Best of our wild blogs: 17 Mar 11

School Holidays Fun – Come down to RMBR this March Holidays!
from Raffles Museum News

Interaction between raptors and non-raptors
from Bird Ecology Study Group

110316 Venus Drive [day]
from Singapore Nature

Massive construction at Berlayar Creek
from wild shores of singapore and Interesting coastal trees at Labrador

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AVA tells fish farms to increase yields

Those that don't meet targets in two or three years may lose licences
Jessica Lim Straits Times 17 Mar 11;

FISH farms in Singapore have to reel in higher output or face the prospect of losing their licences.

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) is setting targets for the 95 coastal fish farms to increase productivity. Each farm must yield a minimum of 17 tonnes of fish per half-hectare of space annually. That space is the average size of a fish farm here.

'What we need to do with regard to local farming is to ensure that all the land that has been set aside for local farming will be productive,' said AVA chief executive Tan Poh Hong yesterday.

Speaking at a press conference to announce its plans, she added that licences may not be renewed if targets are not met within two or three years.

According to the AVA, some possible reasons for poor harvests could be a lack of capital or skills, or misuse of space, like using the farm for entertainment purposes. The push is part of a greater move to lift the percentage of local fish in the national supply from the current 4 per cent to 15 per cent in the next five to 10 years.

Singapore imports 90 per cent of its food so increased local production would give some protection from disruptions in global food supply and escalating prices.

Currently, 23 of the 95 coastal farms exceed the 17-tonne target. Ten are getting 8.5 to 17 tonnes and 36 are netting less than 8.5 tonnes. The remaining farms are new or have undergone a recent change of ownership.

The AVA will send teams to farms in the next few months to identify gaps and develop improvement plans, such as helping farmers to apply for funds and sharing information on subjects such as fish vaccination and feeding.

The AVA is now more stringent with new applications for fish-farm licences, with applicants assessed for technical expertise and financial backing.

It launched a $5 million food fund in December 2009, and doubled it to $10 million in 2010, to improve the operations of local farms. However, only a few of the more capable fish farmers had applied, said Ms Tan.

Some fish farmers have got together to promote their interests. The Singapore Marine Co-operative Societies, the first farm co-op here, was set up in January this year, with 24 members who own eight farms.

It has not made any headway on meeting its target of more than 100 tonnes of fish a month from each of its member farms. Its founder Philip Lim, who owns a 3ha fish farm off Pasir Ris, said members now produce 55 tonnes of fish per year.

Other fish farm owners like Mr James Loh, 55, a fisherman for the past 20 years, think a lot more work will be needed to meet the target.

'I hope the AVA can help and give us some funding. We are so small, it's not easy,' said Mr Loh, who now produces 10 tonnes of fish a year from his half-hectare farm off the east coast.

AVA to help fish farms raise productivity
Channel NewsAsia 16 Mar 11;

SINGAPORE: The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) is stepping up efforts to help local fish farms increase productivity.

This is to meet Singapore's target of being able to produce 15 per cent of fish consumed locally.

Over the next few months, AVA will be visiting every fish farm to understand the farmers' needs so that it can assist them in developing plans to help them achieve minimum production targets.

There are currently 111 fish farms in Singapore.

Of these, 95 are coastal farms and the other 16 comprise deep sea farms, hatcheries, industrial-scale farms and oyster or shellfish farms.

These farms produce about four per cent of Singapore's total fish consumption.

As part of AVA's licensing conditions for coastal fish farms, the farms are required to meet a minimum production target of 17 tonnes of fish per half-hectare space annually.

Of the 95 coastal farms, 23 are currently producing more than the minimum production level of 17 tonnes.

Ten are producing between 8.5 and 17 tonnes, while another 36 are producing at below 8.5 tonnes.

The remaining 26 farms are new farms or farms which had undergone a recent change of ownership.

AVA said it will work closely with farmers who are not meeting the minimum production target, to help them improve their productivity.

Specifically, the authority will help them identify gaps that hinder production and develop improvement plans.

Farmers will also be encouraged to leverage on AVA's Food Fund to improve farming technology and upgrade production capability.


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Nuclear energy option for Singapore still far away: MTI

Jermyn Chow Straits Times 17 Mar 11;

ANY decision on whether or not to have nuclear energy in Singapore is a long way away, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) reiterated yesterday.

Responding to requests from The Straits Times for an update on the nuclear option, MTI said that Singapore is in the midst of a 'pre-feasibility study on nuclear energy'.

It said safety is a very important consideration, and is one of the key areas being studied.

'It will be a long time before we make any decision on nuclear energy. We are closely monitoring and learning from the developments in Japan,' it added in a statement.

At an energy conference in November last year, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had identified nuclear power as an 'important part of the solution to mankind's energy problems'.

He said Singapore was building up its capabilities now because the nuclear option is one it 'cannot afford to dismiss'.

Measures taken will include getting in touch with nuclear experts as well as training local engineers and scientists.

He said then that MTI was doing a pre-feasibility study on having nuclear power here, but it will be a long time before any decision is made.

Those in the nuclear and energy fields contacted said that events in Japan were unlikely to derail the pre-feasibility study.

Assistant Professor T.S. Gopi Rethinaraj of the National University of Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy said: 'What happened in Japan is an act of God and highly unlikely to happen in Singapore as it does not sit on any fault lines and will be insulated from any earthquakes or tsunamis.'

He holds a PhD in nuclear engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Agreeing, Dr Hooman Peimani, who heads the energy security division at NUS' Energy Studies Institute, pointed out that there had been only two other major nuclear plant accidents over the last 60 years.

They were the 1979 partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island reactor in Pennsylvania in the United States, and the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine.

He said that aside from natural calamities, terrorist threats and saboteurs, there were no 'worst-case scenarios' that might hamper Singapore's nuclear capabilities.

'Even so, Singapore's oil refineries have already been so well guarded over the past 30 years, I don't think defence or security will be an issue,' said Dr Peimani, who presented a paper on the viability of underground nuclear reactors in Singapore at the Nuclear Power conference last year.

Mr Ravi Krishnaswamy, vice-president of consultancy Frost & Sullivan's Asia-Pacific energy and power systems practice, said that the decision to build nuclear reactors will take years.

During pre-feasibility studies, the authorities will, among other things, assess if nuclear energy is feasible and look at its implications on health, he said.

Decision on nuclear energy will take "a long time": MTI
Hoe Yeen Nie Channel NewsAsia 16 Mar 11;

SINGAPORE: Safety is one of the key considerations in a current pre-feasibility study on nuclear energy, and it will be "a long time" before any decision is made, said Singapore's Trade and Industry Ministry.

The ministry said this in response to a query from Channel NewsAsia which received comments from viewers who wanted to know about Singapore's nuclear plans in the wake of Japan's crisis.

The ministry said it is also monitoring and learning from the developments in Japan.

In November, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had said Singapore should not dismiss the option of nuclear power as a viable and clean source of energy.

Mr Lee also said a nuclear power plant could be built within his lifetime.

Friday's deadly quake and tsunami have damaged a nuclear power plant in Fukushima, causing fears of a nuclear meltdown.

The crisis has prompted several European countries to review safety standards at their plants.

- CNA/cc

No nuclear energy plans yet for Singapore but study in the works
Today Online 17 Mar 11;

Responding to MediaCorp's queries, Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) reiterated that it "will be a long time" before the Government makes any decision on nuclear energy.

According to MTI, the Government was in the midst of a "pre-feasibility study" on nuclear energy. The pre-feasibility study is to explore whether Singapore can even begin to consider nuclear energy.

The MTI said: "Safety is a very important consideration and is one of the key areas being studied."

It added: "We are closely monitoring and learning from the developments in Japan."

Last November, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had said that while a nuclear power project was not scheduled to start any time soon, a nuclear plant could be built in Singapore "during my lifetime". ESTHER NG

Rethink Singapore's nuclear option
Straits Times Forum 17 Mar 11;

AS JAPAN continues to race against time to avert a nuclear disaster in the wake of last Friday's earthquake and tsunami, other Asian nations, including Singapore, should pause and review the feasibility of the nuclear energy option.

The Government and our experts must carefully study the claims of nuclear power plant companies that are promising high safety and reliability standards.

Despite the safety measures Japan adopted, what we have seen in recent days is a breakdown of the assurances by the nuclear industry.

Singapore is small and it is physically impossible to meet the 30km radius safety requirement for a nuclear power plant.

Siow Jia Rui

How sure are we of nuclear safety claims?
Letter from Siow Jia Rui Today Online 17 Mar 11;

AS JAPAN continues to race against time to avert a nuclear disaster in the wake of last Friday's earthquake and tsunami, described by Prime Minister Naoto Kan as the "most severe crisis" since World War II, it is useful for countries in Asia, including Singapore, to pause and rethink the feasibility of the nuclear energy option.

In 2008, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew noted at the Singapore Energy Lecture that "the real alternative that can produce the electricity generation to match oil and gas is nuclear".

As Singapore considers whether or not to embark on the nuclear option, I strongly urge our Government and experts/consultants to carefully study the claims of the nuclear power plant companies that are promising high safety and reliability standards.

Despite all the safety measures put in place in Japan, what we have seen in recent days is a breakdown of the assurances by the nuclear industry that the redundancies and fail-safe mechanisms will actually work.

We all know that the probability of a nightmare scenario can never be reduced to zero. Singapore is small and it is physically impossible to meet the 30-km radius safety requirement for a nuclear power plant.

Realistically, given Singapore's size, if a major nuclear accident were to take place here, we face the real risk of becoming a nation of refugees.

I, for one, am not willing to see that happening to our country or to put at risk the lives of our children and future generations of Singaporeans.

Nothing clean and green about nuclear power
Benjamin K. Sovacool, For The Straits Times 17 Mar 11;

THE unfolding situation with the Fukushima No. 1 and Fukushima No. 2 plants in Japan has underscored the grave safety concerns with nuclear power, which has never had a laudable environmental record.

South-east Asian planners, including those in Singapore, often forget the serious environmental impact associated with other parts of the nuclear fuel cycle, especially those relating to uranium mining and climate change.

For example, the uranium needed to fuel all reactors, including those in Japan, is mined in three different ways: underground mining, open-pit mining and in-situ leaching. Each is hazardous, and bad for people and the environment.

Underground mining extracts uranium much like other minerals such as copper, gold and silver, and involves digging narrow shafts deep into the earth.

Open-pit mining, the most prevalent type, is similar to strip mining for coal, where upper layers of rock are removed so that machines can extract uranium.

Uranium miners perform in-situ leaching by pumping acid or alkaline liquid solutions into the areas surrounding uranium deposits.

In Australia, the third-largest producer of uranium, a detailed investigation of the environmental impact from the Rum Jungle mine found that it discharged acidic liquid wastes directly into creeks that flowed into the Finniss River.

The Roxby Downs mine has polluted the Arabunna people's traditional land with 80 million tonnes of annual dumped tailings, in addition to the mine's daily extraction of 30 million litres of water from the Great Artesian Basin. The Ranger mine has seen 120 documented leaks, spills and breaches of its tailings waste, which has seeped into waterways and contaminated the Kakuda wetlands. The Beverley mine has been fined for dumping liquid radioactive waste into groundwater.

In China, the country's largest uranium mine, No. 792, is reputed to dump untreated radioactive water directly into the Bailong River, a tributary of the Yangtze.

In India, researchers from the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in Mumbai found that underground uranium mines at Bhatin, Narwapahar and Turamdih, along with the uranium enrichment plant at Jaduguda, discharged mine water and mill tailings contaminated with radionuclides such as radon and residual uranium, radium and other pollutants directly into local water supplies.

Such examples have not been chosen selectively, with scores of serious documented incidents also at uranium mines in Brazil, Canada, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, South Africa, Tajikistan, the United States, Uzbekistan and a slew of African states - virtually every major country where it is produced.

Even climate change, an issue the nuclear industry has been quick to rally around, does not bode favourably for new nuclear plants. Reprocessing and enriching uranium require a substantial amount of electricity, often generated by fossil fuel-fired power plants. Uranium milling, mining, leaching, plant construction and decommissioning all produce substantial amounts of greenhouse gases.

When one takes into account the carbon-equivalent emissions associated with the entire nuclear life cycle, nuclear plants contribute significantly to climate change - and will contribute even more as stockpiles of high-grade uranium are depleted.

An assessment of 103 life-cycle studies of greenhouse gas-equivalent emissions for nuclear power plants found that the average carbon dioxide emissions over the typical lifetime of a plant are about 66g for every kilowatt hour (kwh), or the equivalent of about 183 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2005.

If the global nuclear industry were taxed at a rate of US$24 (S$31) per tonne for the carbon-equivalent emissions associated with its life cycle, the cost of nuclear power would increase by about US$4.4 billion per year.

A secondary impact is that by producing large amounts of heat, nuclear power plants contribute directly to global warming by increasing the temperature of water bodies and localised atmospheres around each facility.

The carbon-equivalent emissions of the nuclear life cycle will only get worse, not better, because, over time, reprocessed fuel is depleted, necessitating a shift to fresh ore, and reactors must utilise lower-quality ores as higher-quality ones are depleted.

The Oxford Research Group projects that because of this inevitable shift to lower-quality uranium ore, if the percentage of world nuclear capacity remains what it is today, by 2050, nuclear power would generate as much carbon dioxide per kwh as comparable natural gas-fired power stations.

These two factors - the environmental degradation with uranium mining, and the associated greenhouse gas emissions from nuclear power facilities - mean that regardless of whatever happens in Japan, nuclear power is in no way clean, green or carbon-free.

The writer is an assistant professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

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Thailand freezes nuclear power plant plans

Lee U-Wen Business Times 17 Mar 11;

(SINGAPORE) Thailand has frozen its plans to build its own nuclear power plants in the wake of the ongoing nuclear crisis in Japan following a series of meltdowns at the quake-hit power complex in Fukushima.

Thai Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban announced yesterday that the government would indefinitely halt all plans to build nuclear facilities in the Kingdom.

Mr Suthep, who is also minister-in-charge of national security, said: 'I don't want to press on with the nuclear plant construction plan as I don't want Thai people to risk their lives.'

He added that the nuclear situation in Japan 'is not worrying for Thailand as it is far away'.

His comments came a day after Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva ordered the Energy Ministry to review its plan to build five nuclear power plants in various provinces across Thailand, South-east Asia's second- largest economy.

The ministry is studying two key issues in detail: emergency measures, and the potential of nuclear plants to be terrorist targets.

Mr Abhisit has also instructed all related public agencies to monitor and assess the ongoing situation in Japan's atomic power plants closely.

Under its current 20- year power development plan, Thailand will have five nuclear power plants with a combined generating capacity of 5,000 megawatts by 2025.

Government spokesman Panithan Wattanayagorn, however, told reporters on Monday that Mr Abhisit 'personally does not favour' the construction of nuclear plants in Thailand.

'His concern is mounting given the problems in Japan if Thailand is to adopt the Japanese model. Even with high technology, Japan has not yet been able to restore the cooling system. This shows there are flaws even when you have excellent technology,' he said.

The U-turn by the government is certain to cheer various civil groups that recently formed an alliance to protest against the planned construction of nuclear power plants in up to eight shortlisted provinces.

Thailand's decision to suspend its atomic power plans indefinitely follows a similar action by Switzerland, which last week froze its proposal to replace and build new nuclear plants.

Malaysia, which had intentions to establish its first atomic power plant by 2021, has now said it wants to learn from Japan before making its next move. India, meanwhile, will undergo a safety review of its 20 reactors before committing to a plan to spend US$175 billion on nuclear energy over the next 20 years.

Other countries such as Indonesia - which is planning four plants by 2025 - are of the view that governments should look at nuclear power as a secure energy supply to reduce global dependence on fossil fuels.

There are 442 reactors globally that supply about 15 per cent of the world's electricity, with a further 65 under construction, according to the London- based World Nuclear Association. There are plans to build more than 155 additional reactors, most of them in Asia, with 65 of these already underway.

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Catastrophe Makes Clear Indonesia Isn’t Ready for Nuclear Power, Experts Warn

Fidelis E. Satriastanti The Jakarta Globe 17 Mar 11;

If a nation as technologically advanced as Japan is struggling to contain a nuclear catastrophe, what chance does Indonesia — given its poor regulatory climate, low level of technology and weak response to any disaster — have of safely running a nuclear plant?

That was the question posed on Wednesday by experts, activists and politicians in response to officials’ claims a day earlier that it was safe to build a nuclear power plant here.

Sony Keraf, a former environment minister and member of the opposition Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), said the unfolding nuclear crisis in Fukushima, Japan, was sufficient reason to end all talk of building a similar plant in Indonesia.

“This debate is over. I’m not talking about the scientific reasons but simply using common sense here,” he said.

“Developed countries like Germany and Russia, which are known for their high level of technology, have stated they will review their nuclear power plants, so why is the Indonesian government acting otherwise? It’s strange.”

Sony also cited Indonesia’s poor safety culture of lack of discipline compared to Japan, particularly in regard to natural disaster mitigation, as further arguments against building a nuclear plant here.

Alvin Lie, a senior politician from the ruling coalition’s National Mandate Party (PAN), echoed the sentiment. “Even Germany is rethinking its power plants,” he said, “so why are we so eager to develop one here?”

He added that if the government was really keen to push ahead with the plan, the officials backing it should be made to live near the reactors. “If not, we should build the nuclear plant near the State Palace or the House of Representatives,” Alvin said. “Would they go for that?”

The government has proposed two sites in Bangka-Belitung province to host nuclear power plants. It plans to build four reactors, each requiring an outlay of up to Rp 20 trillion ($2.3 billion), by 2025. The plants are expected to produce a combined 4,000 megawatts of electricity, or a quarter of Java’s power demand.

The government also claims the reactors will be of the fourth-generation type — a technology currently in the research phase and only expected to be commercially viable by 2030 at the earliest.

Iwan Kurniawan, a nuclear expert, said the government’s claim that it would build fourth-generation reactors made no sense.
“In addition, are there any safe sites in this country for a nuclear power plant?” he said. “[Bangka-Belitung] experiences frequent earthquakes of magnitude 4.9 and up, but the government claims it’s safe. But given the potential of damage from an earthquake, it’s still too risky.”

Technology aside, Iwan added, Indonesia is just not yet prepared to deal with a potential radiation leak.
Nur Hidayati, from Greenpeace Southeast Asia, questioned the government’s claims of compliance with regulations laid out by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

“It has never been clear about the studies conducted by Batan for complying with the IAEA regulations,” she said, referring to the National Atomic Energy Agency.

Indonesia's Nuclear Plans Intact Amid Japan Crisis
Jakarta Globe 16 Mar 11;

Indonesia said on Wednesday that it will press on with plans to build a nuclear plant close to a fault line, despite the atomic emergency in earthquake and tsunami-ravaged Japan.

“If we pick to build it on Bangka Island, it will be based on several considerations which are in line with international safety criteria,” National Atomic Energy Agency (Batan) chief Hudi Hastowo said.

Bangka lies east of Sumatra island, where a 9.1-magnitude undersea earthquake triggered a tsunami in 2004 killing 220,000 people in countries around the Indian Ocean, including 168,000 in Indonesia.

“The site has a relatively stable record of seismic and volcanic activity,” he said, adding that the agency will “certainly” adopt more sophisticated technology than Japan.

“It’s too premature to discuss how the Japan crisis will directly affect our project,” he said.

“But in 2022 when we build the plant, we’ll use a better technology system,” he added.

The disaster that has befallen Japan’s Fukushima plant has prompted some experts to cast a worried eye at nuclear plants in seismic zones.

Twenty percent of the 440 commercial reactors in operation around the globe are located in areas “of significant seismic activity,” according to the World Nuclear Association (WNA), an industry group.

Some of the 62 additional plants under construction are also in quake-prone zones, along with many of the nearly 500 units on order or proposed, especially in fast-developing countries, the group said.

Green groups including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth urged Southeast Asian leaders to stop plans to build nuclear plants to meet energy needs and direct the funds towards green technology.

“We call on the heads of state to immediately cancel their plans to develop their nuclear projects,” they said in an open letter to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Philippine President Benigno Aquino and Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

Agence France-Presse

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Exotic meat seized in Malaysia

T.N. Alagesh New Straits Times 16 Mar 11;

TEMERLOH: Pahang Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) made a shocking discovery when they raided a restaurant in Kampung Kubang Rusa in Merapoh, Kuala Lipis, on Tuesday.

In the 10am raid, the team found bottles containing tiger skin and claws, believed to have been part of the exotic delicacies served at the restaurant.

It is learnt that tigers could fetch up to RM300,000 each on the black market.

They also found 17kg of barking deer meat, two skinned mousedeers, 54 pheasant (burung kuang) feathers and a live white-breasted waterhen (burung ruak-ruak).

The 44-year-old restaurant owner, who lives next door, is now facing a maximum RM500,000 fine and a five-year jail term for each of the offences.

It is learnt that the suspect, who was later released on police bail, had previous convictions for possessing barking deer meat in 2008.

State Perhilitan director Khairiah Mohd Shariff said the enforcement team also made a simultaneous raid on a nursery in Janda Baik, where they seized a live sulphur-crested cockatoo and two serindit (blue-crowned hanging parrots).

The 41-year-old owner claimed he had obtained the birds from a friend.

Khairiah said the enforcement team also found wild boar meat at two homes in Bera on March 14.

At the first house in Kampung Kerayong, two men led them to a refrigerator where the wild boar parts and meat were kept.

She said the duo, aged 37 and 72, claimed the meat was for their own consumption.

The team later raided a second house in Kampung Kemayan, Bera, where the 51-year-old owner had kept 13kg of wild boar meat in a freezer.

She said all the suspects did not possess a valid licence from Perhilitan to keep the animals.

Tiger parts seized during restaurant raid
TRAFFIC 16 Mar 11;

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 16th March 2011—A restaurant owner could face RM600,000 (USD196,000) in fines and time in jail after authorities found him in possession of meat and parts of several protected species including several pieces of dried Tiger parts.

Officers from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) in Pahang, a state on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, found close to 17 kilogrammes of Common Barking Deer meat, two skinned Mouse Deer, 54 Argus Pheasant feathers, a White-breasted Waterhen when they raided the man’s house and shop in a raid yesterday (15th March).

The dried Tiger parts were found in a sealed glass jar along with dried parts of several other animals, which will be sent for forensic analysis.

The find of Tiger parts in the suspect’s possession is significant because his village of Kubang Rusa in Merapoh, lies within the country’s most important Tiger corridor, said Pahang Perhilitan Director Khairiah Mohd Shariff.

This corridor, Sungai Yu, is a critical link between the Taman Negara national park and the Main Range, two of Malaysia’s most important Tiger landscapes, as identified in the country’s Tiger Conservation Action Plan.

The suspect is a second-time offender, having been convicted in 2008 for possession of Barking Deer meat without a permit. He could face two charges under Section 68 of the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 for keeping the Tiger parts and Argus Pheasant feathers without a permit. Unlawful possession of some totally protected species such as Tigers, also carries a mandatory jail requirement under this law.

The suspect also faces another three charges under Section 60 of the same Act for keeping the protected White-breasted Waterhen and exotic meats without a permit. He is out on bail pending trial.

In two other operations this month, Perhilitan Pahang seized Wild Boar meat from two houses in the town of Triang and are expected to charge two local men and a woman for being in possession of the meat without a licence. And earlier in February, officers also seized a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo and two Blue-crowned Hanging-parrots from a man in the town of Janda Baik.

All suspects face heavy fines under the new law which came into force last December.

So far this year Perhilitan Pahang has also seized four guns from people who have committed hunting offences in the State, including one home-made gun.

Khairiah expressed concern over the abuse of weapons for illegal hunting and told a press conference that the Department would not hesitate to use its powers under the new law to confiscate guns under these circumstances and seek police assistance to revoke an offender’s licence to carry and use a gun.

"It is wildlife traders such as this one that have given Malaysia a reputation as being a poaching hotspot and trade hub. These criminals are posing a serious threat to the continual survival of many increasingly threatened species," says TRAFFIC Southeast Asia's Regional Deputy Director Chris R. Shepherd.

"The authorities are to be applauded for taking action, especially in such a critical Tiger landscape. TRAFFIC urges the authorities to penalize this man and others like him to the full extent of the law to deter further such crime, and to demonstrate just how serious they are about protecting Malaysia's natural heritage," he said.

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Canada's unique wetlands under threat: report

Michel Comte Yahoo News 16 Mar 11;

OTTAWA (AFP) – Canada must limit large-scale industrial activity in its boreal forest, the world's largest intact timberland, to preserve millions of lakes and rivers critical to forming Arctic sea ice, a new report said Wednesday.

The first of its kind study by the Pew Environment Group shows Canada's boreal forest contains more unfrozen freshwater than any other ecosystem, totaling more than 197 million acres of surface freshwater.

"When you look at a color-coded map of the world's (unspoiled) freshwater reserves (marked in blue), it's just shocking to see all the blue in Canada," the study's lead author Jeffrey Wells told AFP.

Canada's boreal forest possesses one quarter of the planet's wetlands, half the world's lakes larger than one square kilometer in size, five of the 50 largest rivers and the single largest remaining unpolluted fresh water body, Great Bear Lake.

Maintaining its flows, which contribute a majority of the freshwater input into the Arctic Ocean, is critical to forming Arctic ice as they decrease the salinity of the sea water, allowing it to freeze more quickly and easily.

But forestry, oil and gas extraction, mining and hydropower generation, the study warned, is rapidly increasing and negatively impacting the boreal water quality and quantity, as well as the surrounding ecosystems.

Lakes have been drained to access minerals underneath or to dispose of tailings and other mine waste. Erosion after logging is increasing amounts of silt and water flowing into rivers, and on a large scale can reduce regional precipitation. Construction of hydroelectric dams also has destroyed or degraded wetlands.

The boreal development footprint is currently 728,000 square kilometers (180 million acres).

Canada has already set aside 185 million acres from development, including key wetland and river areas, representing more than 12 percent of the 1.2 billion-acre forest.

But, the report concludes that governments should protect entire river, lake and wetland ecosystems by preserving intact at least 50 percent of Canada's boreal forest.

It also demands adherence to "sustainable" development in the rest of the vast northern forest.

In eastern Canada, most of the boreal rivers and lakes drain into the immense Hudson and James bays before the water is carried northward to the Labrador Current and flows south into the North Atlantic.

In western Canada, the flow from the Mackenzie River influences the strength and movement of major currents including the Beaufort Gyre and the Transpolar Drift, which carries cold, less-salty polar waters south into the deepwater North Atlantic Conveyor and back to the tropics.

Freshwater from the Yukon River flowing into the Bering Sea similarly contributes to the extensive sea ice of the Bering Sea before continuing north, eventually contributing to the North Pacific Current that rushes through the Bering Strait into the Arctic Ocean.

Stemming these flows would result in less seasonal Arctic sea ice which could hasten the rise in average temperatures worldwide.

Unchecked, warming in turn could lead to decreased precipitation in areas of the boreal forest, drying lakes and ponds that risk becoming so low that they no longer have outflow, the study said.

The Canadian boreal lakes and river delta sediment, peatlands and wetlands are also the largest on-land carbon storehouse in the world, storing more than 400 trillion pounds of carbon, it noted.

The analysis is the first compilation of decades of research on Canadian boreal water reserves from more than 200 peer-reviewed scientific studies, government reports and other sources.

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