Haze unlikely in 2019 despite developing El Nino: Indonesian official

Audrey Tan Straits Times 14 Dec 18;

KATOWICE, POLAND - South-east Asia would likely be spared the scourge of haze in 2019, despite predictions of a developing El Nino that could bring drier-than-usual conditions to the region next year, said an Indonesian official this week.

"We are very convinced...that we can handle this," Mr Nazir Foead, chief of Indonesia's Peatland Restoration Agency, told The Straits Times on Thursday (Dec 13), on the sidelines of the ongoing United Nations climate talks in the Polish city of Katowice.

Pointing to stepped-up efforts to protect Indonesia's fire-prone landscape in the aftermath of the 2015 crisis, as well as improved coordination between parties including the government, communities and fire fighters, he added that he was confident that the region would not suffer haze as severe as it was that year.

"We cannot say that there will not be fires, but there will be fewer incidents, and they will be put out much quicker," Mr Foead said.


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Indonesia: Preserving coral reefs means protecting livelihoods in coastal region

Fardah Assegaf Antara 15 Dec 18;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesian waters occupy at least 70 percent of its national territory, and in most parts of the country, there are numerous people who earn a livelihood related to and dependent on the oceans.

The world`s largest archipelagic country with a 260-million population and over 17 islands has 5.8 million square kilometers of marine territory, and some 92 thousand km-long beach and coastal areas, or the world`s second longest coast line after Canada.

Indonesia has various coral reefs, which are spread across an area of 25 thousand square kilometers, or around 10 percent of the world`s coral reefs measuring 284,300 square kilometers.


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Indonesia: Floods kill six people in Riau - Rescue agency

ANTARA 13 Dec 18;

Pekanbaru (ANTARA News) - Floods that have been inundating certain parts of Riau Province in Sumatra Island over the past two months have claimed the lives of six people, with majority of the victims being children, the local search and rescue agency said.

The Pekanbaru National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) reported here that two of the six victims were found dead on Thursday. They were residents of Kampar District, who went missing for three days.


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Philippines: Sea turtle rescued in Malaysia slaughtered for meat in Cebu

Rhodina Villanueva The Philippine Star 14 Dec 18;

MANILA, Philippines — A marine turtle rescued and tagged in Malaysia ended up in the freezer of a restaurant in Cebu.

Dr. Rogelio Demelletes Jr. of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Biodiversity Management Bureau said an identification tag was found on one of the turtles, among the endangered species in the world.

Demelletes said wildlife conservationists had rescued and tagged the pawikan that was reportedly caught in Sandakan, Malaysia and later released to the open sea.


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High sea surface temperatures expected to bleach coral off Northern Australia

Jane Bardon ABC News 14 Dec 18;

Widespread coral bleaching is forecast for waters off the Northern Australia coast, due to above-average sea surface temperatures that could last for up to two months.

Rising sea surface temperatures prompted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, part of the US Department of Commerce, to issue a "Red Alert Level 1" for coral bleaching off most of the Northern Territory coastline, apart from the Gulf of Carpentaria.

North of the Tiwi Islands, where sea surface temperatures have topped 33 degrees Celsius, a "Red Alert Level 2" has been put in place.

The administration said that meant there was a 60 per cent chance of mass coral bleaching across those areas.


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Singapore vulnerable to rising sea level, severe floods: Masagos

Channel NewsAsia 12 Dec 18;

SINGAPORE: Small island developing states such as Singapore are at risk of "dire consequences" if current warming trends continue, said Ministry for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli.

The minister was speaking at the United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference (COP24) on Wednesday (Dec 12) in Katowice, Poland.

In delivering Singapore's national statement, Mr Masagos highlighted a recent UN report that warned that the global warming threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius could be breached as early as 2030 if current warming trends continue.

"This will have dire consequences for many countries, particularly Small Island Developing States (SIDs). Singapore is one of these low lying island states that is vulnerable to sea level rise and severe floods from intense storms. Clearly, we need urgent, collective and coordinated efforts by all," Mr Masagos said.


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Why Singapore's proposed ivory ban may not solve problem of illegal trade

BRYAN CHEANG Today Online 12 Dec 18;

The Singapore government, through the Agri-Veterinary Authority, recently announced a public consultation on a proposed ban on ivory and ivory products in Singapore. This is in relation to a bigger commitment by Singapore to tackle illegal elephant ivory trade and support elephant conservation.

It is in the spirit of constructive feedback that I argue against such a proposed ban, on the basis that it is an ineffective mechanism which may lead to unintended consequences.

A ban on ivory has been tried by other governments before, with limited success. Reporting by the BBC shows that despite an international ban on ivory trade, elephant poaching has persisted.

This is further confirmed by the World Wildlife Fund that today, “despite a ban on the international trade in ivory, African elephants are still being poached in large numbers. Tens of thousands of elephants are being killed every year for their ivory tusks”.

This limited success is unsurprising once we study the role of economic incentives.


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Egg prices soar as Malaysia looks to limit exports

Cheryl Teh Straits Times 13 Dec 18;

Madam X.Y. Loh, 56, runs a small bakery in Jurong, making a variety of cakes, buns and pastries as well as other goodies.

She uses more than 100 eggs daily and they cost slightly over $300 a month earlier this year. But this has doubled and she expects to shell out more than $600 a month by the end of this month.

"I never would have thought that eggs could get this expensive," Madam Loh said. "I might have to raise my prices soon."

The cost of eggs, particularly during festive seasons, can make a real dent in the total earnings of small businesses like hers, she said.

And there is likely to be no respite from the price increases for eggs any time soon, with a major supplier to Singapore warning that exports may be restricted.


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From wedding flowers to baby strollers, they are all available for rent

Tang See Kit Channel NewsAsia 13 Dec 18;

SINGAPORE: Being advised by family and friends that having multiple strollers for their firstborn will be ideal was what prompted young parents Kenneth Tan and Tay Shixian to start toying with the idea of renting.

“Many of them recommend getting a stroller for each stage of growth,” recalled Ms Tay. “There’s one for babies around three to four months old but as soon as they can sit upright, you will need a different stroller and again when they get a bit older.”

A colleague of Mr Tan, for instance, had 10 strollers of different sizes for her four children.

Overwhelmed by the types and prices of strollers available, the married couple began searching for alternatives.

“The prices are steep and we don’t want to end up with prams idling at home,” Mr Tan said. “That was when Shixian asked if there’s an option for us to rent as and when we want, and return when we don’t.”

That planted the seed of PramShare – a business that the couple launched two years ago to meet the needs of parents like themselves. Apart from strollers, car seats and baby cribs are also available for rent.


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New campaign at major supermarket chains to cut down on disposable plastic bags

CYNTHIA CHOO Today Online 12 Dec 18;

SINGAPORE — Four major supermarket chains have teamed up with the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) and DBS Bank to encourage customers to take fewer single-use plastic bags and opt for reusable bags instead.

The “One Less Plastic” campaign, launched on Wednesday (Dec 12), aims to reduce the consumption of disposable plastic bags by 25 per cent over the next year.

But observers wondered if it will succeed in changing consumer behaviour, and highlighted the need to ensure it is ultimately better for the environment.

Asked if the latest campaign could spur permanent change in the way consumers use plastic bags, SEC chairman Isabella Loh said the results will speak for themselves in a year’s time.


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Malaysia: More than 600 residents of Johor town evacuated due to flash floods

Channel NewsAsia 12 Dec 18;

JOHOR BAHRU: A total of 605 people from 171 families in Taman Aman and Taman Mawai near Kota Tinggi in Johor have been evacuated to relief centres due to flash floods.

The Kota Tinggi District Management Secretariat said the residents were evacuated when water from the Pemandi river overflowed its bank and entered houses in nearby low-lying areas from 4pm on Tuesday (Dec 11).

"A total of 556 people from 162 families were evacuated to the relief centre at the Kota Tinggi Vocational College at 9.15pm, while 49 people from nine families were evacuated to the relief centre at the New Kota National-type School (Chinese), which was opened at 1.05am today," the secretariat said on Wednesday.


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Malaysia: Sarawak govt allocates RM70 million for artificial reefs, structures

MUHD AMIRUL FAIZ AHMAD New Straits Times 12 Dec 18;

KUCHING: The state government has allocated RM70million to have artificial reefs placed between Tanjung Datu and Lawas, which would double as a protection against marine thefts.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Abang Openg said the man-made structures, which were used to improve marine ecosystem, could also serve as a buffer zone to block fishing nets cast by foreign fishermen at the Malaysian waters.

“The state government has taken such initiative to protect its marine sources from continuously being encroached by foreign fishermen.

“We have also have Beting Patinggi Ali declared as the National Marine Park.


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