Monthly Archives: January 2009

New report shows peril to California fish

SFGATE.COM

But a report on the declining numbers makes a bigger point: fresh, clean water is in short supply for fish, and it’s needed by humans, too.

At first glance, the two-year study by California Trout is all about fish. Of 31 trout, salmon and steelhead species, 65 percent are headed toward extinction this century.

Like redwoods, deserts and seashores, these native fish are icons of the state and deserve protection. This heritage must be protected, the organization rightly argues in the 350-page report researched by a team that included Dr. Peter Moyle, a UC Davis professor of fish biology.

A combination of factors – farming, timber practices, development and harsh weather brought on by global warming – is the culprit. Water is siphoned off, dirtied or blocked behind dams. The flows that are left are sluggish and warm, unsuitable for wild fish.

So far, the state’s official answer is a feeble one: a Fish and Game department saddled with increasing duties and a declining budget. As one example, there are 100 fewer game wardens today compared with 2000. These outdoor cops do more than check fishing licenses. They spot illegal water diversions and activities that damage streambeds needed for fish spawning.

With a state budget deficit predicted at $28 billion over the next 18 months, it may be foolish to wish for miracles. But an agreement last week holds out hope for removing four dams and restoring fish-friendly flows on the Klamath River. Also, the San Joaquin River is in line for major restoration. The report suggests pushing these plans further via a slice of the sales tax or user fees if the political will is there.

There are convincing reasons to safeguard the state’s native fish from extinction. But maybe the best reason of all is that by saving these ancient species, California is also saving itself.

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Hundreds of Species in Kalimantan Threatened with Extinction

TEMPOINTERACTIVE – VENNIE MELYANI

TEMPO Interactive, Jakarta:Forest clearing is threatening 236 plant species and 51 animal species in Kalimantan with exctinction. Orangutans, owa monkeys and tarsius are the most endangered animals. “They are losing their sources of food and water,” head of the Center of Orangutan Protection, Hardi Baktiantoro, told reporters yesterday. He said cutting down forests to clear areas for palm oil plantations is the biggest threat because it changes the total structure of the area.

Hardi views the plummeting crude palm oil prices in the international market has not given any significant impact because forest clearings are still being carried out. Companies also profit by the sale of logs resulting from the clearing. “This is a long-term business. They keep opening the lands while waiting for prices to go up again,” he said.

The number of animals, especially orangutans, is declining as fast as 9 – 10 percent a year. According to Hardi, if nothing is done to prevent this, around 8.400 orangutans outside the protected forest will disappear within three years.

Vennie Melyani

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Conservation body confirms Saimaa seal “critically endangered” -SL

NEWS ROOM FINLAND

The February issue of Suomen Luonto, a paper published by the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation, quoted Kit Kovacs, the chair of the pinniped specialist group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, as saying that a forthcoming IUCN report would confirm that the Saimaa ringed was “critically endangered”.

The IUCN had classified the subspecies as critically endangered in a list published late last year, but the reclassification is not official before the publication of the report in March or April.

Critically endangered is the IUCN’s highest risk rating for wild species.

Finnish authorities put the Saimaa ringed seal population at about 260 individuals.

/STT/

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WILD RED DEER IN SCOTLAND COULD BE LOST

METRO.CO.UK

Wild red deer in Scotland could be lost for ever if they keep breeding with a foreign species.

In some areas, as many as 40 per cent of the population are mixed with the Japanese sika deer, brought to the country in the 19th century, scientists say.

‘The extent of cross-breeding we uncovered is worrying,’ said researcher Helen Senn from the University of Edinburgh.

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Smelt on brink of extinction

RECORDNET.COM

THE DELTA – The Delta smelt are hovering at the brink of extinction, according to a new survey from the California Department of Fish and Game.

The native species, a prime indicator of overall health in the estuary, have reached their lowest point in 42 years of record-keeping.

The state agency’s fall population survey of fish species in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta was conducted in December.

It also found two non-native fish, the American shad and threadfin shad, at record lows.

State officials warned that unless winter gets a lot wetter, conditions will worsen.

The Delta is a freshwater source for two-thirds of California’s population and millions of acres of farmland.

Drought, pesticides and herbicides, invasive species and state water pumping are some of the factors contributing to the region’s troubles.

Water diversions last year were cut by 30 percent to protect fish.

The slowdown in deliveries cost the California economy at least $300 million, according to Fish and Game estimates. Water contractors already have been warned they might only get 15 percent of average Delta water deliveries because of an ongoing drought.

The state needs a deluge of water over several days to refill reservoirs, Department of Water Resources Deputy Director Ralph Torres said.

Smelt are finger-length fish that serve as a crucial food source for sportfish.

State biologists have warned that the Delta is changing – with warmer, more stagnant water and the disappearance of seasonal shifts in temperature and salinity.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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Moseley’s Penguins nearing extinction

PRESS TV

Scientists say the population of northern rockhopper or Moseley’s Penguins has declined by ninety percent over the past 50 years.

According to a study published in Bird Conservation International, the largest rockhopper penguin colonies are estimated at between 32,000 to 65,000 pairs on Gough Island, and 40,000 to 50,000 pairs on Tristan da Cunha Island.

The two South Atlantic islands account for more than 80 percent of the total population, MSNBC reported.

“Historically, we know that penguins were exploited by people, and that wild dogs and pigs probably had an impact on their numbers,” Lead author of the paper Richard Cuthbert of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said.

“However, these factors cannot explain the staggering declines since the 1950s, when we have lost upwards of a million birds from Gough and Tristan.”

“The declines at Gough since the 1950s are equivalent to losing 100 birds every day for the last 50 years”, he said.

Researchers believe climate change, overfishing and changes in marine ecosystems might have caused the decline in the northern rockhopper population.

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Rare shrub added to endangered list

ABC NEWS AUSTRALIA

A rare shrub found in Sydney’s south-west has been added to the Federal Government’s endangered species list.

The type of hibbertia has only been found growing by a fence at Bankstown Airport.

Dr Tim Entwhistle from the Botanics Garden Trust says it is likely the shrub’s numbers have plummeted to less than 50 because of fire and land clearing.

“I doubt anyone’s going to have this one growing in their gardens,” he said.

“Surveys have been done in the area. It’s quite distinct this hibbertia than any other one but they just get left in these isolated pockets because once there was quite a lot of bushland around Sydney.”

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