Monthly Archives: May 2008

Mangalore: ‘Catfish is extinct in coastal Karnataka’


MANGALORE May 23: Excessive fishing in the coastal region has resulted in the extinction of fish species such as catfish, according to director of the Kochi-based Centre for Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) N.G.K. Pillai.

Mr. Pillai, who was here to participate in a seminar, told The Hindu that a few species, including catfish, had already disappeared from the seas, and many species of fish were on the threshold of “sustainable-level”. He said that about 15 years ago, Karnatakas coastal belt was known for catfish. “Although it is now found in the coasts of other States, including Kerala, it is not available in this region. There were two species of catfish in this region and both of them have disappeared,” he said.

Stating that excessive fishing had affected marine biodiversity, Mr. Pillai called for urgent measures to prevent further damage to the fish species.
Export declines

Mr. Pillai said export of marine products, in terms of quantity, was declining. Indian exporters were, on the one hand, not able to meet the norms laid down by importers in countries such as the U.S. in some cases and, on the other, they had to cope with competitors in Vietnam, China and Thailand, among others. These countries had taken up aquaculture in a big way, he added.

Besides, the Indian fishing industry should re-invent itself by diversifying and adding value to the products. It could produce and market the ready-to-cook or ready-to-eat kind of products. “Everyone is looking for such products, nowadays,” he said. Indian aqua culturists, whose exports stood at about 1.3 lakh tonnes a year, were facing the problem of disease and they were not able control it. Production cost of aquaculture products was higher in India than in countries such as Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia, he said.
New species

These countries cultivated a new species, “Vanemi”, which was easier to grow and resistant to diseases. There has been a demand to import this variety to try it out in India. That was yet to happen. Import of the species may lead to higher yield. Indian aquaculture industry was grew another species, “Tiger prawn” and “Vanemi” was an exotic species, Mr. Pillai said.

He said that he had instructed the scientists at Mangalore Research Centre of CMFRI to organise monthly interactions with fishermen and their leaders in villages so that they could identify new areas of research. On the complaints that research data of the centre were not easily accessible for public, Mr. Pillai said steps were being taken to address this issue.

Mr. Pillai inaugurated the seminar on “Biodiversity”, organised by the Mangalore Research Centre.

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White-handed Gibbons Now Presumed ‘Extinct’ In China, Forest Survey Shows


ScienceDaily (May 22, 2008) — China’s fauna exhibits a unique diversity of apes. Unfortunately, the apes are more seriously endangered by extinction in China than in any other country. A research team assembled by anthropologists of Zurich University now conclude that another ape species has just become extinct in China’s Yunnan province.

A scientific team, consisting of members of the Gibbon Conservation Alliance based at Zurich University and the Kunming Institute of Zoology, as well as staff members of the Nangunhe National Nature Reserve, carried out a survey in all Chinese forests that had been reported as supporting white-handed gibbons (Hylobates lar) during the last 20 years.

The species was last observed in 1988 in the Nangunhe Nature Reserve in south-western Yunnan province, and their loud, melodious calls were last heard in 1992. After two weeks of field work, the 14 member Swiss-Chinese team realized that as a result of continued forest destruction, fragmentation and deterioration, as well as hunting, this gibbon species is no longer part of the Chinese fauna.

“This loss is particularly tragic”, says anthropologist Thomas Geissmann, “because the extinct Chinese population was described as a distinct subspecies, the so-called Yunnan white-handed gibbon.” This subspecies (Hylobates lar yunnanensis) is not known from any other place. Geissmann now hopes, that the subspecies may have survived in neighbouring Myanmar, but so far, he has no evidence for this.

“The extinction of the Chinese white-handed gibbons is an urgent alarm signal, because several other ape species in Chinas are also endangered by extinction”, says Geissmann. For instance the white-cheeked crested gibbon (Nomascus leucogenys) has not been sighted in China since the 1980s. Of the Cao-Vit crested gibbon (N. nasutus) in the provinces Guangxi (China) and Cao Bang (Vietnam) there are less than 50 individuals, and of the Hainan crested gibbon (N. hainanus) on the South-Chinese island of Hainan less than 20 individuals, to mention just the two most endangered species. Therefore, the scientists warn that the loss of the Yunnan white-handed gibbons may only be the beginning of an unprecedented wave of extinctions which threatens to terminate most, if not all, Chinese ape species.

“We hope that our research results will alarm the Chinese government as well as international conservation agencies and encourage them to initiate immediate efforts to save China’s last surviving apes”, says Geissmann.

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Caribou facing extinction as recovery efforts stall, biologist says


There has been no real progress in efforts to save the southern mountain caribou in B.C., according to a longtime wildlife biologist.

Even though the B.C. government announced a caribou recovery plan last October, the animals are facing extinction, says Dr. Lee Harding, formerly with Environment Canada.

Harding was hired by the environmental group ForestEthics to evaluate the progress of the first six months of the new government recovery plan.

He found that while many teams of experts and stakeholders are working to find a way to protect the remaining herds, once again, government action is not living up to promises.

“We have had three different recovery plans developed for these caribou in the last 20 years and there still has yet to be any substantial action to actually protect the caribou,” said Harding on Tuesday in Coquitlam.

Government constraints on habitat protection and upcoming agreements with recreation groups spell doom for the remaining animals, said Harding, because the caribou are dependent on the same old growth forests favoured by loggers, and they can’t survive disturbances that come with snowmobilers and heli-ski operators.

“I can imagine all of them going extinct in a few decades, and more than half of the populations going extinct very soon,” said Harding.

There are just an estimated 1,900 southern mountain caribou left in B.C., down from approximately 5,000 about 20 years ago, said Harding.

The remaining population is spread out among 11 herds. However, three herds are so small that the government is making no efforts to save them, according to Harding.


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Conflict of Man and Beasts: Armenian wildlife in danger of extinction


According to data of the Research Center for Zoology and Hydro-Ecology, about 60 percent of wild animal life in Armenia is threatened.

“The major threats to biodiversity are directly or indirectly connected with human influence. The major processes threatening it are the loss of living environment and its change, overuse of biological resources, pollution, etc. All these threats minimize the population of the flora and the fauna, and cause loss of species, degradation of landscapes and ecosystems,” the annual report of the Ministry of Environmental Protection says.

The “Red Book” of endangered plants and animals puts 387 species of plants and 99 species of vertebrates of Armenia in danger. The international “Red Data List” puts only 1 and 28 respectively. (It is possible that one animal species disappears in Armenia, but survives in large quantity in other countries of the world, and vice versa. Consequently, the discrepancy in numbers.)

Mher Sharoyan, coordinator of public relations of the Armenian Forests NGO says: “Detailed zoological studies show about 40 species of mammals, birds, reptiles and fish have either vanished or are on the verge of disappearing within the last 2-3 decades.”

The gray-necked pochard has disappeared altogether, the panther is on the brink of disappearance, mouflon (sheep), Bezoar goat (ibex), gray bear are also in jeopardy. Also extinct or in danger are such species as alpine turkey, golden eagle, steppe eagle, flamingo, black stork, forest cat, bear, and others.

Read the rest of this on the original site

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16 shark species face extinction threat: study


Washington, May 23 (IANS) As many as 16 out of 21 shark species are at a heightened risk of extinction because they are being increasingly targeted, according to a study. The study was conducted by 15 scientists from 13 different research institutes, with additional contributions from scores of other scientists.

The increasing demand “shark fin soup”, considered a delicacy, driven by rapidly growing Asian economies, boils down to the fins being retained while carcasses are discarded. Frequently, discarded sharks and rays are not even recorded.

Sharks and rays are particularly vulnerable to over-fishing due to their tendency to take many years to become sexually mature and have relatively few offspring.

“Fishery managers and regional, national and international officials have the opportunity and the obligation to halt and reverse the rate of loss of biodiversity and ensure sharks and rays are exploited sustainably,” said the study’s co-author Nicholas Dulvy.

“The current rate of biodiversity loss is 10 to a hundred times greater than historic extinction rates, and as humans make increasing use of ocean resources it is possible that many more aquatic species, particularly sharks, are coming under threat,” added Dulvy.

“This does not have to be an inevitability. With sufficient public support and resulting political will, we can turn the tide.”

“The traditional view of oceanic sharks and rays as fast and powerful too often leads to a misperception that they are resilient to fishing pressure,” said Sonja Fordham, co-author of the paper.

These recommendations are published in the latest edition of Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems.

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Africa: Deforestation Threatens Biodiversity Efforts



The continuing failure to prevent catastrophic deforestation is hampering global efforts to reverse the loss of biodiversity and has become a major threat to forest-dependent people,warned Friends of the Earth International on ‘International Biodiversity Day’, 22 May.

The warning was made during a May 19-30 United Nations meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Bonn gathering, attended by delegates from 191 countries, aims to find ways to meet a globally agreed target for reversing the loss of biodiversity.

“The destruction of forests and the consequent erosion of biodiversity severely impact millions of forest-dependent people. But it also affects global food security and accelerates climate change,” according to Belmond Tchoumba, co-coordinator of the Forest and Biodiversity Programme of Friends of the Earth International.

“Governments must let local communities and Indigenous Peoples who depend on forests manage their forests, rather than evicting them and selling off the forests,“ added the Cameroonian activist.

According to Friends of the Earth International the Bonn conference participants should take immediate action to stop the deforestation of prime forests, to stop the destructive illegal logging and to stop the trade of illegally derived forest products.

They should also oppose false solutions such as damaging monoculture tree plantations and genetically engineered (GE) trees. GE trees are as damaging as other monocultures, but they also pose a specific threat to the genetic diversity of trees.

“Genetically engineered trees know no borders: once planted, they contaminate large areas,” according to Hubert Weiger, President of BUND/Friends of the Earth Germany.

“Planting GE trees flies in the face of the precautionary approach of the Convention on Biological Diversity. GE trees should be strongly and urgently opposed by this UN Convention and by all national governments,” he added.

“Forest-dependent local communities and Indigenous Peoples around the world know how to conserve and restore forests. Their community-based activities are successfully geared towards sustainable forest use,” said Isaac Rojas, co-coordinator of the Forest and Biodiversity Programme of Friends of the Earth International.

“Community forest management not only ensures the conservation of biological diversity, it also ensures sustainable livelihoods for forest-dependent people,” added the Costa Rican activist.

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Endangered species relying on change in focus


Last year, China’s baiji dolphin was declared extinct. The fates of the western grey whale, northern right, vaquita and New Zealand’s Maui and Hector dolphins now hang in the balance.

Surely this should serve as a guide to the International Whaling Commission of where its direction lies.

Undoubtedly it is time the commission was modernised. If we are to have any hope of protecting the world’s whale and dolphin populations, this modernisation must outstrip the pace at which these mammals are becoming extinct.

The IWC was set up in 1946 to conserve whales and regulate an out of control whaling industry.

It has has been dominated by unproductive discussions on commercial whaling – a subject over which the commission is deeply divided.

It has become obvious to all that the commission can’t stay locked in this bitter stalemate for ever.

It is definitely time for a change in direction. It is time the IWC took a progressive step and shifted its focus from the exploitation of whales and dolphins to their conservation and protection.

Instead of debating the merits of whaling, the IWC needs to redirect its energies towards increasing our scientific knowledge of the ecology, biology and behaviours of these magnificent mammals.

Studies should be funded to increase our understanding of whale numbers, their migratory paths, communication skills, social dynamics, and culture.

The IWC should be conducting research to predict and quantify the effect on whales and dolphin populations of climate change, noise pollution, ship strikes, toxic pollution, habitat destruction and entanglement.

Methods should be developed to evaluate the effect of whale watching and to facilitate sharing of information within the global whale watching industry.

More than nine million people go whale watching every year. The global economic value of the whale watching industry is estimated to be more than US$1 billion ($1.27 billion).

Instead of brokering deals on new categories of whaling, the IWC should be taking steps to ensure that whaling for commercial purposes comes to an end for good. Now is not the time to compromise.

In today’s world any attempt to hunt these long-lived, slow-breeding mammals can only be considered irresponsible and needlessly cruel.

* Bridget Vercoe is the New Zealand programmes manager for the World Society for the Protection of Animals. WSPA leads the Whalewatch Network – an international coalition of more than 140 anti-whaling groups from more than 55 countries.

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