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Sunday Round Up – #2

April 3, 2011

Top Stories

  • The nuclear crisis in Japan continues with unknown consequences for marine life. Radioactive iodine-131 has been detected in seawater near the plant at a concentration of 4,385 times the maximum level permitted under law.  Although iodine-131 has a half-life of just eight days, there are good reasons to be concerned.  The substance builds up in seaweed, a common food in the Japanese diet. If consumed, it would collect in the thyroid and can cause cancer. Monitoring for caesium-137, a far more persistent radioactive substance, continues.  Not educated on this stuff, check out the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute’s page on “Radiation and the Oceans.
  • Obama is using his executive powers to fight climate change. On March 4th, in a move surely designed to side-step Congress, Obama’s Council on Environmental Quality issued instructions to all federal agencies on how to adapt to climate change. All agencies will be required to analyze their vulnerabilities to the impacts from climate change and come up with a plan to adapt.  Countless numbers of private businesses that sell, build, provide logistics or maintenance, or anything else to the government will be forced to comply with new Federal climate adaptation guidelines—all because of Presidential Executive Order 13514.
  • The environmental impact of the Gulf Oil Spill is becoming clearer.  A new study this week suggests that 50 times more whales and dolphins died in the oil spill than officially recorded.  During the disaster itself some 115 whales and dolphins were reported dead by the US Fish & Wildlife Service. In the past few months over 80 baby dolphins have been found washed up dead in the Gulf.  Separately, scientists report finding a 2,000 year old deep-sea coral near the Macondo well.  Separately, information is emerging that blowout preventers may not prevent blowouts.
  • In Europe, the fishing sector released its set of policy asks for a reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. Europêche and Copa-Cogeca demand that “economic, social and environmental sustainability must be combined” in the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy.  The problem is that this is what the CFP already does, and so employment is typically maintained in a highly over-capitalized sector.  In short, jobs remain, fish continue disappearing.

Other Stories

  • A new report provides a great example of poor compliance with CITES, aka the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species.  Thailand reported the import of more than 10,000 captive-bred, live animals, including frogs, chameleons and tortoises, originating in Kazakhstan, while Kazakhstan reported no direct exports of these species to Thailand between 1990 and 2007.
  • A good week for fish mislabeling news. A study showed that almost 40 percent of all hake consumed in Spain is mislabelled.  Separately, in Ireland, an analysis found 20 samples out of a total of 111 were mislabeled as cod and one sample was mislabeled as smoked haddock when, in fact, they were a different, less expensive species. The survey also found that 73 percent of smoked fish samples and 13 percent of un-smoked fish samples were mislabeled.
  • Bluefin fishing countries are worried about the chaos in Libya. The EU called for a freeze on the Libyan quota, fearing the endangered fish could be further depleted amid the confusion of war.
  • Fudging the numbers on Marine Protected Areas? New Zealand said it had already protected more than 8% of its marine area from exploitation and was on track to protect 10%.  But Department of Conservation figures released to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) show that only about a third of one percent has any significant protection.

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