Archive for ‘Fish’

Quarter of UK’s endangered species ‘declining despite government action’

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

The Government is part of an international treaty to stop global biodiversity loss by 2010 in order to protect hundreds of endangered species like the bumblebee, common toad and house sparrow.

But an official report, published quietly this week by the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) discloses that 88 species are continuing to decline such as sky larks, pearl-bordered fritillary butterfly, fen orchid, freshwater pearl mussel and black grouse.

Of the 370 species identified as under threat only half are stable or increasing meaning the rest are in decline or there is simply not enough data. This includes wild asparagus, great yellow bumblebee, basking shark, lady’s slipper orchid and capercaillie.

Since 1994 when the UK first drew up its ‘Biodiversity Action Plan’ to stop species loss, it is thought 19 species have gone extinct, mostly insects and lichens but also the greater mouse-eared bat and colourful Ivell’s sea anemone.

Conservationists have pointed out that other species which are not including in the original action plan are also suffering including hedgehogs, wildcats and cuckoos.

Source: Quarter of UK’s endangered species ‘declining despite government action’ – Telegraph

Date: 22 May 2010

UN official warns on fisheries losses

Friday, May 21st, 2010

The UN’s top environment official has echoed warnings that commercial fishing could be destroyed within 50 years.

“It is not a science fiction scenario. It is within the lifetime of a child born today,” said Achim Steiner, head of the UN Environment Programme (Unep).

He made the remarks at a conference in New York previewing a new study on how to make the global economy more environmentally sustainable. (more…)

Oceans’ fish could disappear in 40 years

Monday, May 17th, 2010

The world faces the nightmare possibility of fishless oceans by 2050 without fundamental restructuring of the fishing industry, UN experts said Monday.

“If the various estimates we have received… come true, then we are in the situation where 40 years down the line we, effectively, are out of fish,” Pavan Sukhdev, head of the UN Environment Program’s green economy initiative, told journalists in New York.

Source: Oceans’ fish could disappear in 40 years: UN – France24

Date: 17 May 2010

Third of plants and animals ‘at risk of extinction’

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

While Western countries are increasingly aware of the need to protect endangered species, the developing world’s appetite for raw materials is destroying vulnerable ecosystems. Population growth, pollution and the spread of Western-style consumption are also blamed for hitting plant and animal populations.

Species at risk include the fishing cat, as its wetland habitats in India, Pakistan and southeast Asia are converted for agriculture. Maritime ecosystems are under particular threat, with the south Asian river dolphin among the species whose numbers have plummeted due to damming and overfishing.

The latest report — the third edition of the UN’s Global Biodiversity Outlook — is based on data obtained from studies in more than 120 countries across the world.

It builds on recent work for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) which showed that 21 per cent of all known mammals, 30 per cent of amphibians and 35 per cent of invertebrates are threatened with extinction.

Speaking in advance of the report, Ahmed Djoghlaf, who heads the Convention on Biological Diversity, said that countries had failed to honour pledges to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss.

He said:

“The magnitude of the damage [to ecosystems] is much bigger than previously thought. The rate of extinction is currently running at 1,000 times the natural historical background rate of extinction.“

He added:

“It’s a problem if we continue this unsustainable pattern of production and consumption. If the 9 billion people predicted to be with us by 2050 were to have the same lifestyle as Americans, we would need five planets.“

Source: Third of plants and animals ‘at risk of extinction’ – Telegraph UK

Date: 9 May 2010

Sea of people marches to fight fish farms in Vancouver, Canada

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

Nearly 1,000 people crowded Government Street yesterday in the culmination of a 500-kilometre walk to protest fish farms — which they say are killing B.C.’s wild salmon.

Surveying the sea of people, the largest local rally yet in support of protecting wild salmon runs, biologist and activist Alexandra Morton said it’s proof the cause has turned mainstream.

Source: Sea of people marches to fight fish farms – The Vancouver Sun

Date: 8 May 2010

World needs ‘bailout plan’ for species loss: International Union for Conservation of Nature

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Facing what many scientists say is the sixth mass extinction in half-a-billion years, our planet urgently needs a “bailout plan” to protect its biodiversity, a top conservation group said Thursday.

Failure to stem the loss of animal and plant species will have dire consequences on human well-being, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) warned.

“The gap between the pressure on our natural resources and governments’ response to the deterioration is widening,”

said Bill Jackson, the group’s deputy director, calling for a 10-year strategy to reverse current trends.

By ignoring the urgent need for action we stand to pay a much higher price in the long term than the world can afford,”

he said in a statement.

A fifth of mammals, 30 percent of amphibians, 12 percent of known birds, and more than a quarter of reef-building corals — the livelihood cornerstone for 500 million people in coastal areas — face extinction, according to the IUCN’s benchmark Red List of Threatened Species.

“This year we have a one-off opportunity to really bring home to the world the importance of the need to save nature for all life on Earth,”

said Jane Smart, head of the IUCN’s Biodiversity Conservation Group.

If we don’t come up with a big plan now, the planet will not survive,

she said.

The IUCN draws together more than 1,000 government and NGO organisations, and 11,000 volunteer scientists from about 160 countries.

Source: World needs ‘bailout plan’ for species loss: International Union for Conservation of Nature – France24

Date: 6 May 2010

Jeremy Jackson: How We Wrecked the Ocean – TED video

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

In this bracing talk, coral reef ecologist Jeremy Jackson lays out the shocking state of the ocean today: overfished, overheated, polluted, with indicators that things will get much worse.

Astonishing photos and stats make the case.

Jeremy Jackson is the Ritter Professor of Oceanography and Director of the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Painting pictures of changing marine environments, particularly coral reefs and the Isthmus of Panama, Jackson’s research captures the extreme environmental decline of the oceans that has accelerated in the past 200 years.

Jackson’s current work focuses on the future of the world’s oceans, given overfishing, habitat destruction and ocean warming, which have fundamentally changed marine ecosystems and led to “the rise of slime.” Although Jackson’s work describes grim circumstances, even garnering him the nickname Dr. Doom, he believes that successful management and conservation strategies can renew the ocean’s health.

Source: Jeremy Jackson: How We Wrecked the Ocean – Huffington Post

Date: 5 May 2010

Source: Jeremy Jackson bio – TED

UK study shows 94 percent fish stock fall since 1889

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

British fish stocks have dropped by 94 percent in the past 118 years and commercial fishing has profoundly changed seabed ecosystems, leading to a collapse in numbers of many species, scientists said on Tuesday.

The dramatic decline means fisherman working today land only a fraction of the fish caught by their predecessors 100 years ago, when the British fleet brought in four times more fish, according to a study by researchers at the University of York.

It is clear that seabed ecosystems have undergone a profound reorganization since the industrialization of fishing and that commercial stocks of most bottom-living species, which once comprised an important component of marine ecosystems, collapsed long ago,

Callum Roberts and Ruth Thurstan wrote in the study published in the Nature Communications journal.

The findings show fishing quota systems have done nothing to mitigate the fall and underline the need for urgent action to stop the overexploitation of European fisheries and rebuild stocks, the scientists said.

(more…)

Turtles killed ‘in millions’ by fishing gear

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

Millions of marine turtles have been killed over the past two decades through entrapment in fishing gear, according to a global survey.

Described as the first global synthesis of existing data, the study found especially high rates of “bycatch” in the Mediterranean and eastern Pacific.

Six of the seven sea turtle types are on the Red List of Threatened Species.

Writing in the journal Conservation Letters, researchers advocate much greater use of gear safe for turtles.

These include circular hooks rather than the conventional J-shaped hooks on long fishing lines, and hatches that allow the reptiles to escape from trawls.

Turtles must come to the surface to breathe.

When they are caught in a net or on a fishing hook, they cannot surface, and drown.

Lead researcher Bryan Wallace said the state of the world’s turtles was an indicator of the wider health of the oceans.

“Sea turtles are sentinel species of how oceans are functioning. The impacts that human activities have on them give us an idea as to how those same activities are affecting the oceans on which billions of people around the world depend for their own well-being.”

Dr Wallace works in the global marine division of Conservation International and at Duke University in the US.

Marine turtles drown when trapped in fishing gear

Marine turtles drown when trapped in fishing gear

The raw material from the study came from records of bycatch – incidental catches in fishing gear – from different regions of the world.

Over the period 1990-2008, records showed that more than 85,000 turtles were snared.

However, those records covered a tiny proportion of the world’s total fishing fleets.

Because the reports we reviewed typically covered less than 1% of all fleets, with little or no information from small-scale fisheries around the world, we conservatively estimate that the true total is probably not in tens of thousands, but in the millions of turtles taken as bycatch in the past two decades,” said Dr Wallace.

Three types of fishing gear are identified in the survey - long-lines, gillnets and trawls.

Modern long-line boats trail strings of hooks that can be 40km long, usually in search of high-value species such as tuna and marlin.

Gillnets are usually stationary, and use mesh of a set size in an attempt to target certain species of fish.

The researchers suggest that several areas of the world account for particularly high levels of bycatch – the Mediterranean Sea and the eastern Pacific Ocean for all types of gear, together with trawling operations off the west coast of Africa.

Modifying fishing gear can have a dramatic impact on the size of bycatch.

Shrimp trawls fitted with turtle excluder devices (TEDs) catch markedly fewer of the reptiles.

A grid prevents anything large from entering the back portion of the net, and a hole above the grid allows accidentally snared animals such as turtles to escape.

A number of countries now require that shrimp boats must use nets fitted with TEDs.

The circular long-line hooks also reduce bycatch of birds such as albatrosses.

However, some fleets have resisted adopting selective gear because fishermen believe it will reduce their catch.

In many parts of the developing world, the gear is not available.

Marine turtles face other significant threats. Debris in the oceans, such as plastic bags, can also cause drowning, while development in coastal regions can affect nesting and reproduction.

Some turtles are still targeted for meat, and their shells used for tourist souvenirs.

Numbers of adult leatherbacks – the largest species, growing to more than 2m long and capable of journeys that span entire oceans – are thought to have declined by more than 75% between 1982 and 1996.

Source: Turtles killed ‘in millions’ by fishing gear – BBC

Date: 6 April 2010

Three of the thresholds for key environmental processes set by scientists have been exceeded

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

Scientists have set thresholds for key environmental processes that, if crossed, could threaten Earth’s habitability. Ominously, three of the thresholds -  biodiversity loss, nitrogen pollution, and concentration of carbon dioxide – have already been exceeded.

Although climate change gets ample attention, species loss and nitrogen pollution exceed safe limits by greater degrees. Other environmental processes are also headed toward dangerous levels.

Promptly switching to low-carbon energy sources, curtailing land clearing and revolutionizing agricultural practices are crucial to making human life on Earth more sustainable.

Source: Boundaries for a Healthy Planet – Scientific American Magazine

Date: April 2010

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Livestock's Climate Impact

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Reducing Shorter-Lived Climate Forcers Through Dietary Change

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The global cost of biodiversity loss: 14 trillion Euros? - EU Commission (2008)

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Forests, Fisheries, Agriculture: A Vision for Sustainability (2009)

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