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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Pirate fishing alive and well in the Pacific...

The high seas pockets have long been a playground for pirate fisherman making it difficult for surrounding Pacific Island countries to manage their shared fish stocks.Since 2008, the Eastern and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (the international body responsible for the overall management of the Pacific tuna fisheries) closed high seas pockets 1 and 2 to purse sine fishing.

But despite all these moves, pirate fishing is alive and well into the high seas.

Illegal fishing costs the Pacific region an estimated Aus$1 Billion per year.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Wolf conservationists stay killing...

Grey Wolf
Image by Todd Ryburn via Flickr

by Brittany Lyons (Guest writer)

The timeless struggle between man and nature continued in the Oregon Court of Appeals last month. The court has decided on a temporary stay of the killing of two grey wolves blamed for the death of livestock in Wallowa County, Oregon. The proceedings illustrate the complexity of the arguments concerning the conservation of wild animals, which as been debated by environmentalists and students in PhD programsfor years. As the human population grows, how can the needs and interests of farmers, and of all those who benefit from their labors, be balanced with the need to protect the wonder and diversity of the natural world?

The case centers on two members of the Imnaha wolf pack (including the alpha male) who were involved in the killing of a calf in September. The incident brought the number of livestock killed by the pack in the last year and a half to 14. The wolves were slated to be killed following an order issued by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife in September, but conservation groups challenged the decision. The groups argue the Oregon Wolf Management Plan, which states wolves that kill cattle can be destroyed, does not comply with the state’s Endangered Species Act. However, wolves are no longer protected in Eastern Oregon under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Although the wolves are no longer considered an endangered species in the area, the conservation group Oregon Wild points there a number of negative implications of the decision. First of all, the killings would reduce the pack to just two members, the alpha female and her young pup, making it unlikely that they would survive the winter. Secondly, Oregon Wildplaces the livestock deaths in perspective, stating that there are only 23 confirmed wolves in Oregon, yet there are more than 1.3 million cattle. Of those livestock, 55,000 were lost last year to weather, disease and thieves while fewer than 20 were lost to wolves. Additionally, when livestock are lost to wolves the rancher is compensated for the loss by provisions made by the legislature. Finally, Noah Greenwald, the endangered species director with the Center for Biological Diversity, told the Seattle Pisuch killings do nothing to save livestock. Greenwald claims, “There are much better non-lethal options, including fencing, guard dogs, and removing the carcasses that attract wolves in the first place.”

The Oregon Cattlemen's Association, counters that wolf numbers will grow at least 33 percent a year, causing the attacks on livestock and wildlife will double. Thus only complicating problems for cattlemen already facing the difficulties that have come with the current recession. The cattlemen also argue this particular wolf pack has been an ongoing problem. The Association's President Bill Hoyt declares: “They had confirmed kills on the same ranch over a period of time and by the same pack. The plan calls for after having multiple confirmed kills (sic), they will take lethal control. That’s what the plan says”. We didn’t like the plan to begin with. But we are learning to live with it. Now, all of a sudden we can’t even do that.”

Ultimately the Appeal Court determine that while nothing in the Endangered Species act prohibits the killing of wolves, there also is not anything to authorize such killing. As a result, the plan to prevent the killings of the two wolves has been stayed while the case is deliberated further.
Clearly the case demonstrates the complexities of weighing the needs of business and the rights of farmers to protect their livestock against the preservation of the natural world. Farmers are only doing what they have been doing for centuries, but then again, so are the wolves. As humans continue to expand into what was once the undisputed territory of animals such as the grey wolf, the debate is sure to continue. Add to that our insatiable demand for of meat and ever cheaper food, and the problem is only likely to grow. The issue is a complicated one, and an understanding of the debate prompts us to question our habits and the part that we all play in the future of animals such as the grey wolf.
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Monday, December 5, 2011

Save the seals - keep oil out of Arctic waters

Arctic Tern
Image by mizmak via Flickr


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Protect seals from an Arctic oil spill disaster
Shell will stop at nothing to drill in the Arctic and they are mobilizing right now.

Wherever there is drilling, there is the risk of spills. Spilled oil collects in the same breaks in the ice that seals and other animals use to come up for air. And in the remote Arctic, no one can clean up spilled oil fast enough to prevent animals from inhaling toxic fumes or becoming coated by oil.
But we can prevent Arctic oil spills – by stopping Shell's plans.
We can't wait until there is another oil spill disaster to take action. The time to speak up for seals and our Arctic waters is before permits are signed, wells are drilled, and oil is pumped. Stand up for seals and other Arctic animals by December 6 and put a stop to Shell's plans to drill in the Arctic.
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Saturday, December 3, 2011

The invasive Argentine ant is apparently dying out in NZ...

Argentine ant
Image by naturalismus via Flickr
argentine ant
Image by Pedro Moura Pinheiro via Flickr


DISAPPEARING: The Argentine ant.


One of the world's worst invasive species, the Argentine ant, is mysteriously disappearing from New Zealand.

The Argentine ant poses a huge risk to horticulture and is a threat to native species.

They attack birds, have been known to eat lizards in New Zealand and the World Conservation Union classed them as one of the world's 100 worst invasive species.

The small, brown insects were first found in New Zealand in 1990 and have spread throughout the North Island, usually attracted to warm climates like Northland and Hawke's Bay. Their colonies reach as far south as Christchurch.

But, the population has just started dying off, though the reason for their deaths is unclear, Victoria University associate professor Phil Lester said.

Lester and masters student Meghan Cooling concluded the species naturally collapses after about 10 to 20 years.

The pair assessed about 150 sites throughout the country that have been populated by the ants.

The colonies disappeared from at least 40 per cent of the sites and populations had significantly shrunk at the other sites, Lester said.

They discovered some dead ants, but believed the others had decomposed or been eaten.

"At some sites they've disappeared all together and other native ants have reinvaded these areas," Lester said.

It was unclear why the invasive ant was disappearing, but Lester suspected it was due to a virus of some sort.

"Because they're collapsing on their own the country could save millions," he said.

When the species was first discovered in New Zealand the Government estimated the ants would cost about $68 million a year in pest control, Lester said.

They have destroyed farms overseas and killed off other species, but they haven't been so disastrous in New Zealand.

But they could potentially threaten the viticulture and horticultural industries if populations got out of hand.

If they were to reach Department of Conservation protected islands the results could be disastrous.

The ants are about 2-3 millimetres long and produce multiple queens and can form huge super-colonies that extend for thousands of kilometres, according to the Biosecurity New Zealand website.

They can bite and cause a reaction in some people.  However, most New Zealanders are probabably not aware of their existence. Some, like myself,  may have read some fleeting comments about them.

 Their demise will not result in any  conservationists criticising any attempts not to preserve them.

Acknowledgements: - Stuff NZ


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