Best of our wild blogs: 21 Nov 11

Latest Green Jobs in Singapore [14 - 20 Nov 2011]
from Green Business Times

The Hantu Blogger Speaks!
from Pulau Hantu

Endangered raptors - Changeable Hawk-eagle
from Life's Indulgences

2012 calendar features our wild shores!
from wild shores of singapore

from Monday Morgue

Snake laundering rampant in the Indonesian reptile export market
from news by Rhett Butler

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Fish farm co-op under probe

Registry of Cooperative Societies acting on feedback about the way co-op operates
Jessica Lim Straits Times 21 Nov 11;

THE Singapore Marine Aquaculture Cooperative (Smac) is under investigation after questions were raised about the way it has been run.

The Registry of Cooperative Societies, which regulates the activities of cooperatives here, said it is acting on feedback it has received recently about Smac's governance and administration, and is checking if any rules of the Cooperative Societies Act have been broken.

It has been a series of fits and starts since 18 fish farmers banded together to register Smac as a co-op in January.

Jointly owning eight fish farms off Changi and Pasir Ris, the group hatched ambitious plans to boost the farm yields of its members and operate a sea ambulance. Neither of these has happened.

The membership fee, originally tagged at the one-off sum of $10,000, had to be slashed to $1,000 when members baulked at the sum; only the co-op's five board members have paid up so far.

Several high-level members have quit in the last few months, notably Mr Alan Chia, the co-op's chief executive, who threw in the towel last month.

The 32-year-old former business consultant claims he was hired at $3,000 a month, but has not been paid since he started work in July. He also claims Smac owes him $7,000 for overseas work trips he helped pay for, and several cheques he has tried to cash have bounced.

He said: 'The chairman keeps saying, 'Wait, wait... soon, we'll have more members and investors and I can pay you back'.'

Smac's chairman and founder is Mr Philip Lim, 49, who owns three fish farms in Pasir Ris.

Mr Chia, who said he is consulting a lawyer, added that the amounts spent so far had not been approved by the co-op's members. 'It's all in a mess. There are no investors, no funds, nothing,' he said.

The Straits Times understands that the co-op owes a food caterer $5,500 for a media event Smac held in September, and that it had unveiled plans to build a US$4 million (S$5.2 million) processing plant in Indonesia with input from investors.

Mr Lim, denying the allegations, said Mr Chia had never been formally employed by Smac; no employment contract had been signed.

To Mr Chia's claim about having paid for the work trips, Mr Lim said the payments had been made on someone else's credit card, and Mr Chia had not produced the receipts.

The chairman, noting that the co-op made decisions only after meetings with its members, said it was looking into the matter internally.

Contrary to what Mr Chia said, Mr Lim countered that Smac did have investors, though he was unable to reveal who they were or how much they had sunk into Smac for 'confidentiality reasons'.

In response to Smac's grand plans coming to nothing, Mr Lim said production goals had not been met because of a fish fry shortage here, and no landing base has been found for the sea ambulance.

Smac member Joseph Neo, 38, said there has been 'a lot of misunderstanding', and that the co-op was trying to sort things out. 'There was a lot of change in membership. Everything is quite messy. It's very haphazard,' he said.

All the 85 co-ops here, bound by the Cooperatives Societies Act, are required to have a minimum number of members, to vote on decisions and to hold annual general meetings.

Co-ops here do not pay corporate taxes, but are required to contribute 5 per cent of the first $500,000 of their surpluses to a Central Cooperative Fund used to develop the co-op movement here. In addition, 20 per cent of any surplus in excess of $500,000 will go to the Singapore Labour Foundation or the Central Cooperative Fund.

If Smac has breached these rules, it could be wound up or fined.

Meanwhile, about 40 other fish farmers have formed the Fish Farmers Association of Singapore. Formally registered in May, it aims to buy fry and fish feed in bulk to bring down costs.

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New-look Punggol Point: Waterfront buzz

Former seafood haunt features a park, 1.2km section of promenade
Jessica Lim & Shuli Sudderuddin Straits Times 21 Nov 11;

PUNGGOL Point - once home to popular seafood restaurants in the 1980s and 1990s - is ready to show off its spruced-up new face.

The 0.6ha Punggol Point Park was officially opened in the area yesterday, and with it, a 1.2km section of the Punggol Promenade, called Punggol Point Walk.

The park also features two lily ponds and a sand-filled playground.

The old seafood restaurants are gone, but in their place is a 300 sq m viewing deck giving visitors views of Pulau Ubin and the Strait of Johor.

Land measuring 11,000 sq ft in area has been set aside there for food and beverage outlets, which may well be set up later.

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, an MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC overseeing this north-east corner of Singapore, said these facilities represent the Government's commitment to building 'wonderful, affordable homes for Singaporeans'.

He was meeting about 2,300 residents from the area who had turned up at the park for a senior citizens' sports day.

The latest facilities, built by the Urban Redevelopment Authority, follow the March opening of the 1.3km Riverside Walk section of the promenade, which runs along the banks of Serangoon Reservoir.

The cycling and jogging tracks, food outlets and lookout points of Riverside Walk, set near the Lorong Halus Wetland, are all part of the plan to make Punggol a waterfront housing estate.

More is to follow: A 2.5km nature walk zone will open next year.

Punggol Promenade links Punggol Point and Punggol East and connects further south with the park connectors along Serangoon Reservoir and Punggol Reservoir, making up 17km of the north-eastern part of the Park Connector Network.

Mr Teo, referring to Punggol Point Park and Punggol Point Walk, noted that the facilities were developed in consultation with residents and grassroots leaders.

The area's seafood restaurants were a part of his childhood, he told residents.

'This place was always farmland, and not many people were living here. It had a completely different character.

'Now we have transformed this place,' he said.

But a nod has also been given to the history of Punggol amid all these developments: The tree-lined road leading to Punggol Point Walk has been earmarked as a heritage road.

Bishan resident Tay Siew Kian, 50, visiting the park with her sister, a Punggol resident, said: 'The park is very pretty. I'll probably come here often with my sister to take walks.'

Grassroots leader Rebecca Tan said the Punggol 21 Community Club plans to ferry senior citizens to the park by bus for brisk-walking sessions; sports events will also be held there.

Punggol East MP Michael Palmer said: 'Sengkang and Punggol are getting a lot more populated. You see a lot more congestion in terms of traffic and living space. It's important in this sort of urban environment that people have space to go take a walk and feel some open scenery. This creates that space.'

Rustic spots a boon for residents
Punggol parks an example of the space for quality housing, says DPM Teo
Wayne Chan Today Online 21 Nov 11;

SINGAPORE - Despite an increasing population, the Republic can still have good quality housing in "a wonderful setting", Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said yesterday.

And the newest zone at Punggol Promenade - Punggol Point Walk and Punggol Point Park - is an example of how this can be achieved, Mr Teo said at its opening.

"These parks around Punggol illustrate that we can still find the space for good quality housing for Singaporeans, provided we design and plan them well, and also that Singaporeans pitch in to help look after all the facilities that we have," he said.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority, as lead agency, engaged the grassroots and residents in planning and designing the park and its facilities.

Mr Teo also said the park signals the Government's commitment to building affordable housing for Singaporeans.

The quality of public housing is a recent talking point, following comments a fortnight ago by the Housing and Development Board's chief executive officer that smaller public flats have not lowered the quality of life here.

In his speech yesterday, Mr Teo noted how recreational developments such as at Punggol have been a value-add for residents.

"As you know, Singapore has very limited land for competing uses. Even as we plan the whole island, land is specifically set aside for different types of parks and open spaces," he said.

He added that facilities in recreational areas have also become more elderly-friendly, making it easier for an ageing population to enjoy active lives.

The 1.2-km Punggol Point Walk, for instance, will offer visitors better access to fishing spots along Punggol's coast.

It is the second zone to be opened in the S$16.7-million Punggol Promenade, which will be fully completed next year. The 4.9-km waterfront promenade will then connect two recreational clusters along the north-eastern coast of Singapore.

"What we're trying to do is to bring people back to Punggol Point, make it as a recreational node by building this nice park," said Mr Lee Howe Ming, executive architect of Conservation & Urban Design Group at the URA.

"It's also well connected along the coastline to other recreational options along Punggol such as your My Waterway@Punggol, Lorong Halus Wetlands."

A new waterfront destination launched

Punggol Point Walk has a viewing deck, which marks the end of Punggol Road, that can hold some 300 people and also serves as a shelter to users of the jetty. There is also a giant lily pond, a children's playground and an events plaza.

Meanwhile, footpaths and cycling tracks will link up with park connectors along Punggol and Serangoon reservoirs, forming a continuous 17-km loop around north-eastern Singapore.

When the last stage of the promenade, the Nature Walk measuring 2.5km, is completed early next year, the public can make their way from Riverside Walk in Punggol East to the Sengkang Riverside Park.

"This will also be connected in the future to the round island cycling routes, so that's about 150 kilometres," said Mr Lee. "Singapore is a small island, but by doing all these park connectors, we're giving more recreational options to residents."

A horse riding school will also be opened soon at Punggol Point, while a site has been reserved for food and beverage outlets in the future.

"We hope that Punggol Point Walk will offer respite from the hustle and bustle of city life to the residents in Punggol and allow visitors of all ages to relax and soak in the idyllic atmosphere," said URA chief executive officer Ng Lang.

"This latest recreation destination is a collective effort from the project team, leaders and residents from the grassroots and constituency, the agencies from the public sector and supporters from the private sector."

Punggol Promenade is the latest in a series of improvement projects that the URA has undertaken to enhance the living environment. Others include the Southern Ridges, the Woodlands Waterfront and the soon-to-be completed Labrador Nature and Coastal Walk.

It is also part of the URA's Rustic Coast Proposals, which aims to connect the five coastal areas - Pulau Ubin, Changi Point, Pasir Ris, Coney Island and Punggol Point - and open them up so that residents can enjoy new recreational activities and amenities.

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Crowns of green for more flats, carparks

Another 9ha of such gardens being planned for next 5 years
Daryl Chin Straits Times 21 Nov 11;

THE greening of the tops of multi-storey carparks and public housing blocks has taken root here.

Fourteen carparks and 17 residential blocks in older estates - 4ha in all - now wear crowns of green.

The cost: $4 million.

Another 9ha of such high-rise gardens are being planned for the next five years, with the top deck of the multi-storey carpark at Block 129A, Bukit Merah View, among the next lined up for greening.

Aside from being low-maintenance, these gardens reduce the glare of sunlight reflecting harshly off bare concrete roofs which residents in neighbouring buildings would otherwise have to put up with.

The gardens also make the environment cooler, and beautify the estate.

There is one crucial difference between these Prefabricated Extensive Green (PEG) Roof Systems and the rooftop gardens built in newer Housing Board estates: The public cannot access PEG gardens.

Rooftop gardens in estates built after November 2005 typically have more shrubs, trees and communal facilities such as playgrounds or fitness areas. As the weight of such facilities exact a toll on the roof, such gardens must be incorporated into the design from the planning stage, said the HDB.

PEG gardens have been retrofitted in selected blocks in older estates since 2006. They comprise a series of trays hosting hardy plants that can withstand the tropical heat.

Green roofs came about after the HDB and the National Parks Board (NParks), in a 2003 experiment, converted the top of a multi-storey carpark in Punggol into four green plots about half the size of a football field.

It was found that this reduced heat on the building's surface by as much as 18 deg C, and the surrounding air temperature by 3 deg C. Glare was also cut down by as much as 15 per cent.

UGL Premas, which worked with the HDB on the system, said the purpose was to introduce instant, no-fuss greening to rooftops in an urban environment.

No structural retrofitting or heavy construction works need to be done to house the trays, which can weigh up to 120kg per sq m.

A UGL Premas spokesman said that by lowering the temperature of the roof and reducing heat transferred into the building, PEG gardens enable cost savings in energy that would have otherwise been used to run fans or air-conditioners.

The HDB typically bears the costs of building such installations, then hands them over to the town councils to manage.

Member of Parliament Indranee Rajah said that in response to requests by Bukit Merah View residents for more greenery, she checked with the HDB and found that a garden on top of the carpark would cost $250,000, or $110 per sq m.

She has asked the HDB to consider including a communal space in the garden, so residents can enjoy the plants up close.

The HDB is looking into it.

Housewife Kurra Madhavi, 27, who lives in a block near the carpark, said: 'It would be refreshing to see plants rather than concrete, and I believe it is something all in the neighbourhood, especially the children, will enjoy.'

Retiree Sang Guan Shao Xin, 73, said it would be a good use of the space.

'Nobody parks on the top deck because of the rain and sun, so why not have plants there?'

Background story


A green roof pilot project in 2003 found that rooftop gardens:

Reduced heat on a building's surface by up to 18 deg C.

Lowered surrounding air temperature by 3 deg C.

Cut down glare by up to 15 per cent.

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Two hit by lightning on fishing trip; one dies

Leonard Lim & Elizabeth Soh Straits Times 21 Nov 11;

A PAIR of friends on a fishing trip to Coney Island were struck by lightning on Saturday evening, leaving one dead and the other in critical condition.

Mr Tan Guan Yin, 40, and Mr Eng Yang Huat, 41, are believed to have been taking shelter under a tree when a storm hit the island, which lies off Punggol.

Mr Tan, a dispatch rider and bachelor, was killed instantly, and Mr Eng, whose occupation is unknown, was left lying in spasms, and badly burnt.

A Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) spokesman confirmed the incident yesterday, saying a call for help came at 5.19pm. SCDF officers arrived at the scene 11 minutes later and rushed Mr Eng to Changi General Hospital, where he is in intensive care.

Secluded island a peaceful spot for anglers

When The Straits Times visited him in hospital yesterday evening, he appeared to be drifting in and out of consciousness. Parts of his body were swathed in bandages.

He was not known to have had any visitors.

Over at Mr Tan's flat in Yishun Avenue4 yesterday evening, four of his relatives were waiting outside for a locksmith to break the locks.

When they were finally let in, they saw a home that was a shrine to fishing: Fishing rods were propped upright against the furniture, and the walls had mounted moulds of fish along with descriptions.

Neighbours told The Straits Times that Mr Tan had been living there for about five years, and that they had never seen anyone enter or leave the flat with him.

They also remarked that he seemed absent-minded; he frequently left his keys in the lock.

Madam Salma Hussein, 53, a librarian, said: 'I last saw him about a week ago. He always returns home from work late. He rides a motorbike, he fishes. Sometimes, he goes out carrying a rod and sometimes, he doesn't come home.'

His relatives, who declined to be named, said they were not close to him, but will arrange a wake for him.

The Straits Times understands that Coney Island, also known as Pulau Serangoon, is a fenced-off area slated for redevelopment.

Angling enthusiasts know that the easiest way to get to it without a boat is to walk across at low tide. It is believed Mr Tan and Mr Eng did this from a spot along Lorong Halus off the Tampines Expressway. They would have had to climb over a series of wave breakers and a fence to get on the island.

Fishing enthusiasts told The Straits Times that they enjoy going to Coney Island because it is secluded.

Technician Fazrul Suleiman, 28, said: 'Not many people know about the area, so I don't have to fight for space. It's peaceful and scenic.'

Singapore is notoriously lightning prone, getting on average 186 lightning days a year. November is the month with the most lightning activity, followed by April and May.

In the most recent reported lightning incident this year, a golfer escaped with burns to his head and hand after being struck by lightning at the Laguna National Golf and Country Club.

Additional reporting by Lim Yan Liang

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Malaysia: Weatherman issues monsoonal surge alert for four states

The Star 21 Nov 11;

PETALING JAYA: The Meteorological Department has issued a yellow alert for heavy rain and thunderstorms in Kelantan, Terengganu, Penang and Kedah.

The yellow alert is the first of three warnings where a monsoonal surge is possible in the next 24 to 48 hours.

The department also issued a first category warning of strong winds and rough seas expected to occur over the waters off Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, East Johor, Sabah and Sarawak.

It warned that intermittent rain from today to Thursday may cause flooding in low-lying areas and also strong winds and flash floods.

The department also said strong northeasterly winds of 40 to 50 kph with waves of up to 3.5m were expected over the waters off Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, East Johor, Sarawak, Labuan, Sabah (Interior, West Coast and Kudat), Samui, Condore, Reef North, Layang-Layang, Tioman, Bunguran, Reef South and Palawan until Nov 29.

“The strong winds and rough seas are dangerous to small craft and recreational sea activities,” it said.

On Saturday, Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said flood relief centres with more than 1,000 occupants would have a team of doctors and nurses on standby.

The minister will also issue an order to freeze leave for public health personnel in flood-prone states for December and January.

More than 28,000 government personnel will be ready to use land, air and water vehicles to move people and aid to victims.

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Malaysia: Concern over theme park site sited near forest reserve

David Tan The Star 21 Nov 11;

GEORGE TOWN: The location of the proposed RM120mil Escape Theme Park Resort is causing worries to environmentalists as it is near three greenery zones – the Teluk Bahang Forest Reserve, Penang National Park and the Teluk Bahang Dam.

Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) advisor Kanda Kumar said photographs of the project site appeared to show that the theme park was located below a foothill and close to the dam, forest reserve and the national park.

The park resort is located on a 17ha site in Teluk Bahang.

“So far, it is not clear if a proper environmental impact assessment (EIA) report has been done to ensure that the project will not cause soil erosion or damage the dam, the forest reserve and the national park.

“Such an EIA report should have been made public before the project was awarded and approved,” he said.

The first phase of the Escape Theme Park, to be located on a 6.8ha site, is scheduled to start work soon and expected to be completed in 2013.

The theme park, when fully completed in six years, is claimed to be able to generate economic benefits for some 6,000 people involved in the services industry and supply chain business.

The Escape Theme Park is being developed by Sim Leisure Consultant Sdn Bhd.

Penang Institute (formerly Socio-Eoconomic Research Institute) senior research fellow Datuk Dr Goh Ban Lee said the theme park should not be too close to the dam, reserve park and national park.

“A theme park in Teluk Bahang will bring more cars to the island, which is already facing traffic congestion problems.

“A good location for a theme park is Seberang Prai, which will boost tourism for the mainland,” he said.

Sim Leisure Consultant director of finance P.H. Chang said the Penang Department of Environment had declared the project to be eco-friendly.

“As such, it is does not need an EIA report,” he claimed.

Sim Leisure managing director Sim Choo Kheng said there would be five main components to the park, comprising three phases that would take six years to complete.

This will involve the development of a water theme park, fun hotels, activity park, animal farm and jungle adventure.

“This will be a prototype project.

“There will be minimal impact on the environment and we will try to use as much recycled material as possible,” Sim said.

In October last year, the company signed a 60-year agreement with the Penang Water Supply Corporation (PBA) Sdn Bhd to lease the 17ha land located downstream of the Teluk Bahang Dam.

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Warnings as sustainable palm oil effort falters

Romen Bose AFP Yahoo News 21 Nov 11;

Environmentalists have warned that an effort to encourage the sustainable production of palm oil launched several years ago has not kept pace with expanding cultivation driven by rising demand.

The edible oil is a key ingredient in soap and everyday foods ranging from peanut butter to sweets but its cultivation is one of the biggest threats to the world's dwindling rainforests.

The issue will loom large this week at the annual meeting of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil from November 22-24 in key producer Malaysia.

"Buyers of sustainable palm oil need to buy more. Retailers, manufacturers must up their purchases. We need to walk the talk and now buy the palm oil we have long demanded," Adam Harrison, agriculture policy specialist with WWF, told AFP.

Despite some progress, major users of palm oil are not making enough effort to source and buy sustainably produced oil, while incentives for green production remain inadequate, green groups say.

The mixing of global supply chains also hampers efforts to identify sustainably produced oil.

Growers produced 5.2 million tonnes of certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) -- accounting for about 10 percent of world supply -- last year but only about 56 percent of it was purchased.

Palm oil represents about 35 percent of the global vegetable oil market and production is expected to double in the next 40 years due to its versatility, relatively high oil yields compared to alternatives, and economic importance to local communities.

Environmentalists say the consequences for rainforests in major producers Malaysia and Indonesia -- which account for 85 percent of world production -- and other producing nations will be dire unless the situation changes.

Virgin forests are typically cleared to make way for palm plantations that stretch to the horizon in many parts of Malaysia and Indonesia.

The forest loss contributes to climate change and further imperils threatened species like the orangutan while land disputes between local communities and large palm producers seeking to expand cultivation are rising.

The palm oil gathering in Kota Kinabalu in Malaysian Borneo comes at a "pivotal moment in time" in efforts to make sustainable production the norm," RSPO Secretary General Darrel Webber said in a statement.

Launched in 2004, the RSPO brought together producers, manufacturers and other stakeholders to create global standards for sustainable palm oil.

But even Webber acknowledged the need for a "significant increase of market commitment towards the uptake of CSPO."

The sustainable label is subject to a range of criteria including refraining from clearing virgin forests.

But higher production costs, a rush to expand output to capitalise on rising prices, and inadequate supply chains for sustainable oil have conspired against the effort.

The key lies in getting big buyers of palm oil on board, said RSPO advisor M.R. Chandran.

Consumer products giant Unilever, McDonald's, Burger King and others have pledged to use only sustainable palm oil by 2015.

In addition, under a sustainability programme called GreenPalm, growers are awarded certificates for eco-friendly oil. These can then be purchased by big manufacturers or retailers as proof of their green practices.

Green-friendly growers are thus financially rewarded while consumers can then choose to buy end-products that are certified sustainable.

However, low demand for sustainable oil means certificates trade at just $0.90 per tonne compared to rising palm oil prices of just over $1,000 a tonne, leaving little incentive for growers to go green.

Chandran said certificate prices would rise and supply chains would mature if manufacturers bought more sustainable oil.

Currently, "with the exception of a few direct deals to sell their oil, sustainable growers only get a small amount from the certificates," said Qua Kiat Seng, a former Malaysian Palm Oil Board member.

Qua adds: "I know that people in Europe will pay more for biodegradable detergent but the question is how much more?"

Harrison of the WWF said despite green commitments by some major buyers, there is insufficient consumer pressure to force others to join in.

"Some companies also say it costs a lot more to support sustainable palm oil but this is not true given the low premiums on GreenPalm certificates, so they need to step up if they want things to improve," he said.

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Conservation body agrees to protect silky sharks

Suzan Fraser AP Yahoo News 19 Nov 11;

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Delegates at an international conservation meeting agreed Saturday on a measure mandating that silky sharks accidentally caught in fishing gear be released back into the sea alive, marine advocacy groups said.

The 48-member International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), however — ending a weeklong meeting in Istanbul — failed to reach consensus on other threatened shark species, the groups said.

Conservationists also said more could have been done to save swordfish from decline in the Mediterranean while the World Wildlife Fund said steps adopted to preserve bluefin tuna remained insufficient.

While establishing protections for the silky sharks, ICCAT — which manages tuna in the Atlantic and Mediterranean as well as species, like sharks, that have traditionally been accidental catches for tuna fishermen — made an exception for coastal developing countries, where the predators can continue to be caught for local consumption of their meat and not for the trade of their fins.

The sharks, named after the silk-like smooth texture of their skins, are among shark species most vulnerable to decline, threatened by the international trade in shark fins due to an increasing demand mainly in Asia for shark fin soup.

Marine advocacy groups, including Oceana and The Pew Environment Group, welcomed the measure saying it would help overturn the silky sharks' decline, though they also said they had hoped for more.

"Cutting the nets to free sharks when they are caught, will give a large number of them a real chance to survive," Susan Lieberman, director of international Policy at the Pew Environment Group, told The Associated Press by telephone. "The measure is an important step."

The group estimates that up to 1.5 million silky sharks are traded annually for their fins, and that up to 40 percent can survive if they are returned to the sea alive.

"It is a very good step forward in protecting one the most vulnerable species," said Elizabeth Griffin Wilson, senior manager of marine wildlife at Oceana.

The advocacy groups however, expressed disappointment that no measure had been taken to protect porbeagle sharks, or to establish catch limits for blue and shortfin mako sharks.

"It's another year that they could not reach a decision for the porbeagle shark," Lieberman said of the species which continue to be fished in Canadian waters.

Other measures adopted by ICCAT in Istanbul include a requirement for members to submit data on the species they catch or risk losing their right to catch those species in the following year. Oceana has said failure to report on catches were preventing conservationists from adequately assessing the impact of fisheries on threatened species.

On swordfish, ICCAT agreed on a set measures, including setting a minimum size for catch, but Oceana said "more should be done."

The conservation body also agreed on a system to electronically track data on bluefin tuna to better control fraudulent practices and help keep fishing closer to the legal quotas. A Pew report has found that in 2010, the amount of Mediterranean bluefin tuna traded surpassed the ICCAT quota by 141 percent.

The WWF said, however, the measure did not include data on fish transfers to tuna fattening farms in the Mediterranean arguing that this allowed for the "laundering of illegal, unregulated and unreported catches." The group called for a more "reliable" data assessment or for the total ban of tuna farming in the Mediterranean.

In a move to fight illegal fishing, ICCAT members also decided that vessels measuring 12 meters or more — instead of the previous 20 meters or more — would be inspected on arrival to port, Pew said.

Read more!

Europe-Africa: Action call to help migratory birds

(UKPA) Google News 21 Nov 11;

Conservationists are calling for international action to save migratory birds including the nightingale, cuckoo and turtle dove which have seen numbers plummet in the UK.

Summer visitors to Britain's shores include the turtle dove, whose numbers have fallen by 70% since 1995, the wood warbler, which is down by 61% and the nightingale and yellow wagtail whose numbers have more than halved.

These species travel between Europe and Africa, and wildlife experts warn the only way to address the various threats they face is through co-ordinated international action.

The RSPB says the birds are being threatened by changes to their habitats both in Africa and Europe and by hazards on their migration routes such as illegal shooting of the species as they pass over the Mediterranean.

At a conference on conserving migratory species of wild animals in Bergen, Norway, this week the RSPB, Birdlife International and its partners from other European and African countries will be lobbying for action on the declining bird species.

Dr Danae Sheehan, of the RSPB, said: "Migrant birds connect Europe and Africa, crossing our borders, cultures and lives.

"Millions of birds make this incredible long-distance journey twice each year in spring and autumn.

"But each year the numbers spanning the two continents are reducing rapidly.

"With dramatic land use change in both Europe and Africa, and hazards on migration such as illegal killing in the Mediterranean, these birds have enormous struggles ahead.

"Without international co-operation, we're concerned that these species will continue their downward path."

Read more!