Best of our wild blogs: 18 Sep 11

International Coastal Cleanup Singapore 2011 data so far
from News from the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore

1887kgs of trash cleared @ Lim Chu Kang East Coastal CleanUp ~17Sep2011 from sgbeachbum

Butterfly of the Month - September 2011
from Butterflies of Singapore

What Can You Find @ Neo Tew Lane 1?
from Beauty of Fauna and Flora in Nature

Do Bugs Mutate?
from Macro Photography in Singapore

110916 Bukit Brown Cemetery
from Singapore Nature

Chek Jawa September Walk with NHC
from wonderful creation

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4,000 take part in coastal cleanup

Volunteers from 70 organisations fan out across island to pick up rubbish such as plastic bags and food wrappers
Fiona Low Straits Times 18 Sep 11;

More than 4,000 volunteers hit beaches and mangrove areas across the country yesterday in the largest coastal cleanup drive to date.

Nearly 60 areas in Singapore and on offshore islands such as Pulau Ubin and St John's were targeted.

From about 7am, volunteers from 70 organisations including schools, tertiary institutions and corporations collected trash such as plastic bags and food wrappers from the various sites.

The programme, now in its 20th year here, is part of the International Coastal Cleanup movement.

Between 70 and 100 countries participate in the event annually in a bid to clear trash from the coastline and educate the public about marine debris issues.

Trash collected in each country is carefully documented based on a specific data card that charts categories such as plastic bottles, fishing lines and cigarette ends.

'Having an international standard for comparison makes the data meaningful and allows us to see how we measure up internationally,' said Mr N. Sivasothi, coordinator of International Coastal Cleanup Singapore.

Each year, most of the trash collected is plastics and consumer items.

'This points to a local problem. We hope the data helps people reflect on what they are consuming and throwing away and spurs people to take action to protect the environment,' said Mr Sivasothi, a lecturer in the Department of Biological Sciences at the National University of Singapore.

The data collected will also be presented to the National Environment Agency and National Parks Board.

Preparation for the project takes about seven months, as coordinators have to check out the sites to determine their suitability, identify the level of difficulty, and obtain approval for the cleanup.

The leaders of each volunteer organisation also have to attend workshops to understand issues such as marine life in Singapore and the impact of pollution, and learn how to organise the cleanup and document the data afterwards.

Volunteer Deanna Lye was part of the team that travelled to the Sungei Tampines area to do the cleanup. This is the first time the 18-year-old, who has just returned from her studies in Britain, has taken part in the event.

'I wanted to do something to help instead of just reading about the damage to the environment. It feels good to get my hands dirty and do something for the cause,' she said.

Last year's event saw around 3,500 volunteers collect almost 14,000kg of trash, most of which was due to recreational activity on the shoreline. Beverage bottles, food wrappers and straws featured heavily.

The amount of trash collected this year is being tabulated.

The collated data will be ready today, and the public can visit for details.

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Take a stroll in the park

Natasha Ann Zachariah Straits Times 18 Sep 11;

Nature-lovers have been complaining recently that their usual haunts such as MacRitchie Reservoir, Botanic Gardens and East Coast Park have become too crowded.

But apart from these three, there are more than 300 parks in Singapore waiting to be enjoyed. And the National Parks Board yesterday launched an inaugural Parks Festival with activities over the next nine days, including a night forest exploration at HortPark and guided walks.

LifeStyle presents eight lesser-known parks and their unique attractions.


Where: Jalan Boon Lay junction with Boon Lay Way, across from Boon Lay MRT Station
What to see: Play on a life-size version of the boardgame Snakes and Ladders, or on the slides and swings at this 8ha park.
There is also a Ludo Garden, modelled after the game, where colourful plants have been grown to represent different colours for different teams.
For fitness enthusiasts, there is a 2km cycling and jogging track.

Where: Junction of Toa Payoh Lorong 2 and Toa Payoh Lorong 6
What to see: The most outstanding feature of one of Singapore's oldest parks - it was built in the 1970s - is its landscaped ponds.
Surrounded by huge, willowy trees, there are cascading pools at the edge of the main pond. An observation tower also has a fountain pool around it.
The park also has trellises with climbing plants and flowers, which add colour to the lush greenery.
There is also a large pavilion and gazebos for group activities.


Where: Riverside Road, 15 minutes by foot from Woodlands MRT station
What to see: The 27ha park in the north-west is home to more than 100 species of animals, birds and plants. It is also the biggest nature area within a park in Singapore.
It is also the only park where visitors can see five types of habitats - open grassland, tropical rainforest and mangroves. Visitors can explore the area using three boardwalks or by taking a 2km nature trail.
You can arrange a guided walk, such as Shoots, Roots & Fruits!, organised by NParks. And the park has Wi-Fi at certain spots.


Where: Anchorvale Street, near Sungei Punggol
What to see: This park focuses on edible fruit trees. Star fruit, chiku, pineapple and dragon fruit all grow here. Look for them as you walk through the park areas from Mango Hilltop and Citrus Grove to Pineapple Valley.
Singapore's largest man-made wetland, the Sengkang Floating Island, is also here. It attracts birds such as the purple heron, collared kingfisher and little terna.
Visitors can get to the wetland, which is in the middle of a reservoir, via a floating boardwalk. Once there, explore the area by walking on the pedestrian foot bridge.
In keeping with the fruit theme, there is a large 'mangosteen' pavilion complete with orange seats and peel-through orange slices where you can see the water below.


Where: Admiralty Road West
What to see: One of the newer kids on the block, it was officially opened in January this year. The coastal park boasts a 1.5km waterfront promenade and a refurbished jetty (right), which at 400m, is the longest in Singapore. Over at the adventure playground, there are fitness points and a two-storey-high 'sky walk' - a mesh bridge on which people can climb and cross.
The 'Central Spine' area has a panoramic seaview, and can also be used to hold large-scale community activities such as mass exercises or performances.
For those who fancy a long stroll, this park connects with Admiralty Park.


Where: 100 Dairy Farm Road
What to see: A cowshed has been turned into Singapore's first outdoor environmental learning space - the Wallace Environmental Learning Lab. Named after Dr Alfred Russell Wallace, the English naturalist and evolutionist, the two-year-old centre shows the changing landscape of Dairy Farm and Bukit Timah Nature Reserve through educational exhibits, and is open for school group bookings.
There is also a quarry at the south that has attracted dragonflies and rare species of wildlife such as the endangered Little Grebe bird.


Where: Opposite Ang Mo Kio Town Library, along Ang Mo Kio Avenue 6
What to see: Channel your inner Rocky Balboa and conquer the 120-step staircase at this park, built on a hill. Once at the top, there is a pergola, a gazebo-like shaded feature, as well as plazas where park visitors can enjoy the lush greenery.
There is a landscaped pond at the entrance and a forest within the park where plants such as dillenia and vitex can be found. NParks advises runners to tread carefully where plants grow over the footpath.


Where: Beside Kranji Expressway and along Choa Chu Kang Drive
What to see: This is the park for multi-generational family time. There is a children's playground, an adventure playground, a multi- purpose court for exercising and a fitness corner.
Have a picnic or work up a tan on the wide, grassy spaces at this tranquil location.
But residents will tell you that the best-kept secret here is the Rasa Istimewa C2K Restaurant, a halal seafood restaurant in the park which opened in 2003.
Its draw is the open concept amid greenery, where diners can enjoy the cool breeze as they feast on local favourites such as satay and barbecued stingray.

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Malaysia: Belum forest clearing shocks greenies, MB orders probe

Isabelle Lai The Star 18 Sep 11;

PETALING JAYA: Fresh forest clearing in the Belum-Temengor wildlife corridor has alarmed environmentalists who are demanding an immediate halt to development plans in the critical buffer zone and the Perak Government is moving in on the case.

It is learnt that some 74ha of state land is set to be cleared, believed to be for oil palm plantations, posing a serious threat to endangered wildlife such as the Asian elephant and Malayan tiger.

A check with the orang asli living in one of the nearby settlements confirmed that clearing began some two weeks ago.

Many of the residents were unhappy with the plan to clear the land as logging would pollute the river and worsen human-wildlife conflict.

“We already face animals such as tigers venturing into our settlement. If the land is cleared, it will become worse,” said one of them who declined to be named, adding that he did not know what the land clearing was for.

Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir has ordered an in-depth probe into the activities.

A visit by The Star on Wednesday confirmed that development activities were under way, beginning with the clearing and widening of an existing old logging road.

Recent heavy vehicle tyre marks ran several kilometres deep into the Sungai Mendelum forest area from the Gerik-Jeli highway. Many fresh tiger tracks were spotted near the road entrance, heading away from the forest and towards the highway.

The steep terrain, which could slope as much as 45 degrees, is on land owned by the state government and borders the Royal Belum State Park.

A letter viewed by The Star, stated that the logging company had sought permission from the Perak Forestry Department to clear the area so it could mark the tree boundary before logging began.

The letter also stated that the area belonged to the Perak State Agriculture Development Corporation (SADC). However, the corporation later said the land no longer belonged to it.

A source, who spoke to the contractor at the site, said the land was being cleared for an oil palm plantation.

The Central Forest Spine Master Plan for Ecological Linkages called for an immediate freeze on land alienation and development to preserve the wildlife corridor.

Part of the 130-million-year-old Belum-Temengor Forest Complex, the wildlife corridor, was identified as the second most important corridor to be established in the northern part of peninsular Malaysia. The area being cleared was also ranked as Environmentally-Sensitive Area 2 under the National Physical Plan.

Environment expert Dylan Jefri Ong condemned the clearing as the area was frequently used by animals to cross from the Royal Belum State Park to the Temengor Forest Reserve.

He said there would be inevitable wildlife-human conflict if an oil palm plantation was developed there and it would prove costly to the authorities.

“Elephants are bound to raid the plantations. Their actions will cost the Government a lot of money as trees have to be replanted each time it happens”, he said, pointing out that more costs would be incurred to install electric fencing to keep the animals out.

Forestry consultant Lim Teck Wyn, meanwhile, said the erection of electric fences would force elephants and other wildlife into other areas such as the orang asli settlements and these would be destroyed.

“Several studies that I've done in the area prove that it is too steep and highly unsuitable for agriculture,” he said.

The area currently being cleared is within the core area of the corridor and close to one of two sites proposed for the construction of wildlife crossings.

Belum forest is a protected and gazetted area, says Perak MB
The Star 18 Sep 11;

PETALING JAYA: Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir has ordered an in-depth probe into ongoing activities to clear some 74ha of land within the Belum-Temengor Forest Complex (BTFC) wildlife corridor.

“I will not tolerate any abuse. We are committed to protecting the environment, especially Hutan Belum because it is a protected and gazetted area,” the Perak Mentri Besar said in a statement yesterday, adding that the probe was to ensure all laws were adhered to.

The land clearing being carried out is supposedly to make way for an oil palm plantation, a move which environment and wildlife experts warn could be perilous for wildlife in the area.

The Perak State Agriculture Development Corporation (SADC) denied knowledge of any oil palm plantation development plan despite being named the land owner of that area.

Its chief executive officer Ahmad Rizal Abdul Rahman said the land no longer belonged to SADC as it was officially surrendered to the state before Hari Raya.

He said they had not prepared any development plans prior to receiving instructions to return the land, totalling some 123ha last year.

“The state decided to take it back to protect the Belum reserve,” he said.

Asked why the letter from the logging company named SADC as the owner, he said it was possible that the official records had not been updated.

“I'm definitely not aware of any development plans there. Besides, the area is hilly and has a lot of wildlife. It is unsuitable for agriculture,” he said.

However, Perak Forestry Department director Datuk Nik Mohd Shah Nik Mustafa said the state government had given permission for logging to be carried out to clear the area for further development.

He said the department had approved a contract to clear the area for logging purposes last month.

“That area is state land, so the development plans there are up to the state.

“Our forest management plan covers the protected forest areas only,” he said.

A check by The Star at the Perak Land and Mines Office's development unit showed there were no records received for applications to develop an oil palm plantation along the state land on either side of the Gerik-Jeli highway.

The check, conducted on Thursday, revealed no area had been gazetted for an oil palm plantation there either.

MB orders halt to Belum forest clearing pending probe
Isabelle Lai The Star 19 Sep 11;

PETALING JAYA: The Perak Mentri Besar has ordered an immediate halt to forest clearing activities in the Belum-Temengor wildlife corridor, which has alarmed environmentalists.

Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir said forest rangers would monitor the area to ensure that further development activities are stopped pending an investigation.

“Yes, I've ordered to stop (land clearing activities) until the probe is completed,” he said yesterday.

Dr Zambry said the in-depth probe would include investigations into the land's status and topography, when the state's endorsement was sought for land clearing as well as whether this encroached on Royal Belum State Park, which is gazetted and protected.

He was referring to the Sungai Mendelum area, some 74ha of state land within the critical wildlife corridor linking Royal Belum and the Temengor Forest Reserve that is also home to endangered wildlife like the Asian elephant and the Malayan Tiger.

The Star had reported that fresh forest clearing of an old logging road had begun in the area, to be soon followed by boundary marking and logging.

Mystery surrounds the purpose of the land clearing and its ownership, with the Perak State Agriculture Development Corporation being named as owner in a letter from the logging company.

However, its chief executive officer Ahmad Rizal Abdul Rahman had said that the land was surrendered back to the state earlier this year.

Perak Forestry Department director Datuk Nik Mohd Shah Nik Mustafa confirmed receiving orders to halt further clearing of the logging road.

“We have told the contractor to stop his activities.

“We only gave permission to prepare the boundary and have not yet issued a logging licence,” he said.

Although environmental and wildlife groups have welcomed Dr Zambry's “swift intervention”, they insist on a permanent stop to the activities, pointing out that further clearing of land would only escalate illegal hunting and worsen human-wildlife conflict.

They are lobbying for the state land forests along the Gerik-Jeli highway to be gazetted as part of Royal Belum or a forest reserve to ensure the wildlife's long-term survival.

WWF-Malaysia executive director and chief executive officer Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma said checks revealed that the logging road was only an hour away by foot from Sungai Ruok, a fish sanctuary and waterfall in the Royal Belum forest.

“Land clearing activities within the Mendelum area will lead to increased sedimentation of Sungai Ruok and the Temengor lake,” he warned, adding that this would then affect eco-tourism and aquaculture activities.

Dr Sharma said any clearing in the wildlife corridor, part of the 130-million-year-old Belum-Temengor Forest Complex, went against the Central Forest Spine Master Plan, a Federal Government-driven plan to re-establish and maintain linkages between the most important forests in peninsular Malaysia.

In condemning the clearing activities, Malaysian Nature Society conservation head Yeap Chin Aik called for the probe's findings to be made public.

He said such land conversions would impact the area's eco-tourism potential, expected to be an important income generator for Perak.

Traffic Southeast Asia senior programme officer Kanitha Krishnasamy called for penalties against relevant parties should the probe find the clearing to be unlawful.

‘Step up Belum enforcement’
Isabelle Lai The Star 20 Sep 11;

PETALING JAYA: Intensified enforcement is needed to prevent poachers from encroaching into the Royal Belum State Park, said wildlife protection groups.

This is necessary following the clearing of a logging road in the major wildlife corridor.

The groups called for coordinated patrols to be heightened.

WWF-Malaysia executive director and chief executive officer Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma said the logging road in the Sungai Mendelum area was easily accessible from the Gerik-Jeli highway.

He said the organisation had previously raised the alarm on poaching snares discovered in state land forests in the Belum-Temengor Forest Complex (BTFC) a month ago.

“The wire snares were camouflaged so well that a team assistant’s foot got caught,” he said in a statement yesterday, adding that a camera-trap placed in the area had captured a photo of possible poachers.

Another camera-trap had captured a photo of a Malayan sun bear, which was missing one foot.

The injury was consistent with an animal who lost a limb while trying to free itself from a snare, he said.

The field team also heard three gunshots from a distance while they were in the area.

Malaysian Nature Society president Prof Dr Maketab Mohamed said illegal hunting and poaching were rampant in the area.

He said gazetting the entire BTFC was the only way to “truly protect” the area from illegal clearing and wildlife poaching.

“We should protect our natural heritage,” said Prof Maketab.

Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir earlier ordered a stop to all alleged land clearing activities in the Sungai Mendelum area pending a probe into the matter.

Environmentalists have called for a permanent halt to development plans as the area is frequently used by wildlife to cross from Royal Belum to the Temengor Forest Reserve.

Be reasonable with demands to gazette forests, says MB
The Star 20 Sep 11;

IPOH: Environmental and wildlife groups should be more objective when demanding that forested areas in the state be gazetted as non-logging areas, said Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir.

He said despite the state government having gazetted an area about five times the size of Singapore in Royal Belum as a state park, such groups were demanding more.

“Are they asking for the whole of Perak to be gazetted? After the Royal Belum, they now want us to gazette the whole of Temengor Forest Reserve.

“Later, they may also request forested areas in Pangkor to be gazetted.

“Let us be objective. Logging cannot be stopped completely because timber is one of the major industries which generate revenue for the state,” he told reporters after receiving a courtesy call from Japanese ambassador to Malaysia Shigeru Nakamura at his office here yesterday.

Dr Zambry was commenting on calls by such groups for forests along the Gerik-Jeli highway to be gazetted as part of the Royal Belum or a forest reserve to ensure the long-term survival of wildlife.

He said economic progress would be hindered if the state government were to fulfil all their demands.

Dr Zambry said Perak was among the few states that had a sustainable forest management concept.

“While allowing logging activities, we are also serious about protecting the state’s rainforests,” he stressed.

On the forest clearing activities in the Belum-Temengor wildlife corridor, Dr Zambry said he would wait for an in-depth probe to be completed first.

”We also want to know the actual situation and if the report is accurate,” he said.

Strong case for Lower Belum and Temengor conservation
The Star Says 21 Sep 11;

PERAK is extremely proud of the fact that it had in 2003 set aside 117,500ha of forest north of the East-West Highway as the Royal Belum State Park.

However, to the dismay of conservationists, the park excluded forests south of the highway, the Lower Belum and Temengor Forest Reserves, which both remain as “production forest reserve” destined for logging.

Also left out is the 1,820m width of state land on either side of the East-West Highway.

Plans to develop this state land are many.

They range from commercial crops and vegetable agriculture to orang asli farming schemes and construction of university campuses and research centres.

Scientists say leaving the forest reserves and state land unprotected is a mistake for they are important wild habitats too.

Royal Belum is just over a quarter of the 4,343sq km that make up Taman Negara and, on its own, is not sufficient for the survival of large mammals such as the elephant, rhinoceros and tiger.

It needs to be backed up by Lower Belum and Temengor.

The Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) even wants the adjacent Gerik and Lepang Nenering Forest Reserves to be added to the state park.

Collectively, these will create a sprawling, contiguous wild sanctuary.

Without the adjoining forests, Royal Belum is all but an island of wilderness in a sea of logged and farmed areas.

The East-West Highway has already sliced the wild area into two and obstructed animal movements. Wildlife migrating between Belum and Temengor have ended up as road kill.

And with increased human activity comes the opening of new roads which will give poachers easy access to wild areas. More and more snares and poachers' camps are being discovered in Belum-Temengor.

In the National Physical Plan, the whole of Hulu Perak is marked as a Rank 1 Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA), a ranking that disallows development, agriculture or logging.

This last large tract of forest in Perak is a final stronghold for wildlife.

It shelters 14 threatened mammals and an array of unique plants and animals. Internationally, Belum-Temengor is identified as a Tiger Conservation Landscape it is crucial for the long-term survival of the big cat.

The site has one of the world's greatest concentrations of hornbills 10 species are found here and the rare phenomenon of plain-pouched hornbills gathering by the thousands.

Temengor must not be seen only for its timber and land worth.

This is a mistake: the Malaysian Nature Society had a few years ago estimated that timber yields amount to only between RM58mil and RM250mil annually, whereas the other products and ecological services which the forest provides such as water supply, tourism, non-timber forest products, carbon sink, pharmaceuticals, flood control, fisheries and electricity generation are worth some RM1bil to RM1.2bil.

Keeping Belum-Temengor intact, therefore, seems to make sense.

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Call to Close Deep-Sea Fisheries Challenged

Wynne Parry Yahoo News 18 Sep 11;

Most deep-sea dwelling fish should be off-limits, say a group of researchers who argue that, in most cases, we cannot harvest fish from these vast parts of the ocean without depleting them.

Fish in the deep sea tend to be long-lived and reproduce only periodically, making their populations particularly easy to deplete. Add in destructive fishing practices, weak regulation, government subsidies and economic incentives to overfish, and it becomes clear that, with few exceptions, the deep seas should not be open to fishing, they argue. Instead, they propose, fishing should be limited to more productive, shallow waters.

"We are not recommending we stop all fishing, we recommend we stop all fishing that is not demonstrably sustainable," said Elliott Norse, president of the Marine Conservation Institute in Washington state and the lead author of the team's paper, which appeared online recently and is set to be published in the March 2012 print issue of the journal Marine Policy.

But this position is controversial; others argue that deep-sea fishing can be done sustainably, so that the fish populations remain at levels where they can replenish themselves. Opponents of the deep-sea fishing ban also say casting such a broad net is "sound-bite environmentalism," when in reality, certain fisheries are sustainable.

"Rather than saying we simply need to close them, what they should have done is say what conditions need to be met in order to have [an] effective and sustainable management system," said Ray Hilborn, a professor of aquatic and fishery sciences at the University of Washington.

Vulnerable fish

The open ocean resembles a vast, watery desert that does not produce much life. Much of the deep water below appears featureless, but there are oases rich with life, often teeming around features, such as seamounts where fish gather to breed, according to Norse and his team. [Dangers in the Deep: 10 Scariest Sea Creatures]

In recent decades commercial fishing has moved farther offshore and deeper into the water, harvesting many species from their last refuge as well as less resilient species, they write.

The species that live in the deep seas, below 656 feet (200 meters), inhabit cold, dark waters with variable access to food, so they tend to grow slowly, mature late, live longer and produce offspring periodically, rather than regularly.

For example, fish known as orange roughy live in waters on continental slopes and seamounts in many parts of the world. Orange roughy grows slowly, reaches maturity at about 30 years old, and can live for more than century.

For example, orange roughy lives in waters on continental slopes and seamounts in many parts of the world. It grows slowly, reaches maturity at about 30, and can live for more than century. Fishing for orange roughy began near New Zealand in 1970s. Over time, fisheries elsewhere opened up, but catches plummeted. Stock assessments are often highly uncertain, partly because of a lack of understanding of the fish's biology, they write.

The authors point out Black scabbardfish caught near Portugal as a rare example of a sustainable deep-sea fishery, because Portugal allows only small boats casting hooks and lines to catch scabbardfish, not the larger trawlers that fish for them elsewhere in the world.

In particular, they take aim at bottom trawling, which involves towing a net along the seafloor. Norse labels it "by far, the most destructive" type of fishing. This practice destroys ecologically important life on the seafloor, such as corals and sponges, and also captures and kills creatures other than the target fish, creating a sort of collateral damage called bycatch, he said.

They also fault economic incentives, government subsidies and weak regulation.

The deep seas fall both within the areas individual countries control, called their Exclusive Economic Zones, and beneath the high seas, which are areas of the seas not controlled by any country or state. While prospects for setting up sustainable systems within most nationally controlled fisheries are dim, sustainability is even less likely for high seas fisheries, they write.

Too much generalization?

Long-lived species, like many of those residing in the deep seas, can and are being sustainably managed, according to Hilborn, who believes that fisheries in general are better off than the dismal image with which they are often portrayed.

He cited as an example the geoduck, a large clam turned delicacy that inhabits deepwater off the Pacific coast of Canada, Alaska and the western U.S. It, like the orange roughy, has a century-plus life span. Also, sablefish, which Norse's team ranks as a vulnerable deep-sea species, are also caught sustainably along the west coast of Canada and the U.S., Hilborn said. [Image Gallery: Freaky Fish]

"There is no question these stocks pose management concerns," he said of the deep-sea species discussed in the paper. "I'd say the biggest problem with them is measuring the abundance."

A lack of good data on abundance appears to be at the root of the vanishing stocks of orange roughy, according to Hilborn.

Ross Shotton, executive secretary for the Southern Indian Ocean Deepsea Fishers Association, an industry group for companies that fish on the high seas of the Southern Indian Ocean, did not agree with the proposal.

"One of our major concerns is that environmental advocates make global generalizations about deep-sea fishing, and the deep-sea fisheries in every ocean are quite different," Shotton said. "I am fed up with sound-bite environmentalism."

For instance, the association's members' trawls are highly targeted, with the nets being towed at precise depths for a maximum of 20 minutes, not hours as happens elsewhere, he said. The association has also voluntarily adopted limits, including declaring protected areas off-limits to fishing and limiting each of the four member companies to one boat on the water at a time, he said. This was possible because two of the member companies have ties to Australia and New Zealand, countries with strong conservation ethics when it comes to their fisheries, he said.

He noted, however, that the association has no control over others fishing the same waters.

Not all important fish caught in the deep seas have the sort of life history traits that can make them highly vulnerable to overfishing. For example, the primary target species in the Southern Indian Ocean, the alfonsino, lives only about 15 years, a span more comparable to a shallow water fish, Shotton said.

On the high seas

To be sustainable, fisheries must have effective governance, Shotton said. "Without effective governance you can destroy any fishery."

The high seas offer open access fisheries to all nations, creating what is called the "tragedy of the commons" — meaning nations have the right to fish there, but no one has an interest in taking responsibility for the fisheries.

Countries have banded together to create Regional Fisheries Management Organizations to regulate high seas fisheries, but these are only now being established for deep-sea fisheries within the high seas, according to Hilborn. These are the areas of biggest concern, and they need management institutions and scientific programs that are similar to those within national waters, he said.

"The legitimate question is: Are they worth it?" Hilborn said, referring to the deep-sea fisheries outside individual nations' control. "It is quite possible there isn't the economic value or food production value that would make it worth spending the money required to do the science and management.

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