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Date: Tuesday, 19 Aug 2014 00:00
Earth Overshoot Day © WWF ThailandGland, Switzerland: Humanity has exhausted its annual ecological budget in less than eight months, according to data from Global Footprint Network, an international sustainability think tank and WWF partner.

For the rest of 2014, we are "in the red" – effectively overdrawn on the balance sheet of nature's goods and services that we require to survive.

Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity's footprint in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate. The date is moving progressively earlier from 1 October in 2000 to 19 August this year.

"Nature is the foundation of our well-being and our prosperity, but we are using up far too much of the Earth's finite resources," said Marco Lambertini, Director General of WWF International. "For a healthy and bright future for our children, we must preserve the natural capital that is left – and be better stewards of this one precious planet we call home,"

Based on ecological footprint data – measuring the quantity of Earth's natural resources, how much we use, and who uses what – Earth Overshoot Day is an opportunity to raise awareness and inspire action around our ecological overspending.

Next month, WWF will release the Living Planet Report 2014, the tenth edition of WWF's biennial flagship publication. The report measures the health of our planet and the impact of human activity.

"While trends clearly show that humanity's demands exceed our planet's capacity to sustainus, we can still take bold action now and build a prosperous future based on sustainable resource use," said Lambertini.

In 1961, the year WWF was established, humanity used only two-thirds of the Earth's available natural resources. In that same year, most countries had ecological reserves – meaning our footprint was lighter and more sustainable. Current rates have us operating way outside that window of sustainability.

Forests are shrinking, freshwater resources are dwindling, land is degrading, and biological diversity is being depleted. At the same time, the continued reliance on fossil fuels creates harmful carbon dioxide emissions that the planet simply cannot absorb.

By taking action now we can reverse the trend. We each play an important role in creating a world where we all live within our ecological limits.

Choosing sustainable goods like seafood labelled with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) logo, and wood that is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) helps ensure products come from well-managed sources.

Switching to clean, renewable, abundant energy sources like sun and wind will reduce dirty emissions that pollute our air and strain our oceans and forests.
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Date: Wednesday, 06 Aug 2014 00:00
Illegal logging contributes heavily to the destruction of biodiversity and the impoverishment of millions of people that depend on forests for food and income. © WWF-Canon / André BärtschiBrussels: More than a year after the entry into force of the EU's law governing timber trade, a survey by WWF confirms that many EU countries are still failing to halt the entry of illegal wood products into the EU markets.

WWF's EU Government barometer, conducted in the first half of 2014, shows that only 11 EU countries have so far adopted national legislation and procedures considered robust enough to control the legality of timber and timber products.

All other 17 countries have either not adapted their national legislation to the European law or have adopted legislation where low sanctions or dysfunctional prosecution systems are considered obstacles for an effective implementation of the law.

"The World Bank estimates that every two seconds, an area of forest the size of a football field is clear-cut by illegal loggers around the globe. It is disturbing to see that despite the EU's full awareness of the size and impact of illegal logging, and of its responsibility in fuelling such criminal activity, EU countries are still allowing tonnes of illegally sourced wood and wood products across their borders," said WWF Forest Policy Officer, Anke Schulmeister

The WWF barometer comes a week after the European Commission (EC) published the deeply worrying results of its scorecard on the national implementation of the timber regulation. WWF urges the European Commission to use the results of the surveys to put more pressure on national governments and take legal action against non- compliant countries.

"There is no excuse to further delay national actions to prove and guarantee the full legality of the products European consumers buy. Trading in illegal timber is a crime and it needs to be treated and sanctioned as such," said Schulmeister.

Illegal logging has devastating environmental, social and economic impacts on some of the most pristine forests in the world and the people who rely on them; this illegality also affects European businesses and consumers who comply with the rules.

It accounts for 30% of the global timber trade and contributes to more than 50% of tropical deforestation in Central Africa, the Amazon and South East Asia.

Cutting forests illegally results in lost revenues estimated at 7 billion euros per year, damages legitimate operators, locally and in Europe, causes deforestation, biodiversity loss, increases greenhouse gas emissions, and also threatens the livelihood of local communities.

In 2011 the EU accounted for 35% (€37.8 billion) of the global trade of primary timber products. As acknowledged by the European Commission, even if it is difficult to estimate what percentage of this trade was in illegally harvested timber, the EU is an important export market for countries where levels of illegality and poor governance in the forest sector are most serious.

"We need to guarantee that forests are managed sustainably, that local environment and communities are protected and that European markets are not disrupted and damaged by illegal low price products," said Schulmeister.
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Date: Monday, 04 Aug 2014 00:00
Fisherman tending their nets, Orinoco river basin, Colombia © WWF / Denise OliveiraColombia: One of the most important wetlands in the world will now be protected from mining threats after it was declared internationally valued following an announcement by the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos.

The Inirida Fluvial Star located in eastern Colombia is one of the most biologically diverse areas of the world and will now benefit from international protection after it was declared Colombia's sixth RAMSAR site.

The protection of this area, home to the third most important river system on the planet, has taken a decade to come and will prevent extractive industries moving in to mine for potential gold and cobalt reserves.

"This is a significant achievement for both Colombia and the world and a clear statement to support conservation as an option to support economic and social development," said Director of WWF-Colombia, Mary Lou Higgins.

The area covers over 250,000 hectares and is a mosaic of jungle, savannahs and includes a network of rivers and wetlands. It is home to more than 900 plants species, 400 birds, 470 fish, 200 mammals, and 40 amphibians including threatened species such as river dolphins, jaguars and tapirs.

The new RAMSAR site is located in the Orinoco river basin conserving an important freshwater area in the frontier region with Venezuela, and includes the confluence of four different river systems making it a vital fishing region for both Colombia and Venezuela.

It's the main source for Venezuela's fisheries and is also known for its aquarium fishes with 40 percent of the aquarium fishes that Colombia exports come from the Fluvial Star of Inirida. WWF-Colombia is working with fisheries management in the region, promoting sustainable fishing practices.

President Santos affirmed in his declaration speech that protecting the environment was a priority for the country and that his government could not fail in that purpose. The President recognized that even though his government conceived mining as one of the engines for development, there were biologically and culturally valuable places where mining should not take place.

"The Fluvial Star of Inirida establishes a benchmark to begin to rethink the development model based on conservation," said Ms Higgins.

The President recognized the efforts of WWF, who have been working with local authorities, the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, local communities and the Ramsar Secretariat to realize this designation.

WWF-Colombia has supported research projects aimed at gaining further understanding of ecological and hydrological dynamics within the region and has backed local and regional grass-root organisations, providing technical and organisational support.

RAMSAR is an international conservation designation, which protects places renowned for their biological diversity and their freshwater ecosystem richness.
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Date: Thursday, 31 Jul 2014 00:00
The Asiatic Black Bear has a coat of smooth black fur and can be distinguished by a V of white fur on its chest. © WWF-VietnamVietnam: Conservation efforts in Vietnam are proving successful after a rare Asiatic black bear was recently recorded by WWF camera traps.

The images of the threatened bear taken in Quang Nam Province in central Vietnam are an important indicator of results of on the ground conservation efforts to improve the quality of forests considered one of the world's rich biodiversity spots.

The same bear was captured on a WWF camera trap in late 2012 when a number of camera traps were installed to support WWF's and the government's biodiversity monitoring.

WWF and the Vietnamese government have embarked on one of the most ambitious conservation assignments in the region's history through the Carbon and Biodiversity Programme (CarBi), which aims to protect and regenerate more than 200,000 hectares of unique forest.

Among the more than12,000 recorded pictures, several valuable species have been found, including the Sunda pangolin, large- antlered muntjac, serrow, Annamite striped rabbit, black bear, and Saola, which was rediscovered for the first time in 15 years in 2013.

"They are species affected by illegal hunting which our forest guard patrols and Protection Area management activities should be limiting. Their existence is also dependent on good quality forest. I believe that these photographs are very important monitoring indicators of our conservation impacts," said Phan Tuan, Head of Quang Nam Forest Protection Department, Quang Nam's CarBi project' Director.

Together with the camera traps which are used to track wild animals and their habitat, WWF and the government also introduced a progressive forest guard model. The initiative involve s employing and traing local people in law enforcement, patrolling and detecting and removing snares and dismantling illegal camps used by poachers and loggers. The guards also catch illegal hunters and loggers when possible.

The project has had considerable success since its launch, removing over 35,000 snares in the area.

In other efforts to help the forests WWF's programmes are also targeting alternative livelihood options through by educating local people in sustainable forest management.

"Habitat loss, illegal hunting and forest degradation are still severe threats to wildlife. More effective and uniform law enforcement efforts with regional and international co-operation are critically needed for wildlife conservation," says WWF-Vietnam's landscape manager Le Thuy Anh.

The WWF-Greater Mekong CarBi Programme is an unprecedented four-year, trans-border conservation economy assignment focused on the Central Annamite Mountains joining Laos and Vietnam.
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Date: Thursday, 31 Jul 2014 00:00
The Asiatic Black Bear has a coat of smooth black fur and can be distinguished by a V of white fur on its chest. © WWF-VietnamVietnam: Conservation efforts in Vietnam are proving successful after a rare Asiatic black bear was recently recorded by WWF camera traps.

The images of the threatened bear taken in Quang Nam Province in central Vietnam are an important indicator of results of on the ground conservation efforts to improve the quality of forests considered one of the world's rich biodiversity spots.

Another bear was captured on a WWF camera trap in late 2012 when a number of camera traps were installed to support WWF's and the government's biodiversity monitoring.

WWF and the Vietnamese government have embarked on one of the most ambitious conservation assignments in the region's history through the Carbon and Biodiversity Programme (CarBi), which aims to protect and regenerate more than 200,000 hectares of unique forest.

Among the more than12,000 recorded pictures, several valuable species have been found, including the Sunda pangolin, large- antlered muntjac, serrow, Annamite striped rabbit, black bear, and Saola, which was rediscovered for the first time in 15 years in 2013.

"They are species affected by illegal hunting which our forest guard patrols and Protection Area management activities should be limiting. Their existence is also dependent on good quality forest. I believe that these photographs are very important monitoring indicators of our conservation impacts," said Phan Tuan, Head of Quang Nam Forest Protection Department, Quang Nam's CarBi project' Director.

Together with the camera traps which are used to track wild animals and their habitat, WWF and the government also introduced a progressive forest guard model. The initiative involve s employing and traing local people in law enforcement, patrolling and detecting and removing snares and dismantling illegal camps used by poachers and loggers. The guards also catch illegal hunters and loggers when possible.

The project has had considerable success since its launch, removing over 35,000 snares in the area.

In other efforts to help the forests WWF's programmes are also targeting alternative livelihood options through by educating local people in sustainable forest management.

"Habitat loss, illegal hunting and forest degradation are still severe threats to wildlife. More effective and uniform law enforcement efforts with regional and international co-operation are critically needed for wildlife conservation," says WWF-Vietnam's landscape manager Le Thuy Anh.

The WWF-Greater Mekong CarBi Programme is an unprecedented four-year, trans-border conservation economy assignment focused on the Central Annamite Mountains joining Laos and Vietnam.
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Date: Tuesday, 29 Jul 2014 00:00
Tiger portrait © David Lawson/WWF-UKJuly 29th, Kuala Lumpur: Wild tigers are facing the risk of extinction in some countries due to a lack of accurate information on tiger populations, said WWF today.

At the 2010 St. Petersburg 'Tiger Summit' when tiger range countries committed to the goal Tx2 - doubling wild tigers by 2022 - the global wild tiger population was believed to be as few as 3200.

"This figure was just an estimate," said Michael Baltzer, Leader of WWF Tigers Alive Initiative. "In 2010 many countries had not undertaken systematic national tiger surveys. Now many have or are doing so, but not all, leaving major, worrying gaps in our knowledge. Until we know how many tigers we have and where they are, we can't know how best to protect them."

Poaching is the greatest threat to wild tigers today. Along with ivory and rhino horn, tiger parts are in high demand throughout Asia. Statistics from TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, show that a minimum of 1590 tigers were seized between January 2000 and April 2014. That represents an average of two per week, however actual poaching levels are likely to be substantially higher. It is feared that countries not carrying out national tiger surveys could lose their tigers to poachers without realizing. This may already be the case for some countries.

Currently, wild tiger numbers are known for India, Nepal and Russia who carry out regular national surveys. Numbers will soon be known for Bhutan, Bangladesh and China who are in the process of carrying out surveys. Wild tiger populations for Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam are unknown.

WWF is calling on these countries to carry out surveys urgently. Systematic national surveys take 6-12 months to plan and a minimum of a year to complete, so these surveys must start now if an updated global tiger figure is to be released by the halfway point to Tx2 in 2016.

"We are more than a third of the way to 2022. We need to move at a faster, more determined pace if we hope to achieve the Tx2 goal," added Baltzer.

During surveys individual tigers are identified using their stripes which are as unique as human fingerprints. The surveys show tiger populations, locations and trends. In the past, surveys have revealed tigers living outside protected areas or moving between protected areas through previously unknown and unprotected corridors. Having this information enables governments to effectively focus their anti-poaching efforts.

National tiger surveys are expensive, labour intensive and often take place in difficult terrain with challenging weather conditions. All these factors are barriers to governments completing the work. However the returns outweigh the investment and NGOs are willing to work with governments to share technical expertise and explore potential funding sources including international and private environment granting institutions.

Tigers are endangered. The wild tiger population has dropped 97% over the last hundred years. WWF was a driving force behind the 'Tiger Summit' and remains a major force behind the global Tx2 goal.

For further information on tiger surveys: panda.org/doubletigers
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Date: Monday, 28 Jul 2014 00:00
Pygmy cormorants, Skadar lake, Montenegro. © WWF-Canon / M. GuntherPodgorica, Montenegro: The government of Montenegro has revived a plan to erect four dams on the Moraca river abandoned after an international outcry and a lack of investors less than three years ago.

The government – which seeks to attract tourists under the slogan "wild beauty" – is bringing the dam plan back under its just announced "Energy Development Strategy to 2030", which according to WWF and its Montenegro partner Green Home is mainly new window dressing for the discredited scheme.

"This scheme has never been assessed in any rigorous way against any rigorous standard," said Green Home director Natasa Kovačević. "Montenegro has a constitution which declares it to be an "ecological State" but we are being served up, yet again, with an energy plan that marries technologically and environmentally outdated technologies with unrealistic forecasts.

"The power that Montenegro needs should be coming from modernising electricity infrastructure that loses and wastes more power than any other in Europe – and at a fraction of the cost of building destructive and unnecessary dams."

The Morača River, is one of the few remaining free-flowing rivers in Europe and provides two thirds of the flows into Lake Skadar, the biggest lake in the Balkans and one of the most important bird and fish habitats in the Mediterranean region. According to research conducted in 2008, the canyon of the Morača, and tributaries the Mrtvica and Mala Rijeka, identified 42% of birds nesting in Montenegro , the majority of which are under national or international protection.

An independent audit of the Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment of the Energy Development Strategy done by WWF, Green Home, MANS and SEEChange.net confirmed that the Strategy revolves around unsuitable locations and abounds with insufficient data and calculations and unrealistic forecasts.

"Montenegro is a candidate country to the EU and is required to implement several EU Directives. What we see is that the new energy strategy ignores the recommendations of the Water Framework Directive, the Habitats Directive and the Birds Directive, which require that governments avoid projects that could endanger the quality of the environment and of freshwater ecosystems, unless they are of vital national importance, which the Government of Montenegro failed to prove. We will keep watching and fighting if necessary" said Francesca Antonelli of WWF Mediterranean Programme.

WWF worked with the International Hydropower Association among a broad range of international organisations including the World Bank, to draw up the Hydropower Sustainability Assessment Protocols for dam projects.  The Protocol measures the sustainability performance of hydropower plans and projects against international good and best practices and ensures better analysis of the necessity for projects, the viability of alternatives, and more adequate reporting and consultation.

"This is the level at which this project needs to be assessed," said Dr. Jian-hua Meng, Water Security Lead for WWF International.

 For further information: Chantal MENARD, Communications Manager, WWF Mediterranean: cmenard@wwfmedpo.org
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Date: Tuesday, 22 Jul 2014 00:00
Pacific Bluefin Tuna auction in local Japanese fishing port © (c)WWF Japan.Lima, Peru - WWF will urge a suspension of the Pacific Bluefin tuna fishery, if fishing nations fail to set binding catch limits in line with scientific recommendations this year.

WWF's hardening stance follows an inconclusive annual meeting of the Inter American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) which deferred discussions on bluefin tuna quotas to October. Catch reductions of at least 50 per cent and a drastic reduction in the take of juveniles will also need to be implemented by the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) in Samoa in December in order to secure the future of the fishery.

"It is extremely disappointing that five days of negotiations by the 21 country members of the IATTC have produced so little in the way of tangible fishery outcomes," said Pablo Guerrero, Eastern Pacific Ocean Tuna Coordinator for WWF's Smart Fishing Initiative. "According to the scientists the breeding stock of Pacific Bluefin Tuna are at only 4 per cent of original levels and 90 percent of the current catch are juveniles yet to breed."

At the just concluded meeting, major fishing countries Japan, Korea, Mexico and the US did not agree on conservation measures and delayed decisions until October, when the parties will meet again to negotiate the quota for 2015. WWF is seeking a reduction from 5000 to 2750 metric tons.

For tuna generally where purse seine fishery capacity levels are a third more than levels set out in the IAATC's 2005 Plan for Management of Regional Capacity, the commission was also unable to agree on a reduction plan to meet the capacity limits. The alternative, said Guerrero, was to expand the size and duration of fishery closures to maintain healthy tuna stocks in the face of the overcapacity and this should be of great concern to the fisheries sector.

The IATTC also failed to adopt conservation measures to reduce fishing mortality of silky sharks in order to rebuild stocks. Sharks are species of slow growth and late maturity which are captured by various fleets in the Pacific. Japan and Korea objected to proposals to totally prohibit the removal of shark fins at sea and to require that sharks be landed with their fins naturally attached, citing economic reasons like quality deteriorations and capacity

A positive outcome of the meeting was the approval of mandatory IMO (International Maritime Organization) numbers for all purse seiners and long liners greater than 20m in length operating in the Convention area to monitor and control existing fishing capacity. WWF is very pleased that the IATTC voted for the evaluation of target and limit reference points for the North Pacific albacore, which will permit scientist to assess the impacts of strategies and management options for this fishery.

Note to editors
[1] The IATTC is responsible for the conservation and management of tuna and other marine resources in the eastern Pacific Ocean. The members of the IATTC are: Belize, Canada, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, European Union, France, Guatemala, Japan, Kiribati, Korea, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Chinese Taipei, United States, Vanuatu, Venezuela.

More information:
•Pablo Guerrero, Eastern Pacific Ocean Tuna Coordinator – WWF Smart Fishing Initiative pablo.guerrero@wwf.org.ec , Cel+593 9 99204171



 
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Date: Saturday, 12 Jul 2014 00:00
Pacific Bluefin Tuna auction in local Japanese fishing port © (c)WWF Japan.Lima, Peru: The long term sustainability of the Pacific Bluefin Tuna fishery can only be guaranteed by following the science and halving catch limits, WWF will tell the two Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) covering the Pacific.

The 21 country and European Union members of the Inter American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) meeting next week in Lima, Peru will be faced with findings that measures of Pacific Bluefin tuna breeding stock have declined from their unfished levels by more than 96 percent. Also concerning is the fact that about 90% of the fished species are young fish that have not yet reproduced. The advice from experts of the International Scientific Committee (ISC) for tuna on how overfished Pacific Bluefin tuna must also be taken to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) in Samoa in December.

Japan, Mexico, the United States and South Korea are the major countries fishing Pacific bluefin, while the main market is Japan.

"Management measures in the Eastern Pacific and Western and Central Pacific are totally insufficient to preserve the Pacific Bluefin tuna stock. Only a 50% reduction of catches and stringent measures to protect juveniles can ensure a long-term sustainability of this fishery," said Pablo Guerrero, Eastern Pacific Ocean Tuna Coordinator for WWF's Smart Fishing Initiative.

Fleet capacity one third more than recommendation

In June 2012, the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission set a quota for the tuna catch in the eastern Pacific for the first time ever. Last year the IATTC established that commercial catches in the Eastern Pacific Ocean should not exceed 5000 metric tons in 2014, but only the significant reduction of this quota might help Pacific bluefin tuna biomass to recover.

"Delegates to the Lima meeting need to agree to a catch limit of 2750 metric tons to be consistent with the ISC's recommendation of a 50% reduction of catches", said Guerrero.

For tuna fisheries generally, WWF is highlighting "a clear fishing overcapacity in the Eastern Pacific that undermines the economic performance of the fleet and if not properly controlled, can lead to overfishing of the main tuna stocks". WWF is calling on IATTC for an urgent reduction plan to meet the purse seine fishery capacity levels set out in its 2005 Plan for Management of Regional Capacity, given that current recorded capacity levels exceed these limits by more than a third.

"We are hoping that the Pacific Ocean tuna fishers will see it is in their best interests to address this issue of too many boats chasing too few fish and avoid more draconian management measures such as extended closed seasons and areas."

The IATTC should also adopt conservation measures to reduce fishing mortality of silky sharks in order to rebuild the stock of these sharks in the EPO, and also totally prohibit the removal of fins at sea and to require that sharks be landed with their fins naturally attached. IATTC members should adopt the scientific recommendations on best practices for handling mantarays aboard purse seiners.

Other measures which could make tuna fisheries more sustainable include: mandatory IMO (International Maritime Organization) numbers for all purse seiners and long liners greater than 20m in length operating in the Convention area to monitor and control existing fishing capacity; to provide additional data on movement of FADs (Fish Aggregated Devices) to the Commission, and to mark and identify these devices. And finally, that fishing fleets using FADs avoid the use of any entangling material deployed beneath them in order to reduce by catch of sea turtles and sharks.

Tuna is one of the most valuable fisheries in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, supporting a billion dollar industry that sustains the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people and contributes to economic growth and social development in the region. "It is vital that the member states of the IATTC expand their commitment to the responsible management necessary for sustainable levels of tuna stocks while ensuring a healthy long-term shark population at the same time," added Pablo Guerrero.


Note to editors
[1] The IATTC is responsible for the conservation and management of tuna and other marine resources in the eastern Pacific Ocean. The members of the IATTC are: Belize, Canada, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, European Union, France, Guatemala, Japan, Kiribati, Korea, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Chinese Taipei, United States, Vanuatu, Venezuela.


For more detailed information:
•Pablo Guerrero, Eastern Pacific Ocean Tuna Coordinator – WWF Smart Fishing Initiative pablo.guerrero@wwf.org.ec , Cel+593 9 99204171
•Julio Mario Fernandez, Communications Director, WWF-LAC
JulioMario.Fernandez@wwfus.org, Cel + 593 9 83356421 / Office + 593 2 2554783,

About WWF
WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. More information: panda.org/news
 
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Date: Saturday, 12 Jul 2014 00:00
Pacific Bluefin Tuna auction in local Japanese fishing port © (c)WWF Japan.Lima, Peru: The long term sustainability of the Pacific Bluefin Tuna fishery can only be guaranteed by following the science and halving catch limits, WWF will tell the two Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) covering the Pacific.

The 21 country and European Union members of the Inter American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC) meeting next week in Lima, Peru will be faced with findings that measures of Pacific Bluefin tuna breeding stock have declined from their unfished levels by more than 96 percent. Also concerning is the fact that about 90% of the fished species are young fish that have not yet reproduced. The advice from experts of the International Scientific Committee (ISC) for tuna on how overfished Pacific Bluefin tuna must also be taken to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) in Samoa in December.

Japan, Mexico, the United States and South Korea are the major countries fishing Pacific bluefin, while the main market is Japan.

"Management measures in the Eastern Pacific and Western and Central Pacific are totally insufficient to preserve the Pacific Bluefin tuna stock. Only a 50% reduction of catches and stringent measures to protect juveniles can ensure a long-term sustainability of this fishery," said Pablo Guerrero, Eastern Pacific Ocean Tuna Coordinator for WWF's Smart Fishing Initiative.

Fleet capacity one third more than recommendation

In June 2012, the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission set a quota for the tuna catch in the eastern Pacific for the first time ever. Last year the IATTC established that commercial catches in the Eastern Pacific Ocean should not exceed 5000 metric tons in 2014, but only the significant reduction of this quota might help Pacific bluefin tuna biomass to recover.

"Delegates to the Lima meeting need to agree to a catch limit of 2750 metric tons to be consistent with the ISC's recommendation of a 50% reduction of catches", said Guerrero.

For tuna fisheries generally, WWF is highlighting "a clear fishing overcapacity in the Eastern Pacific that undermines the economic performance of the fleet and if not properly controlled, can lead to overfishing of the main tuna stocks". WWF is calling on IATTC for an urgent reduction plan to meet the purse seine fishery capacity levels set out in its 2005 Plan for Management of Regional Capacity, given that current recorded capacity levels exceed these limits by more than a third.

"We are hoping that the Pacific Ocean tuna fishers will see it is in their best interests to address this issue of too many boats chasing too few fish and avoid more draconian management measures such as extended closed seasons and areas."

The IATTC should also adopt conservation measures to reduce fishing mortality of silky sharks in order to rebuild the stock of these sharks in the EPO, and also totally prohibit the removal of fins at sea and to require that sharks be landed with their fins naturally attached. IATTC members should adopt the scientific recommendations on best practices for handling mantarays aboard purse seiners.

Other measures which could make tuna fisheries more sustainable include: mandatory IMO (International Maritime Organization) numbers for all purse seiners and long liners greater than 20m in length operating in the Convention area to monitor and control existing fishing capacity; to provide additional data on movement of FADs (Fish Aggregated Devices) to the Commission, and to mark and identify these devices. And finally, that fishing fleets using FADs avoid the use of any entangling material deployed beneath them in order to reduce by catch of sea turtles and sharks.

Tuna is one of the most valuable fisheries in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, supporting a billion dollar industry that sustains the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people and contributes to economic growth and social development in the region. "It is vital that the member states of the IATTC expand their commitment to the responsible management necessary for sustainable levels of tuna stocks while ensuring a healthy long-term shark population at the same time," added Pablo Guerrero.


Note to editors
[1] The IATTC is responsible for the conservation and management of tuna and other marine resources in the eastern Pacific Ocean. The members of the IATTC are: Belize, Canada, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, European Union, France, Guatemala, Japan, Kiribati, Korea, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Chinese Taipei, United States, Vanuatu, Venezuela.


For more detailed information:
•Pablo Guerrero, Eastern Pacific Ocean Tuna Coordinator – WWF Smart Fishing Initiative pablo.guerrero@wwf.org.ec , Cel+593 9 99204171
•Julio Mario Fernandez, Communications Director, WWF-LAC
JulioMario.Fernandez@wwfus.org, Cel + 593 9 83356421 / Office + 593 2 2554783,

About WWF
WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with over 5 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. More information: panda.org/news
 
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Date: Friday, 11 Jul 2014 00:00
Seized Shipment of Illegal African Elephant Tusks, ThailandCustoms officials in Suvarnabhumi discover a shipment of African elephant tusks from Mozambique. Suvarnabhumi is a major hub for both wildlife and drug trafficking, Thailand. © WWF Canon / James MorganThailand has until next March to take measures to shut down domestic trade in illegal elephant ivory or it will face trade sanctions, an international meeting on wildlife trade announced today.

Governments at a meeting of the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) requested that Thailand enact legislation to protect elephants by stemming the trade of illegal African ivory in the country. CITES also requested that Thailand implement a registration system for domestic ivory and ivory traders.

Any possible sanctions would impact Thailand's trade in species covered by the convention, including ornamental plants, such as orchids, and reptile leather.

WWF has been calling on Thailand to fulfil the pledge it made in 2013 to close its domestic ivory market and welcomes the requirement that is now being imposed on the country.

"We feel strongly that a suspension of trade in all CITES goods from Thailand would have been justified. The country has failed to act on this issue over many years, and it should be clear to them that this is their last chance," said Dr Colman O'Criodain, WWF's analyst on wildlife trade.

Thailand's ivory market is the largest unregulated market in the world. The trade in Thailand is fuelled by ivory from poached African elephant's tusks that are smuggled into the country.

Current Thai law allows for ivory from domesticated Thai elephants to be sold legally. As a result, large quantities of African ivory can be laundered through Thai shops. Only by closing the domestic trade in ivory can Thailand help eliminate the threat to African elephants.

A recent report on Thailand's ivory market by the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC, found the availability of ivory for sale in Bangkok has tripled since Thailand pledged to eradicate its domestic ivory market in 2013. The latest CITES figures show that more than 20,000 African elephants are killed by poachers each year.

"We are heartened to see that a number of governments, especially the US and EU member states, share our concerns," said O'Criodain. "WWF has repeatedly highlighted the fact that Thailand's market is fuelling the illegal assault on African elephants and the public voiced its discontent through an Avaaz petition that gained over a half million signatures."

The meeting also took steps to curtail illegal trade in rhino horn in Viet Nam and Mozambique by highlighting the two countries as priorities in the illegal rhino horn trade. Both countries could face sanctions if they do not take measures to stamp out illegal rhino horn trade within strict deadlines.

"Viet Nam and Mozambique were given concrete milestones and deadlines to be achieved over the next year. Firm anti-poaching and trade controls in Africa, as well as strong enforcement and demand reduction in Viet Nam are key elements to solve the rhino poaching crisis. Rhinos are running out of time." says Dr Carlos Drews, WWF's Director of Species Conservation.

Mozambique must prepare a national rhino action plan detailing its activities. Viet Nam must show how it is increasing law enforcement in domestic markets, combating demand and preventing rhino horn from entering its borders.

The next meeting of CITES governments takes place in August 2015. All countries that have been put on notice must meet the requirements being demanded of them prior to that meeting.
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Date: Friday, 11 Jul 2014 00:00
Seized Shipment of Illegal African Elephant Tusks, ThailandCustoms officials in Suvarnabhumi discover a shipment of African elephant tusks from Mozambique. Suvarnabhumi is a major hub for both wildlife and drug trafficking, Thailand. © WWF Canon / James MorganThailand has until next March to take measures to shut down domestic trade in illegal elephant ivory or it will face trade sanctions, an international meeting on wildlife trade announced today.

Governments at a meeting of the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) requested that Thailand enact legislation to protect elephants by stemming the trade of illegal African ivory in the country. CITES also requested that Thailand implement a registration system for domestic ivory and ivory traders.

Any possible sanctions would impact Thailand's trade in species covered by the convention, including ornamental plants, such as orchids, and reptile leather.

WWF has been calling on Thailand to fulfil the pledge it made in 2013 to close its domestic ivory market and welcomes the requirement that is now being imposed on the country.

"We feel strongly that a suspension of trade in all CITES goods from Thailand would have been justified. The country has failed to act on this issue over many years, and it should be clear to them that this is their last chance," said Dr Colman O'Criodain, WWF's analyst on wildlife trade.

Thailand's ivory market is the largest unregulated market in the world. The trade in Thailand is fuelled by ivory from poached African elephant's tusks that are smuggled into the country.

Current Thai law allows for ivory from domesticated Thai elephants to be sold legally. As a result, large quantities of African ivory can be laundered through Thai shops. Only by closing the domestic trade in ivory can Thailand help eliminate the threat to African elephants.

A recent report on Thailand's ivory market by the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC, found the availability of ivory for sale in Bangkok has tripled since Thailand pledged to eradicate its domestic ivory market in 2013. The latest CITES figures show that more than 20,000 African elephants are killed by poachers each year.

"We are heartened to see that a number of governments, especially the US and EU member states, share our concerns," said O'Criodain. "WWF has repeatedly highlighted the fact that Thailand's market is fuelling the illegal assault on African elephants and the public voiced its discontent through an Avaaz petition that gained over a half million signatures."

The meeting also took steps to curtail illegal trade in rhino horn in Viet Nam and Mozambique by highlighting the two countries as priorities in the illegal rhino horn trade. Both countries could face sanctions if they do not take measures to stamp out illegal rhino horn trade within strict deadlines.

"Viet Nam and Mozambique were given concrete milestones and deadlines to be achieved over the next year. Firm anti-poaching and trade controls in Africa, as well as strong enforcement and demand reduction in Viet Nam are key elements to solve the rhino poaching crisis. Rhinos are running out of time." says Dr Carlos Drews, WWF's Director of Species Conservation.

Mozambique must prepare a national rhino action plan detailing its activities. Viet Nam must show how it is increasing law enforcement in domestic markets, combating demand and preventing rhino horn from entering its borders.

The next meeting of CITES governments takes place in August 2015. All countries that have been put on notice must meet the requirements being demanded of them prior to that meeting.
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Date: Wednesday, 02 Jul 2014 00:00
Ivory braclets on sale in Tha Phrachan market, Thailand © WWF-Canon / James Morgan The availability of ivory items for sale in Bangkok has nearly tripled in the last 18 months, according to a report released days before a major international meeting on wildlife trade.

The report, Polishing off the ivory: Surveys of Thailand's ivory market released today by the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC, found an increase both in the number of locations selling ivory as well as the quantity of ivory available since Thailand pledged to eradicate its domestic ivory trade in 2013.

"The level of improvement made in Thailand since 2013 is bitterly disappointing," says Dr Colman O'Criodain, WWF's Policy Analyst on International Wildlife Trade. "The country hosted the last global meeting of governments on wildlife trade, but has made no progress in shutting down its domestic markets despite a national commitment from the highest level."

The Standing Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) meets in Geneva next week to check the progress on pledges made since the 2013 meeting of parties to the convention. That meeting took place in Bangkok and was widely seen as creating a new willingness among governments to tackle the wildlife crime crisis.

WWF calls on CITES to take a harder line with countries, including Thailand, that are failing to act on their commitments to counter illegal wildlife trade. CITES can impose stricter deadlines and conduct closer monitoring. CITES also has the power to impose sanctions, by recommending that governments cease trading in CITES-listed species with countries that are not showing progress.

"The Standing Committee needs to take resolute action at this meeting," says Dr Carlos Drews, WWF's Director of Species Conservation. "Past practice, whereby the issue has simply been passed from one meeting to the next without Thailand taking concrete action, has contributed to the situation we find ourselves in now."

The TRAFFIC report shows that the number of retail outlets selling ivory in Bangkok jumped from 61 to 105 between January and December of 2013. The number and size of specific ivory products indicated that larger-sized elephant tusks are reaching the market in Thailand. This, along with seizure data, confirms illegal attempts to move large quantities of African elephant ivory into the country.

The report also provides evidence that the quantity of ivory available for purchase far exceeds the limited supply available from domesticated animals, meaning the vast majority of ivory being sold is illegal under international laws.

The latest CITES figures show that African elephant poaching rates remain above 20,000 per year, well in excess of the reproduction rate of the population, while the growing number of seizures of ivory shipments over 500kg indicate the increasing role played by organised criminals in the illegal trade.

Thailand's domestic ivory market is the biggest unregulated market in the world. In advance of the upcoming CITES meeting, a coalition of NGOs including WWF sent a letter to the country's military government calling for action on the ivory trade issue.
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Date: Wednesday, 02 Jul 2014 00:00
Ivory braclets on sale in Tha Phrachan market, Thailand © WWF-Canon / James Morgan The availability of ivory items for sale in Bangkok has nearly tripled in the last 18 months, according to a report released days before a major international meeting on wildlife trade.

The report, Polishing off the ivory: Surveys of Thailand's ivory market released today by the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC, found an increase both in the number of locations selling ivory as well as the quantity of ivory available since Thailand pledged to eradicate its domestic ivory trade in 2013.

"The level of improvement made in Thailand since 2013 is bitterly disappointing," says Dr Colman O'Criodain, WWF's Policy Analyst on International Wildlife Trade. "The country hosted the last global meeting of governments on wildlife trade, but has made no progress in shutting down its domestic markets despite a national commitment from the highest level."

The Standing Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) meets in Geneva next week to check the progress on pledges made since the 2013 meeting of parties to the convention. That meeting took place in Bangkok and was widely seen as creating a new willingness among governments to tackle the wildlife crime crisis.

WWF calls on CITES to take a harder line with countries, including Thailand, that are failing to act on their commitments to counter illegal wildlife trade. CITES can impose stricter deadlines and conduct closer monitoring. CITES also has the power to impose sanctions, by recommending that governments cease trading in CITES-listed species with countries that are not showing progress.

"The Standing Committee needs to take resolute action at this meeting," says Dr Carlos Drews, WWF's Director of Species Conservation. "Past practice, whereby the issue has simply been passed from one meeting to the next without Thailand taking concrete action, has contributed to the situation we find ourselves in now."

The TRAFFIC report shows that the number of retail outlets selling ivory in Bangkok jumped from 61 to 105 between January and December of 2013. The number and size of specific ivory products indicated that larger-sized elephant tusks are reaching the market in Thailand. This, along with seizure data, confirms illegal attempts to move large quantities of African elephant ivory into the country.

The report also provides evidence that the quantity of ivory available for purchase far exceeds the limited supply available from domesticated animals, meaning the vast majority of ivory being sold is illegal under international laws.

The latest CITES figures show that African elephant poaching rates remain above 20,000 per year, well in excess of the reproduction rate of the population, while the growing number of seizures of ivory shipments over 500kg indicate the increasing role played by organised criminals in the illegal trade.

Thailand's domestic ivory market is the biggest unregulated market in the world. In advance of the upcoming CITES meeting, a coalition of NGOs including WWF sent a letter to the country's military government calling for action on the ivory trade issue.
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Date: Friday, 27 Jun 2014 00:00
Two Mekong Irrawaddy dolphins spotted at Tbong Kla deep pool © WWF- Cambodia/ Gerad RyanWWF welcomes the Lao Government's decision to have the Don Sahong hydropower project undergo a formal consultation process, a decision likely to delay construction of the project.

The consultation process requires Laos to hold inter-governmental consultations before proceeding with the dam, and conduct and share studies on the project's environmental and the social impacts. The process will take at least six months to complete.

"Laos is now promising to do what they already signed up to under the Mekong agreement, and should have done months ago" said Marc Goichot, WWF-Greater Mekong's lead on sustainable hydropower. "Their decision to consult on the Don Sahong project, and share critical details about the project's impacts, comes after intense pressure from neighbouring countries. It is critical that pressure is maintained to ensure Laos delivers on their promise."

In September last year, Laos announced its decision to proceed with the Don Sahong dam, bypassing the Mekong River Commision's (MRC) consultation process.

The much-criticised project was discussed at the June 26-27 meeting of the MRC - an inter-governmental agency made up of representatives from the four Lower Mekong nations -- Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.

The Don Sahong dam threatens the Mekong's critically endangered Irrawaddy dolphins and will block the only channel available for dry-season fish migration, putting the world's largest inland fishery at risk. Close to 200,000 people have signed WWF's petition calling on the dam builder, Mega First, to pull out of the project.

"We thank people around the world who signed the WWF's petition to stop the Don Sahong dam," added Goichot. "Mega First would do well to listen to the growing voices of opposition to this disastrous project and reconsider their engagement."

The Don Sahong dam is the second dam on the Lower Mekong mainstem, following the controversial Xayaburi dam that Laos has begun constructing despite opposition from neighbouring Cambodia and Vietnam.

"The Mekong River Commission's joint decision-making process was effectively broken in 2012 when Laos decided unilaterally to proceed with Xayaburi dam, against the express wishes of Vietnam and Cambodia," added Goichot.

"There is currently little faith in the MRC's process to ensure joint decisions are made for the benefit of all Mekong nations. If Laos fails to be held to account, the MRC will soon lose its legitimacy and 60 million people living in the Mekong basin will suffer."
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Date: Friday, 27 Jun 2014 00:00
Two Mekong Irrawaddy dolphins spotted at Tbong Kla deep pool © WWF- Cambodia/ Gerad RyanWWF welcomes the Lao Government's decision to have the Don Sahong hydropower project undergo a formal consultation process, a decision likely to delay construction of the project.

The consultation process requires Laos to hold inter-governmental consultations before proceeding with the dam, and conduct and share studies on the project's environmental and the social impacts. The process will take at least six months to complete.

"Laos is now promising to do what they already signed up to under the Mekong agreement, and should have done months ago" said Marc Goichot, WWF-Greater Mekong's lead on sustainable hydropower. "Their decision to consult on the Don Sahong project, and share critical details about the project's impacts, comes after intense pressure from neighbouring countries. It is critical that pressure is maintained to ensure Laos delivers on their promise."

In September last year, Laos announced its decision to proceed with the Don Sahong dam, bypassing the Mekong River Commision's (MRC) consultation process.

The much-criticised project was discussed at the June 26-27 meeting of the MRC - an inter-governmental agency made up of representatives from the four Lower Mekong nations -- Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.

The Don Sahong dam threatens the Mekong's critically endangered Irrawaddy dolphins and will block the only channel available for dry-season fish migration, putting the world's largest inland fishery at risk. Close to 200,000 people have signed WWF's petition calling on the dam builder, Mega First, to pull out of the project.

"We thank people around the world who signed the WWF's petition to stop the Don Sahong dam," added Goichot. "Mega First would do well to listen to the growing voices of opposition to this disastrous project and reconsider their engagement."

The Don Sahong dam is the second dam on the Lower Mekong mainstem, following the controversial Xayaburi dam that Laos has begun constructing despite opposition from neighbouring Cambodia and Vietnam.

"The Mekong River Commission's joint decision-making process was effectively broken in 2012 when Laos decided unilaterally to proceed with Xayaburi dam, against the express wishes of Vietnam and Cambodia," added Goichot.

"There is currently little faith in the MRC's process to ensure joint decisions are made for the benefit of all Mekong nations. If Laos fails to be held to account, the MRC will soon lose its legitimacy and 60 million people living in the Mekong basin will suffer."
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Date: Monday, 23 Jun 2014 00:00
Women cutting grass in Khata, Nepal © Simon de Trey-White / WWF-UKOn the occasion of this week's United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), WWF calls on environment ministers to push for environmental concerns to be central to the new global development agenda.

Global conservation organization WWF is also advocating concerted international pressure to cut wildlife crime.

The inaugural United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), taking place 23-27 June in Nairobi, Kenya, is the first time all countries will gather to discuss environmental issues since the Rio+20 summit in Brazil in 2012.

With the Millennium Development Goals reaching their target date in 2015, a new agenda for global development is currently being created – the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

"The United Nations Environment Assembly is a historic gathering of global environmental leaders and marks a turning point in the priority level of sustainability issues for world governments," said Marco Lambertini, WWF International Director General, attending UNEA this week.

"WWF calls on environment ministers to use this opportunity to raise the commitment of their governments to integrate the environment and sustainability in all of the SDGs, currently under negotiation.

"WWF is also strongly urging environment ministers here in Nairobi this week to actively engage all sectors of their governments and civil societies to find and implement bold solutions to tackle illicit wildlife trafficking," said Lambertini.

"Much good work has been done, but the approach needs to be relentless, comprehensive, cross-sectoral and global. Both the demand and supply sides must be targeted if we are to stop this scourge.

"Together we can find effective solutions. Governments have the primary responsibility to halt and reverse this criminal activity which is not just driving the steep decline of endangered and crucial wildlife, but also affects local economies and is becoming an issue of national security."

UNEA is organized and hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). WWF has supported the upgrade of UNEP to a specialized UN agency since 2006, and welcomes the establishment of the UNEA to help raise the profile of global environmental governance.


Media contact: Gemma Parkes, WWF International Executive Communications Manager
gparkes@wwfint.org / +41 79 253 6386
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Date: Monday, 23 Jun 2014 00:00
Women cutting grass in Khata, Nepal © Simon de Trey-White / WWF-UKOn the occasion of this week's United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), WWF calls on environment ministers to push for environmental concerns to be central to the new global development agenda.

Global conservation organization WWF is also advocating concerted international pressure to cut wildlife crime.

The inaugural United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), taking place 23-27 June in Nairobi, Kenya, is the first time all countries will gather to discuss environmental issues since the Rio+20 summit in Brazil in 2012.

With the Millennium Development Goals reaching their target date in 2015, a new agenda for global development is currently being created – the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

"The United Nations Environment Assembly is a historic gathering of global environmental leaders and marks a turning point in the priority level of sustainability issues for world governments," said Marco Lambertini, WWF International Director General, attending UNEA this week.

"WWF calls on environment ministers to use this opportunity to raise the commitment of their governments to integrate the environment and sustainability in all of the SDGs, currently under negotiation.

"WWF is also strongly urging environment ministers here in Nairobi this week to actively engage all sectors of their governments and civil societies to find and implement bold solutions to tackle illicit wildlife trafficking," said Lambertini.

"Much good work has been done, but the approach needs to be relentless, comprehensive, cross-sectoral and global. Both the demand and supply sides must be targeted if we are to stop this scourge.

"Together we can find effective solutions. Governments have the primary responsibility to halt and reverse this criminal activity which is not just driving the steep decline of endangered and crucial wildlife, but also affects local economies and is becoming an issue of national security."

UNEA is organized and hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). WWF has supported the upgrade of UNEP to a specialized UN agency since 2006, and welcomes the establishment of the UNEA to help raise the profile of global environmental governance.


Media contact: Gemma Parkes, WWF International Executive Communications Manager
gparkes@wwfint.org / +41 79 253 6386
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Date: Friday, 20 Jun 2014 00:00
Deep sea fishing: Landing the catch on a deep sea trawler North Atlantic Ocean © Mike R. Jackson / WWF-CanonGland, Switzerland/Cascais, Portugal – Parties to the OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic should take measures to control human impacts in marine protected areas. Action is being urged in advance of the upcoming OSPAR meeting in Cascais, Portugal, beginning June 23.

The 15 OSPAR Convention countries and the European Union adopted the world's first network of high seas marine protected areas around the Mid-Atlantic ridge in 2010. Despite this recognition, there are currently no measures to control harmful activity in the areas except a temporary closure to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems on the seafloor from bottom fishing. Even this measure is thwarted in some locations.

Fishing of deep water and pelagic stocks remains unrestricted, as do maritime transport and potential extraction of minerals from the seabed. The lack of protection puts a wealth of wildlife at risk, including deep-water sharks and rays, peculiar squids and octopuses, sponge aggregations and cold-water coral reefs.

"WWF expects OSPAR and its contracting parties to scale up their efforts to draw up the necessary conservation measures," says Stephan Lutter, WWF's International Marine Policy Officer and observer to OSPAR. "Parties need to agree on a roadmap and have it in place by 2016 at the latest."

WWF recognized the creation of the Mid-Atlantic protected areas in 2010 by awarding the organization's highest conservation honor, the Gift to the Earth. The protected area network comprises seven sites covering over 480,000 square kilometers of ocean. In addition to the diversity of resident species, plankton-rich currents serve as feeding grounds for migratory seabirds, cetaceans and turtles.

"Swift collective action to secure this outstanding Gift to the Earth is sadly needed," says Lutter. "So far, it has been hampered by national vanities, lack of commitment in regulatory bodies and the absence of a global instrument to protect biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction."

In addition to the lack of protective measures, harmful bottom trawling continues in the high seas of the Josephine Seamount Marine Protected Area, which covers 20,000 square kilometers on Portugal's outer continental shelf.

"Activities around the Josephine Seamount run contrary to the conservation objectives of OSPAR and contravene UN resolutions on sustainable fishing. This high seas protected area is still a mere 'paper park'," says Lutter.

The upcoming OSPAR meeting will take place near Sintra, Portugal, where environment ministers adopted the first legally binding provisions to protect biological diversity and ecosystems in 1998. Progress has been made since that time to identify species and habitats under threat and decline. While further conservation measures are required, a network of marine protected areas covering over 5 per cent of the North-East Atlantic has been established.
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Date: Friday, 20 Jun 2014 00:00
Deep sea fishing: Landing the catch on a deep sea trawler North Atlantic Ocean © Mike R. Jackson / WWF-CanonGland, Switzerland/Cascais, Portugal – Parties to the OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic should take measures to control human impacts in marine protected areas. Action is being urged in advance of the upcoming OSPAR meeting in Cascais, Portugal, beginning June 23.

The 15 OSPAR Convention countries and the European Union adopted the world's first network of high seas marine protected areas around the Mid-Atlantic ridge in 2010. Despite this recognition, there are currently no measures to control harmful activity in the areas except a temporary closure to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems on the seafloor from bottom fishing. Even this measure is thwarted in some locations.

Fishing of deep water and pelagic stocks remains unrestricted, as do maritime transport and potential extraction of minerals from the seabed. The lack of protection puts a wealth of wildlife at risk, including deep-water sharks and rays, peculiar squids and octopuses, sponge aggregations and cold-water coral reefs.

"WWF expects OSPAR and its contracting parties to scale up their efforts to draw up the necessary conservation measures," says Stephan Lutter, WWF's International Marine Policy Officer and observer to OSPAR. "Parties need to agree on a roadmap and have it in place by 2016 at the latest."

WWF recognized the creation of the Mid-Atlantic protected areas in 2010 by awarding the organization's highest conservation honor, the Gift to the Earth. The protected area network comprises seven sites covering over 480,000 square kilometers of ocean. In addition to the diversity of resident species, plankton-rich currents serve as feeding grounds for migratory seabirds, cetaceans and turtles.

"Swift collective action to secure this outstanding Gift to the Earth is sadly needed," says Lutter. "So far, it has been hampered by national vanities, lack of commitment in regulatory bodies and the absence of a global instrument to protect biological diversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction."

In addition to the lack of protective measures, harmful bottom trawling continues in the high seas of the Josephine Seamount Marine Protected Area, which covers 20,000 square kilometers on Portugal's outer continental shelf.

"Activities around the Josephine Seamount run contrary to the conservation objectives of OSPAR and contravene UN resolutions on sustainable fishing. This high seas protected area is still a mere 'paper park'," says Lutter.

The upcoming OSPAR meeting will take place near Sintra, Portugal, where environment ministers adopted the first legally binding provisions to protect biological diversity and ecosystems in 1998. Progress has been made since that time to identify species and habitats under threat and decline. While further conservation measures are required, a network of marine protected areas covering over 5 per cent of the North-East Atlantic has been established.
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