HOME
About this Website
The Fisheries Improved for
Sustainable Harvest (FISH) Project
Search / Download
Reflections: Gallery of seascapes in various media forms
OverSeas Online Magazine
Links
Contact us
Friends of OneOcean
CRMP Archives
Site Map

 

To Overseas Start Page
The Online Magazine for Sustainable Seas
January, 2005, Vol.7 No. 5



COASTAL ALERT

Philippines
Government vows to increase support for agri-fisheries
RP granted observer status by international tuna body
Tuna firms urge gov't to negotiate fishing access with Malaysia
RP, Palau to ink fisheries pact
White shark fishing now banned -- BFAR
Organic, toxic wastes poison Zambales bays
More areas in Davao Provinces eyed for seaweed production
BFAR cracks down on toxic fishing
GenSan expects increased tuna supply with improved port
Study detects high phosphate levels in waters off Pangasinan
Fishers oppose plan for Talisay fish port

World
All must help preserve biodiversity – Annan
Large-scale forces shape local ocean life, global study shows
World must act now to forestall staggering threat from global warming -- UN
Global assessment of corals finds bad news, good news, looming threats
International Commission adopts US proposal for shark finning ban
UN agency draws up guidelines to avoid killing endangered turtles in fishing
Scientists warn of undetected, unmeasured toxins in world's fish
Study seeks genetic shortcut to breeding super-healthy salmon
CITES announces reduction in 2004 beluga caviar quota
Commission establishes largest ever list of protected areas in the EU
Rehabilitation of tsunami affected mangroves needed
Tsunami’s damage to Indonesia’s environment pegged at US$675M -- UNEP
Bahrain’s fisheries 'facing oblivion'
Scotland: Fisheries fiscals will protect the industry
Vietnam licenses project to raise seafood testing capacity
Scientists warn of northern Europe’s cod stocks nearing extinction
Sardines may prevent toxic gas eruptions off the California and African Coasts
Falling catch may cause NT crab fishery closure
Alaska -- New crab fishery management proposal announced
"Clean" fishing threatens extinctions in Pacific

Resources
Using economic incentives to conserve CITES-listed species: A scoping study on ITQs for sturgeon in the Caspian Sea
Marine Reserves: A Guide to Science, Design and Use  
“Turning the Tide”: British Royal Commission report sees in huge no-fishing zones only hope to save fish-stocks from disaster

Philippines

Government vows to increase support for agri-fisheries
Cebu City, Nov  18, 2004 -- Jobs Generation Secretary Cito Lorenzo promised to further increase funding support for the agri-fisheries development plans of local government units in Central Visayas. He said this is in line with the national government's program to create six to 10 million jobs and develop one to two million hectares of agri-business lands in six years.

Sitting concurrently as chairman of Land Bank of the Philippines and Quedan and Rural Credit Guarantee Corporation (Quedancor), Lorenzo vowed to steer the policy decisions of the two major sources of agricultural financing toward providing greater support for the agriculture and fisheries development initiatives of local government units in Central Visayas. PNA

RP granted observer status by international tuna body
Gen. Santos City – The Philippines was granted observer status in the newly formed Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC), a development that disappointed local tuna industry officials who hoped for a more active role for the country in the commission’s decision-making process.

Fely Lim, executive director of the Soccsksargen Federation of Fishing Associations and Allied Industries Inc., said the Philippines cannot expect to be a member of the WCPFC unless the Senate endorses Multilateral High-Level Convention on Migratory Fish (MHLC).

As observer, the Philippines has no voting rights in any agreement or decision that would be made by the tuna commission.

The MHLC sets the conservation and management of tuna resources along the Pacific fishing grounds, which covers Philippine waters.

The Philippines was among the primary signatories to the MHLC’s Convention on Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Species in the Western and Central Pacific, which was forged by at least 29 nations in September 2000 to address concerns that tuna resources in the Pacific seas are declining because of overfishing of the various tuna species, especially the bigeye and yellowfin. .The MHLC convention specifically provides for the establishment of the WCPFC, which would determine the total allowable catch of tuna species and allocate catch among its member-countries.

In last month’s meeting, the commission agreed to regulate fishing on the high seas beyond the Pacific Island’s 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone.

Tuna catches in the Pacific have risen from 400,000 tons in the 1960s to over two million tons at present.

The surge in tuna catch was also caused by the increase of tuna fishing nations, from just eight then to the present 26.  RS Sarmiento, Today Correspondent. Full story

Tuna firms urge gov't to negotiate fishing access with Malaysia
Gen. Santos City, December 30, 2004 – Local tuna fishing companies are urging the government to explore the possibility of forging a bilateral fisheries agreement with Malaysia.

Marfenio Tan, board member of the Socsksargen Federation of Fishing Associations and Allied Industries, said a formal linkage between the two countries will enhance the ongoing trade exchanges, especially between Mindanao and the neighboring Sabah state of Malaysia.

He said they are specifically eyeing the forging of a fishing access with Malaysia and joint ventures on tuna processing.

But Rayner Datuk Stuel Galid, director of fisheries of Sabah, pointed out that a fishing access agreement is currently not allowed in Malaysia, citing its laws that provide that "only 100 percent Malaysian companies could be issued with fishing licenses."

Galid instead offered local businessmen to invest on the processing of tuna as the area could offer lower-priced tuna due to the current surplus in its markets. AV Estabillo, Mindanews, 12.30.04. Full story

RP, Palau to ink fisheries pact
The Philippines and Palau will sign this month bilateral agreements that will allow Filipino fishermen to fish in Palau territorial waters.

The Philippine government plans to propose an exchange of technical assistance to enhance the development of the fishing industries of both countries.

Palau and the Philippines are signatories to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea, the Fish Stocks Agreement and the Western and Central Pacific Convention on the Conservation of Highly Migratory Species. EG Espejo, Sun.Star. 01.24.05

White shark fishing now banned -- BFAR
The Great White Shark, locally known as “pating” and the Humphead Wrasse, locally known as “mameng”, have been listed in Appendix II of the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), making illegal the gathering or harvest and export of these species.

Section 97 of the Philippine Fisheries Code makes it unlawful to take rare, threatened or endangered species listed in the CITES.

Regional Director Arlene B. Pantanosas of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) said the prohibition applies to the whole specimens, their parts and derivatives. In the case of the Great White Shark, the prohibition includes its fins, teeth, and jaws.

Violators face a penalty of imprisonment from 12 to 20 years and/or a fine of P120,000, and forfeiture of the aquatic specimens and cancellation of fishing permit. Trends, 01.26.05

Organic, toxic wastes poison Zambales bays
MASINLOC, Zambales -- Organic wastes and toxic substances are poisoning the Masinloc and Oyon bays along the 100-km stretch of the Zambales coastline, one of the main fishing grounds in Central Luzon, according to the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR). BFAR officials have warned of an impending tragedy as congested illegal fish cages contribute to the pollution, aggravating the already deteriorating water quality of the Oyon Bay marine reserve area here and in nearby Palauig town.

Remedios Ongtangco, BFAR regional director, said a fish health monitoring team from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) conducted water quality tests in the bay recently and discovered that higher levels of unionized ammonia, often referred to as toxic ammonia, were present in the water.

Citing a DENR status report released in September, Ongtangco said the detected toxic ammonia was much higher in concentration compared to previous monitoring results.

It said 33 fish cage owners are operating in the Masinloc and Oyon bays while 164 circular and rectangular fish cages were built in the area.

"Milkfish is the primary species being cultured with stocking densities reaching as high as 70,000 pieces per cage," the report said.

The water quality monitoring was conducted on Feb. 7 and July 21 in 12 established sampling stations on the proposed mariculture park in this town. A. Macatuno, Inquirer News Service, Philippine Daily Inquirer, 10.25.04

More areas in Davao Provinces eyed for seaweed production
THE Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in Region 11 plans to develop 80 to 85 hectares of production areas for seaweeds in the Davao Provinces this year. BFAR 11 assistant regional director Fatma Chaneco said that in 2002, the Davao Provinces was not active in the production of seaweeds "maybe because of uncertain markets at that time."

Production went up to 637 metric tons in 2003, when BFAR-11 provided technical support to seaweed growers. A businessman in Davao City is now exporting seaweeds to China.

Chaneco said production in 2004 may be double the previous year’s output.

The project is expected to generate 6,000 jobs. JMM, SunStar, 10.20.04. Full story

BFAR cracks down on toxic fishing
IN A bid to protect declining fish stocks in Sarangani Bay, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) in Central Mindanao intensified a crackdown against the use of a toxic substance locally known as "lagtang".

Tong Ambutong, fishery resources management division chief of BFAR-Central Mindanao, said they are working with the provincial government of Sarangani and the local governments of its six coastal municipalities to intensify monitoring and apprehension of fishermen who use the fish poison.

"Lagtang" is a poisonous wild vine that grows in the coastal areas. Ambutong said the use of "lagtang" originated in the Davao region and was introduced only a few months ago to fishermen operating in the Sarangani Bay.

He explained fishermen use "lagtang" to poison the small fishes, which are then used as bait for the bigger ones. It is said to reduce by half the time fishermen spend at sea to fish.

Although “lagtang” does not seem to pose any health risk to humans, it threatens various tuna species that use Sarangani Bay as spawning ground, said Ambutong.

The use of "lagtang" is prohibited under the Fisheries Code and subject to penalties such as seizure of the fishing boat carrying "lagtang" and a fine of at least P2,500 for the fisherman or boat operator. AV Estabillo, SunStar Davao, 11/01/04

GenSan expects increased tuna supply with improved port
Gen. Santos City -- The Philippine Fisheries Development Authority (PFDA) is confident the supply of tuna for the manufacture and processing of tuna products will increase when the rehabilitation of the city’s fish port is completed.

The $26-million port improvement project will allow bigger vessels to dock at the General Santos Fish Port Complex, double cold storage capacity to 3,000 tons, and create 2,000 jobs. JL Mayuga, Today. 11.27.04

Study detects high phosphate levels in waters off Pangasinan
DAGUPAN CITY -- An official of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) disclosed the river system in Dagupan has been accumulating high contents of phosphate as shown in a study of water samples.

Westley Rosario, head of the National Integrated Fisheries Technology and Development Center (NIFTDC) of the BFAR, said phosphate accumulation could trigger fish kill, which has already resulted in losses running up to millions of pesos in the province. Pangasinan was last hit by fish kill in July 2004.

In its study, the NIFTDC detected high levels of phosphate in the waters of at least eight coastal villages of Dagupan, namely, Lucao, Lasip Grande, Salapingao, Pugaro, Bonuan Sabangan, Calamiong, Dawel-Bonuan Catacdang and Mamalingling. Three villages in Binmaley were also affected: Camaley, Manat and Gayaman. BE Otadoy, Sun.Star, 11.30.04. Full story

Fishers oppose plan for Talisay fish port
The plan of Talisay City to build its own fish port may be shelved after a study by the Department of Agriculture-Philippine Fisheries Development Authority revealed the potential users of this port are not willing to transfer their operations from Pasil, Cebu City.

Results of a survey by the Planning and Development Department and Technical Services Department last September indicated that the volume of fish production of the city is estimated at about seven metric tons, enough for a fish port, said PFDA general Manager Petronilo Buendia.

But this catch is directly unloaded to Pasil Market. G Ocampo, SunStar, 11.15.04

World

All must help preserve biodiversity – Annan
New York, 24 Jan 2005 -- The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity has been ratified by almost every Member State, but with ecosystems being destroyed at rates never before seen, international and NGOs, the private sector and individuals must play their part in ending destructive behaviors, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said.

"Biological diversity is one of the pillars of life. It stabilizes the Earth's climate and renews soil fertility. It provides millions of people with livelihoods, helps to ensure food security, and is a rich source of both traditional medicines and modern pharmaceuticals. It is essential to our efforts to relieve suffering, raise standards of living and achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)," Mr. Annan said.

Under-appreciated as a resource, biodiversity was also under-appreciated as an issue meriting high-level attention, he told 1,000 participants at the opening of the five-day UN International Conference on Biological Diversity, or Biodiversity 2005."

"I… call on those Governments that have not yet done so to ratify the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and its Biosafety Protocol. These instruments and the processes they have set in motion are crucial for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and for the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources," he said.

The World Conservation Union (IUCN) said in its 2004 Global Species Assessment that in the best-known taxonomic groups, 12 per cent of all bird species, 23 per cent of all mammal species, 32 per cent of all amphibians and 34 per cent of all gymnosperms were being threatened with extinction.

Large-scale forces shape local ocean life, global study shows
In a groundbreaking, globetrotting study of sea life in shallow waters, a research team led by a Brown University marine ecologist has found that the richness of species diversity in a small patch of ocean is powerfully shaped by far-away forces.

Jon Witman, associate professor of biology at Brown, believes that local interactions, such as storms and predators, still exert a strong influence on biodiversity, but he now sees that regional forces are critical to maintaining species variation. These large-scale influences include currents that disperse larvae across hundreds of miles or the creation of new species caused by geological upheaval and biotic isolation millions of years ago. Global warming and pollution are other regional forces that can impact local diversity.

“The work is a wake-up call,” Witman said. “We need to think about regional processes if we want to preserve biodiversity.”

Witman said results from the project, published in the current early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, have implications for conservation efforts.

Governments or non-profits interested in maintaining biodiversity in the ocean – or on land – shouldn’t simply create single preserves or parks. Instead, Witman said, they should create as many as possible across a broad area. Of particular importance, he said, is safeguarding “source areas” for high biodiversity that act as wellsprings of eggs, seeds or vital nutrients or that provide important habitat for critical species. While scientists know that tropical coral reefs and the Amazon rainforest act as source areas, Witman said more areas must be identified. “This is particularly true in the marine environment,” he said. “We don’t know much about source pools. We need a lot more research in this area.” Full story

World must act now to forestall staggering threat from global warming -- UN
New York, 8 Nov. 2004 – The Arctic climate is warming rapidly, much larger changes are in store due to increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases from human activity and the global impact such as rising sea levels will be "staggering," presenting one of the most serious threats to humankind, the United Nations environment agency warned today.

"With these facts before us, we need, more than ever before, a concerted and renewed international efforts to combat the climate change problem," Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said in a statement citing a newly released report by an international team of 300 scientists.

The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA), an unprecedented four-year scientific study, confirms earlier worrying research on global warming. Increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases are projected to contribute to additional warming of 3 to 9 degrees over the next 100 years and developing countries will suffer most.

The ACIA predicts that Arctic vegetation zones and animal species will be affected.

Retreating sea ice is expected to reduce the habitat for polar bears, walrus, ice-inhabiting seals and marine birds, threatening some species with extinction. Such changes will also affect many indigenous communities who depend on such animals, not only for food, but also as the basis for cultural and social identity.

Beyond the region, as Arctic glaciers melt and the permafrost thaws, developing countries with limited means to adapt to environmental change will suffer most.

Global assessment of corals finds bad news, good news, looming threats
About 20 percent of the world's coral reefs are so damaged they are beyond repair, said a new global assessment of the state of coral reefs released at the WWF headquarters in Washington, D.C. The damaged reefs no longer provide fish for people or attractions for tourists. At the same time the percentage of reefs recovering from past damage has risen but half of the world's reefs are threatened with destruction. All told, 70 percent of the world's reefs are threatened or destroyed, up from 59 percent four years ago. Climate change, runoff pollution and destructive fishing methods pose the greatest threats to reefs. The Status of Coral Reefs of the World: 2004 involved 240 scientists from 96 countries in the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network.

"The news is mixed for the world's coral reefs," said Clive Wilkinson, coordinator of the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network and lead author of the assessment. "We're happy to report that almost half of the reefs severely damaged by coral bleaching in 1998 are recovering, but other reefs are so badly damaged that they are unrecognizable as coral reefs."

The report found that 20 percent of the world's coral reefs "have been effectively destroyed and show few prospects of recovery." The most damaged reefs are in the Persian Gulf where 65 percent have been destroyed, followed by reefs in South and Southeast Asia where 45 and 38 percent, respectively, are considered destroyed. There are also recent reports that many reefs in the wider Caribbean have lost 80% of their corals.

International Commission adopts US proposal for shark finning ban
Sixty-three countries unanimously adopted historic and unprecedented protective measures for Atlantic sharks during the annual meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). Led by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, Bill Hogarth, the United States delegation pushed for and won a consensus agreement. The meeting concluded Sunday in New Orleans.

After a week of deliberations, ICCAT adopted the U.S. proposal to ban the wasteful practice of shark finning – slicing the fin off the shark and discarding the carcass to save space on a fishing vessel. The United States has long condemned shark finning, which threatens future food security in many countries as well as the delicate balance of marine ecosystems. The United States banned finning in the Atlantic in 1993, and this binding agreement will require other countries fishing in the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean to do the same.

This historic agreement comes just days after the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution urging nations to work together through regional fisheries management organizations to manage sharks. The ICCAT agreement includes adoption of additional shark management practices already in place in the United States, such as data collection on catches of sharks, research on shark nursery areas and a provision to encourage the release of live sharks, especially juveniles. Co-sponsors of the shark proposal included Canada, the European Community, Japan, Mexico, Panama, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela.

UN agency draws up guidelines to avoid killing endangered turtles in fishing
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has started working on a series of guidelines to reduce accidental sea turtle deaths in fishing by promoting the wider use of new technologies, such as hooks and bait that do not snare the endangered creatures, the agency announced.

The guidelines will be based on recommendations drawn up by a group of 28 countries and FAO at a technical meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, organized in December 2004 by the agency's Fisheries Department.

The FAO will begin producing bi-annual reports to provide updates on the status of sea turtles stocks as well as on progress in reducing fisheries-related impacts on turtles. It will also assist governments in assessing sea turtle-fisheries interactions and putting appropriate management measures in place – with a special focus on assisting developing countries, which often lack the technical capacity or financial resources needed to undertake this work.

The Bangkok meeting discussed the use new kinds of fishing gear to prevent so-called by-catch. The turtle stocks most affected by long-line fishing are loggerheads in the north and south Pacific, leatherbacks in the eastern Pacific, and loggerhead and green turtles in the Mediterranean. A number of simple measures have already proven helpful, such as replacing traditional j-style hooks with circle hooks, which are not easily swallowed by turtles. More careful selection of bait to avoid those favored by turtles and greater attention to the depth at which hooks are set can also help.

Closer to shore, the group recommended that countries use Turtle Excluder Devices in all bottom trawl shrimp fisheries where significant encounters with endangered sea turtles are known to occur, and that more information be collected on interactions with other types of coastal gear like gillnets, for which information is still very poor.

For purse seine fishing, the group said that practices should be altered where necessary - for example, boats should avoid encircling turtles.

These small changes to accommodate fishing with turtle behaviour can go a long way to reducing by-catch without adversely affecting fishers' livelihoods. FAO estimates that world-wide, some 38 million people receive direct employment or income from fisheries and aquaculture.

Scientists warn of undetected, unmeasured toxins in world's fish
SETE, France, 18 Nov 2004 – Although rich in omega-3 fatty acids vital to the heart and brain, many fish contain toxins that build up over time in the human body. And as this paradox worsens, scientists express alarm at what they call inadequate government warnings, lax attitudes toward fishing industries, and insufficient data to assess the risks.

The problem is that authorities are caught between wanting to inform the public while not damaging consumer confidence in a healthy food source, says Sandrine Blanchemanche, a sociologist with France's prestigious National Institute for Agronomic Studies.

But marine biologists, toxicologists and physicians interviewed by The Associated Press on three continents share an all but unanimous view: better public knowledge is essential.

Jane Hightower, a San Francisco internist whose 2002 study of mercury in her patients brought the issue to wide public attention, said she is still uncovering what she calls shocking new evidence. She called some areas especially troubling because of contamination trapped by ocean currents. "The Mediterranean is a toilet that no one has bothered to flush," Hightower said.

The crisis transcends borders. Three-quarters of fish eaten in America and Europe are imported, often from countries with no controls. Authorities on both sides of the Atlantic make only minimal spot checks.

"Pollution is a worldwide problem, and our fish comes from around the world," said Kate Mahaffey, toxins expert at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. "No one is immune."

With contaminants in fish, she warned, "there is a very narrow range between levels with no effects, subtle effects and severe effects."  Mort Rosenblum, Associated Press Full story

Study seeks genetic shortcut to breeding super-healthy salmon
A new project led by CSIRO is exploring the genes of farmed Atlantic salmon with a view to breeding fish resistant to an amoeba that attacks their gills.

The three-year project is one of several seeking ways to counter amoebic gill disease (AGD), a significant health problem for Tasmania's $150 million Atlantic salmon industry. It is a project within Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) Food Futures Flagship initiative and is funded by the Aquafin Cooperative Research Centre and the Australian Government through the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation and supported by industry.

Fish infected with AGD are safe to eat, but they lose condition and must be bathed in freshwater to detach the amoeba from their gills. AGD costs the industry an estimated $15 million annually in treatment and lost productivity. James Wynne, a PhD student with CSIRO and the School of Aquaculture, University of Tasmania, last year studied a group of genes known to influence the immune response in Atlantic salmon.

In this project he will further explore these and other genes with the aim of identifying variations in the genes of individual fish that make them more or less resistant to AGD.

CITES announces reduction in 2004 beluga caviar quota
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), meeting in Bangkok, Thailand in October, announced a reduction in the 2004 export quota for caviar from Caspian Sea beluga sturgeon of 50% over 2003 figures. The quota for stellate sturgeon was reduced by 40 percent compared to 2003, while the levels of caviar from Russian and Persian sturgeon were cut by 10 percent. According to the CITES Secretariat, these figures will now be considered the new base levels for discussions on quotas for future years.

"The Caspian states have agreed to reduce substantially their caviar exports this year. They have achieved these reductions through adjustments to the total harvest of sturgeons and through an increase in the amount of harvested sturgeons devoted to hatchery conservation programs," said Jim Armstrong, CITES deputy secretary general. "The new approach agreed here gives the governments a strong economic stake in tackling illegal fishing. As the illegal trade declines, legal exports - and thus government earnings - will rise accordingly in future years."

However, environmentalists were critical of the announcement, arguing that the reductions were symbolic because the 2004 fishing season had already all but ended, and that they were also based on 2003 quotas which did not take into account the number of sturgeon taken by illegal fishing. Of greater concern to critics, however, was the fact that CITES agreed to allow any export at all, particularly given its previous stand on the issue.

According to Caviar Emptor, a sturgeon conservation coalition that includes SeaWeb, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the University of Miami's Pew Institute for Ocean Science, CITES had announced just one month previously that the 2004 Caspian caviar trade would remain frozen "until the states fulfilled the obligations of an international sturgeon conservation agreement, including taking illegal fishing into account when setting sustainable fishing levels."

"CITES has flip-flopped under the pressure of heavy lobbying by Caspian states and the caviar industry," said Vikki Spruill, president of SeaWeb. "CITES is on the wrong side of the effort to save the beluga sturgeon and is clearly putting trade first and endangered wildlife last."

Caviar Emptor has called for a long-term ban on the international trade of beluga caviar as a way to protect the beluga sturgeon from extinction. In April 2004, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, acting on a petition by Caviar Emptor, declared beluga sturgeon as "threatened with extinction," thus subjecting it to protections under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

Commission establishes largest ever list of protected areas in the EU
The European Commission has taken another major step forward in establishing NATURA 2000, the network of protected nature sites in the EU. It has decided to include more than 7,000 nature sites in the Atlantic and Continental regions of the EU in the network. The 197 animal species, 89 plant species and 205 habitats covered are scientifically considered of European importance. This means that their protection must be enhanced to preserve valuable bio-diversity in Europe. Species such as the Wolf, the Otter, the Salmon as well as certain coastal lagoons and river systems are part of the lists, which cover most of the EU’s territory (France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, UK, Sweden, Austria and Denmark).

The Natura 2000 network is set up under the EU Birds and Habitats Directive. Being part of Natura 2000 means that the selected areas benefit from legal protection as set out in the Directives. Member states must take all necessary measures to guarantee their conservation and avoid their deterioration. Not all economic activity in the sites is excluded, but Member States must ensure that such activities are carried out in a way which is compatible with the conservation of the habitats and species living there. EUCC Coastal Guide

Rehabilitation of tsunami affected mangroves needed
Rome, 15 Jan 2005 -- Rehabilitation of severely affected mangroves would help speed up the recovery process from the tsunami, but large-scale planting should be undertaken with caution, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today.

Restoration of damaged mangroves should be undertaken as part of the post-tsunami rehabilitation process, but FAO does not recommend massive planting of mangroves in areas where they would replace other valuable ecosystems, such as turtle nesting grounds and sea grass beds.

According to FAO, rehabilitation and planting efforts should be undertaken within a larger framework of integrated coastal area management. Management of mangroves and other vegetation is only one component of comprehensive coastal management, which also works to ensure appropriate development of fisheries and aquaculture, agriculture, roads and other infrastructure, industry, tourism and residential living areas.

Mangroves cover an area of around 15 million hectares (or 150 000 sq km) worldwide with close to 40 percent of this area found in the countries affected by the tsunami. As would be expected, mangroves and other coastal forests and trees were adversely affected by the recent tsunami.

The extent of the damage is still not clear and it may take some time before the final impacts are known, since the deposit of silt may clog the pores of the aerial roots of mangroves, and thus suffocate them. Changes in topography, soil salinity and freshwater in-flow from upstream may also adversely affect the mangroves and other coastal forests in the longer term.

"What we do know is that the demand for fuelwood, for wood to rebuild houses and infrastructure and for constructing fishing boats is substantial," said Jim Carle, an FAO expert on plantations.

"This is likely to lead to further pressure on the coastal forests, including mangroves," he said.

According to the most recent FAO assessments, more than 22,000 boats were destroyed in Sri Lanka, 5,264 in Thailand, 2,600 in three districts of Somalia and 1,780 canoes in Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam and Nicas Island in Indonesia. Whereas most of the boats in Sri Lanka are made of fibreglass, many of the boats and canoes in other countries were made of wood.

"The role of mangroves in providing coastal protection against the actions of waves, wind and water currents is well known," Mette Løyche Wilkie said. "But the extent to which mangrove green belts contribute to saving lives against large tsunamis, such as the recent one in Asia, depends on several factors."

As widely reported, extensive areas of mangroves can reduce the loss of life and damage caused by tsunamis, but narrow mangrove strips can have limited positive effects, and in some cases the effects can even be negative. Narrow strips of mangroves, when uprooted or snapped off at mid-trunk and swept inland, can cause extensive property and life damage. At least in one reported case in Thailand they have also damaged shallow coral reefs.

"The protective effects of mangroves against tsunamis mainly depend on the scale of the tsunami and the width of the forest and, to a lesser extent, the height, density and species composition," Wilkie said.

Tsunami’s damage to Indonesia’s environment pegged at US$675M -- UNEP
New York, Jan 21 2005 12:00PM

New York, 21 Jan 2005 – Beyond the horrific loss of human life, the recent Indian Ocean tsunami extensively damaged Indonesia's coastal environment, causing $675 million in losses to natural habitats and important ecosystem functions, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) reported today.

In Aceh and North Sumatra, 25,000 hectares (ha) of mangroves, some 32,000 ha of previously existing coral reefs, and 120 ha of seegrass beds have been damaged, according to a new report which features key contributions from UNEP. The economic loss is valued at $118.2 million, $332.4 million and $2.3 million, respectively.

"These latest findings from just one of the affected countries show that there have been significant consequences for the environment and for the livelihoods of local people as a result of the tsunami," said UNEP chief Klaus Toepfer.

While acknowledging that the terrible human toll of the tsunami must be addressed first, he said, "the recovery and reconstruction process underway must also invest in the environmental capital of natural resources, the forests, mangroves and coral reefs that are nature's buffer to such disasters and their consequences."

Bahrain’s fisheries 'facing oblivion'
18 Nov 2004 – BAHRAIN'S fisheries could be wiped out in 15 years, as reclamation destroys the area's coral reefs, says an environmentalist. One-third of the country's marine resources have been destroyed over the past 20 years by reclamation and development projects, says Public Commission for Protection of Marine Reources, Environment and Wildlife fisheries director Jassim Al Qaseer.

The disaster will happen even sooner if the Fasht Al Adhm island housing project goes ahead, near Sitra, he said.

"Bahrain's biggest coral reef is found near this island and any reclamation project would certainly affect fishes breeding in the area," said Mr Al Qaseer.

"Many fishermen also depend on the area for fishing and if it gets destroyed then they will lose their source of income, something which will certainly affect their families and eventually Bahrain's economy."

The commission wants a halt to random reclamation and better protection for coral reefs and other fishing areas, he said. Mohammed Al A’Ali Manama, Gulf Daily News. Full story

Scotland: Fisheries fiscals will protect the industry
A NETWORK of specialist prosecutors is to be set up in Scotland for the first time to help to crack down on illegal landings of blackfish and other fisheries-related crimes.

Five procurators-fiscal will be located in key fishing communities around Scotland’s coast and will develop a specialist knowledge of the issues involved in fisheries-protection law and also act as the local contacts for investigators from the Scottish Fisheries Protection Agency (SFPA).

According to the latest statistics, Scotland’s sheriff courts dealt with a total of 48 fishery-related crimes between April to September this year. The cases resulted in a total of £159,750 being imposed in fines, which ranged from £1,000 to £3,600. F. Urquhart Full story

Vietnam licenses project to raise seafood testing capacity
HANOI, 4 Nov 2004 -- A VND25.1 billion (US$1.56 million) project to improve seafood testing capacity for the Vietnam National Fisheries Assurance and Veterinary Association (NAFIQUAVED) has been given the nod by the Fisheries Ministry.

The project will help to upgrade facilities to test for toxic chemicals in seafood at NAFIQUAVED branches: the port city of Hai Phong in the north, Khanh Hoa and Da Nang city in the central region, and Ho Chi Minh City, Can Tho and Ca Mau in the south. Vietnam News Agency

Key UK fishing body contests science on fish stocks

Scientists warn of northern Europe’s cod stocks nearing extinction
Luxemburg, Oct.19, 2004 -- Cod stocks in Europe's northern waters are on the verge of extinction, scientists said yesterday, calling for a blanket ban on fishing in 2005.

In an annual report, the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea said hefty cuts in cod catches were not enough to stop overfishing and that fishing grounds should be shut in certain areas.

"There is still no clear sign that cod stocks in the North Sea, Irish Sea and west of Scotland are making a recovery," ICES General Secretary David Griffith said in a statement.

For the third year running, the Copenhagen-based body has called for a ban on cod fishing. The EU has always rejected this idea on the grounds that this would devastate remote coastal areas that depend on fishing for their community livelihood.

Sardines may prevent toxic gas eruptions off the California and African Coasts
Milky, turquoise-colored “dead zones,” sometimes as large as New Jersey, of rotting fish and caustic stench floating off the coast of southwest Africa, may be a sign of things to come for other areas along the coastlines of the eastern Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Toxic gas eruptions—bubbling up from the ocean floor to kill sea life, annoy human seaside residents, and may even intensify global warming—cause the dead zones. But the humble sardine may help to save the day, according to a study from the Pew Institute for Ocean Science.

In an article published in the November issue of Ecology Letters, authors Andrew Bakun and Scarla Weeks compared several areas around the world where strong offshore winds cause an upwelling of nutrients in the ocean and thus a population explosion of phytoplankton, the microscopic plant life that drifts through the ocean. Studying the waters off the coast of Namibia, the scientists report how the resulting overproduction of phytoplankton dies and sinks to the bottom, and how the decaying organic matter releases copious amounts of methane and poisonous “rotten egg” smelling hydrogen sulfide gas.

As methane is 21 times more effective than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere, the resulting climate change may intensify this upwelling process and open the possibility of even larger and more plentiful eruptions.

One action to help keep this situation from worsening, the authors say, is to avoid the overfishing of sardines, which can devour large quantities of phytoplankton.

“The region in question formerly hosted a large population of sardines that have been overfished,” said Bakun, a member of the Pew Institute and professor of marine biology and fisheries at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. “It is at least encouraging that a minor resurgence of sardine abundance coincided with a noticeable temporary hiatus in eruption frequency off Namibia in 2002.”

 “This study demonstrates that overfishing one species of fish, such as sardines, can profoundly alter an entire marine ecosystem in ways that may be difficult or impossible to reverse,” says Ellen Pikitch, executive director of the Pew Institute for Ocean Sciences and an expert on fishery science and management.

The paper evaluates 16 areas around the world, including four along the Pacific coast of North America, for the risk of developing these gaseous eruptions. To learn more, visit the Ecology Letters website.

Falling catch may cause NT crab fishery closure
Australia’s Northern Territory fisheries department has released a report looking at why crab catches have dropped in the $20 million fishery, and it has recommended a closure during the wet season.

A commercial operator said closing the fishery during the wet season could destroy the livelihoods of crabbers. Chris Calogeros from Sea King Seafoods noted most people eat crabs from October to December.

He said if the Territory cannot catch crabs, clients will look elsewhere for product - possibly overseas. ABC News

Alaska -- New crab fishery management proposal announced
NOAA Fisheries has released the details of a proposed new crab fishery program to increase resource conservation, improve economic efficiency and improve safety in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Island crab fisheries. NOAA Fisheries crab management experts will be holding public workshops in Anchorage and Seattle, designed to help people understand the proposed program and to encourage sharing of ideas and opinions.

The proposed rule is available at www.fakr.noaa.gov/prules/fr63200.pdf, Managers hope to have the program, called "crab rationalization," in place for the fall 2005 crab fisheries.

"Clean" fishing threatens extinctions in Pacific
Forest Knolls, CA, 17 Nov 2004 -- A new report "Pillaging the Pacific," published by the Sea Turtle Restoration Project has found that contrary to its reputation as a "clean" fishing technology, longline fishing in the Pacific annually captures and kills about 4.4 million non-targeted marine animals such as sharks, billfish, seabirds, marine mammals and sea turtles.

The report comes at the time when the UN is considering action on destructive fishing techniques and in advance of another UN meeting later this month to reduce the threat to sea turtles by industrial fishing. "Longlining, touted as a benign fishing method, is literally wiping out the lions and tigers of the oceans-sharks, tunas and marine mammals. The problem is no longer limited to just sea turtles," warns Robert Ovetz, PhD, Save the Leatherback Campaign Coordinator. "The UN has said destructive fishing methods should be banned. Now is the time to walk the walk and ban longlining in the Pacific."

Most threatened by industrial longlines is the endangered Pacific leatherback sea turtle, which is expected to become extinct within the next 5-30 years if the decline in its adult population is not halted. The population of adult nesting females has declined by about 95 percent since 1980.

In order to prevent the extinction of the 100 million year old leatherback, according to scientist Dr. Larry Crowder of the Duke University in the United States, "wherever fishing occurs, the bycatch of leatherbacks must be reduced to as close as possible to zero."

More than 600 international scientists from 54 countries, including biologist E.O. Wilson and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Dr. Sylvia Earle, have signed a petition to the UN urging it to impose a moratorium on longline fishing in the Pacific.

For a copy of the report go to: www.seaturtles.org/pdf/Pillaging.5.final.pdf

Resources 

Using economic incentives to conserve CITES-listed species: A scoping study on ITQs for sturgeon in the Caspian Sea
This study explores the applicability of the individual transferable quotas (ITQ) system on the sturgeon population in the Caspian Sea, which is currently under threat and listed on CITES Appendix II. Using information from a number of case studies where ITQs have been implemented, it highlights the limitations of ITQs and indicates research necessary to design and implement a sustainable system. Findings suggest that an integrated approach is required which incorporates economic, social, political and biological information, adequately reflecting local conditions.

To order go to http://www.earthprint.com.

Marine Reserves: A Guide to Science, Design and Use
This book builds on concepts initially generated at a 1995 workshop on the Global Experience and Efficacy of Marine Reserves, and on the expanded experience, research and evidence for their effectiveness accumulated in the decade of additional research since. It makes a point of noting what marine reserves cannot do, at least in and by themselves: for example, redress or mitigate issues of pollution, coastal development, or global change. But it argues that reserves can play a significant role in protecting marine fish and habitat from the direct impacts of destructive fishing practices, and in the process improve fishery yields, enhance non-consumptive opportunities, and expand knowledge and understanding of marine ecosystems. To order, contact: Evan Johnson, Island Press. Tel: (202) 232 7933, x. 24. E-mail: ejohnson@islandpress.org

“Turning the Tide”: British Royal Commission report sees in huge no-fishing zones only hope to save fish-stocks from disaster
One-third of the world’s oceans should be declared protected areas to stop the wholesale slaughter of fish species. Britain’s Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution states this in a report on the marine environment called “Turning the Tide”. It declares that whole marine ecosystems are on the verge of collapse. Creating marine reserves areas where fishing is not allowed -- ocean wide -- might however offer a solution. The commission suggests that 30 percent of the world’s oceans should be closed off.

The report (420 pages) and a summary (30 pages) are available at: http://www.rcep.org.uk/fishreport.htm

***

   
 


This website was made possible through support provided by the USAID under the terms of Contract No. AID 492-C-00-03-00022-00. The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID. As long as proper reference is made to the source, articles may be quoted or reproduced in any form for non-commercial, non-profit purposes to advance the cause of marine environmental and fisheries management and conservation.