Best of our wild blogs: 13 Oct 16

Free public talk: Professor Jerry Coyne: Evolution is true, and why people still don’t believe it
News from Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Singapore Bird Report-September 2016
Singapore Bird Group

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Singapore scores poorly in ability to prevent illicit trade

ANNABELLE LIANG Associated Press 12 Oct 16;

SINGAPORE (AP) — The wealthy city-state of Singapore — with its flourishing trade, orderly life and almost non-existent crime — is hardly a place one would associate with illegal trade. But a new report by a reputed organization reveals that in fact the country has a poor record of preventing just that.

The Economist Intelligence Unit released a 100-point index Wednesday that placed Singapore at seven out of 17 Asian countries for its ability to prevent illicit trade that includes counterfeit goods, arms and endangered wildlife. Singapore's low ranking was largely the result of its lacunae in its free trade zones.

Commissioned by the European Chamber of Commerce, the index evaluated countries against 14 indicators including transparency, intellectual property and customs.

Singapore scored 69.8 points to tie with Taiwan. Still, it is behind neighbor Malaysia (71.8), often seen as a nation with a far less efficient government. The top performers were Australia (85.2), New Zealand (81.8) and Hong Kong (81.4).

"While it has the strongest customs environment, a failure to monitor its busy free trade zones dragged Singapore's score down," the EIU said in a press release.

One of the index's indicators rated countries between zero to four for free trade zone governance, including checks on warehouses for smuggled goods. Singapore was handed a score of one, meaning that there was little to no monitoring. It also received a poor rating for government cooperation with stakeholders.

In an emailed statement late Wednesday, Singapore Customs said the island nation was "not a major origin or destination" for intellectual property rights infringements and counterfeit goods.

"Singapore's domestic laws apply within the free trade zones and normal trade and customs requirements are in place for goods imported into or exported from Singapore," it said.

Given that Singapore ports have a high volume of trade and tight turnaround times, it would be more effective to adopt an intelligence-led approach based on information received from overseas counterparts to enforce against such suspected shipments, it said.

Simon Jim, the chairman of the European Chamber of Commerce's Committee on Intellectual Property Rights, told reporters at a news conference where the report was released, that fake goods don't just take revenue away from companies or governments. "They threaten the security of nations by supporting transnational crime syndicates and terrorist groups," he said.

Southeast Asian counterparts, except Brunei that did not feature in the index, ranked low on the table. The bottom three were Cambodia (23.9), Laos (12.9) and Myanmar (10.8). China, which carries a reputation of being a hub for counterfeit goods, had a score of 61.6.

Illicit trade is more than just counterfeit goods. Illicit trade includes guns, endangered species, endangered wildlife and trafficked humans, said author Chris Clague from the EIU. A lot of these other forms of illicit trade follow the same channels that counterfeit goods do, he said.

EIU said that rising labor costs in China could encourage manufacturers to look for cheaper sites, causing illicit trade to flow to developing Southeast Asian countries.

Asia-Pacific countries can do more to combat illicit trade: EuroCham
LEE YEN NEE Today Online 13 Oct 16;

SINGAPORE — Policymakers in Asia-Pacific can do more to combat illicit trade in the region, such as enhancing the oversight of free trade zones (FTZs), having tighter public-private collaborations and improving intellectual property rights protection, Singapore’s European Chamber of Commerce (EuroCham) said on Wednesday (Oct 12).

Its call came after it launched the Illicit Trade Environment Index yesterday, which measures how well countries do in keeping illicit trade at bay. The index, created by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), was commissioned by EuroCham.

Singapore came in joint-seventh-best with Taiwan among the 17 economies involved in the inaugural study. The Republic was dragged down by the weak governance of FTZs and its authorities’ perceived lack of cooperation with the international community and private sector.

Insufficient oversight of FTZs is a major enabler of illicit trade, allowing illegal goods to be repackaged and relabelled to appear legitimate, a EuroCham report based on the index’s
findings found.

Illicit trade is the production, movement, purchase, sale or possession of goods, such as counterfeit products and endangered wildlife.

The report noted that in Singapore FTZs, “neither Singapore Customs nor any other government authority is a consistent presence”.

“The surprise on the downside, or the underperformer on the index, is Singapore. It’s about striking a balance between trade facilitation, which is the efficient movement of goods and containers through ports, and monitoring for illicit shipments. Right now, Singapore is not achieving what we think the balance is,” said Mr Chris Clague, the EIU’s senior editor, industry and management research, and author of the report.

To improve its governance of FTZs, Singapore can take several steps, such as implementing a track-and-trace system, and requiring FTZs’ users to report product movement and reconciliation, said Mr Simon Jim, chairman of EuroCham’s Committee on Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs).

In response to media queries, a Singapore Customs’ spokesperson said it is more effective to adopt an intelligence-led approach to track suspicious shipments, given the immense volume of transhipment trade passing through the country.

“Singapore is committed to do our part in ensuring the security of the global supply chain. Singapore’s domestic laws apply within the free trade zones, and normal trade and customs requirements are in place for goods imported into or exported from Singapore,” the spokesperson said.

“We have and will continue to take regular and active enforcement actions to combat illicit trade in IPR infringing goods, by collaborating with rights holders, other local authorities and in joint operations with foreign customs administrations and international law enforcement organisations.”

Despite the weaknesses pointed out by the report, Singapore still ranks above most of its South-east Asian counterparts, many of whom are found to be ill-equipped to combat illicit trade.

Australia topped the index with the best environment for preventing illicit trade, followed by New Zealand. Hong Kong, once a hub for counterfeit goods, was third. Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar occupied the bottom of the rankings.

Mr Clague said the flow of illicit trade into South-east Asia is set to grow as rising labour and other costs in China will see some manufacturers move their operations to other countries in the region.

Ms Lina Baechtiger, EuroCham’s executive director, said: “Illicit trade has a huge impact on all of our brand owners, it represents for them a big financial burden and reputation loss, and has an impact on society as a whole. It is, for example, a health hazard when we talk about counterfeit pharmaceuticals or food products ... It is also a huge loss in government tax revenue and, finally, it allows the funding of transnational crime networks and terrorism.”

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8 in 10 Singaporeans will avoid buying ‘ugly’ fruits, vegetables: Survey

WONG CASANDRA Today Online 12 Oct 16;

SINGAPORE — When buying groceries, would you pass over a dented apple or a slightly browned banana?

If your answer is yes, you are among the majority, going by the findings of a survey on “ugly food” — food that does not look appealing for consumption.

Eight out of 10 Singaporean respondents surveyed by Electrolux said they would typically only buy fruits and vegetables that look fresh and good.

More than half (52 per cent) of the 1,000 Singaporeans surveyed plainly admitted they would not buy “bruised, discoloured or misshapen” fruits and vegetables, and a quarter said they wouldn’t even eat it.

This is even as over 60 per cent said they are aware that in doing so, they are contributing to food waste in Singapore.

When asked about their attitudes toward knowingly wasting food, 20 per cent were indifferent or don’t care. Those in the 18 to 24 age group were most indifferent at about 25 per cent.

In the last decade, food waste increased 1.5 times (48 per cent) from 531,500 tonnes in 2005 to 785,500 tonnes in 2015, according to figures from the National Environment Agency (NEA).

But, as a pragmatic lot, 65 per cent of respondents said they will use “ugly food” in their daily meals if they are cheaper than “perfect-looking” food.

The 1,000 Singaporeans surveyed were aged between 18 to 65 years old. The inaugural Ugly Food Survey was commissioned in September and respondents had to answer multiple-choice questions on food purchase habits and choices, awareness on food waste, and acceptance towards ugly food.

The survey is part of the Electrolux’s #happyplateSG community initiative, which was launched last year to raise awareness on food waste. This year’s #UglyIsTheNewGood campaign, in partnership with The Food Bank Singapore, is focused on getting consumers to accept “ugly food” so as to reduce food waste from the early stages.

Ms Nichol Ng, Chief Food Officer of The Food Bank Singapore said: “Ugly food is one of contributing factors to food waste that has not been widely explored and discussed. It is time for us to take an active stand on reducing food waste from all stages of the food supply chain cycle.”

Mr Kenneth Ng, President and CEO, Electrolux Major Appliances Asia Pacific added: “This year, we decided to focus on ugly food in Singapore because 46 per cent of fruits and vegetables never make it from the farm to fork as they are not the right shape or colour... Ugly food can taste just as good as perfect-looking food and is as nutritious.”

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Coney Island cow dies, 'will be missed'

CYNTHIA CHOO Today Online 12 Oct 16;

SINGAPORE — A lone bovine fondly referred to as the Coney Island cow is probably frolicking in greener pastures.

The National Parks Board (NParks) announced on Wednesday (Oct 12) that the animal had died, eliciting a wave of sympathy and conspiracy theories online.

“The cow was a recognisable part of Coney Island Park and will be missed,” NParks said in a statement. It added that post-mortem investigations showed that the cow had chronic underlying illnesses and that it had likely died of heart and lung complications while sedated.

The cow was sedated as standard procedure during an annual health check on Sept 28. Veterinarians took blood and fecal samples, but later could not revive the animal.

That information led some people online to question why the cow was sedated in the first place.

“I don’t think a medical check up was necessary,” Mr Melvyn Tan said on Facebook. “The cow/bull was fine before humans started invading it’s home. Now we have to give it check ups for the safety of the visitors?”

In its statement, NParks had said: “Health checks are necessary for the cow’s own wellbeing and for public health reasons, for example, to prevent the spread of diseases between animals and humans.”

The single, free-roaming bull had been a social media star since Coney Island was opened to the public last year. Known as the Coney Island Cow, it is a Brahman, a breed of Zebu cattle that originates from South Asia.

Since Coney Island’s opening, the cow was found to be malnourished and sick and it underwent a veterinary check-up every six months.

“Murdered in the name of science. #conspiracytheories,” Mr Jason Yip posted on Facebook.

“And the Internet cow experts have gathered and the usual comments are flowing. PAP fault. Government fault. Cover up. Why this why that,” another post read.

Others were more sympathetic, posting “RIP”.

“You were elusive and a bit of an urban legend,” Ms Paula Robinson posted on Facebook.

It is still a mystery how the bull got on the island. It could have wandered from Punggol or Lorong Halus, but no one has reported a lost cow.

Coney Island cow dies
Channel NewsAsia 12 Oct 16;

SINGAPORE: A free-roaming Brahman bull on Coney Island Park, fondly referred to as Coney Island cow, has died, the National Parks Board (NParks) announced on Wednesday (Oct 12).

It could not be revived after it was sedated for blood and fecal samples to be taken during its annual health check by veterinarians on Sep 28.

"Health checks are necessary for the cow’s own wellbeing and for public health reasons, for example, to prevent the spread of diseases between animals and humans. Given its large size, sedating the cow was a standard procedure to ensure the safety of all personnel involved," NParks said.

It added that post-mortem investigations by AVA have concluded and the results show that the cow had chronic underlying illnesses, and that it likely died of heart and lung complications while sedated.

"The cow was a recognisable part of Coney Island Park and will be missed," NParks stated.

According to the NParks website, the cow's presence on the island "remains a mystery".

"The cow may have wandered in from Punggol or Lorong Halus. It was only noticed after the dam crossings were built," said NParks, adding that there were no reports of missing cows.

- CNA/ly

Coney Island: The life and death of a lonely Singapore cow
BBC 16 Oct 16;

Singapore's favourite - and only - wild cow died this week. The Coney Island Cow lived for years on a small north-eastern island, but as Heather Chen explains, its origins were as mysterious as its death was sad.

Nameless and elusive, no-one really knows how the lonely bull wound up on Coney Island.

"The animal may have wandered in. It was only noticed after dam crossings were built," said Singapore's National Parks Board (NParks), responsible for managing the city state's greenery.

"But as no-one has reported a lost cow, its presence on the island remains a mystery."

The 133-hectare island was once owned by the Haw Par brothers, the wealthy entrepreneurs behind Tiger Balm who have left such a sizeable footprint on Singapore's modern history.

They sold it in the 1950s to an Indian businessman who wanted to turn remodel it after the popular New York amusement destination.

But nothing materialised despite a name change, and the land was slated for government redevelopment.
It will be missed

One year ago, the island became Singapore's newest national park, being opened up to tourists for hiking and cycling, on a short network of paths.

It was then everyone became aware that the island already belonged to one magnificent beast: The Cow.

With it solitary stoic presence, it quickly became a local legend among Singaporeans, most of whom live in the city or suburbs and have little interaction with livestock.

No trip to Coney Island was complete without trying to track down the cow, heeding the strict warning signs about not feeding it, provoking it or trying to photograph it.

Sadly, his life came to an unlucky end this week, when he failed to wake up after a routine veterinary check-up.

Officials said he had likely died of heart and lung complications while necessarily sedated.

"The cow was a recognisable part of Coney Island Park and will be missed," said NParks.

Singaporeans from all walks of life came together on social media to mourn the passing of their favourite cow.

"He was a real gangster, roaming about the island without caring about anyone," reminisced Xun Low on Facebook.

"I am actually saddened to hear this," shared Julie Low. "I saw it once when I visited Coney Island. My sons were so excited. How often do you see large animals roaming around freely in Singapore?"

"So sad, I haven't even gotten the chance to meet you during my last two trips to Coney Island," said Selin Sim.

"RIP Mr Cow," said Ahmad Ishak. "Though I never met you and have missed you during all my visits to Coney Island, I bet that you will be missed by many."

Others like Benjamin Seah, questioned the need for sedating an old animal. NParks said given its size there was no other option.

"It was living there peacefully for so many years and now it can't be be revived," he said.

But many Singaporeans like Ahmed Alshahab found a bit of humour in the situation.

"The cow was roaming around happily. So what killed it? A health screening!"

While some compared the news to the death of Cincinnati Zoo gorilla Harambe, others like Zulkifli Rokhim offered a cheeky suggestion.

"Rename the place 'Cowney Island' as tribute," she said.

Coney Island cow's death goes global with BBC report
Lydia Lam, MyPaper AsiaOne 18 Oct 16;

The death of Coney Island's lone cow has now made international headlines.

In a report headlined "Coney Island: The life and death of a lonely Singapore cow", the BBC on Sunday wrote that the animal "quickly became a local legend among Singaporeans, most of whom live in the city or suburbs and have little interaction with livestock".

The cow, which was really a Brahman bull, died last month during a routine health check.

It had been a hit among netizens, and visitors to Coney Island often tried to locate it, though it was famously elusive.

The National Parks Board (NParks) announced its death last Wednesday, saying that the cow "was a recognisable part of Coney Island Park and will be missed".

NParks had first found the lone bovine while setting up the 50ha park at Punggol, which was opened to the public a year ago.

The park got its name when a businessman in 1950 bought and named it after New York's Coney Island amusement park with intentions to turn it into a resort.

It is not known how the cow got there or how old it was, although NParks told the BBC that it may "have wandered in" and was noticed only after dam crossings were built.

"But as no one has reported a lost cow, its presence on the island remains a mystery," said NParks.

The Straits Times reported last week that the cow was sickly and malnourished when it was first found but recovered after foraging naturally on the abundant vegetation on the island.

Post-mortem investigations by the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) show that the cow had "chronic underlying illnesses, and that it likely died of heart and lung complications while sedated".

Online, netizens reacted with sadness and some with outrage that it had died while sedated.

Twitter user Darryl Kang wrote: "Rest in peace Coney Island cow. Sad that we didn't get a chance to meet each other."

Some even compared it to Harambe, a silver back gorilla from a zoo in the United States that was controversially shot dead after a child got into its enclosure.

NParks said in a statement that "health checks are necessary for the cow's own well-being and for public health reasons, for example, to prevent the spread of diseases between animals and humans".

"Given its large size, sedating the cow was a standard procedure to ensure the safety of all personnel involved," it added.

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Malaysia: CITES put species of sharks and rays in Sabah under protection

OLIVIA MIWIL New Straits Times 12 Oct 16;

KOTA KINABALU: Three sharks and four rays species found in Sabah waters have gained international protection under Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

On Oct 3, thresher sharks, silky shark and devil rays have been catalogued under CITES Appendix II during the 17th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP17) in South Africa.

Species listed in Appendix II are not necessarily threatened with extinction but might cease to exist unless there is strict regulation in trading of the animals.

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) shark-protection programme leader Andy Cornish welcomes the positive development.

“Governments around the world will now have to act to ensure that trade is from sustainable and legal fisheries,” he said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Sabah Shark Protection Association (SSPA) president, Aderick Chong said the CITES management authority in Malaysia has done a good job in garnering support to have more species listed.

CITES parties will have a year to implement the new international trade obligations for silky and thresher sharks and six months for devil rays.

“The association urge the government to prioritise putting in place international trade controls (over these species).

“SSPA is looking forward to lend support to Malaysian authorities to properly manage all CITES-listed species.”

Shark hunting and finning have been rampant in the state as there are currently no laws banning such activities despite repetitive calls by Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun to amend the Federal Fisheries Act.n

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Malaysia: High tides expected at several areas in Johor


ISKANDAR PUTERI: Residents staying near coastal areas in the state are urged to be extra cautious and keep track of the weather updates from time to time to be alert about the high tide.

State Health and Environment executive committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat said that according to the Johor Meteorology Department, an unusual high tide is expected over four days from Oct 16 to Oct 20 in several parts of Johor.

“This is because the moon’s position is at its closest to the earth during that period, causing high tides,” he told reporters during a press conference held at Bangunan Dato’ Jaafar Muhammad here on Tuesday.

The areas expected to experience high tide are Johor Baru beach with tides that could go up to 3.9m, Tanjung Langsat (3.5m), Tanjung Pelepas (3.5m), Pasir Gudang (3.5m), Pulau Pisang (3.5m) and the Endau beach (3.4m).

Other areas affected include Sungai Belungkor where waves could reach up to 3.3m, Kuala Batu Pahat (3.2m), Mersing (3.2m) and Tanjung Sedili (3m).

“If there are any storms or strong winds during the four days at these areas, it may cause floods along the shoreline.

“We also urge the public to avoid any recreational activities by the beach during the period to avoid any untoward incidents from happening,” he added.

In a separate development, Ayub said that the government has been given the honour of delivering the keynote address at the fifth annual Low Carbon Asia Research Network (LoCARNet) meeting in Bandung on Oct 25.

He added that this was in recognition of Johor being the first state in Malaysia as well as in Southeast Asia to have a low carbon society master plan for Iskandar Malaysia and its five local councils.

“The five local councils are Johor Baru City Council, Johor Baru Central Municipal Council, Kulai Municipal Council, Pasir Gudang Municipal Council and Pontian Municipal Council working towards low carbon development,” he said.

Sandbags put up to stem high tides
The Star 16 Oct 16;

KLANG: Workers are lining up the areas near Kampung Tok Muda ri­verbank in Kapar here with sandbags in preparation for high tides.

The phenomenon is expected to hit the area starting from Oct 16.

The forecast time of occurrence and height of tide is at 5.6m at 5.53am on Oct 16, 5.7m at 6.35am on Oct 17, 5.7m at 7.41am on Oct 18 and 5.5m at 7.52am on Oct 19.

The high tide returns to its normal 5.5m on Oct 20.

On Tuesday, National Space Agency research officer Mohd Redzuan Tahar said the anticipated high tides were due to the perigee, when the moon is closest to Earth.

As such, residents in 17 coastal areas in the state have been told to seek temporary shelter early at evacuation centres.

Selangor Disaster Management Committee secretary Kol Ahmad Afandi Mohamad said residents should not wait until the eleventh hour to evacuate.

Klang braces for high tide phenomenon
C. PREMANANTHINI New Straits Times 12 Oct 16;

KLANG: Klang Municipal Council (MPK) is taking proactive measures in preparation for the high tide phenomenon which is expected to hit between Oct 14 and 19.

MPK president Datuk Mohamad Yasin Bidin said the council will be working closely with the Klang District Office and the Public Works Department (JKR) to upgrade and strengthen the bunds along the coastline to stop the erosion.

Six flood relief centres will also be set up. Yasin said about 30,000 sandbags will be used to place the ramparts and on existing bunds.

He has also instructed enforcement officers to clear clogged drains including monsoon drains in and around Klang town. “Tomorrow, we will begin filling in the sandbags.

The council has also prepared three search and rescue units and a boat.

“The six flood relief centres are Dewan Kompleks Sukan Pandamaran, Dewan Serbaguna MPK Pandamaran Jaya, Dewan Serbaguna MPK Kampung Idaman, Dewan Serbaguna MPK Pelabuhan Klang, Dewan Serbaguna MPK Teluk Gadung, and Dewan Serbaguna MPK Kampung Kuantan.

“This early preparation is to ensure the flood victims get the necessary aid,” he said at a press conference held today after he visited a factory in Jalan Kebun Nenas.

Yasin said the purpose of his visit to the factories in the area was to check on the cleanliness of the surroundings and to ensure that it is free from dengue.

“I urge the factory owners to keep the surroundings clean and if they fail to do so, they will be fined.”

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Malaysia: No sign of inter-monsoon season that brings more rain around this time

The Star 13 Oct 16;

PETALING JAYA: Malaysians should brace themselves for more hot and humid weather as there is no sign yet of the inter-monsoon season that brings more rain.

The inter-monsoon generally begins in October, before the northeast monsoon between November and March.

“Generally, we should receive inter-monsoon (rains) in October and the northeast monsoon from November to March.

“But until today, there are no indicators of entering inter-monsoon,” said a source from Malaysian Meteorological Depart­ment.

There is still good news, though.

The effects of the current southwest monsoon is weakening, thus most states are expected to receive the normal amount of rainfall (200mm to 350mm) this month.

“Selangor, Negri Sembilan, Malacca and west Johor, however, are expected to get rainfall which is a little below the normal level, amounting to less than 200mm,” said the department.

Once the northeast monsoon begins around November, east coast states will experience more rainy days, especially Kelantan and Terengganu.

“Next month, most states including Sarawak will receive normal rainfall except for Perlis, Kedah, Penang and northern Perak, where more than normal rainfall is expected,” the department added.

According to data from the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre, the inter-monsoon is usually characterised by light wind and rain, interspersed with brief periods of dry weather.

“Between October and December, near-normal to above-normal rainfall is expected for Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Sumatra and Kalimantan,” the centre said in a recent analysis.

The regional centre observed that while more rains were expected in the southern Asean region, sporadic hotspot activities might still occur over Sumatra and Kalimantan during the brief dry weather periods.

“The hotspot activities are expected to gradually ease from November,” it added.

Based on experts’ assessment of international climate, the centre also predicted about a 60% chance of La Nina conditions developing in the October–December season, but said it was likely to be only weak or borderline.

Science, Technology and Inno­vation Minister Datuk Wilfred Madius Tangau had previously said that the phenomenon, which would start after October, typically extends between nine and 12 months.

La Nina usually contributes to higher rainfall in Sabah and eastern Sarawak, especially when combined with the northeast monsoon rainy effects.

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Indonesia: Jakarta Giant Sea Wall to prevent sea water intrusion

Otniel Tamindael Antara 12 Oct 16;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - An ambitious plan to build a 24-kilometer long Giant Sea Wall will help prevent Jakarta from sinking below sea level, prevent salt water intrusion, and is also expected to be a source of raw water for the residents of the city.

The government has decided to allow work to continue on a key phase of the Giant Sea Wall, which aims to prevent the city from succumbing to rising sea levels and floods.

One of the worlds most densely populated cities, Jakarta sits on a swampy plain and is sinking at a faster rate than any other city in the world.

Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Binsar Panjaitan has said if the Giant Sea Wall was not built, it will adversely impact Jakarta in a significant manner with regards to salt water penetration.

Therefore, the National Development Planning Board (Bappenas), is finalizing a study of the Jakarta Giant Sea Wall project, called the National Capital Integrated Coastal Development (NCICD).

Bappenas Chief Bambang Brodjonegoro stated here on Tuesday that the study was approaching the final stage, but he still wanted to meet with some of the experts who knew about the giant dike.

The Bappenas study in itself is very important because it will determine the design of the project, and the distance of the reclaimed islets from the mainland.

Later, the developers will be required to obtain an environmental permit by taking into account the sea dike.

The Bappenas had earlier set a target for the study on the National Capital Integrated Coastal Development project to be completed by the end October 2016, and will be submitted to President Joko Widodo (Jokowi).

Construction of the NCICD project will be carried out in three phases---phase A, phase B, and phase C.

Phase A will strengthen the system of the sea and the already existing river wall. The construction of this phase is to be completed in 2017.

Work on phase B will start in 2018 by building offshore walls on the western side of the Jakarta Bay and completed in 2025.

Construction of the project in phase C is to start after 2025 by building offshore sea walls on the eastern side of the Jakarta bay.

In the construction of phase B and phase C, 17 islets will be reclaimed.

Bappenas is concerned with studying the importance of the giant sea wall project for Jakarta.

Reclamation is already in progress in the Jakarta bay where 17 manmade islets were being built by big property companies.

Former Coordination Minister of Maritime Affairs Rizal Ramli had earlier ordered to stop work at the project, but the then Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok) had disputed the decision, resulting in a moratorium.

Later, a statement by Ramlis successor, Luhut Panjaitan, that work could continue on the Jakarta reclamation project drew strong protests from a group of people, including students and fishermen.

Defending the project, Ahok has said the reclamation project is the answer to Jakarta Bays pollution problem as the mega project would help deal with the problem of contaminated water and fix the environment of the capitals coastal areas.

The city administration had discussed the project with the director general for coastal and small islands at the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry, Ahok claimed.

From the 17 planned small islands, eight have already acquired permits and begun construction.

Ahoks statement came in contrast with the views of environmental experts and activists who believe that the reclamation project threatens the Jakarta Bay environment.

Included in the master plan is the plan to build 17 artificial islands off Jakartas northern coast, where property developers plan to build shopping malls and attractions similar to Singapores Sentosa Island.

However, work on that project was suspended in April following disagreements between the government and the Jakarta governor over who had authority to issue permits.

Some fishermen have also protested against reclamation, saying it would reduce their catch.

In response, the government plans to offer them fishing permits in waters near the Natuna Islands.

The suspension in April also threatened to delay Indonesian property developer PT Agung Podomoro Lands multi-billion-dollar Pluit City, comprising apartments, offices and shopping malls on parts of artificial land it was constructing.

"We are still waiting for a direction from the government," said Justini Omas, the companys corporate secretary. Previously, the company had planned that construction of the island would be carried out in 2018.

Jakarta has been trying to clean up its flagging canal system for years, and the 24km-long seawall was meant to be the silver bullet to resolve its flooding woes.(*)

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Philippines: Red tide alert still up in 5 Eastern Visayas bays

Philippine News Agency Manila Bulletin 12 Oct 16;

TACLOBAN CITY – Red tide toxins remain in five bays in Eastern Visayas, prompting the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources to urge local government units to strictly enforce shellfish ban.

For several months, the contamination thrives in Irong Irong and Cambatutay Bays in Samar; Carigara Bay in Leyte; coastal waters of Leyte, Leyte; and Matarinao Bay in Eastern Samar.

Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Regional Director Juan Albaladejo warned that all types of shellfish taken from affected bays in the region are positive of red tide toxins.

According to local red tide advisory dated Oct. 10, 2016, red tide toxins found in the seawaters of the five bays are beyond the regulatory limit.

“All types of shellfish and Acetes sp. or alamang gathered from these areas are not safe for human consumption,” Albaladejo said.

“Thus, the public is advised to refrain from eating, harvesting, marketing, and buying shellfishes and Acetes sp. from Irong-irong Bay and Cambatutay Bay until such time that the shellfish toxicity level has gone down below the regulatory level,” he added.

Fish, squid, shrimp and crab are safe to eat “provided that they are fresh and washed thoroughly and internal organs such as gills and intestines are removed before cooking, according to BFAR.

With the recent spate of red tide bloom, the fisheries bureau asked local government units to enforce shellfish ban to ensure public safety.

“We have been issuing local bulletins to inform local officials, but I have to admit that some are not really seriously enforcing the ban,” the BFAR regional chief added.

A few weeks ago, the Fisheries bureau lifted the shellfish ban in Maqueda and Villareal bays in Samar, and Cancabato Bay in Leyte.

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650 million ASEAN people live in disaster-prone areas

Antara 12 Oct 16;

Manado, N Sulawesi (ANTARA News) - More than 650 million people in Southeast Asia live in disaster-prone areas, Chief of the Indonesian National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) Willem Rampangilei said.

"Natural disasters inflict up to US$4.4 billion in losses in the region every year," he noted, while addressing the 29th meeting of the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management (ACDM) here on Tuesday.

In responding to the losses from natural disasters, he praised the adoption of the joint declaration, "One ASEAN One Response" on September 6 this year. The move is also a common effort to build resistance to disasters.

Strengthening ASEANs position is a common agenda as part of its cooperation, collaboration and solidarity among ASEAN member states.

"Those at the 29th ACIM meeting discussed a wide range of issues related to disaster mitigation efforts, according to the priority program of the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER) of 2016-2020," he said.

A series of large natural disasters in ASEAN have caused losses of trillions of rupiahs and claimed many lives, he said.

Because of that, ASEAN member states have agreed to cooperate to face disasters in the future, he said.(*)

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TripAdvisor bans ticket sales to attractions that allow contact with wild animals

Animal welfare groups laud step by travel giant but concerns remain that it is not going far enough to counter cruel practices and exploitation by tourism businesses
Kevin Rushby The Guardian 12 Oct 16;

It’s an experience that has become one of those “must do before you die” moments: to swim with a large marine mammal. You reach out and stroke. So does everyone else. Then someone tries to hitch a ride.

Now internet giant TripAdvisor is launching a “no touching of wild animals” policy, whereby it will no longer sell tickets to attractions where travellers come into physical contact with captive, wild or endangered animals. As well as swimming with dolphins, the policy also covers petting tigers and elephant rides, a tourism experience that animal welfare charities have long campaigned against. It’s a move that many animal welfare and conservation charities have welcomed. Stephanie Shaw from PETA says: “We applaud TripAdvisor taking this stance, helping to raise awareness. Elephant training, for example, is brutal and cruel.”

Human and wild animal interaction has never been so available, nor so fraught with possible conflicts. Around the world, especially where government management is either inadequate or absent, wild animals are vulnerable to operators eager to push the boundaries. Often there are no controls. At the bottom of the market, you can find tigers doped to allow tourists to get close for a cuddle, or elephants thoroughly traumatised by violent training.

Richard Rees, director of the Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme, is clear about what goes on during whale shark trips: “In some places, it’s a free-for-all. We see touching, riding, flash photography, obstruction – all sorts of bad practices.”

At the same time as these kinds of experiences have flourished, TripAdvisor has grown into the world’s largest travel website, with 690,000 attractions listed and 385m reviews. Attractions listed on the site have been bookable since 2014, when the company acquired bookings firm Viator. TripAdvisor believes hundreds of businesses could be affected by its policy although it will not say exactly how many, or name the companies that will be affected. And while it will not sell attractions that allow physical interaction with animals, it will continue to list them.

So is this a massive leap forward in ethical tourism? Or a belated crowd-pleasing ploy that will do little to help?

Other travel companies have already stopped selling elephant rides. Student travel firm STA Travel and adventure travel company Intrepid both introduced a ban on elephant rides in 2014 and STA extended its ban to SeaWorld.

But Rees welcomes TripAdvisor’s move, citing the company’s powerful influence. “Out in the real world, TripAdvisor is often the only voice that really scares operators. I like that we’ll have visitors with the right expectations about what good practice is.”

In addition to a ban on these ticket sales, TripAdvisor is introducing an education portal with information on animal welfare practices and advice and opinion from conservation charities. In future all listings that involve any interaction with wildlife will have a button that clicks through to the portal. The company hopes that users will be encouraged to write more informed reviews after reading this information. The bookings policy and portal will be implemented in early 2017.

The implications of TripAdvisor’s policy may be far-reaching. Elephant riding in northern Thailand, for example, is a big money-spinner in a relatively poor area. And while the elephant camps of Chiang Mai might suffer, other attractions, such as SeaWorld, notorious for its continued ownership of 29 orcas, will be unaffected. Danny Groves of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society points out that captivity is not being tackled. “This is a positive step, but it does not address the issue of promoting trips to see whales and dolphins that are held captive. It would be great to see TripAdvisor take action in this regard.”

Steve McIvor of World Animal Protection which has partnered with TripAdvisor added, “We hope it will only be a matter of time before TripAdvisor will also come to realise that it has to end sales to all cruel wildlife attractions, such as SeaWorld where the animals endure a lifetime of abuse and highly stressful training to perform. Until then we will provide the best education we can on TripAdvisor’s website to steer people away from cruel venues like these.”

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