Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 10
 on: Today at 05:52 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad

We will continue on with our thread as soon as possible. It remains a very busy time in EA with many projects needing tending too. We should be able to continue on in about a week's time. For those who are serious please reflect on Amelia's natal Venus and it's Nodal Axis. This is where we will be picking this up from next. If you have any observations/ questions please feel free to ask, and I will tend to that as quickly as I can.

God Bless, Rad

 on: Today at 05:49 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Hi Gonzalo,

Fine with me. Good luck and God Bless, Rad

 on: Today at 05:48 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
U.S. Elections

Bernie Sanders vows a contested convention despite 'tough road' ahead

The underdog presidential candidate in the Democratic primary admitted ‘uphill climb’ to nomination but promised to shape the party’s future

Dan Roberts in Washington
Sunday 1 May 2016 22.16 BST

Bernie Sanders acknowledged “an uphill climb” ahead of him in the Democratic nomination race on Sunday, but vowed to continue battling against Hillary Clinton despite his diminishing chances of catching her.

In a press conference to mark the one-year anniversary of an insurgent campaign that few ever imagined, he also revealed plans for a new series of mega-rallies in California and renewed calls on the party’s handpicked superdelegates to change their allegiances before this summer’s national convention.

The Vermont senator conceded that in order for such appeals to make a difference, he would also have to win a majority of the remaining “pledged delegates”, whose votes are fixed according to election results. He would require him to win 65% of those 1,083 in remaining states to have a chance.

“That is admittedly, and I do not deny it for a second, a tough road to climb, but it is not an impossible road to climb and we intend to fight for every vote in front of us and every delegate remaining,” Sanders told reporters.

“It is virtually impossible for Hillary Clinton to reach a majority of convention delegates by June 14, which is the last day a primary will be held, with pledged delegates alone,” he added. “She will need superdelegates to take her over the top at the convention in Philadelphia.

“In other words the convention will be a contested contest.”

Superdelegates are party officials who are not bound to vote according to the results of their state or district.

The defiant mood of the remarks at the National Press Club in Washington follow a strong weekend for Sanders. He received a series of backhanded compliments from Barack Obama at the White House Correspondents’ Association annual dinner on Saturday and is polling close to Clinton ahead of the Indiana primary on Tuesday.

Clinton, in contrast, appears increasingly relaxed about her path to the nomination after a series of strong election wins in Connecticut, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Delaware on Tuesday, and a blowout win in New York, which all but guarantee she will go to Philadelphia with a majority of delegates.

But she was on the receiving end of a number of surprisingly barbed jokes from Obama at Saturday’s dinner and some supporters may be dismayed to see that Sanders is not ready to rally around her yet either. Earlier Sunday, she told CNN: “I certainly look forward to working with Senator Sanders,” and promised “a progressive platform”.

“I really welcome his ideas and his supporters’ passion and commitment, because the most important thing for us is for us to win in November,” she added.

Sanders vowed to “vigorously compete” in the 10 states remaining before the convention. “We believe we are in a very strong position to win these remaining contests and we have an excellent chance to win in California, the state with far and away the most number of delegates,” he claimed.

And the senator rejected the argument put forward by some in the Clinton campaign that his attacks have weakened her chances of defeating Donald Trump. He claimed instead that he remains the stronger candidate to defeat Republicans.

Nonetheless, Sanders’ fundraising has dipped in recent weeks, and he may be counting on the tough talk to galvanize supporters through the campaign’s final few weeks. “The ideas we are fighting for are the future of the Democratic party and indeed the future of this country,” he said on Sunday, repeating his ambition to go to Philadelphia with a mandate that requires policy shifts from the party – and Clinton.

“I would hope very much that the superdelegates from those states where we have won with big margins respect the wishes of the people of those states,” he urged.

“Therefore, it is incumbent on every superdelegate to take a hard and objective look at which candidates stands the better chance of defeating Donald Trump and other Republicans.”

 on: Today at 05:46 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
'I get scared if I sleep alone': street children in Bangladesh


Discrimination and neglect are the biggest threats to the wellbeing of the world’s poorest children and, according to a report by Save the Children, things are getting worse. Part of the NGO’s work includes supporting the street children of Dhaka, the Bangladeshi capital, by offering shelter to those who sleep rough

All photographs by CJ Clarke for Save the Children

Click to see/ read all:

 on: Today at 05:40 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Kenya to burn biggest ever stockpile of ivory

Tusks from over 6,000 illegally killed elephants will be set alight in Nairobi national park to highlight the poaching crisis
Fiona Harvey
Friday 29 April 2016 14.33 BST

Tusks from more than 6,000 illegally killed elephants will be burned in Kenya on Saturday, the biggest ever destruction of an ivory stockpile and the most striking symbol yet of the plight of one of nature’s last great beasts.

The ceremonial burning in Nairobi national park at noon will be attended by Kenya’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, heads of state including Ali Bongo Ondimba of Gabon and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, high-ranking United Nations and US officials, and charities. A wide network of conservation groups around the world have sent messages applauding the work.

On Friday, Kenyatta said Kenya would seek a “total ban on the trade in elephant ivory” at an international wildlife trade meeting in South Africa this September. “The future of the African elephant and rhino is far from secure so long as demand for their products continues to exist,” he said.

On Saturday about 105 tonnes of elephant ivory and 1.5 tonnes of rhino horn will burn in 11 large pyres, about seven times the amount previously burned in a single event. The bonfire, so big it will take about four hours to burn completely, highlights the continuing crisis in elephant populations. About 30,000 to 50,000 elephants a year were killed from 2008 to 2013 alone, according to the Born Free Foundation, and the rate of killing is outstripping the rate of births in Africa.

Prior to the burning, as much scientific and educational information as possible has been extracted, and Kenya will be left with about 20 tonnes of ivory that are still going through the legal process.

Ronnie Wood, the Rolling Stone and patron of the Tusk charity, was among celebrities speaking out ahead of the burn: “It makes me so sad to think that in another 15 years or so elephants, rhinos and even lions could have disappeared from the wild, denying our children the experience of knowing and loving them. We just cannot allow that to happen.”

Kenya first burned ivory in 1989, under president Daniel Arap Moi, as a symbol of its determination to protect its remaining elephant population, which had fallen 90% in the previous 15 years, from 168,000 to 15,000 elephants.

Four countries – Kenya, Gabon, Uganda and Botswana – have among them more than half of Africa’s remaining elephants. The presidents will meet ahead of the burning to discuss new ways of preventing poaching, including a call to close down the world’s remaining legal ivory markets, at the conference of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), in Johannesburg this September.

Iain Douglas-Hamilton, founder of Save the Elephants, said that cooperation among African countries was essential. “This [meeting] gives hope that there is political will to take on the challenges of poaching, trafficking, and high-level corruption that threaten the continent’s natural heritage.”

Burning seized ivory is a highly public symbol of the fight to save the elephant from extinction. Burning or crushing puts the ivory beyond use, preventing it from fuelling the world’s ivory markets, legal and illegal, as a way of stamping out that trade. More than a dozen countries have held similar public destructions of endangered animal products, including Malaysia, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates.

Some countries have tried allowing limited exploitation, for hunting and trophies, of their remaining “charismatic megafauna” as a method of conservation. Last year, the limited permitted hunting of big game was brought to global attention when the lion Cecil was shot, sparking widespread outrage and a ban on lion trophy imports by France which was joined by the Netherlands banning them on Friday.

In 2008, the ban on ivory was temporarily lifted to allow stockpiles to be sold to the profit of the countries that owned them. But according to campaigners this resulted in a “spike” in poaching, with about 100,000 elephants lost as a result.

This approach should be abandoned, according to a wide range of NGOs. “All experiments to permit a legal, controlled trade in ivory have failed,” said Daniela Freyer, co-founder of Pro Wildlife. “We can turn the tide if we close the legal markets that enable laundering of ivory from poached elephants or leaked from stockpiles.”

Other methods of discouraging poaching, such as removing tusks and dyeing rhino horns, have been tried to limited effect. Poaching has been fuelled by conflict, as well as organised crime, in many parts of Africa, where militias have used their arms, helicopters and jeeps to wage war on the wardens of conservation areas and on local populations.

Campaigners are also clear on the need for buyers of ivory to be targeted in campaigns to stop the trade. Ivory, rhino horn and other parts of endangered animals, including tiger skins, are sometimes use in Chinese medicine, but potentially a bigger problem is their use in high-status gifts in some Asian countries.

China officially disapproves of such gifts, and there have been moves to discourage and close down domestic markets, but widespread trade continues and it is not known when China’s pledges to stop it will be fulfilled.

“Ending the demand is absolutely key, but we don’t know how long this will take,” said Max Graham, chief executive of Kenyan charity Space for Giants. “We are already losing tens of thousands of elephants a year from a population of perhaps less than 400,000, and we desperately need a holding position.”

He called for “robust frontline protection, investment to reduce the cost and increase the benefits to local people of conserving elephants, and global efforts to cut demand for ivory”.


The shame of ivory

Paula Kahumbu: Kenya’s ivory burn will help end demand worldwide by making people ashamed to buy and own ivory

Paula Kahumbu with Andrew Halliday
Saturday 30 April 2016 09.52 BST

We are often told that wildlife conservation should make economic sense, and so it should. In my previous article I outlined some of the economic arguments in favour of burning ivory stockpiles.

Wildlife conservation should make moral sense as well. Winning the moral argument is probably even important than good economics for saving elephants and wildlife.

There are many good practical reasons to destroy ivory stockpiles, not least the future cost savings. Scarce resources now used to keep the remains of dead elephants out of the hands of criminals and corrupt officials will be made available to protect live animals.

But the principal value of the ivory burn is symbolic, as a means of drawing the world’s attention to what is at stake for elephants, and how ivory products are forever stained by the blood and suffering of the elephants from which they were stolen.

This symbolic act of destruction sends out a powerful a message that buying and owning ivory is shameful. Success in conveying this message was one reason for the positive outcomes of the first ivory burn in 1989. This burn was followed by a collapse in ivory prices and helped galvanised global support for a ban on international trade in ivory.

Naturally, the ivory burn didn’t do this on its own. At a panel discussion I took part in recently in Nairobi, Esmond Bradley Martin, who knows more about the ivory trade than any person alive, explained that the main reason for the fall in demand at the end of the 1980s was the impact of TV wildlife documentaries that showed consumers for the first time—and in graphic detail—where ivory comes from.

This made consumers in the principals markets, Europe and Japan, ashamed to own ivory. Demand in these countries collapsed and has never recovered. As opposition to ivory grew, the 1989 ivory burn in Kenya sent a powerful message that producer countries were on side and equally committed to ending this barbaric trade. It was this sense of common purpose among consumer and producer countries that laid the ground for the CITES ban later that year.

This strategy can be made to work again today. The moral arguments against buying ivory are stronger than ever before. In previous articles I have reported on the barbaric nature and increasingly industrial scale of elephant poaching, its links to organized crime cartels and terrorist organizations.

In a guest article on this blog written by film makers Mark Deeble and Vicky Stone, they described the death of a bull elephant in Tsavo National Park. Death was the result of a massive infection caused by a poacher’s poison dart—that had been festering in his body for months. They reflected on the cruelty currently being inflicted on Africa’s elephants:

    Across Africa, elephants have been targeted with rocket-propelled grenades, helicopter gunships, automatic rifles, poisoned arrows, wire snares, spears, poisoned foot-spikes, poisoned food, and poisoned salt-licks and waterholes. In Tsavo the poachers’ method of choice is the AK 47. It can bring down an elephant quickly, and a gang of poachers can target whole elephant families.

Many organizations are making a huge effort to communicate facts like these to the Chinese public, but the size of China’s population and continued restrictions on freedom of speech within the country make this a herculean task.

Earlier this week, I met two Chinese tourists at ivory burn site in Nairobi National Park. They were gazing silently at the huge stacks of ivory. My first thought (a prejudiced one, I admit) was that they were thinking “what a waste”. I approached them and started talking to the woman.

She told me she and her companion had entered to Park to see the animals and had come across the ivory burn site by chance. I asked if they know what was going to happen to the ivory. Yes, they did, she replied, but they didn’t understand why. I asked her if she had friends in China who owned ivory. Of course, she replied.

So I explained the reasons for the ivory burn, while she listened in silence. Afterwards she said simply, “I didn’t know. I’m going to tell people never to buy ivory again”.

Our challenge is to repeat and replicate this conversation on a vast scale until it reaches consumers all over China and other Southeast Asian countries. We know that until people in these countries stop buying ivory, elephants in Africa will not be safe.

Is this possible? Yes, it is. We have the technology. On 23 April, more than 75 million people around the world engaged in a global conversation about the burn during our #LightAFire social media event in partnership with the US Embassy, NGOs and Kenya Wildlife Service.

We know that moral values change and evolve. For example, the ivory burn has awakened a sense of shame among ordinary Kenyans, not only in ownership of ivory, but other animal products as well.

In the run-up to the burn KWS has declared an amnesty, allowing people to hand in illegal ivory without risk of prosecution. Many people have taken the opportunity to hand in perfectly legal antique ivory trinkets which they no longer wish to possess.

All these will be burned, along with the tusks, confiscated animal skins, and other animal products that have been handed in to KWS. I saw a crocodile skin handbag hanging from a tusk on one of the pyres.
Wildlife conservationists in Nairobi National Park pose with cut-out placards bearing the message ‘WorthMoreAlive’ on 28 April 2016, ahead of the ivory burn on 30 April 2016.

Moral values are culturally conditioned and constantly evolving. We cannot condemn the carvers of ivory ornaments working in China decades or centuries ago. But we can tell people that owning ivory of any description is no longer morally acceptable in the modern world—and feel confident that the new and aspiring middle class in China and other consuming countries will understand.

As well as inspiring shame, the ivory burn is also a source of pride. Kenyans are proud that our country was the first in the world to ban trophy hunting and commit itself to non-consumptive uses of wildlife that are compatible not only with the maintenance of species and ecosystems, but also our own moral values.

When I asked Kitili Mbatha, Director General of KWS, how he would explain Kenya’s decision to burn its ivory stockpiles, he said simply: we are walking the talk. Kenyans are proud that our country is standing up and doing what, in our hearts, we all know to be right. Over the last week hundreds of people have come out to have their photographs taken at the ivory burn site to post on social media show their support for this historic event.

Our pathway towards wildlife conservation may not be the easiest one, or the most popular. But we are taking this path because it is the right thing to do.

 on: Today at 05:30 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Captured! How wild animals really behave – in pictures


A jackal squares up to a lion and a gorilla prepares to fight his own reflection. Motion-sensitive ‘camera traps’ capture some startlingly unguarded animal behaviour

Click to see them all:

 on: Today at 05:28 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Off the hook: can a new study in the Pacific reel in unsustainable fishing?

The Nature Conservancy-funded program will test how new hook designs and other practices could reduce bycatch while keeping the fishing business lucrative

Mary Catherine O'Connor in Palau
Sunday 1 May 2016 15.00 BST

Within seconds of being hauled onto the Shen Lain Cheng, a 79-foot tuna fishing boat from China, the crew’s most senior member, whose deeply wrinkled face conveys more than his 58 years, is plunging a T-handled spike between the glistening eyes of a 100-lb yellowfin tuna. The hope is that the swift death has minimized the release of lactic acid, which degrades the flesh meat and reduces the crew’s chances of earning a grade-A for this fish once it is offloaded back at port in Koror, Palau, a small island nation in the Pacific Ocean.

He quickly eviscerates the taut, silvery fish, pulling out an assembly of organs that look like something from another planet. He removes the heart and stomach – the scavenged parts that will likely go into tonight’s crew dinner – and tosses the rest of the guts overboard before flushing the carcass with running water, sewing up its gaping mouth, and placing it into the icy waters of the boat’s cold storage tank.

If the buyers back in Koror, who inspect and score the quality of each tuna’s meat, give it a high grade, this particular tuna could net around $2,800 wholesale in Japan, where it will be resold at great profit in a sushi restaurant.

It all looks like a typical day of tuna wrangling on the high seas, except that it’s not. Aboard are Lotus Vermeer, who directs the global fisheries program for The Nature Conservancy (TNC), a US-based environmental organization. Also aboard are Michael Musyl, principal scientist of the Pelagic Research Group in Hawaii and a shark expert, and Ivan Sesebo, a tuna fishery observer, who works for an auditor hired by the boat’s owner, Hong Kong-based Luen Thai Fishing Ventures, to ensure compliance with fishing regulations.

This trio is executing an experiment, funded by TNC’s Indo-Pacific Tuna Program, to test whether changing the designs of the hooks and other fishing practices could reduce the amount of bycatch – species that are unintentionally caught and often include sharks, turtles, reef fish and other threatened or endangered species – without also reducing the tuna catch, thereby keeping the business financially lucrative for fishing companies.

While many US fisheries have enacted rules meant to limit bycatch, what happens in Palau and other rich fishing grounds has a close connection to the diet of many Americans, because the US imports nearly 90% of seafood consumed.

The central and western Pacific is a rich fishing ground, providing an estimated 60% of the world’s tuna catch for a $7bn annual global market.

Bycatch takes a financial toll on fishermen. Unwanted fish take up hooks on lines and require crew to spend time hauling and safely releasing the catch. Some fishermen keep bycatch illegally, cutting off fins to sell on the lucrative black market for shark fin soup. Some bycatch doesn’t survive, and its absence could upset the balance of a marine ecosystem already under threat from climate change and pollution.

However, asking commercial fishermen to experiment with new equipment, which may prove ineffective and costly, requires strong incentives.

TNC got creative to get itself onto an actual tuna boat, bopping along five degrees north of the equator and 133 degrees east of the prime meridian, in waters that the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) estimates generates 60% of the world’s tuna catch for a $7bn annual market.

Working with Palau’s government, TNC purchased the fishing rights and offered them to Shen Lain Cheng in return for an opportunity to carry out Vermeer’s experiment. They also tag sharks and other bycatch to track their movement after being released to see if they survive.

TNC declined to say what it paid for the rights, which typically run between $20,000-$25,000. The overall cost of the project, including the rights and $250,000 worth of equipment to tag fish and transmit data, is $1.5m.

Mark Zimring, co-director of TNC’s Indo-Pacific Tuna Program, says purchasing fishing rights for the Shen Lain Cheng was “in some sense a radical approach”, but that in the absence of many industry- or regulatory-led efforts on reducing bycatch, it’s one that is worth trying.

The project also provides good training for crews working for Luen Thai. In 2013, authorities nabbed a Luen Thai boat off the Marshall Islands for having approximately 50 shark fins. The company was fined $120,000 and the offending boat was destroyed. Luen Thai’s vice president Derrick Wang says the company has not had any finning violations since that incident, and that Luen Thai has instituted a number of policies, including unannounced boat inspections and a penalty scheme for captains and crew if they are found to have any shark products. The penalties can be as high as $20,000 for an offending boat.

Hooked on an idea

Studies have shown that switching from the traditional J-shaped hook to a circular hook, or using fish bait instead of squid bait, can reduce the likelihood of catching non-target species on tuna boats.

“Turtles tend to get hooked less often when the bait is a fish, which falls apart as they gum it, whereas with squid they have to chomp the whole thing,” Vermeer explains. “And if it does get hooked, the types of hooks we’re using, called circle hooks, tend to hook in the mouth, whereas an older type of hooks called J-hooks tend to hook turtles deeper, in the esophagus, which is associated with higher mortality.”

Research has so far failed to reveal a silver bullet combination that can minimize bycatch for any species. Until now, there have not been any trials designed to tease out the optimal type of hook and bait that would reduce bycatch of the most vulnerable species without also reducing a boat’s tuna haul for a specific fishery in a specific part of the ocean.

Luen Thai, like many boats fishing for sushi-grade tuna, uses the longline fishing technique, in which thousands of baited hooks are attached to a single, long line stretching up to 25 miles. The setup generates a significant amount of bycatch, though determining exactly how much is difficult for many reasons, including poor, incomplete or inaccurate reporting by many fisheries.

Still, data collected by the United Nations Fisheries and Agriculture Department indicates that tuna longlining produces an amount of bycatch second only to shrimp trawling, while another fishing technique called purse seining – in which schools of small tuna species (mostly for canning) are scooped up in massive nets – generates far less bycatch than longlining. A recent study in the science journal Aquatic Conservation found that bycatch from tuna longline fishing in Palau accounts for a third of all hooked species, so the potential for improvement in this fishery is significant.

Using circle hooks has also shown to reduce incidental hooking of stingrays. Other research has revealed that circle hooks and fish bait can actually lead to hooking more sharks. The truth is more complicated and nuanced, explains Eric Gilman, a professor at Hawaii Pacific University and a fishing industry consultant commissioned by TNC to help design the study on the circle hooks. Sharks migrate, so they reach certain age and size in different parts of the ocean, and those changes could make them more susceptible to being caught by circular hooks of particular sizes.

From there, scientists will be able to study data showing the ages and migration patterns of sharks in different pockets of the western and central Pacific and determine which hook sizes are best to use (and those to avoid) throughout the year. For the bait experiment, the hook variability will be removed, and the type of bait will be alternated between squid and fish to examine the link between bait and bycatch.

Layered onto this will be any findings that show correlations, if any, between hook size, bait size and tuna catch.

Ultimately, what matters most in terms of the environmental impact of reeling in the wrong species is mortality. It’s very difficult to know the fate of bycatch after they are sent back into the ocean. The third leg of TNC’s experiment will involve tagging bycaught sharks to determine whether they live or die after being released.
The project by The Nature Conservancy involves tagging sharks that are caught unintentionally so that researchers could track them and figure out if they survive after being released.

“Everyone thinks longline tuna is very dirty fishery because of all the bycatch, and that is true,” says Musyl, who has been brought on to lead the shark tagging. “A lot of people assume that these sharks die after release, but we found the opposite. It looks like the majority of sharks that have been studied do survive.”

Although Musyl did acknowledge that some species, including thresher sharks, tend to die as a result of the stress of being caught.

But the existing data has a significant gap: it is not from Palau’s near-equatorial climes. “This work hasn’t been done at this latitude [until now],” says Musyl. “And we know water temperature affects metabolism [and] physiology. [Warm water] exacerbates stress [and] reduces oxygen. It has a huge impact on the survival of animals.”

Sharks that are caught and released may have a good chance of survival in some parts of the world, but Musyl is not about to assume it will happen here.

About an hour into the afternoon’s longline haul, the crew pulls a new data point up from the depths: a six-foot, 45-lb female silky shark. Vermeer, Musyl and Sesebo grab the tagging gear and jump into position. The fishing crew helps to hold the shark as still as possible on the deck as Vermeer hoists up a long slender pole, with both hands and great care, and thrusts the thick, two-inch long needle at its tip into the shark’s thick skin, at the base of its dorsal fin. She lifts the pole back up and Musyl checks that the tracking tag is properly embedded. Sesebo takes note of the color of a small ziptie near the hook, which indicates that this silky was hooked by the medium-sized hook. The crew then cuts the monofilament line close to the shark’s mouth (a safer bet, for the fish and fishermen, than trying to remove the hook), and the silky swims back into to the big blue.

The tag contains sensors that track temperature, depth and speed for 30 days. At that point, it self-ejects, floats to the surface and transmits the collected data over a satellite link to the researchers. If the shark stops moving for a long while or if it sinks below 5,577 feet, both of which indicate that the animal has died, the tag self-ejects prior to the 30-day mark. When researchers receive a tag’s data before that time, they assume the shark has died. The researchers plan to tag 108 sharks during the course of the experiment.

Tuna fishing is big business in the Pacific, but it often reels in protected species such as sharks, turtles and reef fish, which fishing crews aren’t allowed to keep and must toss them back to sea. In this photo, the crew is hauling in a tuna.

The Palauan government has told TNC that if the hook-and-bait experiment illustrates a clear path to reducing bycatch, Palau could mandate the use of a specific size and shape hook, or outlaw baiting with squid. Meanwhile, Palau is also planning to curb fishing by creating a marine sanctuary in 80% of its offshore waters, a move to focus “on tourism, not tuna”, according to the country’s president. Still, Palau has influence in setting commercial fishing regulations in the WCPFC’s custodial region – the world’s largest tuna fishery, covering an astounding 20% of the globe’s surface. A new fishing requirement from Palau would persuade many of the WCPFC’s member countries and prompt them to adopt the same mandate, says Shelley Clarke, who researches bycatch rates for the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.

However, the cost-benefit analysis related to changing gear and bait would have to be made clear, she added. A single longliner sets up to 5,000 hooks in the water. At $2-$3 each, fishing companies would need to weigh the cost of converting to new hooks against the likelihood that the crew will bring in more bigeye or yellowfin tuna – or at least spend less time dealing with bycatch.

Wang says that Luen Thai, which operates 82 longline tuna boats in the region and contracts with the crews of another about 30 boats, would likely convert to a specific hook size and bait type if the TNC experts could demonstrate that reducing bycatch won’t also reduce the number of tuna longliners catch.

The hook and bait experiment is only part of TNC’s larger plan to reduce bycatch and stop illegal fishing. It’s already planning a second set of experiments designed to record videos of all the fish caught on boats and use a yet-to-be-developed software that can quickly scan and pinpoint illegal catch. The goal is to significantly cut the monitoring and enforcement time for authorities, who would otherwise have to manually review the video recordings.

Researchers of the project have been eagerly waiting for data from sharks tagged since last month. The tag that was attached to the female shark aboard the Shen Lain Cheng during the reporting of this story self-ejected on April 15, indicating that it survived. All told, 34 tags have resurfaced; 10 of those animals have likely perished based on when the data was received.

It’s too early, however, to discern which hook size pulls in the most sharks. And the final mortality rate will not be known, of course, until the experiment is complete and all tag data is received.

The author was a guest of The Nature Conservancy on a visit to Palau to observe the bycatch reduction experiment.

 on: Today at 05:23 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Overfishing puts $42bn tuna industry at risk of collapse

Experts make first estimate of the value of tuna fisheries and warn Pacific Islanders have most to lose from declining stocks

Monday 2 May 2016 07.00 BST 

Overfishing is jeopardising a global tuna industry worth more than $42bn (£29bn), according to the first assessment of its kind. A report produced by the Pew Charitable Trusts has highlighted the significant revenues that fishermen, processors and retailers are generating from severely depleted species of tuna.

Taken together, the seven most commercially important tuna species – skipjack, albacore, bigeye, yellowfin, atlantic bluefin, Pacific bluefin and southern bluefin – generated $12bn (£8bn) for fishermen in 2014, while the full value, including the total amount paid by the final consumer at supermarkets and restaurants around the world, was estimated to be $42bn (£29bn).

“It’s no secret that tuna are big business,” said Amanda Nickson, Pew’s director of global tuna conservation. “Now, for the first time, we’re able to put an actual price on what’s at stake in the fight for the conservation and sustainable management of these commercially and ecologically important fish.”

The report also highlights how tuna is a vital source of revenue to fishing communities, particularly Pacific Islands. The total catch in the Pacific Ocean was estimated at $22bn in 2014.

Pew says that income will be at risk unless companies and governments, particularly Japan, US and those in the EU, can agree to catch limits that allow stocks to recover. Five out of the eight tuna species are at risk of extinction due to overfishing, according to conservationists.

“The tussle at the moment is a lot to do with the fact that as the less affluent players, particularly the islands in the Pacific, realise the value of the resource they have, they will want to take a stake in that. And those who have historically fished it do not necessarily want to give that stake away.

“We don’t want to see tuna stocks depleting because the countries involved can’t agree sensibly on the management of them,” said Nickson, who called for scientifically-informed catch limits to enable heavily depleted stocks, such as Pacific bluefin tuna, to recover and prevent others such as skipjack becoming overfished.

Most of the tuna industry is currently paying “lip service” to efforts to better manage tuna stocks, said Nickson, but she praised the steps being taken by some UK retailers and processors. Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, M&S, Morrisons and Co-op recently backed a call to cut yellowfin tuna catches in the Indian Ocean in an effort to help stocks recover.

“You’ve got two ways that we are going to see change in the supply chain,” said Nickson. “Either a regulatory process saying you can only catch this much, forcing the industry to adjust to that, or you are going to see market pressure from retailers saying we don’t want to purchase from any place that can’t actually demonstrate specific sustainability steps. Consumers should be able to buy tuna and not have to worry about where it is from. It is up to retailers and processors to better manage stocks.”

Much of the concern from conservation experts in recent years has centred on bluefin tuna stocks. Although not yet classified by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as endangered (it is listed as vulnerable), Pacific bluefin tuna has seen stocks depleted to less than 3% of its historic levels. It was just under 4% in 2012.

The report estimated that the 17,000 metric tonnes of pacific bluefin caught in 2014 had a final value of $770m. In comparison, the 2.8m metric tonnes of skipjack caught in 2014, not currently overfished and most often used for canned tuna, had an end final value of $17.7bn.

 on: Today at 05:20 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
Snowy Mountains brumbies should be culled by 90% over 20 years – draft plan

Draft wild horse management plan for Kosciuszko national park aims to cut the population of wild horses from 6,000 to 600

Australian Associated Press
Sunday 1 May 2016 07.42 BST

Ninety per cent of the Snowy Mountains brumbies would be culled over the next two decades, under a plan released by the New South Wales government.

The draft wild horse management plan for Kosciuszko national park aims to cut the population of wild horses in the park from 6,000 to about 3,000 in the next five to 10 years.

The population would be dramatically slashed to just 600 within 20 years, confining the wild horses to three locations inside the national park.

Current numbers of wild horses were unsustainable and the animals were damaging the park’s fragile alpine and subalpine landscapes, the NSW environment minister, Mark Speakman, said.

Releasing the controversial draft plan on Sunday, Speakman acknowledged wild horse management was an “emotive and complex” issue.

“There are diverse opinions in the community and often deeply held views which polarise stakeholder groups,” Speakman said.

“It is clear, however, that the broader community values the unique environmental values of Kosciuszko national park and looks to NPWS [National Parks and Wildlife Service] to protect these values.”

Possible measures to slash the population include trapping, ground shooting, fertility control, rehoming and mustering.

Aerial shooting, brumby running and roping have been ruled out.

Feedback on the plan will be taken until 6 July.

Six brumby academics outline the threats to alpine flora and fauna:Click to watch: <iframe src="" width="560" height="315" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>


A time to cull? The battle over Australia's brumbies

It’s been a hard winter for Australia’s wild horses. But things may be about to get much worse for these totemic animals. Their swelling numbers are damaging the continent’s precious alpine ranges, and tensions are mounting over what needs to happen next

byWords by Gabrielle Chan, photography by Mike Bowers
Wednesday 20 August 2014 06.25 BST

The last mare in Dead Horse Gap lies dying on a pure-white bed of snow. Her ears twitch as we approach, but she’s too weak to lift her head. Her rib bones are a scaffold now for her chocolate brown coat.

About her, her fellow mob lie in various stages of decay, food for fat, shiny foxes. Crows line the pretty snow gums above.

This mare, like her mates, has starved here in Australia’s alpine winter landscape for the unhappy chance of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. She was caught in a mountain pass when the late snow arrived, and nothing can save her now. And by her eye, she knows it.

This scene is, as the poet Tennyson put it, “nature, red in tooth and claw”. In another life, a mare like her could have been petted and cosseted and dressed in a pink rug by a teenage girl who would have whispered love-torn secrets into that twitching ear. In this story, the foxes will have it.

It’s a bad year for Australia’s wild horses caught in the upper reaches of the Australian Alps. This mountain pass between New South Wales and Victoria is not called Dead Horse Gap for nothing.

But it could get worse for the wild horses as national parks in Victoria and NSW decide how to manage brumby numbers, which they describe as out of control.

Both states are considering “wild horse management plans” for the next five years. Both will address how to cull brumbies with all methods on the table, in an effort to protect Australian habitats and species.

They may be dying up top, but down the mountain, on the open plains of the now-deserted gold mining village of Kiandra, a mob of 24 fat and shiny brumbies tramps through the appropriately named Racecourse creek. The creek forms part of the Eucumbene catchment, delivering water to 2.1 million people downstream.

These animals are magnificent as they run through the snow against a pink evening sky. When we follow their tracks, they run along a watercourse, leaving deep prints in a spongy, unstable wetland, before escaping from us to higher ground. As we follow, the scene resembles a Lord of the Rings landscape of soft grassland studded by pools fringed with the “super moss”, sphagnum.

Problem is, this swampy stuff is heritage-listed. Sphagnum is highly prized for holding a lot of water and carbon. It is the breeding ground for the endangered corroboree frog, a black and fluoro smudge that would fit on the end of a teaspoon. The surrounding environment is habitat for other endangered species such as the pygmy possum, the broad-toothed rat, the mountain she-oak skink and the guthega skink.

The alpine bogs, according to Professor Emeritus Geoff Hope of the Australian National University, are the perfect water distribution system. When the rain falls, the bogs hold on to the water and then slowly release it so it does not create great gullies cutting through the landscape. And the brumbies have sharp hooves.

“Horses can do incredible damage incredibly quickly because it is soft stuff and they are great heavy-hoofed animals but the long-term effect is to block the drainage and hold the water in the catchment for a lot longer than it would otherwise be,” Hope says.

A delicate ecosystem that protects flora, fauna and water supply

Brumby bog fact box

    Raised water table supporting sphagnum bog community and surrounding heathlands.
    Dense and diverse vegetation cover protects the soil from erosion, protects soil carbon.
    Sphagnum bog hummocks, habitat of the endangered corroboree frog.
    Dense heath vegetation, habitat for birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals.
    High-quality, erosion-free mountain water; protected from evaporation, with vegetation buffeting and slowing water in serious storms.

There are 1.6m hectares which make up the heritage-listed Australian Alps, contained within 11 national parks and nature reserves spilling across NSW, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory. The mountains are the headwaters to the country’s three best-known rivers, the Murray, the Murrumbidgee and the Snowy rivers. This most reliable of water supplies in a dry continent is estimated to be worth $9.6bn a year.

Meanwhile, the last aerial survey of brumbies by Michelle Dawson in 2009 estimated 7,679 across the alps, up from 2,369 after the 2003 bushfires. In 2009, she forecast the numbers growing to more than 13,000 by 2012. The latest count from the 2014 survey is expected in coming months.

Brumby advocates dispute the numbers, suggesting mustering by helicopter in rugged terrain concentrates horses through valleys, which leads to double counting. It also assumes annual growth of about 20%, which does not account for bad seasons, such as the deaths caused by this year’s late snow.

For millennia the local people gathered in the mountains here to feast on the Bogong moths which migrate to the high plains of Victoria in spring.

When white populations arrived in the area some 150 years ago, they used the high country for summer grazing, building the bush huts still enjoyed by many mountain enthusiasts today.

It was during those very first years of European settlement that horses escaped into the bush. They became known as brumbies after the soldier and landholder James Brumby, who deliberately released his horses because he could no longer keep them.

And the wild horses spread, and grew large in the Australian imagination. Children grow up now on the stories of Elyne Mitchell, who wrote The Silver Brumby series about a stallion in the Snowy mountains.

Mountain horsemanship was most famously captured in Banjo Paterson’s The Man From Snowy River, a poem about the horseback chase of the highly prized colt from “old Regret” which joined a brumby mob.

When Australia chose to portray itself to the world in the opening ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics, it chose 120 stockmen and women dressed in bush clothing and mounted on stock horses, riding to the soundtrack of The Man From Snowy River movie.

Even so, Paterson also wrote about the wild horses being “a great nuisance to stock owners” and there are accounts from the mid-1800s of stockmen rounding up brumbies and shooting them.

The scientists also arrived here in in the mid-1800s, scouring the bush for new alpine flora and fauna. Geologists and anthropologists joined them, investigating the secrets held in Australia’s highest peaks.

Artists such as Eugene von Guerard painted the new-old landscape in the 1860s. Bushwalkers tramped, hunters trapped and Australia’s skiing industry was first established. The Snowy mountains hydro-electric scheme attracted new migrants to work on the renewable energy operation from the 1950s until it was completed in 1974.

Each of these groups still feels a sense of connection to the “Snowys”, as the area is now known, and the complexity of this issue is not least the tug of war between what governments like to call the various stakeholders.

If we were talking about the other feral animals in the park – the fox, pig, deer and rabbit – it would be an open-and-shut case. Baits would be laid, guns would loaded. No questions asked.

But a horse pulls at the heartstrings like no other introduced species.

In 2000, NSW national parks organised marksmen in helicopters to shoot brumbies in the Guy Fawkes river national park in northern NSW. When the public saw images of some of the 606 brumbies dead or dying in the bush landscape, there was public uproar.

Animal welfare advocates lined up with traditional bush communities. Conservationists supported the cull. The political fallout caused a moratorium on aerial culling in NSW. For the public not used to large numbers of animal deaths, it jarred and even now, conservationists are not game to talk publicly about aerial culling.

But there are lots of contradictions here. Animals die en masse every day yet the ones we see, like the results of the Guy Fawkes river brumby cull or the dying mare we found at Dead Horse Gap, become the important ones.

Most farmers and graziers would never let other animals compete for feed and habitat on private land, yet some champion the rights of brumbies on public land. National parks have stopped the longstanding practice of allowing horse riders to take brumbies out of the bush for riding yet agonise over how to control the numbers.

Former soldier and politician Peter Cochran grew up in the mountains. His first horse ride was the long trip on the pommel of his mother’s saddle more than 120 kilometres between houses at the age of two. He runs a horse trekking business now out of his alpine property at Yaouk and is the president of the Snowy mountains bush user group and the chairman of the Tourism Snowy mountains board. He believes the emotion-charged debate over brumbies in the park runs deeper than just horses.

It goes back to the 1950s when the government first removed the rights of local families to graze cattle and continue their livelihoods in the high country. Cochran says communities still resent that decision and are now worried that “greenies” would completely remove the brumbies, which local communities consider part of their history.

“The brumby is symbolic of freedom but is also symbolic of the spiritual relationship between man, land and their horses and there has been a longstanding connection between the human being and the horse which is something underestimated in the world,” Cochran says.

“That relationship extends to the brumby and the brumby has now become symbolic of the battle which the people of the high country have had to maintain their freedom over the years.”

After the 2003 bushfires, cattlemen such as Cochran suggested the fire was a result of the build-up of fuel loads caused by the removal of grazing all those years ago. As one of the last large grazing animals left in the national park, apart from feral deer, Cochran believes horses reduce the fuel load.

However scientists disagree, concluding in one of a number of studies: “The use of livestock grazing in Australian alpine environments as a fire abatement practice is not justified on scientific grounds.”

Earlier this year, the environment minister, Greg Hunt, approved a trial of cattle grazing in a Victorian national park to compare the impacts of grazing. It may signal a change in attitude to large grazing – including by brumbies – in national park areas from the federal government.

Neither the grazing nor the heritage argument pass muster in the timber-panelled walls of the Australian National University’s Fenner school of environment and society. Here academics, led by a protected area management specialist Graeme Worboys, gather to debate the merits of removing horses from the Australian Alps. For them, this is a no-brainer: the horses need to go.

“This is like the Great Barrier Reef, it’s like Kakadu, it’s like Uluru, it’s a national heritage-listed property and Australian society has basically said we want to keep this very special part of Australia intact for the next generation and the generation after,” says Worboys, who has devoted his life to protecting the Snowys.

“They aren’t just the mountains for the graziers, they are everybody’s mountains. That’s what the park does. It achieves overall equity in the use of park.”

Roger Good is a retired alpine ecologist and soil conservationist who worked on restoring degraded areas following the removal of alpine grazing. Such was the feeling in the alpine areas in the 1960s and 1970s that at one stage, this gentle grandfather-type once packed a pistol. Just in case.

“Large grazing is not culturally very significant,” he says. “They thought it was. You can still have the cultural acceptance of it, that it did happen, that it’s been part of the history of the European settlement of the mountains but you don’t have to have stock up there to show the public this is what used to go on.”

Good believes the brumby numbers are unsustainable and that the animals should be culled substantially, down to hundreds rather than thousands.

As the ski traffic streams up the Alpine way towards the mountain resorts of Perisher and Thredbo, it passes by an 1880s hut which is the office of Nev Barrass, livestock carrier and proprietor of the Thredbo Valley Horseriding school. Barrass has a number of ponies in the yard, ready to carry tourists along bush tracks on private land.

He takes brumbies “rehomed” by the National Parks and Wildlife Service for his business because they are sure-footed, hardy and fully acclimatised to the mountain snow. A black mare, Gio, is saddled up for one of his regular clients.

We lean on the bush logs that make up his round yard as he talks about local community anger at losing their “way of life”.

“These animals opened up the country for people, you need to respect their history and their heritage,” says Barrass.

“This hut was built in the 1880s, with logs dragged by horses out of the side of the hill. All these pretty little huts where the bushwalkers like to go and have their cups of tea, they were stockmen that built the bloody things so they could live there with their animals. The only reason the trails are still there is because the brumbies use them consistently.

“Don’t get me wrong. I have a lot of time for the Greens and their conservation. Bush users are conservationists as well and the only difference is we are on horseback and we are recognised in the history of the place of the European settlers.

“Declaring the brumbies as ferals is a bit like going down to Australia’s famous Bondi beach lifesavers and saying ‘thanks mate, we’ve declared this wilderness so get off – we don’t need you any more’.”

But in spite of the emotion, there is common ground. All sides of the debate agree the impacts of wild horses on delicate alpine areas should be minimised. The argument is over how to do that.

Since 2004, 1,524 horses (419 trapped and 1,105 roped) have been removed from the Alpine national park in Victoria. The Victorian government is preparing a draft wild horse management plan based on the advice of a roundtable group which included horse advocates, conservationists, animal welfare groups and national parks. It reached agreement on methods such as trapping and mustering horses for culling but could not reach unanimous agreement on aerial or ground shooting. When the draft is released, it will be open for public comment for 60 days.

The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has just opened its public consultation process that will inform its next wild horse management plan. Since 2002, NPWS has removed more than 2,600 horses from the Kosciuszko national park through passive trapping, where horses voluntarily enter a yard. Of those, about one third are rehomed. The rest are sent to the abattoir.

Both NPWS and Parks Victoria remain reticent about commenting on the issue. No one was available in either service to speak to Guardian Australia.

Dr David Freudenberger is a lecturer and researcher at the ANU’s Fenner school of environment and society and studies the lower Snowy river.

“Part of the conundrum is that the horse is a stunning animal in the wrong place,” he says.

“Every time I see a mob of horses up in that country, it is gob smacking … but they are in the wrong place.”

 on: Today at 05:05 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Rad
CS Monitor

How will rising temperatures affect the world's workers?

A new UN report suggests that, as global surface temperatures continue to rise, outdoor workers will face greater challenges.

By Ben Thompson, Staff May 2, 2016   

A new report released by the United Nations (UN) this week found that climate change can worsen health and safety for workers in outdoor professions and cause billions of dollars worth of lost productivity.

The study by the international organization focused on the effects that the Earth’s gradually rising temperature can have on workers and, in turn, the global economy. Climate change’s impact on working conditions can be felt through the growing number of “very hot” days and heat waves each year, and more.

“This rising heat in the workplace is a significant concern to any person working out-of-doors or in indoor conditions without climate control or with ineffective control of ambient temperatures,” the report stated.

The UN found that agricultural enterprises are the most likely to be negatively impacted by heat, while manufacturing and service professions could be at risk as well. But, “even basic office and desk tasks are compromised at high levels of heat as exhaustion sets in.”

The negative health effects could in some cases prove fatal, the report said, particularly as exposure to higher temperatures creates lapses in safety. And aside from impacts at the workplace,

Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 10