The Marine Conservation Society says the UK needs proper protection for its seas – now! I agree!
The areas would be protected from damaging activities such as fishingalong the seabed or dredging, with restrictions varying from zone to zone, as part of moves to create a coherent network of protected areas throughout England‘s seas.
But the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) has raised concerns that the government will only designate 31 of the sites as protected by the end of next year, despite many more being severely threatened.
The charity said the government’s advisers backed 127 marine conservation zones to create a coherent network of sites to protect the sea’s habitats and wildlife and had said 59 sites were highly threatened and should be designated immediately.
The MCS wants the government to designate the 59 high-risk sites now, and all 127 by the end of 2014.
If ministers designate just 31 sites by the end of next year, they will have delayed the opportunity to create areas which will allow marine wildlife to thrive, the conservation group said.
Jean-Luc Solandt, senior biodiversity policy officer at MCS said: “Designating just 31 sites in 2013 shows a complete lack of ambition and no duty of care to the 59 sites that are at severe risk of damage, let alone the 127 sites that the government was advised would create a network of marine conservation sites.
“We cannot delay protection.
“We wouldn’t stand by and let wildflower meadows and ancient forests be dug up and cleared, and yet heavy fishing gear is dragged across all kinds of habitats, destroying large swaths of the seabed with very little control.”
The government is expected to unveil its plans, which will be put out for public consultation, for marine conservation zones on Thursday.
- Ministers ‘lack ambition’ over marine conservation (telegraph.co.uk)
- At sea over marine conservation (thehindu.com)
- Scottish News: Report backs sea protection network (acadvertiser.co.uk)
- Seabird atlas shows 3,000 key ocean conservation hotspots (guardian.co.uk)
- UK seas to gain 31 marine conservation zones (myoceannews.wordpress.com)
- ‘Fiscal cliff’ threatens wildlife refuge system (thegardenisland.com)
- STPF members honoured (thehindu.com)
- The Role of Tourism in Improving Livelihood of Neighboring Communities in the Protected Areas in Tanzania (ivythesis.typepad.com)
Oil spill update : Rena oil container ship captain and navigational officer appear in New Zealand court – video
Two weeks after the Liberian-flagged Rena got stuck on a reef off New Zealand’s east coast, the 47-tonne oil container ship’s captain and navigational officer appear in court in Tauranga. They are charged under the Maritime Transport Act with operating a vessel in a manner causing unnecessary danger or risk. The Guardian video
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- NZ oil spill: pumping resumes on Rena (guardian.co.uk)
- New Zealand oil spill: Conservationists warn of wildlife ‘tragedy’ (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
- Rena Tuesday Update: Oil Released Overnight From Fractured Bow (gcaptain.com)
- NZ oil spill ship captain charged (bbc.co.uk)
- Video Report – New Zealand Oil slick- worst environmental disaster (hinduworldvision.wordpress.com)
- New Zealand oil spill ship captain charged (guardian.co.uk)
- The latest update from the Rena oil spill disaster in Bay of Plenty (peter-petterson.blogspot.com)
- Weather halts NZ oil ship pumping (bbc.co.uk)
- Oil Spill : Rena likely to split apart on New Zealand reef (environmentaleducationuk.wordpress.com)
ICY ISLANDS NOT TOO FAR FROM MY NATIVE NEW ZEALAND ARE REALLY WILD!
An “inhospitable lump of rock” several days sailing from the nearest civilisation has been revealed as more valuable to wildlife than the Galapagos Islands. The Independent reports…
South Georgia is the last stop before the icy wastes of the Antarctic and is battered by the elemental forces of the Southern Ocean. Yet beneath the surface of the chill waters that surround the island lives a greater range of wildlife than on the Galapagos, which seemingly offers a much more benign environment.
The first comprehensive survey of the waters of South Georgia, a UK overseas territory, has revealed that despite being just 600km (373 miles) from the Antarctic Peninsula, it boasts 1,445 recorded species.
Many of them are found nowhere else in the world and most of them are rare. They include fish, sea urchins, free-swimming worms, sea spiders and a host of crustaceans. Some are vast, such as the sperm whale, killer whale and blue whale. More than half the world’s elephant seals breed there and South Georgia is the most important nest site for king penguins.
Being found in cold waters many of the animals are slow-growing, making the eco-system fragile because losses take so long to be replaced.
Oliver Hogg, one of the research team at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), said: “It shows you don’t have to be a tropical island or in a hot part of the world to support a lot of marine life. These lumps of rock may look inhospitable and cold but once you are under the surface of the water they can support a diverse eco-system. South Georgia, in terms of the number of species, is the richest place known in the Southern Ocean. It has more reported species than have been shown to occur on the Galapagos Islands, which are examples of really rich diversity.”
Almost 1,500 species were identified in the region through analysis of records produced in 130 years of research in the Antarctic. While some date back more than a century, many species are only now being detected off South Georgia.
Divers investigated two areas of the sea close to South Georgia at the end of last year and came up with so many examples of sealife that they still don’t know how many they found. “They turned up a ridiculous amount of specimens which they are still working their way through. It looks like they have found a lot of species we didn’t know were at South Georgia,” Mr Hogg said.
More dives are planned for later this year off the southern side of the island, which is the least known and explored area, and it is quite possible that researchers will find creatures that are unknown to science.
There are several reasons why South Georgia is so rich in wildlife. It’s remoteness and lack of human interference helps but the chief reasons are thought to be the age of the island and its positioning by currents which transport nutrients – and new species – from cold and warm waters.
Mr Hogg, a marine ecologist, said: “One of the reasons it’s so rich is, we suspect, that it’s a really old island. It separated from the continental land mass of South America and Antarctica about 45 million years ago so it’s had a lot of time to evolve new species and develop a really diverse ecosystem.”
The information put together by the BAS team, which was part-funded by the South Georgia Heritage Trust and the Darwin Initiative, will be used as a source against which changes to the spread and quantity of wildlife in the region can be assessed. The study is published by online journal PLoSONE.
Of particular concern is the rising temperature of the sea water, at least some of which is thought to be attributable to man-made climate change, which could have a devastating effect on the type of life on the sea floor.
In the period 1925 to 2006 sea temperatures in the region rose on average by 0.9C in January and 2.3C in August in the 100 metres of water nearest the surface. Warming is much less marked in deeper regions.
South Georgia was claimed by the UK in 1775 when Captain James Cook made the first landing on the island. It was briefly seized from British control by Argentina in the 1982 Falklands war. Scientists are among the few people who live on the island which has no native population.
In Antarctic waters, sea spiders can grow far bigger than their European relatives. One species, Decolopoda australis, reaches 30cm across and can live for decades. They are thought to feed on sponges and other creatures living on the sea bed.
Similar to and closely related to starfish, they crawl across the seabed searching for food and can reach depth of more than 2,000m. Bits of their arms break off easily, which is how they get their name. They eat and excrete through the same orifice.
South Georgia ice fish
These can grow up to 60cm long and can weigh more than 2kg. They eat mainly krill and smaller fish. They are numerous enough for a fishery to be sustained and managed by the South Georgia government.
South Georgia has 81 species and three per cent of these are exclusive to the island. They can regenerate from broken fragments and extract food and oxygen from water pumped through their bodies.
1,800 Distance, in kilometres, from the South American continental shelf.
1,445 species have been recorded in the waters off the island.
90 per cent of the world’s fur seals live in South Georgia – an estimated 5.4 million of them.
From The Independent
A rescue operation is underway to catch and treat a rare and ailing Vietnamese turtle that is revered as a powerful symbol of the nation’s independence struggle.
Thousands gathered around Hoan Kiem Lake in the centre of Hanoi, climbing trees and jostling for position, to watch as dozens of workers waded into the water and took to boats to try and catch the turtle, believed to be seriously sick. At one point, the workers appeared to have caught the creature using a net but he broke free and swam off again, with the officials in pursuit. Even the military has been called in to help.
The turtle in Hoan Kiem is a Rafetus swinhoei, commonly known as a red river giant softshell turtle, and one of the rarest species of turtle in the world. There are believed to be just four still surviving and the one in the lake in Hanoi is one of just two not living in a zoo.
In recent days, images have emerged of the turtle with open pink sores on its wrinkled legs and neck. The images, published on the front pages of the country’s newspapers have triggered widespread concern that something needs to done urgently. It is believed that rubbish and sewage finding its way into the lake, where crowds of people exercise every morning, have created a level of toxicity in the dirty green water that is slowly poisoning the animal.
The rarity of the turtle, reportedly known as great-grandfather and believed to be 80 to 100 years old, would be enough reason to save the animal and clean up the lake. In recent days, teams of volunteers have been removing rubbish and overseeing an operation to pump in clean water.
But the passion behind the effort is also driven by the status of reverence afforded to the 440lb animal that is more than one metre in length. Many Vietnamese people believe folklore that says the turtle is the same one described in the legend of King Le Loi, who is said to have defeated Chinese invaders with a magic sword given to him by the gods.
After the victory, the king was said to have been in a boat on the lake when a giant golden turtle made its way to the surface and took the sword and plunged back into the depths, keeping the weapon for when Vietnam needed it to fight for its freedom again.
“The Vietnamese believe the turtle is a guardian of a magical sword, Thuan Thiên, or Will of Heaven,” said Dana Healy, a Vietnam expert at University of London‘s School of African and Oriental Studies. “Hence the name of the lake in the middle of Hanoi, the Lake of Returned Sword, or Hoan Kiem.”
Even those who do not believe the turtle is the same one talked of in the legend, respect it as a symbol of the country’s long and bloody struggle for independence, and rare sightings of the animal are considered auspicious.
“I’m really glad that I’m part of the rescue operation and, hopefully, it will bring luck to my family,” said Nguyen Thanh Liem, a retired army captain, who was helping pull the net. “I wish he would be immortal to bless our nation.”
In a recent report, the international Turtle Conservation Coalition placed the Rafetus swinhoei in second position on a list of the 25 most threatened turtles. It said that in addition to the specimen in the centre of Hanoi, there was another in a lake to the west of the city and two more – a male and a female – in a Chinese zoo where efforts are being made to encourage them to breed. While eggs have been produced every year since 2008, all have died during incubation.
The report added: “It is hard to believe that such a magnificent creature is almost gone.”