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News round-up: 2011

Marine and Coastal news round-up in the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) Region


September, 2011


29, September, 2011


Zanzibar rising sea level erodes fertile arable lands

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ZANZIBAR faces serious environmental challenges as sea water intrusion destroys huge chunks of fertile arable lands, causing salinization of coastal areas in Pemba.

Senior Natural Resources Officer in the Department of Environment, Abuu Jaffar Ali told the 'Daily News' on Wednesday that fertile arable lands had been washed away in Pemba Islands due to significant change of climatic pattern caused primarily by human activities.

''There is no doubt that the sea water is eating away huge fertile farm lands in some parts of Pemba,'' he said citing Kisiwapanza, Kengeja and Tumbe as a case in point, seriously affected by sea water intrusion.

Mr Abuu noted that economic activities like introduction of salt farms, cutting down of mangroves, destruction of corals and construction activities were the main causes of the problem.

He said the trend of sea water intrusion may cause serious food shortage in the long run because the water is intruding into fertile arable lands.

The story of sea water intrusion in Pemba was reported early this year and was discussed at the national level at Zanzibar.

In order to address the situation, the officer said that his department had identified the areas, created awareness campaign and established integrated coastal zone management (ICZM).

According to a survey conducted by the Department of Environment, the Islands are vulnerable from impact of climate change, sea-level rise and beach erosion in particular.

In Zanzibar, marine and coastal ecosystems are seriously affected in response to climatic changes as coral reefs and mangrove forests are expected to experience serious impact as a result of elevated sea surface temperatures.

The Royal Norwegian Embassy recently signed a contract worth 5.65 million US dollars (more than 7.6bn/-) to help Zanzibar address environment problems.

It is projected that the project would reduce 375,250 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

Source of article


Port plan a threat to South Africa and conservation

Mozambique is planning to build a major oil and coal harbour just 20km north of the KwaZulu-Natal border, in the heart of an international tourism and wilderness conservation zone.

The R54-billion Ponto Techobanine plan involves digging a deep-water port inside the Maputo Elephant Reserve and neighbouring Ponta do Ouro marine reserve, and running a 1 100km railway line through the centre of a newly proclaimed elephant migration corridor to South Africa.

If it goes ahead, new rail and pipelines would ferry coal, crude oil, liquid fuels and other goods between Botswana and Zimbabwe, and India and China, bypassing South African harbours and the nearby port of Maputo.

Architects of the plan suggest that the new harbour site is better suited to dock large oil tankers and cargo ships than existing ports, because of the steeper profile of the coastline near Ponto Techobanine.

However, critics fear that the plan could scupper the success of the tri-nation Lubombo transfrontier conservation project signed 10 years ago by the governments of South Africa, Mozambique and Swaziland.

Although it remains unclear who might fund the project, the Mozambican government has already gazet-ted the boundaries of a 30 000 hectares harbour and industrial zone around Ponto Techobanine.

Mozambican Transport Minister Paulo Zucula, who signed a memorandum of understanding earlier this year with the governments of Botswana and Zimbabwe, said that the new port would help to relieve the pressure on Maputo and would also help Botswana to export its minerals.

Australian mining group African Energy Resources discovered major new coal reserves at Sese, near Francistown, last year and is hoping to export the coal to India, China and other energy-hungry markets.

Though it has yet to start mining at Sese, the company has appointed high-powered Botswana businessman and former government official Blackie Marole as chairman of the local mining subsidiary company.

Marole was a former director of the De Beers diamond mining company, chairman of Barclays Bank in Botswana and Permanent Secretary for mining and energy.

Source of article


Experts Identify World’s Most Threatened Sea Turtle Populations

Top sea turtle experts from around the globe announced the results of the first comprehensive status assessment of all sea turtle populations globally in a paper published this week in the online science journal, PLoS ONE. The study, designed to provide a blueprint for conservation and research, evaluated the state of individual populations of sea turtles and determined the 11 most threatened populations, as well as the 12 healthiest populations.

The report, produced by the IUCN Marine Turtle Specialist Group (MTSG) of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and supported by Conservation International (CI) and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), was a collaboration of over 30 experts from 6 continents and more than 20 countries with diverse expertise in all aspects of sea turtle biology and conservation.

Four of the seven sea turtle species have populations among the world's 11 most threatened. Almost half (five) of these populations are found in the northern Indian Ocean, specifically on nesting beaches and in waters within Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of countries like India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. Other areas that proved to be the most dangerous places for sea turtles were the East Pacific Ocean (from the U.S. to South America) and East Atlantic Ocean (off the coast of west Africa). 

"The report confirms that India is a home to many of the most threatened sea turtles in the world," said Dr. B. C. Choudhury, head of the Department of Endangered Species Management at the Wildlife Institute of India and a contributor to the study. "This paper is a wake-up call for the authorities to do more to protect India's sea turtles and their habitats to ensure that they survive."

The study also highlighted the twelve healthiest sea turtle populations in the world, which are generally large populations with increasing trends under relatively low threats. Five species among these dozen healthy populations are found in nesting sites and feeding areas in Australia, Mexico, and Brazil. Other areas that harbor healthy turtle populations included the Southwest Indian Ocean, Micronesia and French Polynesia.

"Before we conducted this study, the best we could say about sea turtles was that six of the seven sea turtle species are threatened with extinction globally," said Dr. Bryan Wallace, Director of Science for the Marine Flagship Species Program at CI, and lead author for the paper. "But this wasn't very helpful for conservation because it didn't help us set priorities for different populations in different regions. Sea turtles everywhere are conservation-dependent, but this framework will help us effectively target our conservation efforts around the world."

The seven species of sea turtles comprise 58 biologically defined populations, called regional management units (RMUs). To determine the most threatened populations, the experts scored traits like population size, population trends, rookery vulnerability, and genetic diversity as well as threats of fisheries bycatch, human consumption of turtles and their eggs, coastal development, pollution and pathogens, and climate change for each RMU.

"We are excited by the clarity this new study provides by identifying areas around the world that are most important for sea turtle conservation," said Dr. Claude Gascon the Chief Science Officer and Executive Vice-President of NFWF. "This report is a guide for scientists, conservationists, policy makers, and funders to determine where conservation resources can be allocated to improve the status of these threatened populations."

The assessment also allows experts to identify key data gaps on population status and other factors, as well as the greatest threats to turtles. The most significant threats across all of the threatened populations are fisheries bycatch, the accidental catch of sea turtles by fishermen targeting other species, and direct harvest of turtles or their eggs for food or turtle shell material for commercial use.

"This assessment system provides a baseline status for all sea turtles from which we can gauge our progress on recovering these threatened populations in the future," explained Roderic Mast, Co-Chair of the MTSG, CI Vice President, and one of the paper's authors. "Through this process, we have learned a lot about what is working and what isn't in sea turtle conservation, so now we look forward to turning the lessons learned into sound conservation strategies for sea turtles and their habitats."

Source of article


27, September, 2011


Research identifies eight factors that can alert managers to the threat of overfishing in otherwise health looking reefs

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Coral reefs that have lots of corals and appear healthy may, in fact, be heading towards collapse, according to a study published by the Wildlife Conservation Society and other groups.

Using data from coral reef systems across the western Indian Ocean, an international team of researchers identified how overfishing creates a series of at least eight big changes on reefs that precipitate a final collapse. This information can help managers gauge the health of a reef and tell them when to restrict fishing in order to avoid a collapse of the ecosystem and fishery.

The study appears this week in the early online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The authors of the study include: Tim R. McClanahan and Nyawira A. Muthiga of the Wildlife Conservation Society; Nicholas A.J. Graham and Joshua E. Cinner of James Cook University, Queensland, Australia; M. Aaron MacNeil of the Australian Institute of Marine Science; J. Henrich Bruggemann of Laboratoire d’Ecologie Marine, Université de la Réunion, La Réunion, France; and Shaun K. Wilson of the Department of Environment and Conservation, Perth, Western Australia.

The authors say these changes are like a series of light switches, each of which make the reef more degraded and dims the chances of sustained fishery production and recovery.

“The study identifies eight changes before all of the ecological lights go off and the reef and fishery is gone” said Dr. McClanahan, the lead author on the study and the head of the WCS’s coral reef research and conservation program.

The study shows that in well-protected areas, there are typically 1000-1500 kilograms of reef fish of various species per hectare of coral reef. As the volume is fished down below 1000 kilograms, the early warning signs—like increased seaweed growth and urchin activity—begin to show up. The researchers found that, between 300-600 kilograms per hectare, there appeared to be a “window” of what is known as maximum sustainable yield, but when the fish stock drops below 300 kilograms per hectare, the reef is in real trouble, they said.

“Below 300 kilograms per hectare we see a series of dramatic changes on reefs. This is where you get on a real slippery slope,” McClanahan noted. “Strangely, the metric used by most managers to gauge the health of reef systems—coral cover—is the last threshold before ecosystem failure. Overfished reefs can appear healthy and then shift to algae dominated seascapes.”

The authors recommend measuring the biomass of fish rather than coral cover to identify the early warning rather than the final sign of reef collapse.

“The good news is that a reef can likely provide sustainable fisheries even after the first three warning switches are turned off, but it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain a healthy fishery and restore reefs when the final five switches have been turned off,” said Dr McClanahan. “This study provides managers and policy makers with a tangible target of where to maintain their fishery.”

Dr. Joshua Cinner from James Cook University in Australia added: “Of course, having a target is one thing, but achieving it is, well, another kettle of fish. So we also assessed how well different reef management schemes did at maintaining reefs.”

Reef fisheries with no regulations tended to perform poorly, with some passing all the switches and completely collapsed. No-take marine reserves, where fishing was prohibited, were the best performers and tended to maintain key ecosystem processes such as predation.

“People depend on reefs for their livelihoods, so we can’t prohibit fishing everywhere.” noted Dr. Cinner. “A key finding from our study was that even easily enforceable regulations that restrict gear or the types of species that can be caught helped maintain biomass. These regulations are often more agreeable to fishermen than no-take closures and consequently receive higher levels of support and compliance.”

“There is no one size fits all solution to save the world’s coral reef ecosystems. To be politically and socially sustainable, tangible and objective management targets are critical to help managers make difficult near term decisions of restricting or altering fishing practices for long-term social and ecological gain.” said Dr. Caleb McClennen, Director of WCS’s Marine Program. “This exhaustive research helps identify critical metrics and methods for sustainable management of coral reefs across the true gradient of ecological condition and management reality.”

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Scientists Look to Indian Ocean for Long-Range Weather Forecast

A team of international researchers is heading to the Indian Ocean to learn more about the genesis of the Madden-Julian oscillation, a cyclical climate phenomenon believed to be the greatest driver of atmospheric variability in the one- to three-month time frame, linking weather and climate.

The pulses of atmospheric energy that move around the globe from the Indian Ocean are believed to be linked with the famed Pineapple Express weather events that bring tremendous amounts of precipitation to the western U.S.. They also  influence the formation of hurricanes, and even the intensity of Colorado’s summer monsoon.

Understanding the origins of the oscillation could help forecasters pinpoint when major winter storms will hit the U.S.
Using aircraft, ships, moorings, radars, numerical models and other tools the six-month mission will study how tropical weather brews in the region and then moves eastward along the equator, with reverberating effects around the globe.

The disturbance originates in the equatorial Indian Ocean about every 30 to 90 days. It’s part of the Asian and Australian monsoons and can enhance hurricane activity in the northeast Pacific and Gulf of Mexico, trigger torrential rainfall along the west coast of North America and affect the onset of El Niño.

Scientists believe that the Madden-Julian is the world’s greatest source of atmospheric variability in the one- to three-month time frame.

“The Madden-Julian Oscillation has a huge impact all over the globe,” said Chidong Zhang of the University of Miami, the research project’s chief scientist. “It connects weather and climate, and it is important to forecasting.”

The research team includes scientists from the Boulder-based National Center for Atmospheric Research.
“The MJO drives weather in both hemispheres even though it sits along the equator,” said NCAR’s Jim Moore, director of the DYNAMO project office. “Its origins have never been measured in such a systematic fashion before.”

The main observation sites will be based in the Maldives, Diego Garcia and Manus Island, as well as aboard research ships and aircraft in the Indian Ocean. The major radar array and land-based observation “Super Site” will be located on Addu Atoll.

The MJO plays a key role in driving tropical weather and climate variations during all seasons of the year. It also interacts with other atmospheric patterns, such as the El Niño/Southern Oscillation and the North Atlantic Oscillation, that can shape weather and climate patterns across much of the globe.

Scientists need to better understand the MJO, both to improve long-range weather forecasts and seasonal outlooks worldwide, and perhaps make the leap to longer-term forecasts of climate that may extend years into the future.

In winter, for example, the onset of an MJO can set off atmospheric waves that travel across the globe and, about 10 days later, influence the location and severity of major storms on the west coast of North America, some of which cause significant flooding.

“If you can find out how an MJO event starts, you may get a couple of weeks’ warning about wintertime storms in the United States,” says NCAR scientist Mitchell Moncrieff, a member of the DYNAMO Science Steering Committee.

At present, the computer models that scientists use to study global weather and climate fail to capture the oscillation very well. The information from the field campaign can lead to significant improvements in the models.

In addition to measuring the sky, the researchers also will turn their attention to the sea. The physical properties of the ocean, such as temperature and salinity, are as important to the MJO as are the properties of the atmosphere. A collection of ocean sensors, deployed from ships and moorings in the open ocean, will collect data on ocean-atmosphere interactions.

Source of article


Small islands States sound alarm at UN over their vulnerability to climate change

Representatives of small island States took to the podium at the General Assembly today to exhort the world to pay greater attention to their vulnerability to climate change, stressing that sustainable development will not be possible as rising sea levels threaten to swamp them.

From the Caribbean to the Pacific to the Atlantic, the small island countries said the world was not moving quickly enough to either mitigate the effects of climate change or support the poorest countries as they tried to adapt to them.

“The very existence of small islands States like those in the Caribbean and the Pacific could be imperilled if current trends are not reversed or altered,” the Prime Minister of Barbados, Freundel Stuart, told the Assembly’s annual general debate in New York.

“We must be cautious, therefore, about how we use fossil fuels, about carbon emission levels and about the unregulated treatment of waste. The planet has begun to protest through dramatic changes in climate change and the prospect of sea level rise,” said Mr. Stuart.

Grenada’s Prime Minister Tillman Thomas calledfor agreement at ongoing United Nations-led climate change negotiations on measures aimed at reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, and for the quick disbursement of funding to help small island States adapt.

Tuvalu’s Prime Minister Willy Telavisaid his country will, during the Durban conference on the UN Framework Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC) later this year, seek a mandate to begin negotiations on a new legally binding agreement for major greenhouse gas-emitting States that have not made commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, an addition to the UNFCCC that contains legally binding measures to reduce such gas emissions.

Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, said he was “baffled by the intransigence of major emitters and developed nations that refuse to shoulder the burden for arresting climate changes that are linked to the excesses of their own wasteful policies.”

The Prime Minister emphasized that time was running out for many countries as both rising sea levels and increasingly ferocious hurricanes and storms took their toll.

Cape Verde’s Prime Minister Jose Maria Neves, for his part, said he was counting on all UN Member States to make the transition towards the green economy and sustainable development.

“There is in Cape Verde an ongoing and ambitious programme for the national coverage in renewable energy by 50 per cent by 2020,” Dr. Neves said.

Samoa’s Prime Minister Tuila’epa Sailele Malielegaoi also called for more resources for climate change mitigation and adaptation projects in small island States.

“The Green Climate Fund is now in design phase,” he said. “The representatives of governments and experts involved will do well to pay attention to the existing climate change funding architecture so that the shortcomings of other funding mechanisms will not be repeated.”

Mr. Malielegaoi also urged all countries with fishing interests in the Pacific Ocean to work together to stop illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in the region.

Vanuatu’s Prime Minister, Meltek Sato Kilman Livtuvanu, appealed to the UN to send senior missions to the Pacific to establish a more comprehensive understanding of how susceptible the people of the region are to the consequences of climate change.

“I call on leaders of advanced nations to renew and honour their pledges to finance, in particular, efforts to assist most vulnerable communities address their adaptation needs to ensure island nations survive the impending global disaster climate change may afford.”

Source of article


22, September, 2011


South Africa: New protected marine zones for Eastern Cape

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ALMOST 100 square kilometres of open sea along the Eastern Cape coastline has been placed under the protection of the government.

The areas have been “informally protected” in the past but Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa made the official announcement on Friday.

The three new marine conservation zones comprise areas off Gxulu, Gonubie and Kei Mouth. The zones range from Christmas Rock to Kidd’s Beach (Gxulu); Nahoon Point to Gonubie; and the Nyara River Mouth to the Great Kei River.

This Amathole Marine Protected Area (MPA) is now the 21st such area along the country’s coastline . The MPA does not include estuaries.

According to the Government Gazette, the purpose for declaring the MPA is to conserve the marine environment and bio-diversity in the Amathole region.

The accompanying regulation contains strict measures that will now be enforced:

  •  Boats traversing these areas with fishing gear will need to ensure the gear is stowed away;
  •  Shore-based angling, spear fishing and bait collecting activities will be allowed but strictly controlled through the use of a permit system;
  •  Fishing vessels will not be able anchor or stop in these areas, apart from where they launch; and
  • After entering the MPA, vessels will need to keep GPS records for two days to allow for effective compliance.

The coastline of these areas coincides with nature reserves managed by the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency which will be in charge of the areas.

The agency’s head of scientific services, Dave Balfour, said yesterday they were “excited” that the areas were now formally protected.

He said a permit and patrol system would be put in place to combat illegal shore-based angling and spear fishing.

“But this will only be to stop abuse. I don’t see a dramatic system being implemented,” he said. “People don’t need to worry.”

Water and Environmental Affairs spokesman Zolile Nqayi said: “In this way the protection provided by the existing closed fishery areas is enhanced and more areas of rich marine bio-diversity are formally included in the nation’s marine conservation estate.”

Border Deepsea Angling Association environmental officer John Rance said the organisation, responsible for the areas in the past, was thrilled with the news.

“The areas in question were being plundered by illegal fishing,” he said. “This is the best thing to happen in the area, regarding marine service, for the last 50 years.”

Source of article


Calls to close deep-sea fisheries challenged

Most deep-sea dwelling fish should be off-limits, say a group of researchers who argue that, in most cases, we cannot harvest fish from these vast parts of the ocean without depleting them.  

Fish in the deep sea tend to be long-lived and reproduce only periodically, making their populations particularly easy to deplete. Add in destructive fishing practices, weak regulation, government subsidies and economic incentives to overfish, and it becomes clear that, with few exceptions, the deep seas should not be open to fishing, they argue. Instead, they propose, fishing should be limited to more productive, shallow waters.

"We are not recommending we stop all fishing, we recommend we stop all fishing that is not demonstrably sustainable," said Elliott Norse, president of the Marine Conservation Institute in Washington state and the lead author of the team's paper, which appeared online recently and is set to be published in the March 2012 print issue of the journal Marine Policy.

But this position is controversial; others argue that deep-sea fishing can be done sustainably, so that the fish populations remain at levels where they can replenish themselves. Opponents of the deep-sea fishing ban also say casting such a broad net is "sound-bite environmentalism," when in reality, certain fisheries are sustainable.

"Rather than saying we simply need to close them, what they should have done is say what conditions need to be met in order to have [an] effective and sustainable management system," said Ray Hilborn, a professor of aquatic and fishery sciences at the University of Washington.

Vulnerable fish

The open ocean resembles a vast, watery desert that does not produce much life. Much of the deep water below appears featureless, but there are oases rich with life, often teeming around features, such as seamounts where fish gather to breed, according to Norse and his team. [Dangers in the Deep: 10 Scariest Sea Creatures]

In recent decades commercial fishing has moved farther offshore and deeper into the water, harvesting many species from their last refuge as well as less resilient species, they write.

The species that live in the deep seas, below 656 feet (200 meters), inhabit cold, dark waters with variable access to food, so they tend to grow slowly, mature late, live longer and produce offspring periodically, rather than regularly.

For example, fish known as orange roughy live in waters on continental slopes and seamounts in many parts of the world. Orange roughy grows slowly, reaches maturity at about 30 years old, and can live for more than century.

For example, orange roughy lives in waters on continental slopes and seamounts in many parts of the world. It grows slowly, reaches maturity at about 30, and can live for more than century. Fishing for orange roughy began near New Zealand in 1970s. Over time, fisheries elsewhere opened up, but catches plummeted. Stock assessments are often highly uncertain, partly because of a lack of understanding of the fish's biology, they write.  

The authors point out Black scabbardfish caught near Portugal as a rare example of a sustainable deep-sea fishery, because Portugal allows only small boats casting hooks and lines to catch scabbardfish, not the larger trawlers that fish for them elsewhere in the world.

In particular, they take aim at bottom trawling, which involves towing a net along the seafloor. Norse labels it "by far, the most destructive" type of fishing. This practice destroys ecologically important life on the seafloor, such as corals and sponges, and also captures and kills creatures other than the target fish, creating a sort of collateral damage called bycatch, he said.  

They also fault economic incentives, government subsidies and weak regulation.

The deep seas fall both within the areas individual countries control, called their Exclusive Economic Zones, and beneath the high seas, which are areas of the seas not controlled by any country or state. While prospects for setting up sustainable systems within most nationally controlled fisheries are dim, sustainability is even less likely for high seas fisheries, they write. 

Too much generalization?

Long-lived species, like many of those residing in the deep seas, can and are being sustainably managed, according to Hilborn, who believes that fisheries in general are better off than the dismal image with which they are often portrayed. 

He cited as an example the geoduck, a large clam turned delicacy that inhabits deepwater off the Pacific coast of Canada, Alaska and the western U.S. It, like the orange roughy, has a century-plus life span. Also, sablefish, which Norse's team ranks as a vulnerable deep-sea species, are also caught sustainably along the west coast of Canada and the U.S., Hilborn said. [Image Gallery: Freaky Fish]

"There is no question these stocks pose management concerns," he said of the deep-sea species discussed in the paper. "I'd say the biggest problem with them is measuring the abundance."

A lack of good data on abundance appears to be at the root of the vanishing stocks of orange roughy, according to Hilborn.

Ross Shotton, executive secretary for the Southern Indian Ocean Deepsea Fishers Association, an industry group for companies that fish on the high seas of the Southern Indian Ocean, did not agree with the proposal.

"One of our major concerns is that environmental advocates make global generalizations about deep-sea fishing, and the deep-sea fisheries in every ocean are quite different," Shotton said. "I am fed up with sound-bite environmentalism."

For instance, the association's members' trawls are highly targeted, with the nets being towed at precise depths for a maximum of 20 minutes, not hours as happens elsewhere, he said. The association has also voluntarily adopted limits, including declaring protected areas off-limits to fishing and limiting each of the four member companies to one boat on the water at a time, he said. This was possible because two of the member companies have ties to Australia and New Zealand, countries with strong conservation ethics when it comes to their fisheries, he said.

He noted, however, that the association has no control over others fishing the same waters.

Not all important fish caught in the deep seas have the sort of life history traits that can make them highly vulnerable to overfishing. For example, the primary target species in the Southern Indian Ocean, the alfonsino, lives only about 15 years, a span more comparable to a shallow water fish, Shotton said.

On the high seas

To be sustainable, fisheries must have effective governance, Shotton said. "Without effective governance you can destroy any fishery."

The high seas offer open access fisheries to all nations, creating what is called the "tragedy of the commons" — meaning nations have the right to fish there, but no one has an interest in taking responsibility for the fisheries.

Countries have banded together to create Regional Fisheries Management Organizations to regulate high seas fisheries, but these are only now being established for deep-sea fisheries within the high seas, according to Hilborn. These are the areas of biggest concern, and they need management institutions and scientific programs that are similar to those within national waters, he said.

"The legitimate question is: Are they worth it?" Hilborn said, referring to the deep-sea fisheries outside individual nations' control. "It is quite possible there isn't the economic value or food production value that would make it worth spending the money required to do the science and management.

Correction: This article was updated at 6:26 pm ET to correct an inaccurate description of the geoduck. It lives in shallow water, not the deep sea.

Source of article


19, September, 2011


Zanzibar earns 5bn/- from seaweeds' exports

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ZANZIBAR exported 12,000 tons of seaweeds in one year to Europe and North America, earning the Isles 4.8bn/-, Zanzibar Exporters Association (ZAXE) Secretary, Khamis Salim said on Sunday. 

Mr Salim said that earnings from the export of seaweeds have brought significant social changes in many villages in Zanzibar since there are no middlemen in the trade to take a chunk of the growers' profits. 

"The truth of the matter is that seaweeds are providing much needed income for impoverished families, offering a lifeline to many families," he said. 

Seaweeds farms are generally located in shallow, calm and constantly warm waters, but only where the bottom part of water is sandy. The temperature should be between 25 and 30 degrees centigrade. 

He also hinted that the first farm of seaweeds was introduced in Zanzibar in 1989 when the government of Zanzibar solicited help from different experts from Asia and Europe. 

Then, the government embarked on major economic liberalization programmes, including finding ways of diversifying the economy. 

"Seaweeds generate direct income to farmers and it has changed the livelihoods of thousands of people in Zanzibar especially women living along the coastlines of Zanzibar," said Salim. 

Areas seaweeds mostly grow are Pwani Mchangani, East Coast of Zanzibar and Pemba. 

He added that seaweeds farming have also created employment opportunities to many people in Zanzibar, reducing dependency on traditional economic activities such as fishing for people to earn a living. 

At the moment there are ten privately-owned seaweeds companies operating in Zanzibar and employing thousands of people with farming of red algae gathering momentum in both Unguja and Pemba, at the expense of some traditional coastal activities such as rope making, cockling and shell gathering.

Source of article


Mozambique government sets up Marine Reserve to increase fishing production

The government of Mozambique has approved the creation of a Marine Reserve to develop marine aquaculture and increase fishing production in the country, the spokesman for the Council of Ministers said in Maputo Tuesday.

Spokesman and deputy Justice Minister, Alberto Nkutumula, said that Mozambique had the potential to produce 1.2 million tons of shrimp and another 790,000 tons of a variety of fish per year, in a territorial area that includes around 120,000 hectares in 39 coastal districts of the country.

The areas with potential for development of aquaculture range across the coastal districts of Cabo Delgado, Nampula, Sofala, Inhambane, Gaza and Maputo.

According to the spokesman there are a number of aquaculture projects in the planning stages and in the development stages, which required decisions about where and how they should be put together, and that now the bases for the start of the majority of the projects and to attract investors had been established.

According to Nkutumula making use of aquaculture as well as improving income for families and creating more jobs would, above all, reduce pressure on sea fishing. 

Source of article


Seychelles leads in key regional agriculture plan

Seychelles on Friday became the first Indian Ocean island nation to sign the important Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Plan (CAADP) Compact initialled by Vice-President Danny Faure on behalf of the government.

Also to sign were representatives of major international, regional and national bodies including the African Union Commission, the New Partnership for Africa's Planning and Coordinating Agency, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), The African Development Bank, the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), the Seychelles Farmers’ Association, the Seychelles Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Liaison Unit for Non-governmental Organisations.

Seychelles now joins Kenya, Zambia, Rwanda, Burundi, Ethiopia, Swaziland, Uganda, Malawi and the Democratic Republic of Congo who are already implementing provisions of CAADP which other countries are also expected to commit themselves to.

CAADP encourages African governments to increase national budgetary allocation to the agriculture sector to at least 10% annually, to enable a minimum sectoral growth of 6% saying it has the potential to address some of the major challenges currently facing African agriculture.

Comesa has listed the hurdles as food security including low production and productivity, low access to markets, inadequate infrastructure, human and natural induced disasters, climate change, high food prices, trade barriers and many more.

The delegates noted that President James Michel listed the challenges during the last food and climate summit held at the FAO headquarters in Rome.

Mr Michel had added the unique problems to island nations like scarcity of land and land salination from sea level rise, saying Seychelles is refocusing its food security strategy towards increasing agricultural output, reducing bottlenecks, stimulating private sector investment and encouraging better use of technology and adaptation to climate change to improve yields noting we cannot achieve these goals without the support of the international community.

The chief executive of the Islands Development Company Glenny Savy and of the Seychelles Agricultural Agency Antoine-Marie Moustache signed a memorandum of understanding saying the IDC will make more land available for farming on the outer islands.

Mr Faure was lauded for showing government commitment by opening the forum in the morning, attending to other matters at State House and returning to Le Meridien Barbarons Resort to personally pledge government’s commitment to the requirements of the initiative.

He said recent events where the world’s major food producers have been facing the wrath of climate change with wild fires in places like Russia, destroying huge plantations, floods and droughts in other places like Asia and the Americas have also contributed to the world food shortages.

“More recently we have heard of the outbreak of diseases, spreading uncertainty about the sources of food and giving further cause for concerns about food availability, not only for Seychelles, but the world over,” he said.

“This is why we need to relook at our food security, strategies and policies in the light of these recent events and our preparedness to face uncertainties ahead of us.”

Added storage facilities may be one of the solutions, he said, but noted it cannot be the only solution for with the amount of uncertainties we face, it cannot be wise to place all our eggs in that single basket.

“Local production gives the country far greater independence and allows issues such as employment to be addressed, and gives productive business opportunities to the more entrepreneurial minds among us, thus contributing to real economic growth in the process.

“It must be accepted though that local production for food security cannot be achieved at all cost. Clearly whatever is produced must be at affordable prices and of at least minimum standards and hence the need to continuously improve productivity and competitiveness against imported products cannot be over emphasised,” he said.

He said the government acknowledges its obligation to contribute to creating as conducive an environment for local production as possible, adding it divested out of a number of livestock production entities and infrastructure in 2009.

“Those infrastructures included the feed meal factory, the abattoir and the hatchery which were transferred for a token fee of R1 to the Seychelles Farmers Marketing Cooperative to operate.

“The expectation was that the factory, abattoir and hatchery would be run more effectively and efficiently for the benefit of their members, bring down costs and ultimately benefit the end consumer with more affordable livestock and livestock products.
“The reality on the ground however, continues to remain very challenging, as farmers face stiff competition from imported products.

“Government’s effective response measures should, therefore, be about enhancing the capacity of producers and the institutions that provide support along the food system for them to be resilient and sustainable.  One example of this support is the establishment of the Livestock Trust Fund and the Farmers Insurance Fund,” he said.

Source of article


14, September, 2011


Seychelles: Scientists discuss sustainable fisheries

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Scientists from seven countries, which are members of the Institut de Recherches pour le Développement (IRD), are joining the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) to discuss sustainable tuna fisheries and ways of reducing by-catch.

The project, the fourth of its kind and funded by the European Union, is aimed at reducing the impacts of open ocean fisheries on the ecosystem by purse seiners and longliners.

Besides Seychelles, the other countries taking part are from both the Indian and Atlantic oceans as well as the Mediterranean. They are Reunion, Brazil, Azores, France, Spain, Italy and Greece.

Opening the conference yesterday at the SFA headquarters, Dr Laurent Dagorn of IRD, France said the gathering’s main objective is to find methods to reduce catches of juvenile swordfish, sharks, turtles, rays and dolphins.

Only some of the species caught as by-catch -- turtles and dolphins -- are protected.
In the case of purse seiners, by-catch constitute 3-4% of the total catch, while for longliners that stands as high as 20-30%.

Dr Dagorn said the 40 delegates will share information collected by scientists from the different countries for plan activities – to make fisheries more sustainable and eco-friendly.

The fourth meeting of the project, which will go on until Friday, will review the scientific results achieved so far and how to integrate them into management.

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South Africa: Beach-clean up successful

Tuffy Brands recently teamed up with the Zigzag surfing magazine to encourage beach clean-ups around South Africa. The successful campaign has resulted in over 37 beach clean-ups locally and internationally, as far afield as Thailand, Sri Lanka and Indonesia.

Tuffy inserted 15,000 bags into the Zigzag magazine, in which an ad ran inviting surfers to participate in the clean up and send in photos of themselves doing a beach clean-up or something cool with their Tuffy refuse bags. The prize for best picture was a Reef wetsuit, a most sort after commodity with surfers.

“The response to the campaign has been phenomenal and has resulted in a spin off that we never imagined,” says Rory Murray, Marketing Director of Tuffy Brands. “Including individuals sending in their entries, the initiative has resulted in the formation of two beach clean-up groups in Cape Town and KZN, who are now facilitating clean-ups on a monthly basis.”

He says that the results show just how committed to the environment the surfing community is and running it in Zigzag, SA’s well-loved surfing magazine has resulted in great exposure online and in the social media space where people have shared their personal clean up stories. 

According to Will Bendix, Editor of Zigzag, hundreds of photos have been received, some funny and some serious, but all promoting what people feel is an important part of saving the environment. “The uptake has blown us away. The campaign has gone so well that we have had to extend the entry dates to the next issue of our magazine,” he says.

Bendix adds, “It’s so great to see the surfing community stepping up. It’s easy to let the enormity of environmental issues make us think ‘what difference can we make anyway?’ but this project proves that all it takes is one refuse bag, and the willingness to get stuck in.” 

The winner will be announced in the October issue of Zig Zag. Photo’s can be viewed here:http://www.zigzag.co.za/multimedia/galleries/7888/Tuffy-Beach-clean-up

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South Africa: Abalone Poaching Scourge

The illegal slaughter of rhinos and elephants and the criminal trade in their horns and tusks that drives it have been in the news lately. And rightfully so. The continued widespread and bloody poaching of these magnificent animals presents a very serious threat to the integrity of many ecosystems in Africa, even when they are supposedly protected in national parks and wildlife reserves.

As vilified and unfairly maligned an animal as the shark is getting well-deserved attention because of concerns for its survival, while the plight of somewhat less glamorous, but no less endangered species makes the news much less frequently.

One such species is the abalone. In South Africa, these marine molluscs are also known as perlemoen and for years they have been under consistent assault from poachers. The primary market for abalone meat is the Far East, where it’s used in traditional medicine and as an aphrodisiac.

Perlemoen occurs along much of the South African coastline. In 2007, the South African government added them to the list of endangered species, but subsequently removed them from it in 2010 under protest from conservationists. Abalone, a culinary delicacy, is seldom seen on South African restaurant menus these days although farmed abalone can be sold and exported with government-issued permits.

Due to dwindling numbers and the rampant poaching epidemic, permits to harvest wild abalone have not been issued, even for recreational purposes, for several years. A partial list of just some of the instances in which abalone poachers have been caught red-handed in South Africa in recent times makes for scary reading — and remember this is just a selection of the instances in which authorities managed to confiscate poached abalone and the event was reported in the media:

• November 2008: 32,700 dried abalone worth R7.5 million (about $1 million) seized in Riviersonderend.

• August 2009: 5 tons of abalone confiscated in Port Elizabeth.

• February 2010: R2.3 million (more than $300,000) worth of abalone seized in the Western Cape Province.

• May 2010: More than 10,000 abalone confiscated in Cape Town.

• July 2010: 800 kilograms of abalone seized in Port Elizabeth.

• August 2010: 1.6 tons of abalone confiscated on commercial container vessels in Cape Town.

• March 2011: 500 kilograms of abalone bust at OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg

• July 2011: 2 tons of dried perlemoen confiscated in Cape Town

• August 2011: R12 million (more than $1.5 million) worth of abalone seized in transit between Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Where in the past, legal and sustainable harvesting of abalone provided part of the livelihood for small traditional fishing communities, the poachers typically operate on an almost industrial scale. They work as parts of international crime syndicates and use modern motor boats and scuba diving equipment. Experts estimate that their multi-million dollar business lands between 1,000 and 3,000 tons of illegal South African abalone every year.

Compare that to the total legally permitted commercial quota for the whole country in the 2006/2007 season (when permits were still issued) of merely 125 tons and the extent to which the country’s abalone stock is being depleted becomes clear. To make matters worse, Far Eastern crime cartels have been accused of laundering money by trading South African abalone for the ingredients required in the manufacture of metamphetamine and Anthrax (a synthetic drug), fuelling local drug abuse.

So if you come across abalone on a restaurant menu, please be sure to ask the owner whether it was harvested legally and sustainably.

Source of news article


13, September, 2011


Madagascar rice production slips again due to lack of rain.

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Production of Madagascar’s staple, rice, is expected to be down 10 percent on last year and slip by 400,000 tons, according to preliminary findings by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP). 

David Orr, WFP spokesperson for East and Southern Africa, told IRIN local rice production had decreased from 4.7 million tons in 2010 to 4.3 million tons this year. 

“This decrease is mainly due to delayed rainfall in the country's main rice producing areas, namely the Alaotra [east-central] and the Vakinankaratra [Highlands] regions,” he said. 

In the 1970s Madagascar was a rice exporter but has since become a rice importer, a consequence of outdated farming methods and poor infrastructure, but farmers still produce 80 percent of the country’s national rice requirement. 

The squeeze on rice comes during the lean season, between January and March, and in the first quarter of 2011 the staple threatened to become “luxury food” after its price doubled in two years to about US$1 per kg. 

About 70 percent of the country’s 20 million people live on US$1 a day or less and up to 45 percent of a family’s income goes on food, Alexandre Huynh, FAO emergency and rehabilitation coordinator in Madagascar, told IRIN. 

Hundreds of thousands of families have been exposed to chronic food insecurity in recent years through the increasing cost of food, he added. 

He said one of world’s poorest countries was susceptible to natural disasters “and recurrent climate-related shocks have weakened the resilience of small-scale farmers in cyclone and drought-prone areas, making them more reliant on emergency assistance.” 

However, field and pilot projects had illustrated “solutions were readily available to enhance food security… [but] would need to be scaled up to have an impact at the national level,” Huynh said.

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UN Expert Highlights the Challenges Faced by Maldives Due to Climate Change

Despite their unmatched beauty and uniqueness in nature, the fragile coral islands of Maldives are in constant threat by climate change and natural disasters. While the government has done much to tackle this issue some accomplishments have been made.

Recently an independent United Nations human rights expert urged Maldives to put in place measures to handle internal displacement caused by climate change and natural disasters.

“Climate change is very real in the Maldives and its effects on rights, including the right to housing, safe water and livelihoods are being felt on many islands,” the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), Chaloka Beyani said.

“The suffering caused by coastal erosion, salination, rising sea levels, and more frequent storms and flooding is all too obvious to be ignored,” he said after a six-day mission to the country.

The expert said that addressing the real and clearly visible impacts of climate change on the ordinary lives of the people of the Maldives through mitigation and adaptation measures is necessary and urgent, and will require partnerships with the international community.

Mr. Beyani also highlighted the need for a law on disaster risk reduction to ensure the implementation of the Strategic National Action Plan for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation 2010-2020. He also called on the Maldivian Parliament to enact the law on disaster management that has been pending for some time.

At the same time, the law professor and Zambian national stressed that legislation and policy should address internal displacement, including that resulting from climate change.

In the event of internal displacement, affected persons will need protection and assistance in finding “durable” solutions, said Mr. Beyani. These could include a return to an affected island if it is still habitable, local integration in the location where they sought refuge or resettlement in another part of the country.

These decisions must be voluntary and informed, and affected communities must be consulted and have the opportunity for meaningful participation in all decisions affecting them.

Mr. Beyani said the lessons learned from the internal displacement caused by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami should inform and be integrated into future legislation and policies. He also stressed that urgent attention be given to the situation of tsunami victims, 1,600 of whom were still living in very difficult conditions in temporary shelters.

The expert carried out his activities in an independent and unpaid capacity and reports to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council. His full report on the visit to the Maldives will be presented in March 2012.

Source of news article


Origin of Madagascar's peculiar species

Madagascar's isolated and fascinating fauna has puzzled scientists and laymen for centuries. The main question has been: How did they get to the Great Island in the first place, thus being allowed to evolve in splendid isolation?

It is well known that the Great Island once was connected to the African continent, to what is now the Mozambican coast. Popular wisdom has it that, since the island split from the continent, Malagasy animals and plants have been isolated from the evolution in Africa. Therefore, without competition from continental apes, the lemurs could survive, evolve into many species.

This popular belief however has a major shortcoming. Madagascar appears to have been an island for at least 120 million years, at a time when the lemurs and other typical Malagasy species had not yet evolved on the continent. In fact, Madagascar's animal population began arriving much later, sometime after 65 million years ago.

This contradiction has puzzled scientists for a century. Altering theories to the origin of Malagasy species therefore have prevailed during time. 

As the evolution of species through natural selection had been scientifically accepted, Darwin's theories seemed to fit perfectly to the large island of Madagascar. The island's isolated fauna seemed to have frozen a moment of evolution when it drifted away from Africa, back to the time when lemurs had yet to evolve into monkeys and apes. Even modern encyclopaedias refer to this age-old theory, stating that "the resulting isolation left Madagascar's plants and animals to evolve independently" (encyclopedia.com).

Indeed, Madagascar has more unique species of animals than any location except Australia, which is 13 times larger. The island's population includes 70 kinds of lemurs found nowhere else and about 90 percent of the other mammals, amphibians and reptiles are unique to its 587,000 square kilometres.

The original theories about the origin of Madagascar's unique fauna stem from an age when the processes of plate tectonics were not well known. Critically, scientists of those times were unable to date geological processes. 

Dating processes of fossils and sediments however improved. As it became more and more probable that Madagascar drifted away from Mozambique before the lemurs had evolved in Africa, the theory had to be altered. Scientists now held that the animals arrived on Madagascar via a land bridge that was later obliterated by shifting continents. 

Yet, the land bridge hypothesis also is problematic in that there is no geologic evidence that such a bridge existed during the time in question. Also, there are no large mammals such as apes, giraffes, lions or elephants, indigenous to Madagascar. Only small species such as lemurs - the island's signature species - hedgehog-like tenrecs, rodents, mongoose-like carnivores and similar animals populate the island.

But already a century ago, some scientists started doubting the prevailing split-and-isolation theory. In 1915, the first alternative theory was launched, saying many of the animals found in Madagascar could have rafted to the island. 

Rafting would have involved animals being washed out to sea during storms, either on trees or large vegetation mats, and floating to the mini-continent, perhaps while in a state of seasonal torpor or hibernation.

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12, September, 2011


Tanzania: Kilwa ruins under threat

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KILWA Kisiwani, like many other islands in the Tanzanian Indian Ocean territorial waters, is threatened by rising water level, a phenomenon that is linked to global climate change. 

The World Monuments Fund (WMF) intends to work with specialists to draw a risk scale map for the island, says WMF Director Stephen Battle, who deals with environmental risk factors in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

"With the risk model or map it is possible to propose measures to take in order to tackle risks associated with rising sea levels including reducing effects of erosion and corrosion. 

The US government has donated about 1.1bn/- to enable the WMF to support a project that envisages conserving 19th century ruins at Kilwa Kisiwani in Coast region. 

The donation, which has been offered through the US Department of State's Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP), will deal with emergency stabilization with a view to addressing the physical and development threats to the island. 

The island is a World Heritage Site. The Director said that there were two aspects in dealing with the imminent threat on the island. 

The first aspect is to take emergency measures in order to reduce the effect of corrosion on the most vulnerable structures on the island through urgent conservation work. 

"Our aim is to stop the effects of erosion at the Portuguese Gereza historical monuments. We intend to strengthen the buildings along the shoreline," he said. 

The second aspect is to draw the risk scale map of the island which will indicate where major risks lie. We will enlist the help of specialists, he added. 

According to experts in climate change, he said, fierce ocean currents are drawn closer to the island after generating powerful waves that destroy mangroves and coral reefs on the shoreline. 

In his remarks, the Deputy Chief of US embassy in Dar es Salaam, Mr Robert Scott, said that there are already innovative ways to deal with climate change. 

"Adaptation, like the way it is used to determine cycles in agriculture, similar technologies can be used to determine the type of corrosion, which can affect the monuments and improvise the right technology to control it," he said. 

The Director of Antiquities in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Mr Donatius Kamamba, said that the project would involve at a later stage integrating the history of slave trade routes. 

"We cannot ignore preserving the history of Dr Livingstone in his effort to fight slave trade in the region because Kilwa is directly associated with the trade," he said. 

He added that Kilwa Kisiwani was listed as an endangered site that is likely to lose its value if intervention measures are not taken. 

"Once the island loses its value, it will automatically be removed from the list of heritage sites," he said. "With the support of US and French governments, we are now moving out of the danger zone," he added. 

Mr Battle said that the project will virtually be owned by residents on the island. It will offer direct benefits to the people of Kilwa, he said. 

There will be an opportunity for two people from the areas to pursue training at the Department of Heritage Management in the University of Dar es Salaam, he said. 

He also said that all tour guides are employed from the communities in the area. Another benefit comes from improvement of water supply system in the village. There is also a water catchment reservoir construction project - a source of fresh water supply. 

Mr Battle, noted: "This project gives us the opportunity (in partnership with the Antiquities Division) to ensure preservation of one of East Africa's most important heritage sites." 

The project also enables communities to conserve the cultural heritage in their locality. The Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Songo Mnara are the remains of two ports that were for the East African trade between the 13th and 16th centuries. 

Speaking during a funds handover event in Dar es Salaam recently, Mr Scott said that the donation represents the largest cultural preservation monetary support to date offered by the American people. 

"The AFCP gives us chance to demonstrate US recognition of Tanzania's unique cultural and historical treasures," said the Deputy Chief of Mission. 

He said that Tanzania was one of only three nations worldwide selected for the 2011 AFCP grant programme for the preservation of ancient sites of global or national significance. He mentioned India and Jordan as the other beneficiaries. 

At Kilwa Kisiwani, the AFCP support will protect the most vulnerable structures on the island through urgent conservation work and improved sea defences. 

In addition, funding will establish a sustainable management plan for the site and improve living conditions for residents on the island.

Source of news article


Madagascar: International symposium on the protection of turtles

L’hôtel « La Piscine » de Mahajanga a abrité les jeudi 8 et vendredi 9 septembre, un colloque international sur la protection des tortues. Les participants à ce colloque ont réfléchi sur les voies et moyens de contrôle, de sauvegarde et de protection de ces espèces de tortues qui risquent de disparaître comme certaines tortues géantes d’aldabra si aucune mesure n’est prise.

Les objectifs du colloque sont de faire des échanges sur les mesures de surveillance et de contrôle, les pratiques d’élevage et sur le respect du CITES. Il s’agissait aussi de réfléchir et de définir une politique concernant les espèces endémiques de tortues menacées et aussi celles qui font l’objet de saisie [Procédures de contrôle, procédures de rapatriement et réintroduction dans la nature].

Cet atelier/colloque est international et vise à recueillir des idées et des recommandations pour améliorer le sort des espèces menacées.

Il est important pour le futur plan d’action pour la Protection des tortues de réfléchir sur le cadre général de leur gestion et contrôle et d’examiner les options. Par la suite, chacune des 5 espèces devra faire l’objet de réflexions et de plan d’action spécifique. Certaines espèces ont certes déjà leur plan d’action, mais il est évident qu’une mise à jour et une vision partagée devaient se faire.

Le cas de l’Angonoke a ainsi été analysé au cours de la 2ème journée à Mahajanga et il s’est avéré nécessaire de prévoir un autre atelier dans les régions concernées pour les 4 autres espèces de tortues.

Les résultats attendus sont la mise en place de système de contrôle étant donné que le contexte écologique des espèces de tortues est différent d’une région à l’autre.

Cinq espèces de tortues endémiques

Madagascar abrite 5 espèces endémiques appartenant au groupe des tortues terrestres dont la tortue à soc ou Angonoka : elle possède la plus grande en taille parmi les tortues vivantes mais est également la plus menacée d’entre elles selon le critère d’évaluation de l’Union internationale pour la conservation de la nature (UICN, 2008) classant cette espèce dans la catégorie des espèces en danger critique d’extinction. La population d’Angonoka est estimée à 200 individus dans la nature selon l’estimation scientifique disponible. Il existe aussi la tortue radiée ou Astrochelys radiata (Sokake) dans le Sud de Madagascar. D’autres espèces décrites dans la littérature ancienne ont disparu.

Il est donc important de sauvegarder les espèces qui existent encore et de les remultiplier. Les tortues endémiques de Madagascar font l’objet de trafic illicite et sont retrouvés ailleurs, saisies ou non, en fonction des lois en vigueur dans les pays récepteurs ou pays d’entrée.

Le problème se situe à plusieurs niveaux : - au niveau local et national, le système de contrôle s’avère être inefficace, et - au niveau international, en principe, les espèces en danger inscrites à l’annexe I de la convention sur le commerce international des espèces de faune et flore sauvages CITES sont régies par des accords qui engagent les pays récepteurs, si toutefois ces derniers sont membres de la CITES.

Des rapatriements sont effectués, des programmes de reproduction en captivité sont mis en œuvre pour maintenir et préserver les populations de tortues et pour augmenter leur nombre. Tel est le cas à Ampijoroa en 1986 pour les Angonoka. La relâche des juvéniles produits de l’élevage en captivité se poursuit mais le risque de vol en milieu naturel est loin d’être anéanti malgré la mise en place du Parc national de Baie de Baly dédié tout particulièrement à la conservation de l’Angonoka.

Tel est aussi le cas dans le village SOS tortues à Mangily où 200 tortues radiées ont été mises en quarantaine dans le centre d’élevage du village des tortues pour leur suivi, avant leur réintroduction dans la nature.

Il existe un plan de conservation établi pour l’Angonoka qui recommande l’intégration de tous les individus au programme d’élevage afin de renverser la tendance actuelle et d’éviter l’extinction de cette espèce fortement convoitée par le commerce illicite.

C’est dans cette perspective que le Plan d’action pour la conservation de la tortue à soc ou Angonoka a été élaboré en 2008 avec l’UICN dans le cadre d’un atelier international sur les tortues. Les Angonoka saisies existent aussi bien à Madagascar qu’à l’étranger ; deux centres de maintenance en captivité à Antananarivo, chez des particuliers à Mahajanga en plus des importations illicites arrêtées en Hong Kong et Bangkok. Des centres d’élevage en captivité existent au niveau international comme les associations de Zoo et d’Aquarium. Certains sont prêts à collaborer avec Madagascar pour la sauvegarde de ces espèces en voie de disparition. Avec le risque d’extinction imminente que court cette espèce dans la nature, d’autres mesures de conservation s’imposent pour garantir la survie à long terme de l’Angonoka. Les mérites de ces mesures ont besoin d’être évaluées afin d’éviter les éventuelles fraudes.

Recueilli par Valis

Source of news article


East Africa: U.S. and EU Officials on Pirates' Pillaging of the Oceans' Bounty

Piracy off the coast of east Africa has grabbed headlines in recent years, but there is another type of piracy that has received far too little attention. Pirate fishing around the world is costing fishermen their jobs and income, and is inflicting serious harm on the ocean environment.

Pirate fishing often called illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing deprives an estimated half-billion law-abiding fishermen and their communities of up to £14 billion worth of seafood annually.

And, because an estimated three billion people depend on seafood as their primary source of protein, pirate fishing has significant food-security and humanitarian consequences as well.

Moreover, illegal fishing operations are known to subject people aboard pirate ships to unsafe and unfair working conditions at sea.

Fishing piracy also undermines the livelihoods of law-abiding fishermen in Europe and the United States. When illegally caught fish reach the global marketplace, fish prices fall and fewer fish are left to catch legally.

To make matters worse, illegal fishermen often use highly destructive gear that destroys habitats, endangers marine wildlife, and threatens healthy fisheries.

As head of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and European Union Fisheries Commissioner, we recently signed a historic agreement to strengthen joint co-operation to address the global scourge of pirate fishing. Only by working together can we successfully combat illegal fishing operations.

The US has turned a corner in rebuilding its fisheries and ensuring that they are sustainable. The European Commission has just presented a proposal to reform the Common Fisheries Policy designed to help rebuild Europe's fisheries. Good science is the cornerstone of both policies. But it is not enough to get our respective houses in order.

Because fish and other ocean wildlife do not stay within national boundaries, international co-operation is essential to the long-term health of the world's oceans and the sustainability of fisheries and fishing jobs.

Europe and the US have a global responsibility as two of the largest importers of fish. We are obliged to ensure that the fish that we import is caught sustainably, so that our markets do not fuel the decline of the oceans and the fishing communities that depend on them, especially those in the poorest countries.

The US, Europe and other countries, such as Japan, have taken significant steps to address illegal fishing. We are starting to identify illegal fishing vessels and bar them from our ports.

Countries are taking measures to track and document fish imports. This week, we commit the US and the EU to combat illegal fishing, to strengthen our monitoring, and to enforce management measures in our role as parties to regional fishery organisations and to various international treaties. We pledge to prevent illegal fishermen from benefiting from their piracy.

What is at stake are millions of jobs that depend on healthy oceans. What is at stake is food security for many parts of the world. What is at stake is the long-term health of the world's oceans. As allies, the US and Europe are taking a major step forward to end the scourge of pirate fishing.

Jane Lubchenco is under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and the administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Maria Damanaki is EU commissioner for fisheries.

Source of news article


Coral reefs 'will be gone by end of the century'

Coral reefs are on course to become the first ecosystem that human activity will eliminate entirely from the Earth, a leading United Nations scientist claims. He says this event will occur before the end of the present century, which means that there are children already born who will live to see a world without coral.

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The claim is made in a book published tomorrow, which says coral reef ecosystems are very likely to disappear this century in what would be "a new first for mankind – the 'extinction' of an entire ecosystem". Its author, Professor Peter Sale, studied the Great Barrier Reef for 20 years at the University of Sydney. He currently leads a team at the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health.

The predicted decline is mainly down to climate change and ocean acidification, though local activities such as overfishing, pollution and coastal development have also harmed the reefs. The book, Our Dying Planet, published by University of California Press, contains further alarming predictions, such as the prospect that "we risk having no reefs that resemble those of today in as little as 30 or 40 more years".

"We're creating a situation where the organisms that make coral reefs are becoming so compromised by what we're doing that many of them are going to be extinct, and the others are going to be very, very rare," Professor Sale says. "Because of that, they aren't going to be able to do the construction which leads to the phenomenon we call a reef. We've wiped out a lot of species over the years. This will be the first time we've actually eliminated an entire ecosystem."

Coral reefs are important for the immense biodiversity of their ecosystems. They contain a quarter of all marine species, despite covering only 0.1 per cent of the world's oceans by area, and are more diverse even than the rainforests in terms of diversity per acre, or types of different phyla present.

Recent research into coral reefs' highly diverse and unique chemical composition has found many compounds useful to the medical industry, which could be lost if present trends persist. New means of tackling cancer developed from reef ecosystems have been announced in the past few months, including a radical new treatment for leukaemia derived from a reef-dwelling sponge. Another possible application of compounds found in coral as a powerful sunblock has also been mooted.

And coral reefs are of considerable economic value to humans, both as abundant fishing resources and – often more lucratively – as tourist destinations. About 850 million people live within 100km of a reef, of which some 275 million are likely to depend on the reef ecosystems for nutrition or livelihood. Fringing reefs can also help to protect low-lying islands and coastal regions from extreme weather, absorbing waves before they reach vulnerable populations.

Carbon emissions generated by human activity, especially our heavy use of fossils fuels, are the biggest cause of the anticipated rapid decline, impacting on coral reefs in two main ways. Climate change increases ocean surface temperatures, which have already risen by 0.67C in the past century. This puts corals under enormous stress and leads to coral bleaching, where the photosynthesising algae on which the reef-building creatures depend for energy disappear. Deprived of these for even a few weeks, the corals die.

On top of this comes ocean acidification. Roughly one-third of the extra carbon dioxide we put into the atmosphere is absorbed through the ocean surface, acidifying shallower waters. A more recently recognised problem in tropical reef systems, the imbalance created makes it harder for reef organisms to retrieve the minerals needed to build their carbonaceous skeletons. "If they can't build their skeletons – or they have to put a lot more energy into building them relative to all the other things they need to do, like reproduce – it has a detrimental effect on the coral reefs," says Paul Johnston of the University of Exeter, and founder of the UK's Greenpeace Research Laboratories.

An important caveat to the book's predictions is that the corals themselves – the tiny organisms largely responsible for creating reefs – may be lucky enough to survive the destruction, if past mass extinction episodes are anything to go by. "Although corals are ancient animals and have been around for hundreds of millions of years, there have been periods of reefs, and periods where there are no reefs," explains Mark Spalding, of the US-based environmental group Nature Conservancy, and the University of Cambridge. "When climatic conditions are right they build these fantastic structures, but when they're not they wait in the wings, in little refuges, as a rather obscure invertebrate."

The gaps between periods in which reefs are present have been long even in geological terms, described in the book as "multimillion-year pauses". And reef disappearance has tended to precede wider mass extinction events, offering an ominous "canary in the environmental coal mine" for the present day, according to the author. "People have been talking about current biodiversity loss as the Holocene mass extinction, meaning that the losses of species that are occurring now are in every way equivalent to the mass extinctions of the past," Professor Sale says. "I think there is every possibility that is what we are seeing."

About 20 per cent of global coral reefs have already been lost in the past few decades. Mass bleaching events leading to widespread coral death are a relatively recent phenomenon; though scientists have been studying coral reefs in earnest since the 1950s, mass bleaching was first observed only in 1983.

Dr Spalding, who witnessed the catastrophic 1998 mass bleaching in the Indian Ocean first-hand, says: "It was a shocking wake-up call for the world of science, and a shocking wake-up for me to be actually there as we watched literally 80 to 90 per cent of all the corals die on the reefs of the Seychelles and other islands in a few weeks." That single event destroyed 16 per cent of the world's coral.

But according to the book's author: "The 1998 bleaching was spectacular because it was so extensive and so conspicuous. But there have been mass bleachings that have been global since then: 2005 was bad; 2010 was bad. The visual appearance is not nearly as severe as it was in 1998, simply because there is less coral around."

These dramatic episodes coincide with unusual weather patterns such as El Niño, but are increasing in severity and frequency due to climate change. As such, tackling global warming is the most urgent solution advocated by the book. "If we can keep CO2 concentrations below 450 parts per million we would be able to save something resembling coral reefs," Professor Sale says. "They wouldn't be the coral reefs of the 1950s or 1960s, but they would be recognisably coral reefs, and they would function as reefs." The current atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration is about 390 parts per million, but few experts believe it will remain below 500 for long.

There are signs that local conservation efforts can make a difference. Alex Rogers, professor of conservation biology at Oxford University, says: "We know for certain that corals subject to low levels of stress are much more able to recover. So if you take away pressures like overfishing of coral reefs and pollution, this has profound effects on recovery. But what we're really doing is buying time for many of these ecosystems. If climate change continues at its current rate, they will be done for eventually."

Though not all scientists agree with the precise timescales set out by the book, the crisis is clear. "When you're talking about the destruct-ion of an entire ecosystem within one human generation, there might be some small differences in the details – it is a dramatic image and a dramatic statement," Professor Rogers says. "But the overall message we agree with. People are not taking on board the sheer speed of the changes we're seeing."

'Our Dying Planet' (University of California Press) will be published in North America tomorrow

Source of news article


9, September, 2011


South Africa: Authorities sink ship after failed rescue bid

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At 9.50AM yesterday the ill-fated vessel Phoenix, which ran aground near Durban, took its final bow about 78km off Amanzimtoti on KZN’s south coast.

The 40-year-old ship has been in the news since it was stranded on the rocks off Sheffield Beach, just north of Durban, in early July. It was en route to India from Nigeria when it encountered problems and grounded near Durban.

The South African taxpayers have paid more than R35m in maintaining the ship after local maritime authorities could not reach its owners.

Dirty oil and harmful chemicals had to be transported off the ship to prevent spillage into the sea and destroying fish and other marine life.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa) brought in international and local experts and hired helicopters to ensure the Phoenix was ready for refloating and, finally, to assist in the sinking operation.

Two previous attempts had failed, at a cost of millions of rands.

But yesterday Samsa officials were relieved when the Phoenix was eventually sunk and rested on the ocean bed, 783m below sea level.

“We are relieved,” said an excited Capt Saroor Ali.

“This has been a mammoth task.”

He said four remaining salvage crew members were lifted from the Phoenix just five minutes before it was sunk.

He said the tug Smith Amandla would remain nearby to monitor the sunken ship until late evening to ensure debris from the vessel does not come to surface and endanger passing ships or marine life.

“We will mark the exact spot where the ship was sunk to alert passing ships. But we are confident the ship is too far down on the seabed to pose any danger to the surface navigation or environment,” he said.

Capt Ali said now that the mission of sinking the ship had been accomplished, Samsa would try again to locate the owners of Phoenix to recover some of the costs incurred during the operations.

The Phoenix was registered in the Equatorial Guinea port of Malabo in west Africa but is believed to be owned by a group of Nigerians.

Source of news article


Kenya: Nema seeks public views on oil search

The environment watchdog has called for public views on the Sh2.3 billion oil exploration off the Coast.

UK-based BG Group signed production sharing contracts with the government for the project that will be carried on blocks L10A and L10B in May.

“The seismic survey programme will be undertaken to help determine whether there may be commercial deposits of oil and gas that can be produced from these two blocks,” says a public notice signed by National Environmental Management Authority director of enforcement Zephania Ouma.

An environmental and social impact assessment report prepared by ESF consultants says a seismic survey will be carried out along the coastline and marine areas from the port of Mombasa to the Tanzanian border.

The survey will be conducted between November and early next year.

The BG Group has indicated that the proposed exploration of blocks L10A and L10B would involve two and three dimensional seismic survey in the initial phase, with drilling in later phases.

“The seismic surveys are aimed at collecting data on, and characterising, the geological sequences and structures under the ocean floor to identify the presence of structures which could contain exploitable reserves of hydrocarbons,” notes the firm.

BG Group holds a 40 per cent equity interest in block L10A and a 45 per in block L10B. Premier Oil Investments Ltd has 20 and 25 per cent stake in block L10 A and L10B, Cove Energy has 25 and 15 per cent stakes in both blocks and Pancontinental Oil & Gas NL holds 15 per cent share in each of the two blocks.

Source of news article


Kenya: Court suspends firm’s mineral mining project

A South African company has been stopped from prospecting for minerals at a site the Digo community considers as sacred.

The Kaya Mrima Self-Help Group convinced the High Court in Mombasa that Cortec Mining, which claims to have invested Sh13.5 billion in the Kwale mining project, was granted the prospecting mining licence in contravention of the Forests and Mining Acts.

The case had been filed by Mr Juma Dari Omari, Mr Nasir Abdalla and Mr Omari Suleiman on behalf of the Mrima group.

The three also said Mrima area, where the prospecting was to take place, was a gazetted forest and nature reserve.

The three said the excavation had destroyed the shrine and that the community’s cultural beliefs had been belittled.

Cultural beliefs

In addition, they claimed the activities had destroyed their community’s right to a clean and healthy environment because “no environment impact assessment has been carried out”.

The plaintiffs claimed they wrote to the Commissioner of Mines and Geology asking for a revocation of the licence but had received no response.

They had sued the Commissioner of Mines and Geology, the Culture and National Heritage minister, the Environment and Natural Resources minister and Cortec Mining Ltd.

Last month, Environment minister John Michuki directed the mining company to stop prospecting for minerals until the dispute with the local community was resolved.

“No prospecting will continue until the community’s concerns over the project have been addressed,” Mr Michuki said in a statement.

High Court judge Maureen Odero granted a stay of the prospecting licence and issued a temporary injunction restraining the Commissioner of Mines and Geology from extending the licence given to Cortec Mining Ltd.

The hearing will be on October 19.

Source of news article


Seychelles President: 'We must claim back our oceans'

President James Michel today called on regional powers and international partners to intensify their efforts to ‘claim back our oceans’ from the hands of pirates, which he said have ‘shown a great ability to adapt and exploit any weaknesses.’ 

He was speaking at the opening of an international anti-piracy conference at Le Méridien Barbarons this morning,  titled “Piracy:  Orchestrating Response” which is co-hosted by the Seychelles Government and the South Asia and Africa Regional Port Stability Cooperative (SAARPSCO).

“We must strengthen our ability to ensure that we can harness the power of our oceans, of the blue economy, for true sustainable development. For the coastal states of our region- it is essential for our survival.  Not only to tackle piracy- but to better prepare ourselves to fight related crimes of drug trafficking, people trafficking, marine pollution and illegal fishing,” said President Michel. 

He also called on international partners to reinforce shared surveillance, patrols and exchange of information of the Indian Ocean and at the same time to build capacity in the medium term for coastal states to better to be able to be more active partners in surveillance of their waters.    

President Michel warned that the piracy problem was becoming a heavy burden on the countries of the region which do not have the adequate resource and capacity for prosecuting and imprisoning pirates.

“In Seychelles, we are grateful to the support of UNODC and the donor countries to be able to construct a new wing of our prison, while also supporting the prosecution services.  With thousands of pirates in operation however, it is clear that there is not enough prison capacity in this region to deal with this problem,” he told delegates at the meeting opening.

The President said that the international community needed to do more to tackle the financing of piracy and the related transnational crime networks, and in this way disable the illegal maritime activity.

“Most of the funding for piracy originates outside of Somalia; in the same way that most of the profits from piracy are taken out of Somalia.  We must build on the already strong law enforcement networks that have been built to fight money laundering and trace the funds that finance terrorism.  We must also be prepared to be innovative- and allow regional mechanisms that go beyond national jurisdictions to seize proceeds of crime,” said the President.

The opening of the conference was attended by the Vice-President Danny Faure, as well as the President and CEO of SAARPSCO, Hans J. Niebergall, government ministers, high ranking officers of the Seychelles People’s Defense Forces, the Seychelles Ports Authority and the Financial Intelligence Unit, as well as corporate and government leaders from the Indian Ocean region and Africa, as well as countries of the European Union, New Zealand, South Korea, , India, the United, and representatives of the United Nations, EUNAVFOR,  INTERPOL, EUROPOL, and the U.S. Navy Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS).  

Editor’s Note

•    Following the opening of the conference, the President was presented with a book written by a former Seychellois piracy hostage, Captain Francis Roucou, entitled “88 days,” which tells the story of his time in Somalia together with the crew members of the Seychelles Explorer in 2009.

•    The conference ends on 9th September and is co-chaired by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Jean-Paul Adam, and the Minister for Home Affairs, Environment, Transport and Energy, Mr Joel Morgan.

•    Workshops and panel discussions include:

The global challenge of piracy:  Piracy, maritime security and information sharing.

The impact of piracy on the fishing, cargo shipping, and cruise line industries.

The operational response to piracy, including Best Management Practices and rules of engagement.

The criminal justice system’s position on piracy, including the legal basis for prosecution and the importance of domestic    legislation, as well as elements of Somalia’s legal system, involving prisoner detention capacity and complications in the transfer of prisoners.

The private sector’s response to piracy, such as the role of private armed guards or the military onboard vessels plus the shipping industry’s view on ransoms and their place in the piracy business model.

Deciphering and dismantling piracy’s highly developed organizational structure and financial schemes.

The enhancement of port security and the costs of piracy, with special emphasis on both the human and economic tolls.

•    SAARPSCO:  The South Asia and Africa Regional Port Stability Cooperative was created in 2008, by the United States Coast Guard, in partnership with South Asian and African nations, to combat piracy in the Indian Ocean and nearby regions.  SAARPSCO, with its headquarters in Victoria, Mahe, Seychelles, is also committed to enforcing lawful fishing practices, creating sophisticated vessel tracking systems, promoting international maritime communication, and preserving environmental quality.

Source of news article


8, September, 2011


Kenya: New Strategy to Rein in On Harmful Wastes Launched

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A strategy to control the movement and dumping of dangerous wastes and chemicals in the country was launched yesterday by the Ministry of Environment. Environment PS Ali Mohammed said Kenya supports international bans on transboundary movement of hazardous wastes and chemicals.

Kenya lacks the monitoring and management strategies on the movement of hazardous waste and chemicals. Dangerous wastes and chemicals are usually carried to developed countries where there is capacity to treat and make them less harmless. "Phase one of the strategy involves a legal and institutional framework," Mohammed said.

This will ensure that culprits transporting such wastes are held accountable besides being monitored by relevant agencies, the PS said. Mohammed said that Kenya keeps on experiencing oil spills in its seas which end up killing fish and the mangrove trees which sustain the coastal strip. He said: "We must ensure that such incidents do not occur on land and water."

Francis Kahumba, a coordinator of wastes and chemical management at the ministry of environment said Kenya is exposed to the menace like any other country. Kahumba said Kenya is a transit point because of the port of Mombasa. He said the project aims at addressing the missing links to monitor and control the possible occurrence of waste and chemical dumping within its environs.

Source of news article


Seychelles: Stakeholders meet to validate inputs to new agricultural plan

Agriculture’s increasingly important role in the development strategy of the Seychelles government, as our country becomes more vulnerable to external shocks, was the focus of a one-day workshop yesterday.

The workshop at the International Conference Centre was attended by the Minister for Investment, Natural Resources and Industry, Peter Sinon, his principal secretaries, as well as representatives of the Seychelles Agricultural Agency, the Seychelles Fishing Authority and other related organisations.

Also present was Frederick Msiska, the coordinator of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) -- of which Seychelles is a signatory -- and Cyril Monty, consultant of the Indian Ocean Commission.

Launching the workshop, the principal secretary for Investment and Natural Resources, Michael Nalletamby, said in recent years, flooding, wildfires, the global economic recession and piracy have increased the vulnerability of Seychelles in terms of food security.

Being at the mercy of external shocks has prompted Seychelles to strive towards greater food sufficiency, which presently stands at only 3% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), minus exports of processed tuna, he said.

Mr Nalletamby noted that our link with CAADP, which was institutionalised by the African Union at a conference in Maputo in 2003, means supporting the development of a comprehensive agricultural programme covering all the major agricultural sectors of crops, livestock, fisheries and forestry.

Yesterday’s workshop focussed on what will feature in the new agricultural strategy, which will align itself on other national development plans.

The Seychelles government and key stakeholders have identified five main priority areas for national development, all of which reduces Seychelles’ vulnerability to external shocks, build resilience of the national economy and provide the basis for long-term sustainable development.

They are: (a) renewable energy and water, (b) human resource development, (c) economic infrastructure, including transport and ICT, (d) food security, trade and diversification, (e) development of national statistics.

Some of the more salient development objectives that are to be met are to reduce foreign currency leakage, enhance farm income, improve lifelihoods and create national wealth for investment in other sectors, increase national GDP contribution of the sector and optimise the use of scarce economic factors of production such as land, labour capital.

Other key development objectives are to enhance the health of the local population and to optimise the level of local environmental services through sound agricultural practices.

According to the agricultural production targets for food items consumed locally for the next five years, 100% of pork, broiler chicken and table eggs will be produced locally as well as 80% of fruit and vegetables.

Source of news article


Deep-Sea Fish in Deep Trouble: Scientists Find Nearly All Deep-Sea Fisheries Unsustainable

A team of leading marine scientists from around the world is recommending an end to most commercial fishing in the deep sea, Earth's largest ecosystem. Instead, they recommend fishing in more productive waters nearer to consumers.

In a comprehensive analysis published online in the journal Marine Policy, marine ecologists, fisheries biologists, economists, mathematicians and international policy experts show that, with rare exceptions, deep-sea fisheries are unsustainable. The "Sustainability of deep-sea fisheries" study, funded mainly by the Lenfest Ocean Program, comes just before the UN decides whether to continue allowing deep-sea fishing in international waters, which the UN calls "high seas."

Life is mostly sparse in the oceans' cold depths, far from the sunlight that fuels photosynthesis. Food is scarce and life processes happen at a slower pace than near the sea surface. Some deep-sea fishes live more than a century; some deep-sea corals can live more than 4,000 years. When bottom trawlers rip life from the depths, animals adapted to life in deep-sea time can't repopulate on human time scales. Powerful fishing technologies are overwhelming them.

"The deep sea is the world's worst place to catch fish" says marine ecologist Dr. Elliott Norse, the study's lead author and President of the Marine Conservation Institute in Bellevue, Washington USA. "Deep-sea fishes are especially vulnerable because they can't repopulate quickly after being overfished."

The deep sea provides less than 1% of the world's seafood. But fishing there, especially bottom trawling, causes profound, lasting damage to fishes and life on the seafloor, such as deep-sea corals, these experts say.

Since the 1970s, when coastal fisheries were overexploited, commercial fishing fleets have moved further offshore and into deeper waters. Some now fish more than a mile deep.

"Because these fish grow slowly and live a long time, they can only sustain a very low rate of fishing," says author Dr. Selina Heppell, a marine fisheries ecologist at Oregon State University. "On the high seas, it is impossible to control or even monitor the amount of fishing that is occurring. The effects on local populations can be devastating."

The authors document the collapse of many deep-sea fishes around the world, including sharks and orange roughy. Other commercially caught deep-sea fishes include grenadiers (rattails) and blue ling.

"Fifty years ago no one ate orange roughy," said author Dr. Daniel Pauly, a fisheries biologist with the University of British Columbia (UBC). "In fact, it used to be called slimehead, indicating no one ever thought we would eat it. But as we've overfished our coastal species, that changed and so did the name."

Orange roughy take 30 years to reach sexual maturity and can live 125 years. Compared with most coastal fishes, they live in slow-motion. Unfortunately for them and the deep-sea corals they live among, they can no longer hide from industrial fishing.

"Fishing for orange roughy started in New Zealand and grew rapidly through the 1980s and 1990s. However, most of the fisheries were overexploited, and catch levels have either been dramatically reduced or the fisheries closed all together," says author Dr. Malcolm Clark, a New Zealand-based fisheries biologist. "The same pattern has been repeated in Australia, Namibia, the SW Indian Ocean, Chile and Ireland. It demonstrates how vulnerable deep-sea fish species can be to overfishing and potential stock collapse."

There are very few exceptions to unsustainable deep-sea fisheries around the world. One is the Azores fishery for black scabbardfish. There the Portuguese government has banned bottom trawling, which overfished black scabbardfish elsewhere. Azores fish are caught sustainably with hook and line gear from small boats. In most deep sea-fisheries, however, trawlers fish outside of nations' 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zones, outside of effective government control.

"Deep-sea fisheries can be sustainable only where the fish population grows quickly and fisheries are small-scale and use gear that don't destroy fish habitat," said Dr. Norse. "With slow-growing fish, there's economic incentive to kill them all and reinvest the money elsewhere to get a higher return-on-investment. Killing off life in the deep sea one place after another isn't good for our oceans or economies. Boom-and-bust fisheries are more like mining than fishing," Dr. Norse said.

The lawlessness of the high seas adds to overfishing in the deep. So do nations' fisheries subsidies.

High seas trawlers receive some $162 million each year in government handouts, which amounts to 25% the value of the fleet's catch, according to Dr. Rashid Sumaila, an author and fisheries economist at UBC.

The authors of this Marine Policy paper say that the best policy would be to end economically wasteful deep-sea fisheries, redirect subsidies to help displaced fishermen and rebuild fish populations in productive waters closer to ports and markets, places far more conducive to sustainable fisheries.

"Instead of overfishing the Earth's biggest but most vulnerable ecosystem, nations should recover fish populations and fish in more productive coastal waters," says Dr. Norse. "Deep-sea fishes are in deep trouble almost everywhere we look. Governments shouldn't be wasting taxpayers' money by keeping unsustainable fisheries afloat."

Source of news article


9, September, 2011


South Africa: Authorities sink ship after failed rescue bid

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At 9.50AM yesterday the ill-fated vessel Phoenix, which ran aground near Durban, took its final bow about 78km off Amanzimtoti on KZN’s south coast.

The 40-year-old ship has been in the news since it was stranded on the rocks off Sheffield Beach, just north of Durban, in early July. It was en route to India from Nigeria when it encountered problems and grounded near Durban.

The South African taxpayers have paid more than R35m in maintaining the ship after local maritime authorities could not reach its owners.

Dirty oil and harmful chemicals had to be transported off the ship to prevent spillage into the sea and destroying fish and other marine life.

The South African Maritime Safety Authority (Samsa) brought in international and local experts and hired helicopters to ensure the Phoenix was ready for refloating and, finally, to assist in the sinking operation.

Two previous attempts had failed, at a cost of millions of rands.

But yesterday Samsa officials were relieved when the Phoenix was eventually sunk and rested on the ocean bed, 783m below sea level.

“We are relieved,” said an excited Capt Saroor Ali.

“This has been a mammoth task.”

He said four remaining salvage crew members were lifted from the Phoenix just five minutes before it was sunk.

He said the tug Smith Amandla would remain nearby to monitor the sunken ship until late evening to ensure debris from the vessel does not come to surface and endanger passing ships or marine life.

“We will mark the exact spot where the ship was sunk to alert passing ships. But we are confident the ship is too far down on the seabed to pose any danger to the surface navigation or environment,” he said.

Capt Ali said now that the mission of sinking the ship had been accomplished, Samsa would try again to locate the owners of Phoenix to recover some of the costs incurred during the operations.

The Phoenix was registered in the Equatorial Guinea port of Malabo in west Africa but is believed to be owned by a group of Nigerians.

Source of news article


Kenya: Nema seeks public views on oil search

The environment watchdog has called for public views on the Sh2.3 billion oil exploration off the Coast.

UK-based BG Group signed production sharing contracts with the government for the project that will be carried on blocks L10A and L10B in May.

“The seismic survey programme will be undertaken to help determine whether there may be commercial deposits of oil and gas that can be produced from these two blocks,” says a public notice signed by National Environmental Management Authority director of enforcement Zephania Ouma.

An environmental and social impact assessment report prepared by ESF consultants says a seismic survey will be carried out along the coastline and marine areas from the port of Mombasa to the Tanzanian border.

The survey will be conducted between November and early next year.

The BG Group has indicated that the proposed exploration of blocks L10A and L10B would involve two and three dimensional seismic survey in the initial phase, with drilling in later phases.

“The seismic surveys are aimed at collecting data on, and characterising, the geological sequences and structures under the ocean floor to identify the presence of structures which could contain exploitable reserves of hydrocarbons,” notes the firm.

BG Group holds a 40 per cent equity interest in block L10A and a 45 per in block L10B. Premier Oil Investments Ltd has 20 and 25 per cent stake in block L10 A and L10B, Cove Energy has 25 and 15 per cent stakes in both blocks and Pancontinental Oil & Gas NL holds 15 per cent share in each of the two blocks.

Source of news article


Kenya: Court suspends firm’s mineral mining project

A South African company has been stopped from prospecting for minerals at a site the Digo community considers as sacred.

The Kaya Mrima Self-Help Group convinced the High Court in Mombasa that Cortec Mining, which claims to have invested Sh13.5 billion in the Kwale mining project, was granted the prospecting mining licence in contravention of the Forests and Mining Acts.

The case had been filed by Mr Juma Dari Omari, Mr Nasir Abdalla and Mr Omari Suleiman on behalf of the Mrima group.

The three also said Mrima area, where the prospecting was to take place, was a gazetted forest and nature reserve.

The three said the excavation had destroyed the shrine and that the community’s cultural beliefs had been belittled.

Cultural beliefs

In addition, they claimed the activities had destroyed their community’s right to a clean and healthy environment because “no environment impact assessment has been carried out”.

The plaintiffs claimed they wrote to the Commissioner of Mines and Geology asking for a revocation of the licence but had received no response.

They had sued the Commissioner of Mines and Geology, the Culture and National Heritage minister, the Environment and Natural Resources minister and Cortec Mining Ltd.

Last month, Environment minister John Michuki directed the mining company to stop prospecting for minerals until the dispute with the local community was resolved.

“No prospecting will continue until the community’s concerns over the project have been addressed,” Mr Michuki said in a statement.

High Court judge Maureen Odero granted a stay of the prospecting licence and issued a temporary injunction restraining the Commissioner of Mines and Geology from extending the licence given to Cortec Mining Ltd.

The hearing will be on October 19.

Source of news article


Seychelles President: 'We must claim back our oceans'

President James Michel today called on regional powers and international partners to intensify their efforts to ‘claim back our oceans’ from the hands of pirates, which he said have ‘shown a great ability to adapt and exploit any weaknesses.’ 

He was speaking at the opening of an international anti-piracy conference at Le Méridien Barbarons this morning,  titled “Piracy:  Orchestrating Response” which is co-hosted by the Seychelles Government and the South Asia and Africa Regional Port Stability Cooperative (SAARPSCO).

“We must strengthen our ability to ensure that we can harness the power of our oceans, of the blue economy, for true sustainable development. For the coastal states of our region- it is essential for our survival.  Not only to tackle piracy- but to better prepare ourselves to fight related crimes of drug trafficking, people trafficking, marine pollution and illegal fishing,” said President Michel. 

He also called on international partners to reinforce shared surveillance, patrols and exchange of information of the Indian Ocean and at the same time to build capacity in the medium term for coastal states to better to be able to be more active partners in surveillance of their waters.    

President Michel warned that the piracy problem was becoming a heavy burden on the countries of the region which do not have the adequate resource and capacity for prosecuting and imprisoning pirates.

“In Seychelles, we are grateful to the support of UNODC and the donor countries to be able to construct a new wing of our prison, while also supporting the prosecution services.  With thousands of pirates in operation however, it is clear that there is not enough prison capacity in this region to deal with this problem,” he told delegates at the meeting opening.

The President said that the international community needed to do more to tackle the financing of piracy and the related transnational crime networks, and in this way disable the illegal maritime activity.

“Most of the funding for piracy originates outside of Somalia; in the same way that most of the profits from piracy are taken out of Somalia.  We must build on the already strong law enforcement networks that have been built to fight money laundering and trace the funds that finance terrorism.  We must also be prepared to be innovative- and allow regional mechanisms that go beyond national jurisdictions to seize proceeds of crime,” said the President.

The opening of the conference was attended by the Vice-President Danny Faure, as well as the President and CEO of SAARPSCO, Hans J. Niebergall, government ministers, high ranking officers of the Seychelles People’s Defense Forces, the Seychelles Ports Authority and the Financial Intelligence Unit, as well as corporate and government leaders from the Indian Ocean region and Africa, as well as countries of the European Union, New Zealand, South Korea, , India, the United, and representatives of the United Nations, EUNAVFOR,  INTERPOL, EUROPOL, and the U.S. Navy Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS).  

Editor’s Note

•    Following the opening of the conference, the President was presented with a book written by a former Seychellois piracy hostage, Captain Francis Roucou, entitled “88 days,” which tells the story of his time in Somalia together with the crew members of the Seychelles Explorer in 2009.

•    The conference ends on 9th September and is co-chaired by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Jean-Paul Adam, and the Minister for Home Affairs, Environment, Transport and Energy, Mr Joel Morgan.

•    Workshops and panel discussions include:

The global challenge of piracy:  Piracy, maritime security and information sharing.

The impact of piracy on the fishing, cargo shipping, and cruise line industries.

The operational response to piracy, including Best Management Practices and rules of engagement.

The criminal justice system’s position on piracy, including the legal basis for prosecution and the importance of domestic    legislation, as well as elements of Somalia’s legal system, involving prisoner detention capacity and complications in the transfer of prisoners.

The private sector’s response to piracy, such as the role of private armed guards or the military onboard vessels plus the shipping industry’s view on ransoms and their place in the piracy business model.

Deciphering and dismantling piracy’s highly developed organizational structure and financial schemes.

The enhancement of port security and the costs of piracy, with special emphasis on both the human and economic tolls.

•    SAARPSCO:  The South Asia and Africa Regional Port Stability Cooperative was created in 2008, by the United States Coast Guard, in partnership with South Asian and African nations, to combat piracy in the Indian Ocean and nearby regions.  SAARPSCO, with its headquarters in Victoria, Mahe, Seychelles, is also committed to enforcing lawful fishing practices, creating sophisticated vessel tracking systems, promoting international maritime communication, and preserving environmental quality.

Source of news article


8, September, 2011


Kenya: New Strategy to Rein in On Harmful Wastes Launched

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A strategy to control the movement and dumping of dangerous wastes and chemicals in the country was launched yesterday by the Ministry of Environment. Environment PS Ali Mohammed said Kenya supports international bans on transboundary movement of hazardous wastes and chemicals.

Kenya lacks the monitoring and management strategies on the movement of hazardous waste and chemicals. Dangerous wastes and chemicals are usually carried to developed countries where there is capacity to treat and make them less harmless. "Phase one of the strategy involves a legal and institutional framework," Mohammed said.

This will ensure that culprits transporting such wastes are held accountable besides being monitored by relevant agencies, the PS said. Mohammed said that Kenya keeps on experiencing oil spills in its seas which end up killing fish and the mangrove trees which sustain the coastal strip. He said: "We must ensure that such incidents do not occur on land and water."

Francis Kahumba, a coordinator of wastes and chemical management at the ministry of environment said Kenya is exposed to the menace like any other country. Kahumba said Kenya is a transit point because of the port of Mombasa. He said the project aims at addressing the missing links to monitor and control the possible occurrence of waste and chemical dumping within its environs.

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Seychelles: Stakeholders meet to validate inputs to new agricultural plan

Agriculture’s increasingly important role in the development strategy of the Seychelles government, as our country becomes more vulnerable to external shocks, was the focus of a one-day workshop yesterday.

The workshop at the International Conference Centre was attended by the Minister for Investment, Natural Resources and Industry, Peter Sinon, his principal secretaries, as well as representatives of the Seychelles Agricultural Agency, the Seychelles Fishing Authority and other related organisations.

Also present was Frederick Msiska, the coordinator of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) -- of which Seychelles is a signatory -- and Cyril Monty, consultant of the Indian Ocean Commission.

Launching the workshop, the principal secretary for Investment and Natural Resources, Michael Nalletamby, said in recent years, flooding, wildfires, the global economic recession and piracy have increased the vulnerability of Seychelles in terms of food security.

Being at the mercy of external shocks has prompted Seychelles to strive towards greater food sufficiency, which presently stands at only 3% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), minus exports of processed tuna, he said.

Mr Nalletamby noted that our link with CAADP, which was institutionalised by the African Union at a conference in Maputo in 2003, means supporting the development of a comprehensive agricultural programme covering all the major agricultural sectors of crops, livestock, fisheries and forestry.

Yesterday’s workshop focussed on what will feature in the new agricultural strategy, which will align itself on other national development plans.

The Seychelles government and key stakeholders have identified five main priority areas for national development, all of which reduces Seychelles’ vulnerability to external shocks, build resilience of the national economy and provide the basis for long-term sustainable development.

They are: (a) renewable energy and water, (b) human resource development, (c) economic infrastructure, including transport and ICT, (d) food security, trade and diversification, (e) development of national statistics.

Some of the more salient development objectives that are to be met are to reduce foreign currency leakage, enhance farm income, improve lifelihoods and create national wealth for investment in other sectors, increase national GDP contribution of the sector and optimise the use of scarce economic factors of production such as land, labour capital.

Other key development objectives are to enhance the health of the local population and to optimise the level of local environmental services through sound agricultural practices.

According to the agricultural production targets for food items consumed locally for the next five years, 100% of pork, broiler chicken and table eggs will be produced locally as well as 80% of fruit and vegetables.

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Deep-Sea Fish in Deep Trouble: Scientists Find Nearly All Deep-Sea Fisheries Unsustainable

A team of leading marine scientists from around the world is recommending an end to most commercial fishing in the deep sea, Earth's largest ecosystem. Instead, they recommend fishing in more productive waters nearer to consumers.

In a comprehensive analysis published online in the journal Marine Policy, marine ecologists, fisheries biologists, economists, mathematicians and international policy experts show that, with rare exceptions, deep-sea fisheries are unsustainable. The "Sustainability of deep-sea fisheries" study, funded mainly by the Lenfest Ocean Program, comes just before the UN decides whether to continue allowing deep-sea fishing in international waters, which the UN calls "high seas."

Life is mostly sparse in the oceans' cold depths, far from the sunlight that fuels photosynthesis. Food is scarce and life processes happen at a slower pace than near the sea surface. Some deep-sea fishes live more than a century; some deep-sea corals can live more than 4,000 years. When bottom trawlers rip life from the depths, animals adapted to life in deep-sea time can't repopulate on human time scales. Powerful fishing technologies are overwhelming them.

"The deep sea is the world's worst place to catch fish" says marine ecologist Dr. Elliott Norse, the study's lead author and President of the Marine Conservation Institute in Bellevue, Washington USA. "Deep-sea fishes are especially vulnerable because they can't repopulate quickly after being overfished."

The deep sea provides less than 1% of the world's seafood. But fishing there, especially bottom trawling, causes profound, lasting damage to fishes and life on the seafloor, such as deep-sea corals, these experts say.

Since the 1970s, when coastal fisheries were overexploited, commercial fishing fleets have moved further offshore and into deeper waters. Some now fish more than a mile deep.

"Because these fish grow slowly and live a long time, they can only sustain a very low rate of fishing," says author Dr. Selina Heppell, a marine fisheries ecologist at Oregon State University. "On the high seas, it is impossible to control or even monitor the amount of fishing that is occurring. The effects on local populations can be devastating."

The authors document the collapse of many deep-sea fishes around the world, including sharks and orange roughy. Other commercially caught deep-sea fishes include grenadiers (rattails) and blue ling.

"Fifty years ago no one ate orange roughy," said author Dr. Daniel Pauly, a fisheries biologist with the University of British Columbia (UBC). "In fact, it used to be called slimehead, indicating no one ever thought we would eat it. But as we've overfished our coastal species, that changed and so did the name."

Orange roughy take 30 years to reach sexual maturity and can live 125 years. Compared with most coastal fishes, they live in slow-motion. Unfortunately for them and the deep-sea corals they live among, they can no longer hide from industrial fishing.

"Fishing for orange roughy started in New Zealand and grew rapidly through the 1980s and 1990s. However, most of the fisheries were overexploited, and catch levels have either been dramatically reduced or the fisheries closed all together," says author Dr. Malcolm Clark, a New Zealand-based fisheries biologist. "The same pattern has been repeated in Australia, Namibia, the SW Indian Ocean, Chile and Ireland. It demonstrates how vulnerable deep-sea fish species can be to overfishing and potential stock collapse."

There are very few exceptions to unsustainable deep-sea fisheries around the world. One is the Azores fishery for black scabbardfish. There the Portuguese government has banned bottom trawling, which overfished black scabbardfish elsewhere. Azores fish are caught sustainably with hook and line gear from small boats. In most deep sea-fisheries, however, trawlers fish outside of nations' 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zones, outside of effective government control.

"Deep-sea fisheries can be sustainable only where the fish population grows quickly and fisheries are small-scale and use gear that don't destroy fish habitat," said Dr. Norse. "With slow-growing fish, there's economic incentive to kill them all and reinvest the money elsewhere to get a higher return-on-investment. Killing off life in the deep sea one place after another isn't good for our oceans or economies. Boom-and-bust fisheries are more like mining than fishing," Dr. Norse said.

The lawlessness of the high seas adds to overfishing in the deep. So do nations' fisheries subsidies.

High seas trawlers receive some $162 million each year in government handouts, which amounts to 25% the value of the fleet's catch, according to Dr. Rashid Sumaila, an author and fisheries economist at UBC.

The authors of this Marine Policy paper say that the best policy would be to end economically wasteful deep-sea fisheries, redirect subsidies to help displaced fishermen and rebuild fish populations in productive waters closer to ports and markets, places far more conducive to sustainable fisheries.

"Instead of overfishing the Earth's biggest but most vulnerable ecosystem, nations should recover fish populations and fish in more productive coastal waters," says Dr. Norse. "Deep-sea fishes are in deep trouble almost everywhere we look. Governments shouldn't be wasting taxpayers' money by keeping unsustainable fisheries afloat."

Source of news article


7 September,2011


93 tortues interceptées à l’aéroport de Mahajanga

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93 spécimens de tortue dont 1 adulte et 92 bébés tortues ont été interceptés à l’aéroport d’Amborovy Mahajanga le samedi 3 septembre 2011. Une dénommée Nivolalao voulait prendre la ligne directe Mahajanga - La Réunion de 13h. Question de routine, les douaniers ont demandé à la passagère s’il y avait quelque chose à déclarer. « Non » a-t-elle répondu.

« Lors de la fouille des bagages, les douaniers ont remarqué une valise pleine de couches de bébés », a expliqué le receveur des douanes de Mahajanga, Andriantsilanimanga Barthélémy. « Trop suspectes pour les douaniers, les couches ont été ouvertes une à une et l’on a découvert des bébés tortues emballés dans de petites corbeilles en plastique. La tortue adulte avait été emballée dans du lambahoany ». Selon toujours les explications de ce premier responsable des douanes de Mahajanga, la destination Bangkok figure fréquemment sur le passeport de cette passagère. On suppose alors qu’elle voulait rejoindre cette ville en partance de l’île de la Réunion.

La passagère a été tout de suite été emmenée au bureau des douanes de Mahajanga pour enquête. Celle-ci ne voulait rien dire sans la présence de son avocat.

La DREF (Direction régionale de l’environnement et des forêts) a effectué la saisie des tortues et fera appel à des spécialistes afin de déterminer la nature et l’espèce exacte de chacune des tortues. « Ce sont toutes apparemment des tortues à éperon Angonoky » a déclaré le directeur régional de l’Environnement et des Forêts du Boeny, Virginie Razafindravola. « Mais attendons les explications des spécialistes pour être plus précis » a-t-elle souligné. Car si ce sont des tortues à éperon, elles ne peuvent provenir que du Parc de la baie de Baly de Soalala. Récemment d’ailleurs, des chiffres ont été avancés par le MNP, responsable de ce parc, selon lesquels seuls quelques 400 individus y vivent. Ces espèces endémiques ne sont plus à l’abri des trafics en tout genre.

Source of the news article 


Tanzania: Losing the war against dynamite fishing menace

Dynamite fishing, a get rich quick but illegal venture, surfaced in the country’s waters over four decades ago. Nobody can say for sure when the illegal activity took off and why, though some people associate it with population growth.

What is, however, worrying is the fact that the gravity of the crime notwithstanding, the bandits have, all along, been regarded as heroes in society.

Most people living along fishing villages realize the hazards caused by dynamite fishing. Such people include fish mongers.

If such is the case, why then do they seem to cherish the unlawful act? Why do they embrace the perpetrators?

“It is not possible to expose the practitioners because, to most villagers, the bigger the catch the cheaper the commodity,” according to Mwinyi Omari (80) a resident of Mwarongo village, Tongoni area in Tanga city.

Big catch, particularly those involving small fish and sardines killed through blasting, are normally loaded into carts conveyed by donkeys and sold openly in households through cities’ or towns’ streets.

But what is baffling is the fact that fish killed by dynamites are easily noticed. In fact one does not need to hold a degree in fisheries.

Such fish bear clear big scratches in their bodies. Why then are fisheries officials and their assistants, as well as environmental conservationists, failing to identify the anomalies and deal with the fishmongers as appropriate?

‘What does the law say?

Doesn’t it require fisheries officers to constantly visit sea shores and markets to ensure products sold to consumers carry the requisite quality for sale?” questioned Antony Andrea, retired government official.

But some villages doubt whether the vice will be contained in the foreseeable future.

“It is difficult to wipe out the malice because some officials who are supposed to confront the practitioners in the vice, have joined hands in the activity,” says a villager residing at Chongoleani, a fishing village on the Tanga –Mombasa road.

The villager’s view is echoed by a government official working in the education sector in Tongoni Ward.

“How do you expect officials engaged in the fisheries department, not only here, but also in other places, to harass the perpetrators of the vice when their incomes hardly satisfy their domestic needs? he queried.

“There is already a network linking the bandits and some of patrol officials. The latter normally tip off the blasting team when patrol days are due so that they refrain from going ashore on such “dangerous” days.’

Some people believe that the officials colluding with the bandits may be doing so on noticing that courts of law have not been meting deterrent sentences to suspects taken to court for dynamite fishing.

“The law says a person convicted for illegal fishing faces an instant penalty of 500,000/-, but in most cases the bandits have escaped with light sentences. How do you expect such people to abandon the vice when the punishments have no impact to them?” asked a retied fisheries officer who decided to remain anonymous.

With the government’s resolve to eradicate poverty, through its various developmental strategies, much remain to be desired, as far as eradication of the vice is concerned.

But some people are of the view that in order for the practitioners to abandon the crime, the government should devise ways to help them through formation of small scale ventures.

“Those engaged in illegal fishing need to be assisted through establishment of small scale development projects so that they may abandon what they are presently doing” according to Amir Mshihiri, a city resident.

“Population growth is threateningly high. If the present trend of dynamite fishing is left to flourish, in a few years, fish stock will have drastically been depleted, “says Mshihiri.

He adds: “Perhaps the best way is to ensure that the young generation is made aware of the repercussions of illegal fishing through inclusion of the topic in school syllabuses.”

Dynamite fishing is a serious activity in that it threatens the economy and the livelihood of small scale fishermen who earn their income through fishing.

An 85 year’s old resident of Tongoni, another fishing village on the Tanga –Pangani road, speaks bad of those engaging in illegal fishing, warning that deliberate efforts and not words, were needed to wipe out the deadly vice.

“Many people are not aware that the acts of those engaging in illegal fishing now will have disastrous effects on future generations, he asserted, saying most of them were driven by the motive for quick money.

Another resident of the same village, Kombo Ali, says normally bandits carry their activities in deep sea.

Kombo says when a single blast is released, over 60 per cent of various fish species die with most of them drowning - hence only 40 per cent is harvested.

“The killed fish remain deep in the sea for sometime and later come afloat when they are already rotten”.

Observers say, in some places notorious for dynamite fishing along the coastal line, at least ten blasts are blown out a day.

When blasts are made, coral reefs, breeding habitation for fish, are extensively damaged, leaving fish desperate and homeless.

Corals, extremely fragile creatures, are organisms which, when they die, form coral reefs.

The creatures are most vulnerable, ostensibly caused by excess atmospheric carbon dioxide - itself responsible for temperature rise.

Source of news article


Seychelles: Experts recommend nets after Seychelles shark attacks

Authorities in the Seychelles will erect special anti-shark sea nets around a popular beach where two tourists were killed in separate attacks last month, officials said on Thursday.

South African experts from the KwaZulu Natal Sharks Board -- hired by the Seychellois government to investigate the attacks -- said their recommendations to introduce nets had been accepted.

A swimming ban imposed after the attacks will continue "until such time as small-mesh exclusion nets were introduced at the attack site and adjacent beaches", Geremy Cliff, head of research at the centre, told AFP.

"It was evident the minister wants to ensure that every reasonable precaution is taken to prevent further shark attacks," Cliff added, who normally works to protect swimmers in South Africa from attacks.

British honeymooner Ian Redmond was killed last month while in the sea off Anse Lazio beach -- a famous beauty spot on the archipelago's Praslin island -- while his newly-wed wife watched on helplessly.

The attack happened in the same area where a shark attacked and killed 36-year-old French tourist Nicolas Francois Xavier Virolle earlier in August.

"From close examination of photographs of the injuries, it appeared that large tiger sharks in the region of four metres (13 feet) were responsible for both attacks," Cliff also said in a report.

"It is impossible to confirm that the same shark was responsible, but it cannot be excluded."

A shark tooth fragment found in a victim will be analysed in the hope of confirming the exact species, he added.

The Seychellois home affairs ministry said in a statement last week it would work with the South African experts to "address the local shark problem".

Fishermen on the Indian Ocean archipelago caught some 40 sharks since the attack on government orders, although Cliff said most were from species "none of which pose a major threat" to humans.

However, a 3.6 metre (11 foot) long tiger shark was caught, but there was no proof it was the killer animal.

"The stomach contents of the tiger shark were examined but no human remains or wedding ring -- the second victim lost his left arm, with a wedding ring on the third finger -- were found," the report read.

Shark attacks are rare in Seychelles, with the last reported fatal attack before the recent killings in 1963, according to the government.

"There was no obvious explanation for the attacks, both of which were in the mid-late afternoon," it added.

"In general, attacks in the late afternoon are not unusual, as this is when sharks, which are generally most active at night, tend to start moving inshore to hunt for food."

The 115-island archipelago is a popular top-end tourist destination

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6 September,2011


South Africa: Cape Town oil spill clean-up complete

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The cleaning of Bloubergstrand in Cape Town was completed on Monday after oil stopped spilling from the stranded Seli 1 vessel, the city said.

"The rapid response by the city's disaster response teams has averted serious pollution of marine life and environment over this past weekend," mayoral committee member JP Smith said.

The Seli 1 had been stranded off the beach since 2009. It broke apart in rough seas last week, causing the remaining oil on board to spill. The city was alerted on Friday.

Smith said a meeting with the SA Maritime Safety Authority was called to discuss measures to avoid more spills.

"Since the vessel stranded, it has repeatedly had a negative impact on our environment and coastline."

He said there was no maritime legislation that compelled any party to clear the wreckage. The city was getting legal advice on using disaster management legislation to address the issue.

The city would work with the environmental affairs department to monitor the impact of the spill.

Source of the news article 


Zanzibar bans use of plastic bags

The Zanzibar Government has banned imports, manufacture and use of plastic bags and encouraged the use of bio-degradable materials for carrying shopping.

The ban, imposed recently under the Environment (Protection) Act - Plastic Ban Regulation No. 49, 2008, will penalize anyone who breaches it with a six-month jail term or a fine of Tshs 1.5 million (US$925)  or both.

The move against use of the hazardous plastic bags according to the Isles Minister of State in the First Vice-President's Office (Environment, HIV and Disabled Persons), Ms Fatma Abdul-Habib Fereji, is intended to save the Isles.

Immigration officials have been instructed to enforce the ban at all entry points that include airports and seaports, and markets and along streets. 

The Zanzibar Government has been working on the matter since 2008 when the first ban on the use of plastic bags - below 30 microns - was imposed, but the business community virtually ignored it. 

The Government noted that use  of the banned materials and littering  was intense and was threatening the environment and as well being an eyesore.  Statistics show that "between 184,349 and 553,047 plastics bags are dumped in Zanzibar every day, polluting the environment extensively," said the Minister.

The ban will encourage shopkeepers and marketers to start using paper and sisal bags, and women will be encouraged to use straw bags. The ban comes at the time Zanzibar has been chosen to host a three-day climate change conference on December 12 to 14, 2011. The conference is in recognition of the fact that the twin Zanzibar Isles are among small island states threatened by effects of climate change.

Zanzibar, who se income comes mainly from tourism, organized the three-day symposium to deliberate the impact of climate change in small island states.

The symposium bears the theme of "First International Symposium on Impact and Vulnerability and Adaptation to Climate Change in Small Island Developing States." It is being organized by the State University of Zanzibar to raise national and international awareness on threats of climate change to small island states, which are leading tourist attraction destinations in the world, including the island of Zanzibar.

Climate change scientists had earlier raised their concern over climate changes in Zanzibar and threats to rising water levels of the Indian Ocean, and predicted dangers ahead, among them, a possible sinking of some islands which make the Zanzibar archipelago. 

Experts further warned of a possibility of  key beaches of Zanzibar and a big part of this island being submerged by the Indian Ocean within the the next 100 years.

According to the State University of Zanzibar, key speakers will be drawn from other island states including Samoa and Japan. Other speakers confirmed to attend will come from Tanzania and South Africa.

A number of topics have been drawn for discussion by climate change experts and policymakers. Key topics for discussion are: Climate Change and Biodiversity; Climate Change and Tourism; Climate Change and Ecosystem Services; Climate Change and Agriculture and Food Security; Climate Change, Land Use, and Forestry; and Climate Change and Human Health, among many others.

Zanzibar is made up of two major islands in the Indian Ocean. Unguja is the main island and Pemba Island in the northern side is the small one, with a series of other, small uninhabited fishing coral islands. 

Source of news article


Nominations Open for 2012 Champions of the Earth Award

Nominations are now open for the 2012 Champions of the Earth -- the United Nations' flagship environment award that recognizes outstanding visionaries and leaders in the fields of policy, science, entrepreneurship and civil society action.

Next year’s award ceremony comes in the run up to Rio+20 or two decades after the Rio Earth Summit of 1992 that established treaties on biodiversity, climate change and land desertification and set the course for contemporary sustainable development. It also comes 40 years after the Stockholm Conference that established the UN Environment Program (UNEP).

The prize seeks to honor men and women whose actions and leadership have made a positive impact on the environment. Whether by helping to improve the management of natural resources, demonstrating new ways to tackle climate change or raising awareness of emerging environmental challenges, the Champions of the Earth should serve as an inspiration for transformative action across the world.

The 2012 Champions of the Earth Awards will be especially interested in candidates whose achievements can be significantly linked to the outcomes of Stockholm in 1972 and Rio in 1992. Nominations of individuals and organizations providing leadership and creative contributions towards Rio+20 — under its twin themes of a Green Economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication and an institutional framework for sustainable development — will also be keenly considered. A laureate will be selected for each of the following categories: Policy, Leadership, Science and Innovation, Entrepreneurial Vision, and Inspiration and Action.

The 2011 laureates, who were honored at a high-level Award Ceremony in New York in May, included:

  • Mexican President Felipe Calderon, Policy Leadership category, for his commitment to lead international efforts to combat climate change;
  • Russian scientist Dr. Olga Speranskaya, Science & Innovation category, for successfully mobilizing civil society in eliminating obsolete pesticides and toxic chemicals in the former Soviet region;
  • BROAD Group’s CEO, Mr. Zhang Yue, Entrepreneurial Vision category, for his business leadership on energy efficiency and sustainable production;
  • Switzerland’s Louis Palmer and Benin’s Angélique Kidjo, Inspiration & Action category co-winners, for raising global awareness of the need for renewable energy and sustainable transport, and for advocating social equity and women empowerment in support of sustainable development, respectively.

Members of the public can now nominate a candidate who they believe is a true champion of green development. Nominations will be accepted until October 31, 2011.

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New Publication: Marine Protected Areas for Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises’

A new book, Marine Protected Areas for Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises is released, calling for accelerated efforts to conserve marine mammals by protecting a greater area of the ocean. Currently only 1.3% of the ocean is protected but many new Marine Protected Areas are being created. Erich Hoyt, the book’s author and IUCN’s cetacean specialist, examines current and future developments in ocean protection.

“At least 300,000 whales and dolphins a year end up dead in fishing nets alone, as so-called by-catch,” says Erich Hoyt, author, member of IUCN’s Species Survival Commission’s Cetacean Specialist Group and the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas. “Whales in some areas have been found to be emaciated. And scarcely a year since the BP Gulf Oil disaster, it’s business as usual in large parts of the Gulf and elsewhere.”

The need for greater protection is urgent and the book highlights some positive developments in this respect. “Marine protected areas are steadily getting bigger which is good news for large marine predators with big habitats,” says Carl Gustaf Lundin, Director, IUCN Global Marine and Polar Programme. “However, most of them are still too small, too few and far between, with too little enforcement to adequately protect whale and other highly mobile marine animal habitats.”

“To safeguard critical ocean ecosystems and highly mobile species, we need to set aside more untouched ocean wilderness areas in the high seas,” says Patricio Bernal, Coordinator, Western Gray Whale Conservation Project. “Outside of national jurisdiction, the high seas contain only a handful of protected areas. Without effective protection this huge area, which is equivalent to 64% of the ocean’s surface, will continue to be heavily exploited in the next few years.”

The book is a key resource for cetacean scientists and managers of Marine Protected Areas. Since most of these areas promote whale and dolphin watching and marine ecotourism, the book is also useful for finding some of the best places to spot the 87 species of whales, dolphins and porpoises in 125 countries and territories around the world.

The book is published by Earthscan / Taylor & Francis and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society.

Source of news article


1 September,2011


Kenya: Aussie oil firm lines up seismic surveys in Lamu

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Australia’s Pancontinental Oil and Gas plans to begin seismic surveys on two exploration blocks off the coast of Lamu later this year, heightening the race for Kenya’s yet to be proven petroleum resources.

The company said 3D and 2D marine seismic surveys will commence late this year on blocks L10A and L10B and the work will be completed by mid-2012.

“The aim of the surveys is to identify the most prospective prospects for drilling. Two wells are required under the licences in the second exploration period commencing in August 2013,” Pancontinental was quoted by Reuters as having said in a statement.

Pancontinental holds joint exploration licences for four blocks off Lamu, along Kenya’s south coast. The Australian firm’s joint partners in L10A and L10B include BG Group Plc, Premier Oil Investment and Cove Energy Plc. “We have been surprised by the diversity and size of the leads and plays identified in the operator’s initial review of L10A and L10B,” Reuters quoted Mr Barry Rushworth, Pancontinental’s CEO as having said, referring to analyses of past data gathered from the blocks.

The Australian firm has submitted an environmental impact assessment(EIA) to the National Environment Management Authority(NEMA) as part of preparation for the planned seismic survey. The EIA notice was published by Nema on Tuesday asking the public to submit comments within 30 days.

The revelation by Pancontinental adds to a lengthy list of firms that plan to roll out exploration programmes in the country in the short term.

Interest has grown

Two leading firms-Tullow Oil and Africa Oil-are both expected to kick off new exploration tests within this final quarter of 2011 in what could trigger fresh hope for striking the precious oil and gas that cost the country billions in imports.

The country has yet to discover any commercial oil deposits, but interest in its exploration blocks has grown since neighbouring Uganda discovered billions of barrels in its Lake Albert rift, where Tullow is expected to start oil production next year.

British-based Tullow Oil expects to drill two test wells in northern Kenya in by the end of 2011 starting this month.

Tullow Kenya BV operates five exploration blocks in northern Kenya following deals in 2010 in which Tullow signed agreements with Africa Oil and Centric Energy to gain a 50 per cent interest in five Kenyan Blocks; 10BA, 10BB, 10A, 12A and 13T.

Tullow said seismic tests on the two Kenyan blocks, 10BB and 10A, would begin in September.

The first well will be drilled in the third quarter of 2011. The Fise prospect is located in Block 10BB and will be followed by a second well in Block 10A during the fourth quarter on the Paipai prospect, the British firm said.

Africa Oil said it plans to drill at least 7 to 10 exploratory wells in blocks it holds interest in across east Africa over the next 18 months.

Source of news article


South Africa: Cape shark activity rises

The City of Cape Town would once again like to remind all beach and ocean users that we are approaching the time of year when we expect to see a seasonal increase in the presence of white sharks in the in-shore area. 

This seasonal change is not unique to False Bay or recent in its occurrence. Similar behaviour is recorded in Gansbaai, Mossel Bay and even California. 

Shark sightings recorded by the shark spotters have consistently shown a seasonal peak during the period from August to March, peaking in mid-summer. Typically shark sightings start in late August. However, shark spotters and water users have recorded early sightings in the last two weeks in Muizenberg, St. James and Clovelly. 

White shark research trips over the weekend recorded a significant drop in shark activity at Seal Island, indicative of the seasonal move of sharks away from the island to the in-shore areas. The City is therefore appealing to all beach and ocean users to be aware of these recent sightings and the expected increase in shark presence in the in-shore area over the summer months. Click here to view a graph illustrating the number of shark sightings.

Analysis of the shark spotters’ data from the two beaches with the highest number of shark sightings, namely Muizenberg and Fish Hoek, reveals that most (over 65% of sightings) sharks are observed swimming behind the breakers traveling in a directional pattern from one side of the beach to another, parallel to the shore. 

Alison Kock of Save our Seas Foundation says: “This suggests that in most cases sharks are simply swimming past these beaches on their way to another location and we recommend that water users in areas of high shark activity limit the amount of time they spend behind the breakers far away from shore.” 

The data has also shown that in the event of a whale stranding, shark sightings increase significantly at adjacent beaches, and shark sightings may persist for up to a week after the stranding. Where there has been a whale stranding the City will close relevant beaches and the community is asked to understand this precautionary approach. 

Kayakers and surfskiiers are specifically asked to be cautious of the area between Sunnycove and Glencairn Beach and swimmers are urged not to use the water off Jaegers Walk in Fish Hoek as this is considered a high risk area. The City has erected warning signs along Jaegers Walk and people are asked to adhere to these high risk signs. 

Surfers are asked to be especially vigilant in the areas between Sunrise Beach and Strandfontein and again in the Macassar Beach area during the summer months. 

People are encouraged to use areas where shark spotters are on duty and to take the time to speak to the shark spotters on the day they visit the beach to find out about recent sightings and activity as well as the current conditions which determine the effectiveness for shark spotting. People are also please requested to take the time to read the shark spotting signs to inform themselves of the four flag warning system used, as well as be aware of the use of a siren to close the beach. 

People are reminded that White Sharks are present in our waters all year round and that they should be aware of the small possibility of encountering one of these animals at any time, and should always remain vigilant when using the ocean. 

Source of news article


Mozambique: Lethal yellowing disease threatens oil and soap industry

The destruction of coconut trees suffering from coconut lethal yellowing disease is posing a threat to the oil extraction industry in Inhambane province in southern Mozambique.

Concerns were raised by the Inhambane Business Council during a meeting of a development forum that brought together the provincial government, economic actors, civil society, and cooperation partners.

According to the president of the Confederation of Mozambican Business Associations (CTA), Amade Remane Osmane, oil and soap factories are closing because of a lack of raw materials. He stated that the shortages are caused by the absence of a government policy on replacing coconut trees cut down for wood, and the lack of action to combat lethal yellowing disease which threatens to devastate coconut palms in Inhambane province.

The daily newspaper “Noticias” has reported that seven out of eleven factories producing oil and soap in Inhambane province have closed their doors over the last year with over 500 workers losing their jobs.

However, the head of the province’s agricultural services, Manuel Sahal, told “Noticias” that a programme to replace old palm trees is in place, with 40,000 coconut seedlings ready to be distributed from three multiplication centres.

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