Sunday, December 23, 2012

Show us the maps!

From Delegate Sablan:
Public needs more time to comment on endangered corals - The public needs information and opportunity to comment on the proposal to list 29 species of corals found in the Northern Marianas Islands as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Three weeks have passed since the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration proposed the listing, yet no maps showing the location of the corals have been provided for public review. As Ranking Member of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affairs, I asked my colleagues from Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, which also have corals proposed for listing, to join me in a letter to NOAA asking that they provide the maps to the public and extend the comment period to 90 days after doing so. The people of the Northern Mariana Islands should have access to a complete set of materials so they can understand the proposal; and they should have sufficient time to submit informed comments.
The implementation of the Endangered Species Act has been somewhat of a disaster on Saipan.  59 of the corals up for listing are in the Pacific, but I'm not sure how many are in the territories.  A more sustainable plan for protecting these coral species would be to designate critical habitiat under the Office of the Marine National Sanctuaries, therebye guaranteeing funding for enforcement, education, and continued scientific research.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

I HEART Shark Stanley

Yes, I wear a tie everyday.
Shark Stanley is going to change the world, but he needs your help.  Check out Shark Defenders for more.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Unknown in the Cooks

I had nothing to do with this.
As of 12-12-12, French Polynesia, Cook Islands, American Samoa, and Tokelau all have in place domestic measures banning the sale, trade, possession, and commercial fishing of sharks in all waters under their jurisdiction.  If you were to add up all the ocean inside of those white lines, this area would be roughly the size of Australia.  Is this the beginning of a Polynesian Regional Shark Sanctuary?  And how about Micronesia, the leaders of which recommitted last week to a regional shark sanctuary?  Is a Pacific Shark Sanctuary looming in the future?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Famous in French Polynesia, Too

The Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) meets in Manila
Last Thursday, French Polynesia announced on the floor of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission they were fully protecting all species of shark in waters under their national jurisdiction.  Take a hard look along the left edge of this file photo from AFP, and you'll see me playing Angry Birds on my phone. 
French Move Boosts Shark Sanctuaries

PARIS — Green campaigners on Friday hailed a decision by France that they said would create the world's biggest shark sanctuary.

On Monday, the government of French Polynesia included the mako, the last shark that was not protected in its waters, on the list of fish banned from capture or trade in its vast territorial zone in the South Pacific.

The move was announced on Thursday at the annual meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission meeting in Manila, where nations also agreed to take steps to protect whale sharks from tuna nets.

"At more than 4.7 million square kilometres (1.5 million square miles) of ocean, this designation doubles the size of the area already protected by all six existing shark sanctuaries," said Josh Reichert, head of the Pew Environment Group.

But, he said, "sharks are threatened throughout much of the world's oceans, and there is a great need to protect them before they slip below levels from which they may never recover".

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Really Famous in Manila

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Asia and Pacific nations agreed at a meeting in the Philippines on Wednesday to take steps to protect whale sharks in a victory for the world's largest fish, officials said.

Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission nations agreed that tuna fishers must stop setting their nets around the vulnerable giants in order to catch smaller fish that gather underneath them, said Palau fishing official Nanette Malsol.

She said the deal binds tuna-fishing nations such as the United States, China, and Japan, and was a victory for a coalition of small Pacific nations, called the Parties to the Nauru Agreement, that has been campaigning for this measure.

"This rule follows negotiations by the Parties to the Nauru Agreement for three years to try and get the big fishing nations to adopt protections for whale sharks," said Malsol, who also heads the coalition.

The small Pacific island nations said they already imposed such a rule on their own tuna fishers.

Smaller fish like tuna congregate under whale sharks, so fishermen often seek the giants and set their nets under them to catch the other fish, said Angelo Villagomez, a spokesman of the the US-based Pew Environment Group.

As a result, whale sharks, which are considered a vulnerable species, often get entangled in tuna nets and die, he said.

Fifty whale sharks were recorded having died from tuna nets in 2010 and 19 in 2011, said Villagomez, adding that there were likely many other cases which went unreported.

Parties to the agreement reached at the Manila meeting Wednesday must free any whale shark that gets caught in their nets and must also record and report any incidents involving the giant fish, Malsol said.

The Pew group, which is also attending the meeting, is pressing for other measures to protect 143 other threatened species of sharks that are affected by tuna fishers.

However Villagomez said he doubted they would pass as some fishing countries actively catch these sharks.

Whale sharks measure as much as 12 metres (39 feet) long but are harmless to humans and feed on tiny marine animals. They have become popular tourist attractions in countries such as the Philippines, Mexico and Australia.

Published by AFP on Thursday, December 6, 2012.

Famous in Manila

Angelo Villagomez of the
Pew Environment Group
shows a sample of a line
 and hook.
MANILA, Philippines — Pacific island nations and environmentalists raised an alarm Sunday over destructive fishing methods and overfishing that they say are threatening bigeye tuna — the fish popular among sushi lovers worldwide.

Palau fisheries official Nanette Malsol, who leads a bloc of Pacific island nations, said at the start of a weeklong tuna fisheries conference in Manila that large countries should cut back on fishing, curb the use of destructive fishing methods and respect fishing bans to allow tuna stocks to be replenished in the Pacific, which produces more than 60 percent of the world’s tuna catch.

The annual meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, which regulates commercial fishing in the vast expanse of waters from Indonesia to Hawaii, is to approve steps aimed at protecting the bigeye and other threatened tuna species, along with giant whale sharks. More than 600 delegates from about 40 Asian and Western countries, along with environmental activists, are attending.

Malsol said she expects heated debate. Proponents of the multibillion-dollar fishing industry have squared off with conservationists in the past over the best ways to protect the bigeye and other species without considerably setting back the lucrative business.

Read the full story on the Washington Post.