Monthly Archives: February 2011

Sharks facing extinction due to over fishing

MALAYSIA SUN

Shark catching is driving the animals to the brink of extinction, with one in three species critically endangered and around 73 million sharks caught and killed each year.

Sharks have been portrayed in popular culture as man-eating killing machines, leading to a substantial lack of public support for their protection, in comparison to the controversy surrounding whale or seal hunting.

Yet sharks accounted for just 6 deaths in 2010, meaning that humans kill around 12 million sharks for every human killed by one.

Advocacy groups are now calling for great protection for sharks, warning that the lack of an international law will see all shark species decimated within just a few decades.

“Some say we’ve past the turning point; I hope that is not the case,” says Matt Rand, director of the Pew Environment Group’s Global Shark Conservation Campaign.

Sharks are critical to the balance of the world’s marine eco systems, Matt Rand told CNN, pointing out that sharks have developed their role over the last 400 million years, making them essential to the preservation of the oceans.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, as many as 70% of all fishing areas may have now been over-utilised, rendering shark populations devastated in those areas.

A sustainable management plan has been in place for the past ten years, but it has had little to no effect because international law requires that each country manage its own sustainability measures, which leaves many countries, such as India, Indonesia and Taiwan, open to do nothing.

Those countries that have implemented the management plan, such as Palau, Honduras and the Maldives are seeing growth in shark populations, which has led to a thriving shark tourism market in many coastal communities.

Scott Henderson of Conservation International believes that the over-fishing of sharks will have a hugely detrimental effect on the world’s oceans, disrupting the balance of many key marine species.

“Whether you care about sharks themselves, or the oceans they regulate, it’s in everyone’s interest to curb the massive overfishing of sharks that is putting oceans at risk,” he told CNN.

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BATS TO BE ADDED TO ENDANGERED LIST

NECN.COM

WATERBURY, Vt. (AP) — Vermont’s secretary of Natural Resources is being urged to add two species of once-common bats to the state’s endangered species list.

On Tuesday Vermont’s Endangered Species Committee recommended that little brown bats and northern long-eared bats be added to the list because their populations have been decimated by white nose syndrome. Being on the list will help protect the species.

Experts say the populations of little brown bats has declined 75 percent and some surveys failed to find any northern long-eared bats.

The mysterious white nose syndrome began decimating bat populations in the Northeast five years ago.

The Burlington Free Press says that the committee met Tuesday, chairwoman Sally Laughlin hand-carried the recommendation to Natural Resources Secretary Deb Markowitz, who will make the decision.

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Information from: The Burlington Free Press, http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com

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Endangered crocodiles released to fight extinction

MB.COM.PH

MANILA, Philippines (AFP) — Nineteen of the world’s most critically endangered crocodiles have been released into the wild in the Philippines as part of efforts to save the species from extinction, conservationists said.

 

The freshwater crocodiles, which had been reared for 18 months at a breeding centre, were set free in a national park in the remote north of the country that is one of just two remaining natural habitats for the reptile.

 

If they survive, the number of known Philippine crocodiles in the wild will increase by roughly a fifth, according to Marites Balbas, spokeswoman for the Mabuwaya Foundation that is behind the conservation program.

 

“The Philippine crocodile is the world’s most severely threatened crocodile species with less than 100 adults remaining in the wild. It could go extinct in 10 years if nothing is done,” Balbas said.

 

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature lists the Philippine crocodile as “critically endangered,” just one step away from being extinct in the wild.

 

The Philippine crocodile has plunged to the verge of extinction due to destruction of its habitat, dynamite fishing and killings by humans who consider it dangerous, said Balbas.

 

However the released crocodiles — which are only 35 to 50 centimeters (14 to 20 inches) long — will be safe in the park, according to Balbas.

 

“There is enough food and people are educated on how to protect them. We actually have groups in the local community who guard the sanctuary. They are aware that killing crocodiles is prohibited,” she said.

 

The crocodiles can grow up to 2.7 meters (nine feet) long.

 

The events continue a program that began in 2005 in which dozens of captive-raised Philippine crocodiles have been released back into the wild in the Sierra Madre Natural Park in the northern province of Isabela.

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Endangered Mexican Wolves Increase in Southwest

For Immediate Release, February 2, 2011

Contact:  Michael Robinson, (575) 534-0360

Endangered Mexican Wolves Increase in Southwest

SILVER CITY, N.M.— Fifty Mexican gray wolves, including two breeding pairs, were counted in the wilds of New Mexico and Arizona at the end of 2010, according to a new census conducted by federal and state agencies. The 50 wolves are eight more than the 42 wolves found a year ago, representing the first increase in numbers in four years.

“We are relieved that the trend line is up, but these wolves are still highly imperiled,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “The increase is in large part due to the cessation of federal shooting and trapping, which destroyed wolf families, orphaned pups and removed genetically valuable wolves that were more productive breeders.”

Between 1998 and 2007, federal agencies shot 11 Mexican wolves, and an additional 18 wolves died as a result of capture. Thirty-two other wolves trapped from the wild are in long-term captivity.

The year 2007 turned out to be the last for wolf “control,” after New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson called for a halt to removals, and with revelations that a ranch hand had baited a wolf pack with a pregnant cow brought near the wolf den in order to effect the pack’s destruction. No wolves were removed from the wild in 2008, 2009 or 2010, allowing the population to finally begin to bounce back.

In January, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released into the wild two wolves that had been captured as pups with their packs in 2007, the first such releases of captured wolves since February 2009.

“We are pleased that these wolves are finally back in the wild, and we hope they will be the first of dozens more to be released this year,” said Robinson.

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New Zealand forest ecosystem crisis

STUFF.CO.NZ

New Zealand’s forest ecosystems are the second-most threatened in the world and house only 5 percent of their original habitat, according to an international report.

In figures released by Conservation International, New Zealand’s forests are placed only behind Indo-Burma as the most at-risk forest ecosystem in the world.

The world’s 10 most threatened forest regions have all lost at least 90 percent of their original habitat, and are home to at least 1500 plants which are not found anywhere else.

New Zealand’s forests were home to 5 percent of its endemic species, Conservation International said.

“Forests must be seen as more than just a group of trees. Forests give us vital benefits,” Conservation International policy chief Olivier Langrand said.

Invasive species, such as rats, stoats and possums, posed the most serious threat to the flora and fauna of New Zealand, Conservation International said.

The Green Party said the report drew attention to the fact New Zealand was failing to protect its most precious plants and animals from possible extinction.

“National’s $54 million cut to the Department of Conservation’s budget was a reckless gamble with the conservation estate, given the extreme level of threats our plants and animals face,” Green Party conservation spokesman Kevin Hague said.

“If we love our unique spaces and the plants and animals that live there, we’ll need to re-prioritise the way we spend our money.”

He said he planned to introduce a Member’s Bill into the House to place complete protection over native plants and animals, since many species still remained unprotected.

The 10 most at risk forests in the world are, in order; Indo-Burma, with 5 percent of its remaining habitat, New Zealand 5 percent, Sundaland (southeast Asia) 7 percent, Philippines 7 percent, Atlantic Forest 8 percent, Mountains of Southwest China 8 percent, California Floristic Province 10 percent, Coastal Forests of Eastern Africa 10 percent, Madagascar & Indian Ocean Islands 10 percent, and Eastern Afromontane (Africa) 11 percent.

Conservation International is a non-profit organisation dedicated to protecting the Earth’s ecosystems and biodiversity.

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Lawsuit Seeks Protections for 82 Corals Facing Extinction

For Immediate Release, January 25, 2011

Contact: Miyoko Sakashita, (415) 436-9682 x 308, miyoko@biologicaldiversity.org

Lawsuit Seeks Protections for 82 Corals Facing Extinction

Global Warming, Ocean Acidification Remain Top Threats

SAN FRANCISCO— The Center for Biological Diversity today filed a notice of its intent to sue the National Marine Fisheries Service for the agency’s failure to protect 82 imperiled coral species under the Endangered Species Act. These corals, all of which occur in U.S. waters ranging from Florida and Hawaii to U.S. territories in the Caribbean and Pacific, face numerous dangers, but global warming and ocean acidification are the overarching threats to their survival.

In 2009, the Center petitioned to protect 83 corals under the Act; the government found that listing might be warranted for all except one species. However, the government has failed to meet its deadline to determine whether listing is warranted and propose rules to protect these beleaguered corals. Today’s 60-day notice is a prerequisite to filing suit.

“Time is of the essence to protect coral reefs, the world’s most endangered ecosystems,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director at the Center. “Within a few decades, global warming and ocean acidification threaten to completely unravel magnificent coral reefs that took millions of years to build.”

Scientists warn that by mid-century, coral reefs are likely to be the first worldwide ecosystem to collapse due to carbon dioxide pollution, which causes both global warming and ocean acidification. Warm water temperatures in 2010 marked the second-most deadly year on record for corals due to bleaching — a process by which they expel the colorful algae needed for their survival. Many corals die or succumb to disease after bleaching. An additional threat to coral reefs is ocean acidification, caused by the ocean’s absorption of CO2. Ocean acidification has already impaired the ability of some corals to grow, and will soon begin to erode certain coral reefs.

“Halting the extinction of coral reefs and the marine life that depends upon them is an enormous undertaking, and the Endangered Species Act has an important role to play,” said Sakashita. “But without rapid reductions in CO2 pollution, the fate of the world’s reefs will be sealed.”

In 2006, elkhorn and staghorn corals, which occur in Florida and the Caribbean, became the first, and to date the only, corals protected under the Endangered Species Act. But many other corals are also at risk of disappearing. Protection under the Act would open the door to greater opportunities for coral reef conservation, as activities ranging from fishing, dumping and dredging to offshore oil development — all of which hurt corals — would be subject to stricter regulation. The Act would require federal agencies to ensure that their actions do not harm corals, which could result in agencies approving projects with significant greenhouse gas emissions to consider and minimize such impacts on vulnerable coral species.

For more information about the Center’s coral conservation campaign, visit: http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/campaigns/coral_conservation/index.html.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 320,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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