MANTARAY

Manta parts worth $615 million to Indonesian tourism industry intercepted

The  Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries of the Republic of Indonesia and the WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society’s) Wildlife Crimes Unit have made their largest seizure of manta ray gills and arrested one person. The 103kg of gill plates represented 85 manta rays and each was worth $7.8 million to the Indonesian dive industry over its lifetime. The raid took place on 7th November when officials, working on part of a larger investigation, at a house near to the  Pengambengan Negara fisheries landing area in Bali. The latest raid follows on from follows three arrests earlier this month and in October involving illegal trade of manta ray meat and gill…

polar bear

International protection increased for 31 species

The so called ‘Shark COP’ – or the 11th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) (COP11) – concluded yesterday in Quito, Ecuador. The result is that 31 species have been given greater international protection including 21 species of sharks and rays. The conference was the largest ever for the Convention with over 900 delegates attending the 6 day conference. Government officials, NGO’s, academics and media people swarmed around the conference location as species were subject to intense scrutiny before being placed on either Appendix I or Appendix II of the convention. The conference was termed the Shark COP…

arctic-ice

Environmentalists Call for 10-Year Moratorium on Arctic Shipping Increase to Protect Endangered Beluga Whales

Environmentalists today called on the eight Arctic nations of the Arctic Council to enact a ten-year moratorium on any increase in Arctic shipping to protect endangered beluga whales from the threat of growing ship traffic in their habitat.  The moratorium will enable nations to finalize and implement the “Polar Code,” an agreement currently being negotiated under the auspices of the International Maritime Organization (IMO), that aims to establish environmental, safety, and shipping controls, in order to constrain industrial accidents and ecosystem impacts in the Arctic. A new report released today by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), Endangered Belugas and the Growing Threats of Climate Change, Arctic Shipping and Industrialization, comprehensively…

vanquita

US campaigners call for trade ban with Mexico

US wildlife campaign group Center for Biological Diversity have formally submitted a request to the US government for a wildlife product trade ban with Mexico. The ban can be introduced by the US President under the Pelly Amendment. The group are calling for the trade sanctions to help protect the last remaining 97 vanquita porpoises. The Pelly Amandment was bought in to give the US government leverage in tackling countries that are not doing enough to protect species protected by the CITES convention. In the past the amendment was used by the government to tackle rough states not doing enough to protect against tiger trafficking and has also been used…

whale

Round up of IWC meeting

The meeting of the International Whaling Commission took place last week in Slovenia covered a range of topics. Here are the main highlights and outcomes of that meeting. Probably the most disappointing outcome, but also the most predictable, is the failure again to establish the South Atlantic Whale Sanctuary. To get recognition by the IWC there needed to be a 75% majority in favour. The vote only gave a 65% majority and so it failed. The sanctuary was supported by 40 members with 18 members voting against and 2 abstentions. Another major issue that was discussed at the meeting was the International Courts of Justice decision on the whale hunt.…

Iceland reprimanded by 35 countries over whaling

A formal diplomatic protest, known as a démarche, was today delivered to the Icelandic Government in Reykjavik. The top-level protest registered countries’ “strong opposition” to Iceland’s continued whaling, particularly of endangered fin whales. The démarche also objects to Iceland’s international trade in whale products, stating: “Fin whales and minke whales are listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Appendix I … and we remain extremely concerned with Iceland’s reservation, entered in 2000, for these and other cetacean species.” The démarche was signed by the 28 EU Member States, the USA, Australia, Brazil, Israel, Mexico and New Zealand. In addition, Monaco associated…

Will the vaquitas go extinct this month?

A new report about the situation of the world’s smallest porpoise raises concerns over the survival of the species. With fewer than 25 breeding females estimated to be left and the totoaba fishing season about to get underway this month could determine the future of the species. The report, produced with the help of the WWF, Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas and US Marine Mammal Commission, shows how nets used to catch the totoaba fish have devastated the vaquitas porpoise population. At the last meeting of members of a conservation group set up to protect the vaquitas, CIRVA,  in 2012 there was an estimated population of 200 individuals, two…

Historic day as sharks and manta rays receive UN protection

On Sunday 14th September, five species of sharks and two manta ray species will receive protection under the United Nation’s Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) when formal measures to regulate their international trade come into effect. The five sharks and two manta rays species include Scalloped Hammerhead Shark (Sphyrna lewini), Great Hammerhead Shark (Sphyrna mokarran), Smooth Hammerhead Shark (Sphyrna zygaena), Oceanic Whitetip Shark (Carcharinus longimanus), Porbeagle Shark (Lamna nasus) and manta rays Manta spp. All the sharks except Porbeagle are caught for their fins, which are exported to East Asia, especially Hong Kong, where they are the key ingredient in sharks-fin soup,…

New report on whaling released as IWC prepares to meet in Slovenia

A new report today calls for the international community and vested commercial interests to take tough action to end Iceland’s ongoing slaughter of endangered fin whales. Slayed in Iceland: The commercial hunting and international trade in endangered fin whales has been jointly released by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) and Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) on the eve of the 65th meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in Portorož, Slovenia. Iceland’s fin whale hunt revolves around Kristján Loftsson, a multi-millionaire and the Executive Director of Hvalur hf. In his bid to create a viable market for fin whale products in Japan, he has used the…

Oil or smoke – what’s killing the whales and dolphins of Ghana?

Over the last few years the number of whales and dolphins that are dying along the coast of Ghana have increased. Locals claim that deaths started to happen following oil drilling in the region while the country’s Environment Protection Agency (EPA) is claiming that local are killing the creatures and smoking them for sale as fish. The latest whale to wash ashore in the Western region of Ghana brings to a total of 21 whales since 2010 and 26 since 2008. The locals claim that the whale deaths have increased since the Jubilee Oil Field was opened and it is the drilling which is causing the large number of deaths. Oil…

Whale sharks bring in $10 million a year to the Maldives

One of the classic dive locations in the world is producing more income for the Maldives than previously thought. The whale shark population at South Ari atoll Marine Protected Area attracts an incredible 77,000 visitors each year and they spend US$9.4 million a year. The whale shark population at  South Ari is one of the few whale shark locations in the year where divers can be sure of experiencing these massive but gentle fish. The population is a resident year-round one and this small group of sharks account for nearly half of all Maldive shark tourism spend. The value of shark tourism to the Maldives has always been assumed to be high but…

British turtles are booming

It may take more than a day trip to the coast to see the booming turtle population but the numbers of green turtles on British dependency Ascension Island are booming. The latest survey shows that turtle numbers on the main beaches now total 24,000 nests – an increase of 500% since records began in the 1970’s The increase means that the beaches around the Ascension Island are now the second largest breeding population in the Atlantic Ocean. The future could be even brighter for the turtles and other wildlife as the governor signed in to existence 7 new nature reserves yesterday (28th July 2014) which included 3 main green turtle…

Iceland kills first fin whale of the season

Conservation groups are calling on the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and its member governments to condemn Iceland’s commercial whale hunt following confirmation that the Icelandic whaling company Hvalur hf has killed yet another endangered fin whale. The whale was killed off Iceland’s west coast and landed today at the company’s processing station in Hvalfjörður, less than an hour’s drive from the capital Reykjavik. The kill, the first of the 2014 season, coincides with a working party meeting of the European Union Environment Council in preparation for the meeting of the IWC in September. NGOs are pushing for governments to take a strong stand against Icelandic whaling ahead of, and during,…

International plan launched to save the sawfish

Scientists from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) have launched a global strategy to save the most threatened group of fish in the world – the sawfish. While sharks and rays are regularly featured in popular conservation campaign the sawfish are often the forgotten relations of the big fish. The new plan is being released by the Shark Specialist Group of the IUCN and is being featured at the Sharks International conference in Durban. Two west African range states are also calling for sawfish to be covered by the Convention on Migratory Species at the next meeting of the convention in November. “The sawfishes, revered for millennia by coastal…

Gannets spot easy pickings from 11km away

The impact of trawlers and their waste on seabird populations appear to be much larger than previously thought. A study by the University of Exeter highlights that the ‘footprint’ of a trawler is as large as 11km radius. This footprint influences the foraging behaviour of seabirds as they now associate trawlers with easy-pickings. Using GPS the marine researchers from Exeter discovered that the northern gannet changed their behaviour in the presence of large boats and particularly trawlers. Scientists at the Centre for Ecology and Conservation at the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall and the Coastal & Marine Centre at University College Cork analysed GPS tracking data from 74…

Norwegian minister pledges to push whale meat sales in Japan

Elisabeth Aspaker, Norway’s fisheries minister, has said that she will push for greater sales of whale meat caught by Norwegian whalers into Japan’s markets. She made the promise in an interview on Norway’s NRK TV channel. This is despite Japan having stockpiles of whale meat that people do not want to buy. The minister said, “We have Japan as a potential export country. We must see if we can work been harder promote it.” The commitment was made after a documentary was shown on the weekend that claimed that whaling in Norway would disappear in 10 or 15 years if current trends continue. The documentary looked at the history of…

European campaign warns seafood expo: ‘don’t support whale slaughter’

An alliance of 13 leading conservation groups is this week urging major buyers at Europe’s biggest seafood trade show not to do business with Icelandic seafood company HB Grandi because of its strong links to whaling. HB Grandi is controlled by the whaling and investment company Hvalur hf, which plans to kill 770 endangered fin whales during the next five years and sell the resulting meat and blubber to Japan. The opening of the 2014 Seafood Expo Global/Seafood Processing Global trade event in Brussels today coincides with the arrival in Japan of a shipment of more than 2,000 tonnes of Icelandic whale products, including fin whale meat – cut, packed…

Japan cuts Pacific whale quota by 45%

Japan has stated that the annual whale quota from the North Pacific whale hunt is to be cut by 45% – from 380 whales to 210. The start of the whaling hunt will also be delayed for 4 days so that the sailing of the whaling fleet does not clash with the visit of US President Barack Obama. The whalers are set to sail from Miyagi for the whaling grounds in the North Pacific on Sunday 26th April. Japan’s Agriculture and Fishing Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi announced the reduced quota following  a Cabinet meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Will Japan return to whaling in 2015?

Papers filed by Japan’s  Institute of Cetacean Research against the Sea Shepherd organisation in the US courts yesterday (Friday 11th April) indicated that Japan may be returning to the Antarctic for whaling in 2015. This would mean that Japan is set to redesign its JARPA II programme to abide by the decision of the International Courts of Justice. Alternatively it could just be that Japan is continuing with its legal action against the Sea Shepherd NGO in order to keep its options open. The document filed with the United States District Court says that Japan intends to return to the Southern Ocean with a research programme that meets the requirements…

Sharks are more polluted than polar bears

Polar bears are well-known to store many deadly pollutants in their fat. They store chemicals such as PCB’s from the food that they eat. Being at the top of the food chain leads them to have high concentrations of toxins. New research indicates that polar bears are no longer some of the most polluted species in the Arctic. The Greenland shark is even more contaminated. While PCB contamination of the ecosystem in the Arctic is beginning to ease following the banning of the chemical 30 years ago new pollutants – especially those used in fire-retardants – are becoming more widespread in the region. The new pollutants are also accumulated throughout…