Best of our wild blogs: 8 Sep 11

It's a duck. No, it's a grebe
from Life's Indulgences

Fancy Intertidal Walks
from Pulau Hantu

An engineer's view of reclamation and dredging
from wild shores of singapore

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Ships dumping waste offshore?

Letter from Vincent Kang Today Online 8 Sep 11;

I WAS taking a stroll at East Coast Park (Area C/D) on Tuesday, only to discover the horrible mess it is in: Rubbish of all sorts, including plastic bottles, Styrofoam and plastic bags line the coastline.

As I believe that many of the products on the shore are not available locally, the ships anchored in the waters between Singapore and Indonesia must be dumping their waste into the water.

Is the Maritime and Port Authority monitoring these ships?

MPA has services for waste collection at sea
Letter from Captain M Segar Group Director (Hub Port), Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore
Today Online 13 Sep 11;

WE REFER to Mr Vincent Kang's letter "Ships dumping waste offshore?" (Sept 8) and thank him for his feedback.

Under Singapore's laws, ships in our port are not allowed to dump waste into the sea.

For the convenience of ships calling at our port, the Maritime and Port Authority (MPA), through its contractor, provides free garbage collection services to all ships at the anchorages.

To check against illegal dumping, MPA's port inspectors patrol our port waters round the clock, and action will be taken against any ship that dumps waste illegally.

Notwithstanding this, garbage from outside Singapore's waters do get brought in by the currents and can wash ashore.

To help ensure the cleanliness of our port waters and coastlines, the MPA contracts five flotsam retrieval craft to monitor and remove floating debris.

Members of the public who see flotsam in our port waters can help by reporting the sighting to MPA's Marine Safety Control Centre at 6325-2488 or 6325-2489.

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Mystery donor for dinosaur fund revealed

Mrs Della Lee topped up the funds to buy a trio of dinosaur skeletons from the US but declined to reveal the amount of her donation.
Tan Dawn Wei Straits Times 8 Sep 11;

MRS DELLA Lee, wife of Lee Foundation chairman Lee Seng Gee, is the mysterious donor who was instrumental in the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research securing three US dinosaur skeletons.

The philanthropist declined to say exactly how much she gave but the multi-million-dollar donation comes from her and her husband, and her DS Lee Foundation which she founded in 2004.

The Straits Times reported yesterday that a donor, who wished to remain anonymous, had topped up the funds to buy a trio of dinosaur bones discovered in a quarry in Wyoming in the United States.

The American sellers had asked for $8 million but the Raffles Museum would not say what the final deal was.

Mrs Lee said: 'It is right to keep the family of three dinosaurs together. It will be a unique experience for all. I hope our contribution will put Singapore on the world map and will be a lasting educational legacy for generations to come.'

Dr Lee Seng Gee's father, Mr Lee Kong Chian, was a well-known banker and philanthropist.

The Lee Foundation also gave $25 million to the building of the new natural history museum which the Raffles Museum will become in 2014.

Named Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, the 7,500 sq m facility will be built on the National University of Singapore's campus at a cost of $46 million, raised from private and public donations.

Besides the dinosaur skeletons, the museum will also showcase the Raffles Museum's collection of 500,000 specimens of South-east Asian animals.

Other donors who came on board the dinosaur project earlier include Binjai Tree Foundation, founded by former Singapore Exchange chief executive Hsieh Fu Hua, and Mrs Anastasia Liew of Bengawan Solo, who gave $100,000. She was introduced to the museum by Mrs Lee.

'It is good for Singaporeans to learn about history and enjoy them,' Mrs Liew said.

The Singaporean entrepreneur had previously made donations to the Singapore Chinese Orchestra, National Museum and various bursary schemes.

Binjai Tree Foundation is believed to have pledged $250,000. There was also a $500,000 donation from eco-hotel Siloso Beach Resort and a $1 million gift from an unnamed donor.

The public also donated $57,490 to the dinosaur fund through the museum's online portal.

More about the dinosaur donation drive:

See also How I was smitten by dinosaurs

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Feedback portal launched to help draft Singapore's climate change strategy

Chip in with ideas to make Singapore greener
Teams from the NTU and NUS tied for the top prize in the inaugural National Climate Change Competition. (From left) NTU teammates Tong Sian Choo, Tan Jia Yi and Candice Neo Jia Ying; and NUS teammates Siew Ying, Chua Xin Rong and Goh Jean Woon. -- PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO
Jessica Cheam Straits Times 8 Sep 11;

HAVE an idea you are burning to share about how to make Singapore greener? Here's your chance.

The National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS) has launched a nationwide feedback exercise which will be used to draft the country's first comprehensive climate change strategy.

Speaking at the launch of the new feedback portal yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said the National Climate Change Strategy 2012, as it is called, will set out detailed plans on how Singapore can reduce its carbon emissions and how it can prepare against effects such as sea level rises.

Carbon emissions are widely considered to be the cause of climate change, which affects long-term weather patterns and can result in extreme weather events.

Acknowledging that the concept of climate change may be too abstract for the average person, DPM Teo said the consultation also aimed to raise awareness.

'The purpose of this is to firstly create awareness... among people, and we want to seek ideas from people on how they can contribute to solving the climate change problem, and to motivate action,' he told reporters.

The new feedback portal at is the first of a series of initiatives led by the NCCS to gather ideas and feedback from citizens. The NCCS will conduct focus groups and community forums to reach out to the public in the next few months. The four areas it will focus on are households, transport, industries and clean technology opportunities.

The document, due to be released in the middle of next year, will build on the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint, a five-year plan launched in 2009 to help Singapore become greener and more energy efficient.

Industry observers such as Associate Professor Simon Tay, chairman of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, welcomed the public consultation. 'There are times where the Government is looking for a variety of ideas, having set a macro target... It's a good example of consultative government, (where) different sectors of society can contribute ideas,' he said.

Ms Olivia Choong, founder of the Singapore chapter of Green Drinks, an environmental movement, said she was looking forward to giving her views.

'I think we need more incentives to drive greener transportation, such as taking buses or switching to electric vehicles,' she said.

DPM Teo, who is also Coordinating Minister for National Security and Minister for Home Affairs, yesterday also gave prizes to winners of the inaugural National Climate Change Competition at a ceremony held at the Environment Building.

Two teams, from the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University, tied for the top prize, which is a trip to Durban, South Africa, at the end of the year to attend the United Nations climate change summit.

The NUS team won for their initiative to remove rubbish bins on the campus for a day to raise environmental awareness, and the NTU team won for their idea of a green mobile application that will help households monitor their energy usage.

The competition, which drew more than 140 entries, invited students and young people to contribute ideas on how they could address climate change.

Additional reporting by Feng Zengkun

Views sought on dealing with climate change
The National Climate Change Secretariat's feedback portal will be open till mid-October
Lynn Kan Business Times 8 Sep 11;

BUSINESSES and the public can now contribute to how Singapore should best deal with the ongoing problem of climate change.

The National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS) has opened its website to input on the National Climate Change Strategy 2012 document. Until mid-October, the feedback portal will be open to Singaporeans to give their views on four topics: household, transport, business and clean technology.

The 2012 document, when officially launched next year, will detail how Singapore can reach its voluntary target of reducing carbon emissions by seven to 11 per cent below business-as-usual levels by 2020.

Moreover, it will highlight the impact of climate change on the island-state, and what policies Singapore must implement to mitigate and adapt to the changing climate.

Lastly, it will show how Singapore companies can seize commercial opportunities brought about by new environmental issues.

Energy-intensive companies may find it in their interest to give their views about a mooted Energy Conservation Act, which may take effect in 2013.

The ECA may make it mandatory for companies that produce more than 15 gigawatt hours of electricity to appoint an energy manager, submit energy data and provide energy efficiency improvement plans.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who opened the NCCS portal yesterday, said: 'The NCCS-2012 is the important foundation to our long term strategies and actions needed to tackle climate change beyond 2020. We will need to do so in a manner that addresses our international competitiveness and cost of living considerations.'

Smaller focus group discussions about the 2012 document will start in late September. Community and grassroots members will also be engaged by the government from late September till January 2012.

Those who wish to contribute proposals or ideas can log on to from now till mid-October to gain access to the online consultation channel.

Government seeks views on climate change issues
S Ramesh Channel NewsAsia 7 Sep 11;

SINGAPORE: The government is embarking on a series of public consultations to get feedback on climate change related issues.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who kicked off the process on Wednesday, said the results of the feedback will go towards developing the national climate change strategy 2012.

This document is targeted for release by the middle of next year and will elaborate on Singapore's sustainable development strategy, and how the country intends to meet the target to reduce emissions by seven to 11 per cent, below the business-as-usual level in 2020.

Mr Teo said the 2012 document will be an important foundation to the long term strategy and actions needed to tackle climate change beyond 2020.

He said: "Sea levels are expected to rise by 0.59 metres by the end of the century. The studies are ongoing to see whether better predictions can be made. These have implications on us and if we take action today on our reclamation levels, this will enable us to prepare for the future.

Mr Teo said the government is studying Singapore's vulnerabilities so as to put in place appropriate measures in key areas such as coastal protection, drainage and urban infrastructure to enhance Singapore's resilience to the long-term physical impacts.

He added: "The Government will continue to do its part on climate change but the Government's efforts alone in this endeavour will not be sufficient. Every individual's actions matter. Singapore's plans to reduce emissions and to prepare ourselves for the impacts of climate change can only be met by concerted and sustained efforts from everyone."

Several ideas have already been received from younger Singaporeans who bagged prizes for the National Climate Change Competition.

For instance, one of the student groups at the National University of Singapore has put up a campaign to generate greater awareness of climate change on campus while other student groups have also come up with creative ways to raise awareness and encourage their peers to take action.

The climate change consultation exercise will focus on four key areas - households, the transport sector, business industry and evolving clean tech opportunities in Singapore.

Singapore Institute of International Affairs' chairman, Professor Simon Tay, said the consultation exercise is timely as Singaporeans have been waiting since the elections to see if the government will consult the people on various issues.

He said: "Especially at this time after the elections, people want to see that the government is listening to the people. Whether it is a big political issue or a big climate change issue, it is good to consult people. If active citizens are there, we want to see what ideas they have."

Views can be channelled either through the Secretariat's website or the government's feedback portal REACH.

There will also be discussions with industry and the grassroots organisations so that those who are not so web savvy can attend them to share their views on climate change.

Mr Teo said: "Climate change is a global issue which affects us all. Addressing it requires a national approach - one where everyone can play a part. We will need innovative ideas to modify the way we live, work and play in order to reduce our energy emissions. Indeed, what matters most are the actions and contributions of every individual and business, because each of us can make a difference to our future and our future generations."

Mr Teo, who will also be attending the climate change conference in Durban, South Africa later this year, hopes that there will be more concerted action to address the problem by the international community.

He said: "We hope there will be some move towards more concerted action by all countries to address this problem. But as it stands, the chances of a global agreement bringing all countries together seems a little bit difficult to achieve in Durban but we will do our part to achieve such a global agreement."

- CNA/fa

Government seeks views on climate change issues
Esther Ng Today Online 8 Sep 11;

SINGAPORE - With just nine more years to the target of reducing Singapore's carbon emissions by 7 to 11 per cent below business-as-usual (BAU) levels in 2020, and climate change remaining a threat, the Government will be consulting the public on achieving this goal, which was set two years ago under the Sustainable Singapore Blueprint (SSB).

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean yesterday launched a website seeking suggestions in four key areas, including clean-tech opportunities, greener transport and how businesses and households can be more energy-efficient.

"The results of your feedback will contribute towards the refinement and development of the National Climate Change Strategy 2012 (NCCS 2012) ... and put forth our national strategy to address climate change," he said.

Targeted for release in the middle of next year, NCCS 2012 will bring together previous climate change measures - the Singapore Green Plan, the 2008 iteration of the NCCS and the SSB - as one initiative, while leveraging on past efforts.

Additionally, the document will address adaption measures to rising sea levels and temperature, such as coastal protection and better drainage.

"If we take action today, say, on our reclamation levels, it will enable us to prepare for the future," said Mr Teo, who took over from Senior Minister S Jayakumar as the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Climate Change chairman in May.

Also to be examined are potential business and R&D opportunities that Singapore could exploit from climate change, "much in the same way as we have done in the water industry", Mr Teo added.

These measures should put Singapore on track to achieving its 2020 target, he said.

Energy efficiency and green building consultant Lal Jayamaha is cautiously optimistic that the target can be reached. Over the last two years, his client base has increased "two-fold", mainly from pharmaceutical, chemical companies and especially local building owners.

"There's a lot more awareness in making buildings green and many want to get the Green Mark award," said Dr Jayamaha.

Phoenix Solar managing director Christophe Inglin agreed, noting the demand for solar panels has "doubled" in the last two years, with much of the growth driven by the Green Mark scheme - which is aimed at encouraging the building of environment-friendly buildings.

Since 2008, new buildings and existing ones that undergo major retrofitting have also been required to meet standards equivalent to the Green Mark Certified Level.

"I've not come across a Singapore minister announcing a target that we cannot meet," said Mr Inglin of the 2020 target.

If legally-binding global agreement on reducing carbon emissions is reached, Singapore's target will become 16 per cent below 2020 BAU levels.

Mr Teo, who heads to Durban, South Africa, in November for the Convention on Climate Change, fancies the "chances" of a global agreement "a little bit difficult" to achieve but said Singapore will do its part.

Give your feedback at the National Climate Change Secretariat website

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Singapore population will shrink without immigrants

Li Xueying Straits Times 8 Sep 11;

SINGAPORE'S population will start shrinking in 24 years if it shuts the door on immigrants.

This decline is inevitable even if the country produces significantly more babies, boosting its total fertility rate (TFR) to 1.85 - up from the current 1.15.

The grim picture is painted in a study the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) did from 2007 to early this year - one that will have ramifications for economic growth and social relations.

Spearheaded by demographer Yap Mui Teng, the study generated 48 scenarios of Singapore's future population based on different TFRs - the number of children a woman is expected to have in her lifetime - and migration levels.

Among them is one that assumes the TFR will rise gradually to 1.85 by 2025 before stabilising at that level, and that net migration (the inflow of migrants minus those who leave) is zero.

The outcome is a decline in the resident population - comprising citizens and permanent residents (PRs) - from today's 3.77 million to 3.37 million in 2050.

At a briefing yesterday, IPS director Janadas Devan said: 'What it shows is there is no way you can keep your population from declining without migration.'

Dr Yap presented four scenarios, based on 'realistic' assumptions that reflect Singapore's conditions. In three of them, Singapore maintains a TFR of 1.24 - the rate in 2005 and one it could conceivably re-attain in the coming years.

The result shows if net migration is zero, the resident population will start declining in 14 years, reaching 3.03 million by 2050. But if Singapore lets in a net total of 60,000 migrants a year, the resident population will burgeon to 6.78 million by 2050.

At the peak of Singapore's liberalisation of immigration rules, in 2008, PR status was given to 79,200 foreigners. Last year, the Government tightened the inflow, accepting 29,265 new PRs.

In the final scenario, which mirrors most closely the current situation, it is assumed that Singapore accepts 30,000 net migrants a year. With this, there will be 4.89 million residents in 2050.

In making these projections, researchers assumed that people live longer; that immigrants are of working age; and that they reproduce at the same rate as the local population.

Another finding: The population will age across all four scenarios. Even though the absolute number of residents aged 15 to 64 increases when there is a net inflow of migrants, they will make up an ever-smaller proportion of the total population. This means there will be fewer working-age residents supporting the elderly.

Last year, 8.2 working-age residents supported one elderly resident (8.2:1). The ratio falls to 1.7:1 by 2050, if there are no migrants and the TFR stays at 1.24. Raising the TFR to 1.85 would have 'little effect' as the ratio goes up only marginally to 1.9:1, said the study.

'However, in-migration would ameliorate this decline,' it said, projecting that the ratio will be 2.7:1 if there were 30,000 net migrants a year, and 3.5:1 if there were 60,000.

Singapore, which has one of the lowest TFRs in the world, has struggled with population woes for the past 20 years. Despite incentives including cash bonuses and longer maternity leave, the TFR slumped to a historic low of 1.15 last year.

To mitigate against this, the Government eased immigration rules in 2006. This, however, led to resentment in the face of overcrowding and increased competition for jobs, housing and public transport - a sore point aired during the general election this year.

In view of the sentiment, the first scenario of zero migration may be politically attractive.

But bank economist Nizam Idris said a shrinking population - and workforce - will affect economic growth, especially as much of it is driven by the labour-intensive services sector.

The smaller workforce can be partially offset by improving productivity, he said. However, he noted, the scenerio's assumption of a 1.85 TFR in tandem is 'optimistic', and so Singapore should continue welcoming immigrants.

But, he stressed, the policy should be 'strict in allowing just highly skilled individuals to be PRs or citizens'.

Responding last night, the National Population and Talent Division said the Government 'continues to encourage marriage and parenthood and has committed significant resources to this end'.

'Nevertheless, as shown in IPS' projections, even if the TFR improves, immigrants are required to sustain the population,' it said. 'We will continue to manage the pace of immigration to ensure that immigrants are of good quality and can be well integrated into Singapore society.'

At a forum on Monday, former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew said 20,000 to 25,000 immigrants a year is 'digestible' politically.

Tampines GRC MP Baey Yam Keng told The Straits Times 'it will be a tough call' for Singapore to return to the 2009 situation and take in 60,000 immigrants a year. Singaporeans, however, would be willing to accept 'maybe 30,000 to 35,000' - if the infrastructure gets up to speed.

What Singapore will look like in 2015
Straits Times 8 Sep 11;

Scenario 1

THE resident population will continue to increase till 2020 as the number of babies born exceeds the number of people dying.

After that, the population will start to shrink, reaching 3.03 million in 2050 - down from the current 3.77 million.

There will be far fewer young people aged below 15. Their numbers will shrink to less than half the present 274,400. They will form just 9.1 per cent of the population. The working-age population will decline to 1.73 million, making up just over half - 57.3 per cent - of the population.

But there will be a lot more of the elderly, aged 65 and older. Their numbers will more than triple to 1.02 million. They will form one-third - 33.6 per cent - of the population.

There will be 1.7 working-age adults for every one elderly person, down from 8.6 to one in 2005. The median age will be 54.6, up from 36 in 2005.

Scenario 2

THE assumptions here reflect most closely Singapore's current situation.

The resident population will grow to 4.89 million by 2050.

The pool of young people aged below 15 will shrink slightly, reaching 651,300 in 2050. They will form 13.3 per cent of the population.

The number of working-age adults will rise gradually, to 3.1 million in 2050. They will comprise 63.3 per cent of the population.

Meanwhile, the elderly aged 65 and older will soar to 1.14 million. But they will form a smaller proportion of the population, at 23.4 per cent.

The ratio of working-age adults supporting each elderly person will be 2.7:1.

The median age will be 45.7.

Scenario 3

THE assumptions mirror the situation in Singapore in 2009, when the TFR was 1.22 and 59,460 foreigners were given permanent resident (PR) status.

The resident population of citizens and PRs will almost double to 6.76 million by 2050.

This is also the only scenario in which the number of young people aged below 15 will increase. Their number will rise to 1.04 million by 2050, or 15.3 per cent of the population.

The number of working-age adults will double to 4.45 million, representing 65.9 per cent of the population.

As for the elderly aged 65 and older, the rise is the highest in absolute terms, when compared to the other scenarios, reaching 1.27 million.

But in percentage terms, they will form the smallest pool - just 18.8 per cent of the population.

This means the ratio of working-age adults supporting one elderly person will the highest among the four scenarios, at 3.5:1. The median age will be 41.6.

Scenario 4

THE assumption of a TFR of 1.85 is optimistic. The last time Singapore achieved a similar TFR was in 1990, when it was 1.83.

Even so, the resident population will peak at 3.73 million in 2030, before it declines to 3.37 million in 2050.

The young aged 15 and below will decline to 447,100, albeit a less dramatic drop compared with Scenario 1. They will comprise 13.3 per cent of the population.

The number of working-age adults will decline to 1.91 million, representing just 56.6 per cent of the population - the smallest proportion among the four scenarios.

The number of elderly people aged 65 and older will increase to 1.02 million, the same number as in Scenario 1. They will comprise 30.2 per cent of the population.

There will be 1.9 working-age adults for every one elderly person.

The median age will be 50.9.

Migration, TFR and the Singapore population problem
Kelly Tay Business Times 8 Sep 11;

(SINGAPORE) Even with a net inflow of 60,000 migrants each year, Singapore still needs to raise its total fertility rate (TFR) if it is to ameliorate the problems of an ageing population, and ease the dependency burden on working adults.

The findings come from the latest projections of the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) on the future population growth and change in Singapore, where two key questions were examined: What will the future population look like if the TFR remains below 1.3 over the long term, and what will be the likely effects of raising the TFR versus increasing immigration on the future population of Singapore.

The study's findings make clear that if Singapore's long-term resident TFR remains lower than 1.3, and if there is no in-migration, the resident population - comprising citizens and permanent residents - can be expected to decline and be extremely aged.

In all four projections that IPS discussed yesterday, the median age of Singapore residents will rise, albeit in varying degrees. Scenarios 1 and 4 will see the greatest jump from the 2010's median age of 37.4 years, to 54.6 years and 50.9 years respectively. This is due to the fact that in both projections, more than 30 per cent of the population would be over the age of 65.

These translate into a potential support ratio of 1.7 working adults for every elderly person in scenario 1, and 1.9 in scenario 4 - a far cry from last year's support ratio of 8.2.

Since the difference between scenarios 1 and 4 is the latter's heightened TFR, the results suggest that raising the TFR alone will only marginally alleviate the situation of an ageing and declining population.

While potential support ratios decline in scenarios 2 and 3 as well, they do so in lesser degrees with respective 2050 ratios resting at 2.7 and 3.5. This is because a smaller portion of residents would be over 65 years old as compared to those of working age.

In contrast to scenarios 1 and 4 which maintain zero migration, scenarios 2 and 3 assume a flat TFR alongside positive net migration figures. The difference in findings between each pair of projections suggests that in-migration helps to raise the support ratio and in doing so, reduces the dependency burden on persons of working age.

The IPS study also shows that without immigration of some magnitude, Singapore's resident population will decline by 2050 - even with an increase in the TFR. This is the case in scenario 4, where the resident population peaks in 2030 before declining to 3.37 million in 2050.

This is in contrast with scenarios 2 and 3, which register positive net migration figures, while keeping the TFR constant at 1.24. The resident population is raised to 4.89 million and 6.76 million respectively.

On the other hand, in scenario 1, where the TFR also stays constant but with zero net migration, findings bear similarity to scenario 4. The resident population hits a high in 2020 before declining to 3.03 million in 2050.

Said IPS director, Janadas Devan: 'This projection underlines the fact that there is no way you can keep your population from declining without immigration.'

'In any (of the four scenarios), you're going to see the support ratio and percentage of your working age population decline. The decline will be less only if you have a higher number of immigrants,' he added.

IPS's projections on population growth are especially timely given how highly the issue ranks on the national agenda. Earlier this week, former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew had touched on the importance of raising Singapore's TFR in light of the country's fast-ageing population.

Economists BT spoke to stressed the trade-offs involved in curbing Singapore's population growth. Said CIMB Research's Song Seng Wun: 'More business opportunities are created with more people, and so people must decide what they want.'

In agreement was OCBC economist, Selena Ling: 'Singapore can either stay open to foreign talent, or it can risk becoming like Japan, with a decline in economic competitiveness.'

Still, she noted that the long-term nature of the project also means that the 'margin of error can be very large'.

'The biggest change right now may come from heightened productivity levels. This will have implications on the assumptions and therefore findings of the study - with retirement ages likely to go up, perhaps the number of elderly people contributing to the economy will have to be revised,' added Ms Ling.

Low fertility rate, no immigration will lead to S'pore's population decline
Tan Qiuyi Channel News Asia 7 Sep 11;

SINGAPORE: Singapore's resident population will decline and become extremely aged if the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) is extremely low and if there is no immigration.

This is according to a landmark study on future population growth and change for Singapore published on Wednesday by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS).

The study produced four population scenarios based on varying TFR and immigration levels.

The study said with TFR at 1.24 births per woman and zero net migration, Singapore's population will decline to 3.03 million in 2050.

With 30,000 migrants added annually, the population projection is 4.89 million in 2050.

And with 60,000 migrants added annually, the population projection is 6.76 million in 2050.

The study also looked at a situation where TFR can be raised to 1.85 births per woman by 2025 with no new immigration. With such a scenario, the study said population size can still only hit 3.37 million in 2050.

The ratio of working people (between the ages of 15-64) to the elderly will also decrease. For instance, with low fertility and 30,000 new residents a year, the ratio drops from 8.6 in 2005, to 2.7 in 2050.

A key conclusion obtained from the study is that without immigration, the total population will decline, even if Singapore's total fertility rate rises from the current 1.15 to 1.85. The number of working people available to support each elderly person is also set to drop in all the scenarios.

However, Dr Yap Mui Teng, who is a senior research fellow at Institute of Policy Studies, said immigration can reduce the dependency burden.

Dr Yap said: "Under the scenario with higher net migration, there will be more people of working ages to support each elderly, compared to the scenario with low migration or scenarios with zero net migration."

Amid growing concerns from the ground about overcrowding and stiffer competition from foreign labour, some asked if population growth is absolutely necessary and how much is enough.

Associate Professor Paulin-Tay Straughan from the National University of Singapore said it is important for the government to determine how much population growth is needed to ensure a balance between a vibrant economy and the social health of society.

She said: "That's why these projections are so important. For us to understand how the projections are made, so that as a community together, we agree that these are the opportunity costs we're willing to accept because we all want to strive for this quality of life."

The government had earlier said it does not target a specific population size.

The study also projected that there will be fewer young people in Singapore if fertility rate remains low. The number of young people under 14 years of age will go down by more than half from 699,000 in 2005 to 274,400 by 2050.

- CNA/fa/ac

Without migration of some magnitude, Singapore's population will decline, says IPS
Tanya Fong Today Online 8 Sep 11;

SINGAPORE - Without migration of some magnitude, Singapore's ageing population will decline - even if it manages to boost its Total Fertility Rate (TFR) to 1.85 from the current 1.15.

This is according to a demographic study on future population growth and change in Singapore released yesterday by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS).

The project - which the IPS embarked in 2007 and presented to the Government in April, this year - studied 48 scenarios which examined how the future population of Singapore will look like if the TFR remains "extremely low over the long term" and the "likely effects of raising the TFR versus increasing immigration".

Former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew had said during a forum with students on Monday the IPS had a "grim statistic of 60,000 migrants a year to keep our people young and economically active" which was "politically indigestible".

Yesterday, the IPS presented four of the 48 scenarios at a roundtable session and concluded that "without migration of some magnitude, Singapore's population will decline - even if it manages to boost its TFR to 1.85, up from the current 1.15", said IPS director Janadas Devan, who is also an associate editor at The Straits Times.

The first scenario was that if TFR remains at 1.24 births per woman and there is zero net migration - the result of in-migrants and out-migrants - Singapore's total resident population would decline to 3.03 million in 2050.

If TFR remains at 1.24 and 30,000 net migrants were added annually through to 2050, Singapore's total resident population would increase to 4.89 million in 2050.

And with 60,000 net migrants added annually, Singapore's total resident population would increase to 6.76 million in 2050. If TFR gradually rises from 1.24 to 1.85 by 2025 and stabilises, and there is zero migration, the total resident population will be 3.37 million. Total resident population is the total number of citizens and permanent residents.

The implications of the figures in these scenarios was discussed at the roundtable yesterday. One was the weight of an ageing population (65 and above) on those of working ages (between 15 and 65 years old).

For example, it is projected that by 2050, 1.9 working adult will support one elderly person, compared to the 8.6 in 2005.

Concluding that raising TFR to 1.85 with zero migration has little effect, the IPS said that "in-migration would ameliorate this decline".

The IPS added: "If the resident TFR for Singapore remains extremely low over the long term and there is no in-migration, the resident population can be expected to decline and it will be extremely aged. The results of this exercise suggest that raising TFR alone will ameliorate the situation marginally. Immigration helps to reduce the dependency burden and raise the support ratio."

When asked how the IPS arrived at net migration figures in the scenarios, IPS senior research fellow Dr Yap Mui Teng said they were not privy to migration figures from the National Population and Talent Division and that the numbers were decided "by estimation" of past population numbers at different time periods as well as birth and death figures.

When asked why these four scenarios were selected out of the 48, Dr Yap said: "These in a way reflect the conditions at that time (of study)."

Mr Devan added that the TFR and net migration figures adopted for the project were "realistic and reasonable".

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China warns against Solomon Island dolphin export

Solomon Star 8 Sep 11;

THE Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) issued a stern warning that they would not allow the proposed export of 25 live bottlenose dolphins from Solomon Islands to enter China.

In a letter dated September 5 2011, executive director of AWI Susan Millward requested an urgent intervention to avert a transgression of national and international law if a proposed dolphin export occurs.

The letter advised that the National Government reconsider their decision to allow the export to avoid the dolphins to be confiscated upon arrival and to avoid the cost of returning them to the Solomon Islands subjecting the animals to stress.

The letter was addressed to John Scanlon of CITES Secretary-General, Carlos Ibero Solana of CITES Animals Committee Chairman and Joe Horokou of CITES Management Authority/CITES Scientific Authority, Solomon Islands.

The same letter was also addressed to Environment Minister and acting Fisheries Minister Moffat Fugui.

The letter stated that two endangered species organisations in China, the Endangered Species Import and Export Management Office and the Endangered Species Scientific Commission are also on stand by to confiscate the dolphins upon arrival.

AWI in the letter also asked for and immediate action in this case to:

1) deny any export permit to facilitate the transport of these dolphins to China;

2) revoke any export permit if already issued, and;

3) initiate an investigation of those involved n the exports, including the dolphin capture operation, to determine if they are acting in accordance with the Solomon Islands laws.

“Specifically, it would appear that Dr. Badley Anita, the exporter, has engaged in an illegal business enterprise as a result of not being issued a 2011 business license to permit the capture and operation of wild dolphins,” the letter stated.

“Furthermore, regardless of the legality of Dr. Anita’s business operation, AWI remains concerned that the Solomon Island government’s issuance of an apparent export permit in this case was done without a credible non-detriment finding (NDF) as required by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to ensure that the trade in wild-caught dolphins will not harm the species in the wild.”

The letter stated that to date, despite permitting at least four previous wild dolphin exports since 2007, the Solomon Islands Government has never made a credible finding due to a lack of data regarding its coastal dolphin populations.

“The failure to make a credible finding violates both national law and CITES to which the Solomon Islands became a signatory in 2007,” the later stated.

It stated that until the survey data is compiled, analysed, and the results published, the Solomon Islands Government cannot determine if its dolphin exports are sustainable or make a credible NDF.

“Consequently, any prospective export must be delayed until, at a minimum, the survey results are reported and your government issues a credible finding.”

The recent revelation of the proposed export of 25 bottlenose dolphins has once again sparked international outcry from conservation groups.


Government decision final despite China’s warning
Solomon Star 9 Sep 11;

THE Government has not been moved by recent outbursts over the proposed export of 25 live bottlenose dolphins to China saying the decision was ‘final.’

Since the Solomon Star broke out the news that local exporter Dr Badley Anita was proposing a million dollar dolphin export to China, there had been a public outcry from local and international conservation groups against the planned export.

But permanent secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Conservation Rence Sore told the Solomon Star that their decision has not changed.

“Nothing has changed, the decision was final,” Mr Sore said.

This was despite a warning issued by the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) yesterday which cautioned that they would not allow the dolphins to enter China.

The Solomon Star understands AWI has written to the Ministry of Environment and Conservation and the Fisheries Ministry in their intention to block the export.

The letter highlighted that this was because Dr Anita has engaged in an illegal business enterprise because no dolphin business license was issued this year to permit the capture and operation of wild dolphins.

Therefore, the export would be illegal, AWI said.

AWI was also concerned that the Solomon Island Government’s issuance of an apparent export permit in this case was done without a credible non-detriment finding (NDF) as required by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

This is to ensure that the trade in wild-caught dolphins would not harm the species in the wild.

A statement from AWI stated to date, despite permitting at least four previous wild dolphin exports since 2007, the Solomon Islands Government has never made a credible finding due to a lack of data regarding its coastal dolphin populations.

Meanwhile, Earth Island Institute regional director Lawrence Makili has expressed disgust over the Government’s attitude towards the proposed export.

He said the failure to make a credible NDF violates both national law and CITES to which the Solomon Islands became a signatory in 2007.

“There has never been a conclusion of the NDF report sent to CITIES. Therefore, if the export takes place we are clearly violating CITIES laws that we have agreed to abide by since we joined CITIES in 2007,” he said.

Mr Makili has called on officials from the Environment Ministry and Fisheries Ministry to explain why the Government should allow the export despite their failure to provide CITIES with the NDF report.


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Malaysia: Air quality and visibility worsen in most parts of country

Sim Leoi Leoi and Christopher Tan The Star 8 Sep 11;

PETALING JAYA: People with respiratory problems have been advised to stay indoors and take precautions after air quality worsened in most parts of the county, with Klang Valley recording poor visibility and moderately bad air quality.

The haze caused by the overnight increase of hotspots from 62 to 120 in Sumatra, Indonesia, caused the sky in the Klang Valley and other cities and towns to be overcast.

Most areas around the city as well as certain northern states also recorded a drop in visibility levels.

A Meteorological Department spokesman said the haze would “come and go” as the southwest monsoon winds would blow it over from the burning hotspots in Sumatra.

“Rain can do little to help as the haze may return once the rain is gone,” the spokesman said, adding that the monsoon season was expected to end by late October or early November.

As at 5pm yesterday, the Air Pollutant Index (API) reading on the Department of Environment's (DOE) website for Petaling Jaya rose to 86 from 79 six hours earlier while that for Shah Alam was at 90, close to unhealthy levels.

Other areas where the API readings recorded moderate air quality were Port Klang (83) and Banting (71) in Selangor, and Batu Muda (84) and Cheras (77) in Kuala Lumpur. The API reading for Nilai, Negri Sembilan, was 80.

The reading for SK Jalan Pegoh in Ipoh was slightly worse at 82 while that for Seberang Jaya 2 in Prai was little changed from Tuesday.

A good API reading is from 0-50, moderate (51-100), unhealthy (101-200), very unhealthy (201-299) and hazardous (from 300 and above).

The Meteorological Department recorded visibility levels for Petaling Jaya and Subang as having dropped to 3km. At the same time on Tuesday, both these areas had visibility levels of up to 6km and 8km respectively.

Poor visibility was also recorded in Alor Setar and Ipoh, both at 3km, and Perai in Penang at 5km. Normal visibility levels are at 10km and above.

The latest satellite imagery on the DOE's website showed the number of hotspots at 120 as at 3.45pm yesterday, an increase from 62 hotspots detected on Tuesday.

Although some rain has been forecast in the Klang Valley for next week, this is not expected to be heavy, the spokesman said.

“Most of the rain is expected to occur in remote areas like Hulu Selangor and Gombak. It's not going to be as wet as the week preceding Hari Raya,” he said, adding that Peninsular Malaysia was still in the midst of the southwest monsoon, which was a generally dry period.

Brace For Hazy Condition
Bernama 7 Sep 11;

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 7 (Bernama) -- Some parts of the country will be experiencing a hazy condition for several days as no rain is expected there for five consecutive days.

The areas are Arau (Perlis), Kota Setar (Kedah), Seberang Perai Utara (Penang), Kinta and Manjung (Perak), Kepong, Klang, Petaling and Sabak Bernam (Selangor), Batu Pahat (Johor) and Miri (Sarawak), said the Meteorological Department in a statement Wednesday night.

Meanwhile, the Department of Environment (DOE) said hazy condition that enveloped the Klang Valley, northern states, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan and several areas in Pahang this morning was due haze from fire in Sumatra, Indonesia.

It urged the public to refrain from carrying out open burning and help put out small fire and report any open burning activities to the Fire and Rescue Department at 999 or the DOE at toll-free 1-800-88-2727.

Until 11am, the Air Pollutant Index (API) in 14 areas in the country recorded a good level and 38 a moderate level, said the DOE.

Among areas which recorded a moderate API level were Shah Alam, Selangor (84), Sekolah Kebangsaan Jalan Pegoh, Ipoh (83) and Port Klang (81) while good API level was registered in Sarikei (30), Sri Aman (31) and Kuching (32) (all Sarawak).


Malaysia: Air quality down in many parts of country
Florence A. Samy The Star 7 Sep 11;

PETALING JAYA: Air quality has dipped in many parts of the country even as hotspots continue to be detected in Sumatra.

As at 5pm yesterday, 36 areas recorded moderate air quality readings compared to 33 at 11am and 27 at 5pm on Monday. The remaining areas had healthy readings.

All areas in the Klang Valley recorded a gradual increase in the Air Pollutant Index (API) readings throughout the day yesterday.

The Department of Environment website said Petaling Jaya's API increased from 66 at 7am yesterday, to 73 by 5pm, while the API for Batu Muda went from 64 to 77 over the same period.

The SK Jalan Pegoh station in Ipoh and Nilai in Negri Sembilan recorded the highest API readings at 78 by 5pm yesterday.

Other areas with API readings of above 70 included Cheras (73), Shah Alam (73), Port Klang (70) and Bukit Rambai, Malacca (71).

A good API reading is from 0-50, moderate (51-100), unhealthy (101-200), very unhealthy (201-299) and hazardous (from 300 and above).

The latest regional haze map noted that hotspots and smoke plumes were detected in central and south Sumatra due to the persistent dry conditions.

“Slight to moderate haze was observed to have spread to the Straits of Malacca and as far north as Penang island,” the map notes stated.

As at 7pm yesterday, poor visibility was recorded in Alor Star (2km), Butterworth (3km), Bayan Lepas, Prai and Ipoh at 4km respectively, the Meteorological Department said.

Petaling Jaya and Subang recorded visibility levels of 7km and 6km respectively. Normal visibility levels are at 10km and above.

The department forecast that no rain is expected in Petaling Jaya or Putrajaya over the next four days, while the rest of the Klang Valley is expected to experience isolated showers or fair weather.

A similar weather pattern is forecast for Kedah, Malacca, Negri Sembilan and Perlis. The remaining states are expected to have isolated showers, rain or thunderstorms over the next few days,

The southwest monsoon, which is generally a dry season with occasional rain, is expected to end later this month.

Haze is back with 'moderate' readings
New Straits Times 7 Sep 11;

KUALA LUMPUR: The haze is back nationwide, with the highest readings in Shah Alam and Port Klang in Selangor, and Seberang Prai in Penang.

Readings yesterday showed that the Air Pollution Index (API) in Shah Alam was 84, Port Klang, 81, and Seberang Jaya, 80.

According to the Department of Environment website, most parts of the country showed moderate readings of 51 to 79, while seven areas, mainly in Sabah, showed an API of between 30 and 37.

It is believed that the haze is caused by the prevailing dry weather over the past few days and open burning in Sumatra.

Officials from the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry said the situation was still moderate and would only be considered dangerous if the API hits 100 and above.

During this period, people are advised not to carry out open burning and factories have been told to reduce the release of smoke.

Good API ratings range from 0 to 50, while a moderate API is from 51 to 100. An API above 100 is unhealthy.

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Indonesia: Batam protected forest gutted by fire

Antara 7 Sep 11;

Batam, Riau Islands (ANTARA News) - A fire has gutted around 20 hectares of protected forest in Bukit Tiban, Batuaji, Batam, Riau Islands Province.

"The fire occurs because of lack of supervision," Deputy Mayor of Batam Rudi said here on Wednesday after visiting the location of forest fire.

The Batam protected forest covering hundreds of hectares are supervised by a forest protection team only.

The deputy mayor said Batam should have forest rangers to help preserve the forest.

"We don`t have forest rangers," Rudi said.

The local community`s awareness of forest preservation is also low, according to him.

The local government would conduct a tree replanting program in the burned forest location, he said.

"We will make coordination with the local offices of marine affairs, agriculture, fisheries and forestry of Batam," he said.

Batam has only 25 officers of forest supervision, according to Burkan, the head of the local forest supervision and protection section.

To protect the whole forest in Batam, more officers are very much needed, he said.

The forest fire occurred on Tuesday (Sept 6) from 11.30 am local time to 4 pm, Jabhari, the head of RW 01 neighborhood of Kibing, said.

However, he did not know what had caused the forest fire.

"May be because of cigarette butts, which was thrown by accident," he said.

Meanwhile, in Pagaralam, South Sumatra Province, a fire razed tens of hectares of forest area at Atungbungsu, Dempo Selatan sub district.

Several hectares of coffee and oil palm plantations Atungbungsu were also gutted by fire, Yusman, the head of the local disaster mitigation office, said on Tuesday.

The fire has spread to wider area approaching a human resettlement area. "Around 30 hectares of forest and plantation areas at Mingkik and Nanding villages, Atungbungsu, Dempo Selatan, were gutted by fire," Yusman said.

Forest and plantation areas at Atungbungsu have been dried and prone to fire because there has been no rainfalls since three months ago.

Editor: Priyambodo RH

Fire razes tens of hectares of Pagaralam forest area
Antara 7 Sep 11;

Pagaralam, South Sumatra (ANTARA News) - A fire razed tens of hectares of forest area at Atungbungsu, Dempo Selatan sub district, Pagaralam, South Sumatra.

Several hectares of coffee and oil palm plantations Atungbungsu were also gutted by fire, Yusman, the head of the local disaster mitigation office, said here on Tuesday.

The fire has spread to wider area approaching a human resettlement area.

"Around 30 hectars of forest and plantation areas at Mingkik and Nanding villages, Atungbungsu, Dempo Selatan, were gutted by fire," Yusman said.

Forest and plantation areas at Atungbungsu have been dried and prone to fire because there has been no rainfalls since three months ago.

Atungbungsu is the fire worst-affected area which is located near the border of Bukit Barisan forest.

Yusman suspected that the fire was triggered by cigarette butts.

Pagaralam Mayor Djazuli Kuris said he would mobilize two fire brigade trucks and several personnel to extinguish the fire.

The Pagaralam Disaster Mitigation Agency has detected several hot spots in Dempo Selatan and Dempo Tengah sub districts.

"Based on the monitoring result, there area around 30 hot spots, including five at Atungbungsu and six at Lubukbuntak, Dempo Selatan sub district," Yusman said.

Four hot spots are detected at Kancediwe, and five at Pelangkenidai, Dempo Tengah sub district.

"Tens of hot spots have developed in forest area bordering between Pagaralam and Lahat sub districts," he said.

In Pagaralam, the hot spots are detected at Lematang, Selangis, Lubuk Buntak, Autngbungsu and Muaratenang.

In every dry dry, the area is almost always hit by forest fires.

In 2008, hundreds of hectares of forest and plantation areas at Atungbungsu were razed by fire.

Pagaralam Deputy Mayor Ida Fitriati said his area has a protected forest area covering 28,364 hectares, but 30 percent of the area has been damaged.

Editor: Priyambodo RH

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Giant crocodile captured in Philippines – but a bigger one may be at large

The six-metre saltwater crocodile caught after a three-week hunt may be the largest ever captured alive, officials believe
Associated Press 6 Sep 11;

A one-tonne crocodile which may be the biggest ever caught alive has been captured in the Philippines, and officials say they are now hunting for an even bigger beast.

Villagers and veteran hunters ensnared a 6.1-metre (20ft) saltwater crocodile over the weekend after a three-week hunt in Bunawan township in Agusan del Sur province, where terrified villagers have reported at least one deadly attack.

The crocodile – weighing 1,075 kilograms (170 stone) and estimated to be at least 50 years old – is the biggest caught alive in the Philippines in recent years. Wildlife officials were trying to confirm whether it was the largest such catch in the world, Theresa Mundita Lim of the government's Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau said.

Guinness World Records lists a saltwater crocodile caught in Australia as the largest crocodile in captivity, measuring 5.48 metres. Saltwater crocodiles can live for more than 100 years and grow to 7 metres.

Relieved villagers in Bunawan, about 515 miles (830km) south-east of Manila, threw a fiesta to celebrate the capture of the crocodile, which had to be pulled by rope by about 100 people from the creek to a clearing, where a crane lifted it on to a truck.

"It was like a feast, so many villagers turned up," said the mayor, Edwin Cox Elorde.

The wildlife official Ronnie Sumiller, who has hunted "nuisance crocodiles" for 20 years and led the team behind the capture in Bunawan, said a search was under way for a larger crocodile he and villagers have seen roaming in the farming town's marshy outskirts.

"There is a bigger one and it could be the one creating problems," Sumiller told the Associated Press.

"The villagers were saying 10% of their fear was gone because of the first capture," Sumiller said. "But there is still the other 90% to take care of."

Backed by five village hunters he has trained, Sumiller has set 20 steel cable traps with an animal carcass as bait along the creek where the first crocodile was caught and in a nearby vast marshland.

Sumiller said he had found no human remains when he induced the captured crocodile to vomit.

He said he had also been summoned by Bunawan officials two years ago after a huge crocodile attacked and ate a child from a capsized boat in the marshland. The crocodile was not found at the time.

Elorde said he planned to make the captured crocodile "the biggest star" in an ecotourism park to be built to increase villagers' and tourists' awareness of the vital role the dreaded reptiles play in the ecosystem.

Philippine laws strictly prohibit civilians from killing endangered crocodiles, with violators facing up to 12 years in prison and a fine of 1m pesos (£14,700).

The world's most endangered freshwater variety, the crocodylus mindorensis, is found only in the Philippines, where about 250 are known to be in the wild.

About 1,000 of the larger saltwater type, or crocodylus porosus – like the one captured in Bunawan – are scattered mostly in the country's southern swamplands, the wildlife official Glen Rebong said.

The environment secretary, Ramon Paje, said the enormous crocodile was captured because it was a threat to the community but added that the reptiles were a reminder that the country's remaining rich habitats needed to be constantly protected.

Crocodiles have been hunted in the country by poachers hoping to cash in on the high demand in wealthy Asian countries for their skin, which is coveted for products ranging from bags to mobile phone cases.

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Indonesia: Stop orangutan skull trade

Antara 7 Sep 11;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Center of Orangutan Protection, a Non-Governmental-Organization, urged the society and the government to be proactive in law enforcement toward of trading of preserved animal and bones of endangered species to stop Orangutan skull trade.

"Illegal orangutan skulls trade still continues in souvenir shops in Pontianak, West Kalimantan, Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan, and Balikpapan, East Kalimantan. It is not like monkey skulls that are displayed at the shop, the orangutan skulls are hidden from the public attention," Principal of the Centre for Orangutan Protection Hardi Baktiantoro said here on a released received by ANTARA News Wednesday.

According to him, the Orangutan skulls price were set by the traders between 500 thousand rupiah to two million rupiah.

The traders buy the Orangutan skulls from the communities living in the oil palm plantation area, Hardi said.

"Orangutans that are trapped in the fragmented forests or in the forests for conservation area, will easily get shot. And after a month, the hunter will be back to the area and takes the skulls," Hardi said.

In August 2011, Center for Orangutan Protection had found four orangutan skulls at an oil palm plantation area in Sembuluh lake, Central Kalimantan. The NGO also found an Orangutan buried in an oil palm plantation area in East Kalimantan.

"This trading could be completely stopped if the souvenir traders, who are convicted of selling the orangutan skulls, are arrested. Therefore, there are no more people who are buying and ordering the orangutan skulls from the communities or the oil palm workers," Hardi said.

The orangutan skulls trade is violating Article 21 of Law No. 5/1990 on Conservation of Biological Natural Resource and Its Ecosystem.

Therefore, Hardi urged The Natural Resources Conservation Center (BKSDA) of the Ministry of Forestry to act firmly by enforcing the law towards the souvenir shops that sell preserved animals and bones of endangered species.

Moreover, oil palm plantation companies should create and run the appropriate protection system of conservation in their concession areas, and also assist the BKSDA to arrest their workers who had been convicted for killing orangutans, he said.

Editor: Priyambodo RH

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Deep-Sea Fish in Deep Trouble: Scientists Find Nearly All Deep-Sea Fisheries Unsustainable

ScienceDaily 7 Sep 11;

A team of leading marine scientists from around the world is recommending an end to most commercial fishing in the deep sea, Earth's largest ecosystem. Instead, they recommend fishing in more productive waters nearer to consumers.

In a comprehensive analysis published online in the journal Marine Policy, marine ecologists, fisheries biologists, economists, mathematicians and international policy experts show that, with rare exceptions, deep-sea fisheries are unsustainable. The "Sustainability of deep-sea fisheries" study, funded mainly by the Lenfest Ocean Program, comes just before the UN decides whether to continue allowing deep-sea fishing in international waters, which the UN calls "high seas."

Life is mostly sparse in the oceans' cold depths, far from the sunlight that fuels photosynthesis. Food is scarce and life processes happen at a slower pace than near the sea surface. Some deep-sea fishes live more than a century; some deep-sea corals can live more than 4,000 years. When bottom trawlers rip life from the depths, animals adapted to life in deep-sea time can't repopulate on human time scales. Powerful fishing technologies are overwhelming them.

"The deep sea is the world's worst place to catch fish" says marine ecologist Dr. Elliott Norse, the study's lead author and President of the Marine Conservation Institute in Bellevue, Washington USA. "Deep-sea fishes are especially vulnerable because they can't repopulate quickly after being overfished."

The deep sea provides less than 1% of the world's seafood. But fishing there, especially bottom trawling, causes profound, lasting damage to fishes and life on the seafloor, such as deep-sea corals, these experts say.

Since the 1970s, when coastal fisheries were overexploited, commercial fishing fleets have moved further offshore and into deeper waters. Some now fish more than a mile deep.

"Because these fish grow slowly and live a long time, they can only sustain a very low rate of fishing," says author Dr. Selina Heppell, a marine fisheries ecologist at Oregon State University. "On the high seas, it is impossible to control or even monitor the amount of fishing that is occurring. The effects on local populations can be devastating."

The authors document the collapse of many deep-sea fishes around the world, including sharks and orange roughy. Other commercially caught deep-sea fishes include grenadiers (rattails) and blue ling.

"Fifty years ago no one ate orange roughy," said author Dr. Daniel Pauly, a fisheries biologist with the University of British Columbia (UBC). "In fact, it used to be called slimehead, indicating no one ever thought we would eat it. But as we've overfished our coastal species, that changed and so did the name."

Orange roughy take 30 years to reach sexual maturity and can live 125 years. Compared with most coastal fishes, they live in slow-motion. Unfortunately for them and the deep-sea corals they live among, they can no longer hide from industrial fishing.

"Fishing for orange roughy started in New Zealand and grew rapidly through the 1980s and 1990s. However, most of the fisheries were overexploited, and catch levels have either been dramatically reduced or the fisheries closed all together," says author Dr. Malcolm Clark, a New Zealand-based fisheries biologist. "The same pattern has been repeated in Australia, Namibia, the SW Indian Ocean, Chile and Ireland. It demonstrates how vulnerable deep-sea fish species can be to overfishing and potential stock collapse."

There are very few exceptions to unsustainable deep-sea fisheries around the world. One is the Azores fishery for black scabbardfish. There the Portuguese government has banned bottom trawling, which overfished black scabbardfish elsewhere. Azores fish are caught sustainably with hook and line gear from small boats. In most deep sea-fisheries, however, trawlers fish outside of nations' 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zones, outside of effective government control.

"Deep-sea fisheries can be sustainable only where the fish population grows quickly and fisheries are small-scale and use gear that don't destroy fish habitat," said Dr. Norse. "With slow-growing fish, there's economic incentive to kill them all and reinvest the money elsewhere to get a higher return-on-investment. Killing off life in the deep sea one place after another isn't good for our oceans or economies. Boom-and-bust fisheries are more like mining than fishing," Dr. Norse said.

The lawlessness of the high seas adds to overfishing in the deep. So do nations' fisheries subsidies.

High seas trawlers receive some $162 million each year in government handouts, which amounts to 25% the value of the fleet's catch, according to Dr. Rashid Sumaila, an author and fisheries economist at UBC.

The authors of this Marine Policy paper say that the best policy would be to end economically wasteful deep-sea fisheries, redirect subsidies to help displaced fishermen and rebuild fish populations in productive waters closer to ports and markets, places far more conducive to sustainable fisheries.

"Instead of overfishing the Earth's biggest but most vulnerable ecosystem, nations should recover fish populations and fish in more productive coastal waters," says Dr. Norse. "Deep-sea fishes are in deep trouble almost everywhere we look. Governments shouldn't be wasting taxpayers' money by keeping unsustainable fisheries afloat."

Journal Reference:

Elliott A. Norse, Sandra Brooke, William W.L. Cheung, Malcolm R. Clark, Ivar Ekeland, Rainer Froese, Kristina M. Gjerde, Richard L. Haedrich, Selina S. Heppell, Telmo Morato, Lance E. Morgan, Daniel Pauly, Rashid Sumaila, Reg Watson. Sustainability of deep-sea fisheries. Marine Policy, 2012; 36 (2): 307 DOI: 10.1016/j.marpol.2011.06.008

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