ($1.7m; £1.05m). The fish was 45kg lighter than last year’s record, which sold for 56m yen. The sale comes just before the release of new data from the Pew Environmental Group on Monday, which is expected ‘to show a continued decline in Pacific bluefin stocks’. Japan consumes over half of the world’s Bluefin Tuna catch.
e360.yale.org 17th December 2012
Quoted from source:
“The amount of agricultural land needed to feed the world’s population has reached its peak as a result of improved crop yields and slower population growth, and as much as 10 percent of the land currently used for farming could be “restored to Nature” within 50 years, a team of experts says. In an analysis published in the journal Population and Development Review, three researchers from Rockefeller University’s Program for the Human Environment (PHE) predict that the 1.53 billion hectares (3.78 billion) acres of arable land and farming areas that existed in 2009 could drop to 1.38 billion hectares (3.41 billion acres) by 2060. That would allow an area the size of 2 ½ Frances to be restored to natural conditions. “Happily, the cause is not exhaustion of arable land, as many have feared, but rather moderation of population and tastes and ingenuity of farmers,” said Jesse Ausubel, director of the PHE and lead author of the report. The PHE study stands in stark contrast to a recent UN report, which predicted that by 2050 another 70 million hectares of land would have to be cultivated to feed a growing population. The new report does not account for several factors that could undermine its projections, including major disruptions from climate change and the rate of development of agricultural land for biofuels.”
New research by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) states that the illicit trade in animal and plant parts is worth $19 billion a year, making it the fourth largest illegal trade after narcotics, counterfeiting, and people trafficking. The report highlights the potential risk to national stability as armed rebel groups are using the trade to fund civil conflicts. The WWF study cites the example of a large elephant massacre in northern Cameroon as an example. In this case, rebel groups from Chad and Sudan killed 450 elephants in order to sell their ivory to buy arms. A recent seizure of an estimated 20 tonnes of ivory in Malaysia on route to China only shows to exemplify the scale of the trade. According to the Born Free Foundation, the number of elephants killed from poaching (c. 30,000) now exceeds the number that die of natural causes.
LMV’s film ‘Plastic Shores‘ managed to come in second place at the Green Up Film Festival in Brussels, Belgium. We were invited to attend when we premiered Plastic Shores at the United Nations Regional Information Centre in March and were more than happy to have the film entered. The Green Up Film Festival is an innovative new way of hosting a film festival as it allows all the films to be viewed online. Viewers then vote on the film or films they like and at the end of the three week period, the public choice award is given. This time around the award went to the Spanish film ‘LIRA, RÉSERVE DE VIE’ directed by Marcos Galleco Fernandez. It is a fantastic film on the first marine reserve created in Spain by local fishermen. In third was the humorous French film ‘VÉLOTOPIA‘ directed by Erik Fretel (trailer above).
www.bbc.co.uk 24 August 2012
Quoted from source:
‘Police in Peru have seized more than 16,000 dried seahorses which were to be exported illegally to Asian countries. Seahorse powder is used in China, Japan and elsewhere in traditional medicine and for its alleged aphrodisiac uses. Peruvian authorities say the traffickers ran away and abandoned their illicit cargo on a street in the capital, Lima. Police chief Victor Fernandez told the BBC the cargo could have fetched up to $250,000 (£160,000) abroad. Seahorse fishing is illegal in Peru, but the high prices paid for seahorse powder abroad make it difficult for the authorities to enforce the ban. Mr Fernandez said the cargo – three cases weighing 27.5kg (60 pounds) – was left behind following a police operation near the Lima’s airport. ”They are sent to Asian countries and used as aphrodisiacs. In China this product is also used to cure asthma,” he told the BBC’s Mattia Cabitza in Lima. The marine fish, which finds northern Peru’s warmer waters a perfect breeding ground, is protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites). But Mr Fernandez said that last year a total of 20 tonnes of dried seahorses were seized across the world – half a tonne in Peru alone.’
www.cnn.com 3rd July 2012
The Government Office Administration of the State Council of China has announced its intention to ban shark fins being served at official banquets. Shark fins are usually served in a soup that was originally reserved for the elite during imperial times. With the Chinese economic boom however, demand for the luxury dish has rocketed resulting in widespread and unsustainable shark fishing. Sharks are usually finned while still alive and the rest of the body is discarded. The demand for shark fin soup has been attributed to the increase of endangered shark species across the planet, rising from 15 in 1996 to 181 today. Between 26 and 73 million sharks are killed every year. The move by the Government Office Administration came after a proposal was put forward in the National People’s Congress early last year. Although it may take as long as three years to implement, the ban would ‘help cut the cost of sometimes lavish banquets held for state functions.’ Several companies have also made moves to ban the product in China including the Peninsula Hotel and Shangri-la Hotels chains. Swissotel in Beijing has already stopped.
e360.yale.edu 14th June 2012
Quoted from source:
‘Australia has announced that it will create the world’s largest marine reserve, a network of protected areas that will cover 1.2 million square miles, more than one-third of the country’s waters. Environment Minister Tony Burke, making the announcement in advance of the Rio+20 sustainability summit, said the action will expand the number of Australia’s marine reserves from 27 to 60 and will protect waters of the Coral Sea and other key ocean habitats. “It’ time for the world to turn a corner on protection of our oceans, and Australia today is leading that next step,” said Burke. “What we’ve done is effectively create a national parks estate in the ocean.” Limited fishing and oil drilling will be allowed in some areas, and the fishing industry will receive hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation for reducing or eliminating commercial fishing in numerous tracts of ocean.’
LMV comment: only 1.1 million square miles of the world’s oceans were protected before the expansion, of which 310,000 square miles were in Australian waters. This move by the Australian government means that over half of the world’s marine reserves are now in Australia.
www.bbc.co.uk 13th June 2012
EU fishery ministers have provisionally backed a ban on the wasteful practice of discards, whereby fishermen throw back non-target fish that are caught up in their nets. This would see discards of Herring and Mackerel banned by 2014 and those of Cod, Haddock, Plaice and Sole by 2018. The latter four will take longer to implement because of their tendency to swim together, therefore making it harder to avoid catching non-target species. The ban in not binding however and came as a result of a compromise following 24 hours of intense discussions between ministers, who all agreed that overfishing should end by 2015, 2020 at the latest. However, green groups such as Greenpeace have condemned the wording of the ‘agreement’, particularly the sentence: ”quantifiable targets linked to biological parameters”. Greenpeace argue that targets should be governed by science, not linked to it.
Sign Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s Fish Fight campaign now to keep the pressure on the EU Fisheries Commission to change.
LMV recently wrote a post about the ‘First Fish War‘, which is our interpretation on the brewing dispute over the South China Sea. However, China and the Philippines are not the only two countries that are arguing over fishing rights in territorial waters. If fact, this is a problem that is regularly seen across the globe but rarely reported about. For example, when LMV was filming out in the Cayman Islands we interviewed the former head of police for marine conservation. He told us that in the 90s the Cayman Coastguard had to chase Japanese fishing vessels out of the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone because the ships were stealing tuna.
More recently, the BBC has reported a dispute between Spain and Gibraltar, a UK territory on the southern tip of Spain. According to the report, Spanish naval police escorted several Spanish fishing vessels into Gibraltar waters where they cast their nets near to Gibraltar harbour. The Royal Gibraltar Police surrounded the vessels, who did not leave the area until a Royal Navy ship, HMS Sabre (above) arrived on the scene. The use of large nets in Gibraltar waters is illegal under an environmental law. Although Spain disagrees with the UK’s ownership of Gibraltar, which has been a colony since 1713, the standoff between Spanish police and a UK military vessel is still surprising considering it is between two European countries. Spanish Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz stated to reporters: “We are not going to accept intimidations or humiliations. What the government is doing is defending the fishing rights of our fishermen.”
This particular clash comes amid a growing argument between northern and southern European countries on reforms to the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP, see the hard work done by British chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittenstall and his Fish Fight, above). Northern countries, such as those from Scandinavia, Germany and the UK have been pushing for greater reforms to the CFP in order to reduce discards, reduce the size of fishing fleets, and increase wild fish stocks. Their efforts have been sabotaged by southern countries such as Spain, Portugal and France who are more interested in the short-term future of their large fishing industries. The fact that these reforms are being discussed seriously at all is a huge step but also highlights just how serious the problem of over-fishing has become. Clashes such as those between Gibraltar and Spain and China and the Philippines are only going to become more common. Whereas violence is very unlikely in the northern Mediterranean due to the overarching influence of the EU, LMV is not so optimistic about the problem of the South China Sea.
en.bisnis.com 20th April 2012
Quoted from source:
‘Coral gardens that were among Asia’s most spectacular, teeming with colorful sea life just a few months ago, have been transformed into desolate gray moonscapes by illegal fishermen who use explosives or cyanide to kill or stun their prey. The site is among several to have been hit inside Komodo National Park, a 500,000-acre reserve in eastern Indonesia that spans several dusty, tan-colored volcanic islands. The area is most famous for its Komodo dragons, the world’s largest lizards, and its remote and hard-to-reach waters also burst with staggering levels of diversity, from corals in fluorescent reds and yellows to octopuses with lime-green banded eyes to black-and-blue sea snakes. Dive operators and conservationists say Indonesia’s government is not doing enough to keep illegal fishermen out of the boundaries of the national park, a U.N. World Heritage site. They say enforcement declined greatly following the exit two years ago of a U.S.-based environmental group that helped fight destructive fishing practices. Local officials disagree, pointing to dozens of arrests and several deadly gunbattles with suspects. Sustyo Iriyono, the head of the park, said problems are being exaggerated and denied claims of lax enforcement. He said rangers have arrested more than 60 fishermen over the past two years, including a group of young men captured last month after they were seen bombing fish in waters in the western part of the park. ”You see?” said Iriyono. “No one can say I’m not acting firmly against those who are destroying the dive spots!” He added that the park is one of the few places where fish bombing is monitored with any regularity in Indonesia, a Southeast Asian nation of more than 17,000 islands.
The National Geographic November 2011 Issue
Decades of civil war has taken its toll on the rich biodiversity of the East African Rift Valley, a monumental geological phenomenon that separates the Nubian tectonic plate from the Somalian plate before forking down either side of Uganda. The region has seen the numerous conflicts over the last century including the most deadly since WWII: The Great African War, which saw around 5 million die. It also happens to be home to the highest biomass of large mammals in the world as well s huge reserves of important minerals such as gold, tin and coltan. This, combined with the huge population increase that places like the Democratic Republic of Congo have seen recently (for example in Goma, pictured, which is located next to an active volcano), has made for a volatile situation. People want land, and there is only a limited amount to go around.
For the national parks of the area, times are not good. Africa’s oldest national park, Virunga National Park founded in 1925, is a ‘warzone’ with many people already settled inside the park’s boundaries. The lodges are gutted and tourism is almost non-existent following the Rwandan genocide of 1994. The remaining park rangers are constantly battling with local militias, called Mai-Mai fighters, who control illegal fishing and charcoal production. Conogolese soldiers stationed on the western shore of Lake Edward have decimated populations of megafauna. 96% of the park’s hippo population has been slaughtered and sold for bush meat by militias. If the park rangers’ job is hard enough, they also face direct threats to their lives. In response to the rangers destroying illegal fishing boats (the fishing fleet of Lake Albert has swelled from 760 in the 1960s to 6,000 today), the Mai-Mai have put out bounties on the rangers. Furthermore, 100,000 villagers have demanded the government to reduce the park by 90%, or they’ll take it by force.
The Ugandan Queen Elizabeth Park (above), established in 1952, is not a lot better. By 1980 elephant numbers had dropped from 3,000 to 150. A common belief among the crowded villages is that national parks are making the population poor. In Uganda’s Kagombe Forest Reserve, a presidential decree has disallowed National Forestry Authority from evicting immigrant settlers, largely because of the upcoming elections. In order to placate the native populations about the rise of immigrants, politicians then announced that they too should seize land (see picture below). Most wildlife has now been hunted out of the reserve, a once important corridor for chimps and other animals. According to the forestry authority’s sector manager, Patrick Kakeeto, “they’re cutting all of this down and we can’t touch them. For us, it’s kind of psychoprofessional torture.”
e360.yale.edu 28th February 2012
Poachers from Chad and the Sudan are responsible for the deaths of nearly 500 elephants inside a Bouba Ndjida National Park in Cameroon over the space of six weeks. Officially the death toll stands at 458 but the actual number could be a lot higher as the park spans 220,000 hectares in the north of the country. Two species of elephants live in Cameroon: savannah elephants and forest elephants and their numbers are believed to stand somewhere between 1,000 and 5,000. The regional field program manager for the World Wildlife Fund in Cameroon, Bas Huijbregts, said “I wouldn’t be surprised if in the last six weeks that maybe more than half of the overall savannah elephant population in Cameroon has been killed.” The massacre appears to be well organised and ivory is the main reason behind it, probably for the growing Asian demand for the material. The International Fund for Animal Welfare has dispatched a team to the area and the European Union has called for the Cameroonian government to intervene. As yet no effective intervention has taken place. Mr Huijbregts also believes a similar slaughter maybe taking place in the Congo Basin.
www.independent.co.uk 18th November 2011
Douglas Tompkins, the environmentalist and founder of North Face outdoor clothing, has been trying to establish a vast nature reserve in the far North of Argentina for some time now but has faced significant opposition along every step of the way. Finally though it looks like his dreams of creating a reserve to protect the Iberá marsh, the second largest wetland habitat in the world, are becoming realised. Despite being dubbed a ‘Gringo Imperialist’ by the Land Minister Luis Delía (who even posed with a pair of wire cutters next to the fence of Mr Tompkins estate), it seems the entrepreneur has now found some support from the Argentine president Cristina Kirchner leading to an announcement that Mr Tompkins will donate 370,000 acres of his land (valued at £120 million) to the creation of a new reserve. Opposition is still strong in the form of Ricardo Colombi, the governor of the Corrientes region that includes the Iberá marsh, who claims the reserve will force local farmers from their jobs. Mr Tompkins is also encouraging Mr Colombi’s administration to hand over a further 1.36 million acres it owns to the national government. Such a move would pressure on the 1,800 farmers who own the remaining 1.2 million acres of the Iberá to scale down their farming practices. Despite Iberá being already designated a provincial nature reserve, almost half of the 3.2 million acres is in private ownership and divided into farms.
www.bbc.co.uk 3rd October 2011
The republic of the Marshall Islands in the Pacific has created the world’s largest shark sanctuary, covering around 2 million square kilometres (772,000 square miles) of ocean. The sanctuary, roughly the equivalent area of Mexico or Saudi Arabia, is three times the size of the former largest sanctuary created by Palau two years ago. The move by the Marshall government reflects the importance of diving tourism on the islands’ economy. ”In passing this [shark protection] bill, there is no greater statement we can make about the importance of sharks to our culture, environment and economy,” said Senator Tony deBrum, who co-sponsored the bill. New laws now dictate that the commercial fishing of sharks is banned, as is the trade in any shark products. Certain types of fishing gear will be banned and violators of these laws will face fines of up to £200,000. Shark fishing has been on the rise in recent years due to high demand in China and other Asian countries for shark fins. Around 73 million are killed annually resulting in a third of ocean-going sharks being out on the Red List of Threatened Species. The Marshall Island government worked closely with the US-based Pew Environmental Group to create the sanctuary.
A new short film called ‘What’s the Catch’ by the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) that highlights the problems of pirate fishing.
e360.yale.edu 15th August 2011
Quoted from source:
‘The Environmental Investigation Agency reports that the Chinese government has reopened the trade in tiger and leopard skins obtained from “legal” sources, including controversial tiger farms. While Chinese officials vowed to combat poaching and the smuggling of tiger products as part of last year’s Global Tiger Recovery Program, the EIA says the government has reinstated the so-called Skin Registration Scheme, which allows skins from captive-bred cats to be registered, labeled, and sold. According to the group, which says it found several examples of skins for sale online, the scheme will only encourage the illegal trade in wild cat parts and makes a “complete mockery” of the nation’s tiger conservation pledge. “It’s doing nothing to actually help tiger and leopard conservation, instead providing a cover for illegal trade and creating a confused consumer market,” said Debbie Banks, head of the EIA’s Tiger Campaign. In the last century, wild tiger populations have plummeted from 100,000 to 3,500, and experts predict the animal will go extinct by 2022 if strong measures are not taken. The group’s warning comes as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) prepares to meet in Switzerland this week.’
www.lemonde.fr 8th August 2011
One year after the French government launched the ‘Plan National de Lutte Contre les Algues Vertes’ (the national plan against Green Algae), the marine flora is still causing huge problems along the country’s coastlines. Recently, a herd of wild boar have been discovered dead on the shores of Brittany. Autopsies revealed that they had gorged themselves on green algae and had died from the resulting gases released from the decomposing plants. The algae first made its appearance around 4 decades ago but it is only recently that official bodies have begun to tackle the problem. 109 sites in Brittany, northwest France, are badly affected with cleanups sometimes taking away as much as 70,000 cubed metres of algae per year. Some of this is used as fertiliser. The cause of the scourge, which chokes the life out waterways, is easily identifiable. Fertilisers from local farms run-off into water-systems saturating the water with nitrates causing algae blooms. These farms have agreed to various measures to reduce this runoff, including turning 60% of land back to grassland and not using fertilisers. As yet though, success has not been achieved.
The problem of alien species in the UK is now such that members of the public are being encouraged to join the fight to prevent their spread. The Environment Agency has drawn up a “hit-list” of the ten invasive species that pose the largest threat to native wildlife and British waterways, costing around £1.7 billion a year to tackle. Top of the list is the so-called “killer shrimp” (pictured), which, although only about 3cm long, has a ravenous appetite and eats many native species such as young fish and other shrimp. This, in turn, has a knock-on effect on the rest of the food-chain. Other animals on the list are the American signal crayfish (which is endangering the less aggressive and smaller white clawed crayfish), the topmouth gudgeon (a rapidly reproducing Japanese fish), and the mink (which eats almost anything, but is doing particularly damage to native vole populations). Six plants make up the rest of the list: water primrose (the “most-wanted” of the plants), floating pennywort, giant hogweed, Japanese knotweed, Himalayan balsam and parrot’s feather. Although Britain’s waterways are the cleanest for decades, with native species like otters returning for the first time since the industrial revolution, environmental experts worry that the presence of these invasive species will jeopardise the success of the waterways to pass rigorous new ‘EU targets on the ecological health of waterways’. Rivers that do not meet the new targets could cause fine of millions of pounds.
www.bbc.co.uk 3rd August 2011
The UN Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit has reported that in the next 4 to 6 weeks all regions of southern Somalia will be affected by famine. Three new regions have been declared in a state of famine over the past few days bringing the number of people affected in the entire Horn of Africa to around 11 million. These regions are the Balcad and Cadale districts of the middle Shabelle region and areas surrounding the capital of Mogadishu. The drought causing such mass starvation is the worst the country has seen in 60 years and the UN have warned that an end is not in sight until at least December of this year. In Somalia alone, almost half of the entire population (3.2 million) are in need of immediate life-saving assistance. The situation is compounded by rising food prices, which have doubled since 2010, and even tripled in some areas. It is the first time in 19 years that the country has experienced famine.
www.nationalgeographic.com 25th July 2011
Washington DC lawmakers will consider over the next few weeks a controversial plan to take down four dams in the state of California in order to save endangered salmon. Dams have been blamed by various environmental groups for the drastic decline in salmon runs over the past century, from millions of fish to just 100,000 or so. The plan is, surprisingly, supported by local farmers as well as PacifiCorp, the operating company for the four dams (the Iron Gate, Copco 2, Copco 1, and John C. Boyle dams) all situated on the Klamath River. PacifiCorp, owned by Warren Buffett, has got behind the idea as it may cost more money to modify the dams with fish passages than it would to destroy them. Other major proponents of the plan are native American tribes that rely on salmon in their diet, and have done, according to archaeologists, for the past 9,000 years. The US Fish and Wildlife Service has warned that dam removal is not a ‘silver bullet’ though. Other factors such as water quality (increasingly affected by agricultural runoff) and water warming (due to climate change) also play a role and need to be kept in check if the local Chinook Salmon population is to recover. The four dams in line to be demolished were all created for hydropower and generate enough energy to power around 70,000 homes. Other dams on the river were constructed for irrigation but they are not at risk. The unlikely partnership of PacifiCorp, the Klamath Water Users Association (representing the region’s farmers) and the tribes (the Yurok, Karuk, Klamath, and Hoopa Valley), under the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement, benefits all: less cost for the energy company, more water for the farmers, and more salmon for the tribes.
www.lemonde.fr 18th July 2011
The hacking group ‘Anonymous’ has turned its attention to environmental causes by launching an attack on US agribusiness giant Monsanto. Famous for previous attacks on everything from the Pentagon to the Egyptian government (prior to its collapse in the Arab Spring) to Visa and Mastercard for their action against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, Anonymous now cite Monsanto’s production and promotion of GM crops and toxic herbicide ‘Round Up’. 2,500 employees of the company will have their personal details released on Wikileaks in two weeks time. These include names, addresses, phone-numbers and email). Monsanto is not the only victim of Anonymous’ new eco-outlook. Oil giants Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips, Canadian Oil Sands Limited and Imperial Oil are also being targeted for their work ‘destroying’ the Montana wilderness to ship oil to Canada. A quote from Anonymous read: “Anonymous can not stand by and let these environmental atrocities continue.”
www.bbc.co.uk 14th July 2011
The final day of the 63rd annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in Jersey came close to chaos as pro-whaling countries walked out. Japan, Iceland, and several others left the room when 14 Latin American countries, known as the Buenos Aires Bloc, tried to force a vote on the creation of a whale sanctuary in the South Atlantic. The latest drama to hit the IWC brought criticism from environmental groups who have claimed that issues of whale conservation were neglected. A compromise was finally made with delegates told to come to some sort of agreement over the coming year, or the next IWC annual meeting will begin with a vote on the South Atlantic whale sanctuary. When asked about the walkout, Japan’s deputy commissioner Joji Morishita said
“this was not a hostile move to the Latin American countries – our effort is to try to save this organisation, and it turned out ok.” This year’s meeting did have some good news however with France, Italy, and some non-governmental organisations pledging £80,000 for the research of small cetaceans such as the critically endangered Mexican vaquita.
www.independent.co.uk 11th July 2011
UK waters are now so over-fished that if we were to rely purely on fish from them, and not import any from abroad, the supply would only last 6 months of every year. As the UK consumes less fish, on average, than other EU countries our so-called Fish Dependence Day (the day local supplies would run-out if we were only to consume them since the 1st January) is slightly later than places like Spain and Germany. Whereas the UK Fish Dependence Day is on the 16th July (in 2010 it was 3rd August, and in 1995 it was 24th August), in France it is the 13th June, Spain 8th May, Italy 30th April and Germany on the 27th April. The data was released by the thinktank New Economics Foundation and coincides with the finishing touches being made by Maria Damanaki, the European Fisheries Commissioner, to Common Fishery Policy reforms. It is hoped the reforms will concentrate on long-term fish stock sustainability rather than fisherman short-term profit.
For more information on the need to reform the EU’s Common Fishery Policy go to Hugh’s Fish Fight.