Tuesday, November 18, 2014

ACTION ALERT: Don't Gut Global Protected Area Targets!

There is a real risk that the World Parks Congress will gut the updated target they issue for no-take marine protection.

Retweet this tweet to show your support for protecting 20-30% of our ocean


At the last World Parks Congress in Durban 11 years ago – a marine no-take target was issued of 20-30% no-take of all habitats by 2012. WPC is a global expert forum – that target had the status of providing expert advice to the world’s leaders, governments and convention processes on what they should aspire to achieve. There is a very real risk that that target will be reduced to 5% no-take as the global marine target. This would be a disaster for marine protection globally, and all of the marine park campaigns and programs around the world.

This large target is still on the table, but we need to hold that in place for the next 24 hours leading into the final day of WPC tomorrow when the targets will be locked-in. Today is the last day for influencing this, ahead of tomorrow’s WPC Plenary when the WPC Resolutions will be confirmed.


Can you use Twitter and Facebook as soon as possible today to send a message – a suggested one is below. Reword this as you wish, but please keep the tone sharp but encouraging – no need to mention any numbers. Please use the hashtag #NatureNeedsHalf.

It’s time for a bold aspirational target for marine no-take protection of the world’s oceans @WpcSydney @IUCN #NatureNeedsHalf

You can also retweet this tweet to show your support for protecting 20-30% of our ocean

Thank you!!!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Dare to Change the World

Guest Post
by Arthur Sokimi

I’m sitting here at the airport in Quito thinking about the incredible week here at the Eleventh Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species. I’m also thinking about the long and painful journey ahead of me and my fellow Fijian delegate, Saras Sharma of the Ministry of Fisheries. Sharma, by the way, is sleeping on a seat next to me in the departure lounge. I am really envious of people who sleep so easily! She’ll need it. Over the next two days we are flying from Quito to Miami to Los Angeles and finally on to Fiji. I’ll get a lot of reading done – you can only watch Guardians of the Galaxy so many times – but I expect my bottom is going to be very sore again!

As I sit here I am in very high spirits. Yesterday marked a monumental moment for shark and ray conservation. All 21 species of sharks and rays that were proposed for listing on CMS Appendices I and II were adopted by the plenary during the last day of deliberations at the CMS COP 11. Even Chile and Peru, who had initially been opposed to the listing of silky sharks, came around in the eleventh hour and voiced their support.

Congratulations are due to all the countries that were successful and I sincerely thank everyone for supporting Fiji’s proposals!

As a member of the Fiji delegation I am immensely proud of my country and fellow delegation members. We took our first CMS COP by storm with a proposal to list 9 mobula and reef mantas on the two appendices. I am truly honoured to have been a part of this fabulous team led by our gentle giant and personification of humility, Mr. Aisake Batibasaga of the Ministry of Fisheries. His leadership was a pillar of strength for us less-experienced members of the delegation. Saras managed everything for our team from before we left Fiji until now. We were blessed to have her be our calm, yet surprisingly firm, voice. My buddy Ian Campbell of the WWF Shark Programme was our joker and also technical person, and despite his bad jokes, he proved to be indispensable.

Thank you to our hosts, the Ecuadorian government, particularly the Minister of Environment Lorena Tapia, and the wonderful people of Ecuador for being delightful hosts and allowing us to experience and enjoy their beautiful home.

Congratulations and heartfelt thanks to the CMS Secretariat for all the hard work and making this COP a memorable and productive one.

Thank you to all our partners who helped the Fiji delegation with drafting our proposals and getting us to Quito. The Pew Charitable Trusts, WWF, The Manta Trust, and SPREP head this distinguished list.

And huge thanks to all the bubbly personalities from around the world. It was particularly great to see Perry, Luke, Isabel, and KerriLynn again.

I have been working on shark conservation for a few years. Yet this was the first time for me to work on shark conservation on the global stage. I am filled with happiness and am grateful to have had had the opportunity to be but a small part of this.

I hope this feeling lasts the entire 48 hours or so it is going to take to get me back to my own bed in Suva, Fiji. I leave inspired, knowing that our work is only just beginning. The theme of CMS COP 11 was “Time for Action,” and I plan to take this home as my personal mantra in the coming months.

We have reached the threshold where human inaction may lead to a bleak future, not only for migratory species and nature, but for us humans also. We must take the steps necessary to set things on the right track.

Minister Tapia told us in her closing remarks, “It is time for us to dare to change the world.”

Challenge accepted, and I humbly ask you to join me.

Arthur Sokimi is the director of outreach for Shark Defenders. He lives in Suva, Fiji. You can follow Arthur on Twitter.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

From Bula to Hola: Fiji at CMS

Guest Post
by Arthur Sokimi

After approximately 30 odd hours of flying and playing paper rugby in airports, the Fiji delegation arrived safely in Quito, Ecuador for the 11th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). Jetlagged and with very sore bottoms, we settled into our accommodations and after a little rest put our heads together again to work on our proposal to list nine mobula species, plus reef mantas.

The entire team has been quite anxious since this is Fiji’s first ever appearance at CMS and we are making it a spectacle with a proposal. Actually Fiji is the first Pacific Island country to make a proposal at CMS! Lead by our towering Head of Delegation, Mr. Aisake Batibasaga, we are optimistic and we live the theme of this years’ COP; “Time for Action”!

The Fijian delegation inside the meeting hall.
Yesterday’s High Level Ministerial meeting emphasized our human responsibility to nature. Inspired by Ecuador and Bolivia, who have constitutionalized the Rights of Nature, the meeting touched on issues that affect migratory species and the important need to protect them as international indicator species of environmental health. One of the main messages I took from the meeting and something that I and a few others believe was very aptly summarized by Dr. Cormac Cullinan:

UNLESS we learn to live in harmony with nature there is NO future for us!!

This is the very important message that must be shared with everyone. This is what everyone on earth should know, should think, and should talk about. It cannot be stressed, repeated or shouted enough!

Today’s opening ceremony was a pleasant occasion with the hosts Ecuador going out of their way to make everyone feel welcome with very inspirational talks from three conservation advocates. One of the opening addresses was given by Achmat Hassiem, Paralympian 100m Bronze medal winner in the London Paralympics and World Champion 200m butterfly champion, who lost a leg to a shark back in his homeland of South Africa.

South Africa and Fiji together for sharks!
On one prosthetic leg, the man from South African stood tall and spoke passionately on the need for strong shark protections. I admire this man greatly! I try to put myself in his shoes and I realize how strong a character a person must have to be the way he is. Positivity unleashed! Yesterday it was said that nature cannot speak for itself but it chooses to react. Today I watched and listened to a hero speaking for sharks and nature! Now is time we listened to the champions that voice the cry of nature and heed their call before nature is forced to respond in a way that will not be favourable to the planet and those that live on it.

Arthur Sokimi is the director of outreach for Shark Defenders. He lives in Suva, Fiji. You can follow Arthur on Twitter.

Friday, October 31, 2014

International Ocean Roundup XIV

Happy Halloween!  To get your news updated started, here are 8 Amazing Animals Scarier Than Sharks.  And here's the rest of the news:

Americas: Greenpeace alleges Bumble Bee illegal fishing links amid reported sale process
U.S. – 30 October 2014 – undercurrentnews.com
Greenpeace is warning potential Bumble Bee Foods suitors about what it says are risks associated with the company, including alleged links to illegal fishing. In an alert Greenpeace said it sent to companies reported to be bidding for Bumble Bee, the environmental group cited a $125,000 out-of-court settlement by a vessel from Bumble Bee supplier South Pacific Tuna Corporation (SPTC). The vessel had been charged with illegal fishing in the Marshall Islands, Greenpeace said.
See also - Greenpeace warns investors about Bumble Bee links to IUU

Bumble Bee CEO blasts Greenpeace ‘financial advice’ after its $5m currency loss
U.S. – 31 October 2014 – undercurrentnews.com
Chris Lischewski, president and CEO of Bumble Bee Foods, blasted Greenpeace for a note sent to the media and potential purchasers of the company.

Bahamas tackles IUU fishing as crawfish yields are down up to 30%
Bahamas – 28 October 2014 – undercurrentnews.com
Bahamas authorities are tackling iIlegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, as crawfish yields are down by up to 30%, reports Tribune Business. On Oct. 26, two Dominican registered vessels and a group of Dominican fishermen were reportedly apprehended for fisheries violations in southern Bahamian waters.

30% of shrimp products misrepresented, study says
U.S. – 30 October 2014 – cnn.com
Ocean conservation group Oceana released a study today showing that 30% of sold shrimp products are misrepresented, with 15% of the tested shrimp being straight-up mislabeled in production method (wild-caught vs. farm-raised) or species type.

Tracing shrimp fraud — President's task force can feed America information
U.S. – 31 October 2014 – the hill.com
Shrimp may be small, but they are a big business and a popular food for many Americans. In fact, America's most popular seafood is shrimp, and it is the most highly traded seafood item by value, both in the U.S. as well as around the world. In 2012, 89 percent of the shrimp consumed in the U.S. was imported. With a product that is so heavily traded comes a high risk of misrepresentation that cheats consumers, honest fishermen and others.

NOAA removes 57 tons of marine debris from northwestern Hawaiian Islands
Hawaii – 29 October 2014 – GSN Magazine.com
A team of 17 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) divers sailing aboard NOAA Ship Oscar Elton Sette recently returned from a 33-day mission to remove marine debris from Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in Hawaii, a World Heritage Site and one of the largest marine conservation areas in the world.

Seafood Deception: What's Wrong With Your Shrimp
U.S. – 30 October 2014 – forbes.com
Bogus Kobe beef. Bad sushi. Poseur parmesan. Bastardized olive oil. Tainted honey. Horsemeat swapped for beef. Fake fish on menus and in stores nationwide. If you love good food, there’s always another scary scandal around the corner, another shoe waiting to drop. It just did.

Asia-Pacific: Tuna firm's bungled IPO exposes China's flouting of global fishing rules
China – 27 October 2014 – The Guardian
A Chinese tuna company’s draft IPO has offered an unusually candid view of how China defies international agreements seeking to regulate catches and preserve fish stocks.

Pacific Andes in talks to raise more debt as share price drops on high trading
Hong Kong - 28 October 2014 – undercurrentnews.com
Hong Kong-listed Pacific Andes International Holdings said it is in talks to raise more debt as it said it could not account for the “unusual” fluctuation in its share price and trading volume seen on Monday, Oct. 27.

Philippines to amend fishing law to prevent EU fish ban
Philippines – 27 October 2014 – Europe Online Magazine
The Philippine Senate approved a bill Monday to strengthen laws against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, to prevent the European Union from blacklisting its products. The amendment to the Fisheries Act will impose stiffer fines and more administrative penalties.

All aboard ocean warrior ship
New Zealand – 29 October 2014 – Stuff.co.nz
Environmental group Sea Shepherd is heading to the Southern Ocean to combat toothfish piracy.

Fisheries minister promises to eradicate illegal fishing in Indonesia
Indonesia – 29 October 2014 –Antara News
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The newly-appointed Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries Susi Pudjiastuti said she would eliminate illegal fishing activities rampant in Indonesian waters for the past several years.

President meets Representatives of Fishermen Associations
Sri Lanka – 31 October 2014 – news.lk
President Mahinda Rajapaksa on Thursday (30) instructed the Sri Lanka Navy to assist in stopping illegal fishermen entering into the Sri Lankan seas and also to curb using illegal equipment for the fishing.

No Overfishing Reported in Australia’s Latest Fisheries Reports
Australia – 30 October 2014 – thefishsite.com
ABARES has released the Fishery status reports 2013–14, which include the most up-to-date assessment of fish stocks that are solely or jointly managed by the Australian Government.

The maritime axis: An opportunity for eastern Indonesia
Indonesia – 27 October 2014 – the Jakarta Post
The inauguration of Joko Widodo and Jusuf Kalla as President and Vice President marked a start to their efforts to realize their platforms, which include the much heralded “maritime axis”. Such a vision is quite reasonable due to the maritime culture that has been in place for centuries, as evident in the old song lyric “Our ancestors were sailors”.

Five illegal fishing boats seized
Philippines – 31 October 2014 – Philippines
Combined efforts of government operatives led to the apprehension of five trawl fishing boats in the municipal waters Manapla. nThe operation took place in Barangay Punta Mesa, Manapla town amidst heavy downpour as five trawl fishing boats were spotted violating Republic Act 8550 particularly the prohibition on the use of Active Fishing Gear within Municipal Waters and Bays and other Fishery Management Areas.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa instructs the Navy to assist in stopping illegal fishermen into the Sri Lankan sea
Sri Lanka – 30 October 2014 – Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation
President Mahinda Rajapaksa instructs the Navy to assist in stopping illegal fishermen into the Sri Lankan sea. He has also asked them to curb using illegal equipment for the fishing.

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing
Philippines – 31 October 2014 – Philippine Daily Inquirer
By December, the European Union will decide on the status of the Philippines as a noncooperating third party in its campaign against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUUF). Last June, the Philippines received a “yellow card” from the European Union; the sanction was only a warning and did not entail trade measures. The formalization of this dialogue process served to strengthen the cooperation between the European Commission and the Philippines to address all problems within a logical time frame of six months.

9 Indian fishermen held in Bay, trawler seized
Bangladesh – 29 October 2014 – The Daily Star
Bangladesh Navy personnel on Monday arrested nine Indian fishermen along with a fishing trawler for their illegal entry into Bangladesh maritime boundary.

Fishing In Banned Water
Sri Lanka – 27 October 2014 – The Sunday Leader
With the European Union (EU) deciding to impose a sanction on Sri Lankan fisheries products, there is lot of agitation created especially among the fisher folks. Some fisher groups who will be affected by this decision recently protested in front of the Ministry of Fisheries who received them with hostility.

Europe – MENA Illegal swordfish fishing
E.U. – 30 October 2014 – Worldfishing.net
Oceana says that despite overfishing, the EU is still “refusing” to take action to protect stocks of Mediterranean swordfish. It has uncovered a report that reveals how the Italian fleet “blatantly violates” current international fisheries measures in place to protect the species. This comes shortly before the issue is due to be discussed at next month's International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) meeting in Brussels.

European Commission Documents Prove Illegal Fishing of Swordfish
E.U. – 29 October 2014 – Thefishsite.com
As EU Member State representatives met in Brussels to discuss the EU position on the management of highly migratory species such as bluefin tuna and swordfish, Oceana has unveiled a report by the European Commission that proves how the Italian fleet violates current international fisheries measures in force for Mediterranean swordfish.

Spanish crew sanctioned for illegal foreign fishing vessel
Spain – 29 October 2014 – Infofish.com
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment (MAGRAMA) imposed pecuniary penalties and inability to conduct fishing activities on Spanish crew registered on a foreign vessel included in the blacklist of the Convention for the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCRVMA) for illegal fishing in Antarctica.

Africa: Gambia unveils national platform for sustainability fisheries
Gambia – 28 October 2014 – Undercurrentnews.com
Gambia’s National Platform for Sustainability Fisheries was launched on Oct. 21 with the aim to promote governance management while reducing poverty, reports The Point. bThe platform is intended to apply sustainable measures for socio-economic development of the West Africa Marine Eco-Region (WAMER) member countries.

Dar to act tough on illegal fishing gears
Tanzania – 30 October 2014 – Daily News
The government has vowed to enforce stiff penalties on offenders using illegal fishing gears in search of quick wealth, as they create irreparable destruction of marine ecology.

Patrol vessel to stop illegal fishing in Indian Ocean
Kenya – 29 October 2014 – The Star
THE government is constructing an offshore patrol vessel to survey the Indian Ocean exclusive economic zone. Fisheries Cabinet Secretary Felix Koskei said the vessel will strengthen the country’s capacity to patrol the EEZ.

Fisheries and the blue economy
Seychelles – 30 October 2014 - people.partilepep.com
After 1984, when the first purse seiners converge on Port Victoria to make it the main tuna transshipment centre, we are now seeing the arrival of dozens of long liners.

Global: Reeling in illegal fishing
Global – Q4 2014 – IHS Quarterly
More people are giving thought to where their food comes from, and there is perhaps no better example than seafood. With the power of global logistics, it is possible to enjoy fresh lobster, fish, shrimp, and other delicacies of the deep in a restaurant thousands of miles from the nearest coast. However, eco-conscious consumers increasingly want to know where their food originated and whether it was harvested in an environmentally sustainable fashion.

Pacific Andes’ Damanzaihao on draft IUU list
Peru – 30 October 2014 – Undercurrentnews.com
Damanzaihao, the flagship mothership of Pacific Andes formerly known as Lafayette, has been included on the draft list of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing drawn up by the South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organization, Undercurrent News has learnt.

Super-fishing boat declared a 'pirate ship'
Global – 31 October 2014 – stuff.co.nz
A shadowy Chinese super-fishing boat that changes flags and names routinely as it illegally plunders the South Pacific is to be declared a pirate ship by a Wellington based international control agency. Damanzaihao, flying the Peruvian flag, it is the world's largest fishing vessel at 49,367 tons but no one knows what it does in the waters between New Zealand and South America.

Fighting against IUU - Successes from ACP countries
Belgium – 28 October 2014 – Islands Business
Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU) is a major challenge and concern for ACP countries, a number of which have faced sanctions under the European Union’s IUU Regulation.

Heard the One About the Chinese Ship That Sailed on Land? No Joke
Global – 28 October 2014 – Bloomberg
People aren't the only ones affected by identity theft. Tankers, cargo freighters and other ships sailing in the Central Pacific and off the coast of West Africa are increasingly pretending to be vessels that they're not, according to a startup.

Environmentalists want 10 year Arctic shipping moratorium
Arctic – 24 October 2014 – IHS Maritime 360
The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) has called for a 10 year moratorium on Arctic shipping according to a report released on 21 October. The group, an established UK group that works with local NGOs, film, and television to reveal environmental crimes through undercover methods, believes it will take this amount of time for the IMO's Polar Code to be approved and written into national legislations.

Every fish you eat is an environmental mystery, but would you pay more to know the truth?
Global – 29 October 2014 – The Guardian
Once you’ve seen what comes up in the net after a trawling expedition, you can never take the identity of the seafood on your plate for granted again.
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