Eco label granted for swordfish caught on controversial longlines
  Consumers who buy one company’s swordfish caught off eastern Florida will see a blue and white label at the store that assures them the fish was caught with utmost care for life in the Atlantic Ocean.
The company awarded the eco label, Day Boat Seafood of Lake Park, Fla., says it’s a reward for years of working to take only fish from a healthy population. Conservationists, however, are concerned because most of the company’s swordfish are caught on surface longlines, which sometimes stretch for 30 miles, with hundreds of hooks.
"Long-line fisheries catch whatever is swimming by," said Teri Shore of SeaTurtles.org, an advocacy group that objected to the certification by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). "It’s not sustainable for the oceans."
The MSC’s certification for Day Boat Seafood, granted in December, was the first for any fish in the world caught on ocean-surface longlines.
The eastern Canadian longline swordfish industry, which is five times larger and sells mainly to the United States, is waiting for a decision, expected soon, about whether it will also get the MSC’s label.. An assessor reviewed the case of the Canadian fishery and recommended certification. An independent judge is reviewing objections.
The label is a marketing tool. Some consumers make purchase decisions based on it. Stores such as Wal-Mart, Target and Whole Foods say they intend to carry MSC-certified fish.
The MSC website says its vision is “the world’s oceans teeming with life, and seafood supplies safeguarded for this and future generations.” The MSC sets standards and grants its certification once an independent assessor determines they’re met.
Shore said that one of her biggest concerns is that the MSC doesn’t consider how the effects in different places add up.
"They look at each fishery as if no other fishery existed. That is not a sustainable perspective. That’s the problem," she said.
Turtles and swordfish migrate between Canada and Florida. Shore said her group argued that there’s not enough information to know whether or not longlines harm sea-turtle populations.
Leatherbacks are listed as being in danger of extinction. Loggerheads are listed as threatened, which is defined as likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future.
"The bottom line from our point of view for sea-turtle protection is, after 40 years on the endangered species list, no U.S. population of sea turtles has recovered, and longline fishing remains one of the primary reasons," Shore said.
Scott Taylor, a co-founder of Day Boat Seafood, disagreed.
"The fact of the matter is, this is really a non-issue," he said. "It makes my blood boil."
He said that the real problems for turtles were from loss of habitat and collisions with ships and pleasure boats.
Taylor said that his vessels have had no observed turtle deaths in the past five years.
"We do interact occasionally. A turtle will get either hooked or entangled in a line. I think there were something like 40 or 50 documented interactions over a five-year period, all of which were live releases."
Longlines also catch swordfish that are too small to keep, as well as sharks, diving sea birds, bluefin tuna and game fish such as blue marlins. Taylor said the amount of bycatch (unintended and unwanted catch) is low. U.S. law requires each boat to keep a bycatch log and send the reports to the National Marine Fisheries Service. NMFS observers go on about 10 percent of the trips, he said.
Taylor said his company agreed to take extra measures, such as increasing the number of independent observers to verify the accuracy of its bycatch reports, to counter critics. In five years, he plans to have observers on all vessels.
About 25 percent of Day Boat’s swordfish catch is from buoy gear instead of longlines. One or two hooks are attached to each buoy. They’re watched from the boat, and each line is hauled up quickly when it has a fish on it. Longlines, by contrast, generally aren’t hauled in for eight hours or longer.
Buoy gear produces less bycatch, but fishermen don’t use it exclusively because they can’t get enough fish, Taylor said.
NMFS requires fishermen to get trained in how to release sea turtles. They also must use a type of hook that turtles are less likely to swallow. The vessels’ location must be monitored. Observers join some fishing trips to check bycatch amounts. Lines must be long enough so that if turtles are snagged they can swim to the surface to breathe. NMFS also closes some areas for protection.
"We think it has worked," said Margo Schulze-Haugen, chief of the agency’s highly migratory species management division. Turtle losses have declined to what scientists have determined are acceptable limits, she said.
"There are many longline fisheries in the world that do not take anywhere near the care of the ecosystem that the U.S. does," Schulze-Haugen said.
SeaTurtles.org, however, argued that not enough is known about sea turtles to certify longlines like the ones Day Boat Seafood uses as sustainable.
"While this is a small fishery, there isn’t enough observer coverage or scientific data to determine whether or not on its own it harms the sea turtle populations or not," Shore said. One area of uncertainty, she said, is how many turtles are released alive but die as a result of being hooked.
One recent study by NMFS scientists and others, published Dec. 31 in a scientific journal, found that fewer female loggerheads nesting at Juno Beach in Florida were surviving in the ocean than previously thought. The scientists used satellite tagging to follow female loggerheads. They concluded that more studies were needed, but that if additional work verifies their findings, stronger conservation measures may be needed.
Kerry Coughlin, regional director for the Americas with the Marine Stewardship Council, said the experts involved in the certification looked closely at the issue of endangered and threatened turtles. Conservation groups made suggestions, and the company agreed to implement some of them, Coughlin said. The end result is a gain for turtles, she said.
Lee Crockett, who oversees federal fisheries policy at the Pew Environment Group, said that just because Day Boat Seafood got the eco label doesn’t mean that all longline fishing is sustainable.
"I think Day Boat is unique in the way they approach their fishing and their business practices and their commitment to do a better job," he said.
Jennifer Jacquet of the Sea Around Us Project at the University of British Columbia Fisheries Centre and colleagues criticized the MSC in an article in the journal Nature in 2010, saying that its standards aren’t stringent enough. The article also said that the certifiers have a financial conflict of interest, arguing that those who are lenient get more work.
In Canada, the Ecology Action Center in Halifax, Nova Scotia, said the MSC shouldn’t certify the Canadian swordfish industry because the improvements it has promised to make aren’t in place yet. The center and the Canadian conservation group David Suzuki Foundation have been calling for alternatives to longline fishing, arguing that too many sharks and sea turtles end up on the lines.

Eco label granted for swordfish caught on controversial longlines

  Consumers who buy one company’s swordfish caught off eastern Florida will see a blue and white label at the store that assures them the fish was caught with utmost care for life in the Atlantic Ocean.

The company awarded the eco label, Day Boat Seafood of Lake Park, Fla., says it’s a reward for years of working to take only fish from a healthy population. Conservationists, however, are concerned because most of the company’s swordfish are caught on surface longlines, which sometimes stretch for 30 miles, with hundreds of hooks.

"Long-line fisheries catch whatever is swimming by," said Teri Shore of SeaTurtles.org, an advocacy group that objected to the certification by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). "It’s not sustainable for the oceans."

The MSC’s certification for Day Boat Seafood, granted in December, was the first for any fish in the world caught on ocean-surface longlines.

The eastern Canadian longline swordfish industry, which is five times larger and sells mainly to the United States, is waiting for a decision, expected soon, about whether it will also get the MSC’s label.. An assessor reviewed the case of the Canadian fishery and recommended certification. An independent judge is reviewing objections.

The label is a marketing tool. Some consumers make purchase decisions based on it. Stores such as Wal-Mart, Target and Whole Foods say they intend to carry MSC-certified fish.

The MSC website says its vision is “the world’s oceans teeming with life, and seafood supplies safeguarded for this and future generations.” The MSC sets standards and grants its certification once an independent assessor determines they’re met.

Shore said that one of her biggest concerns is that the MSC doesn’t consider how the effects in different places add up.

"They look at each fishery as if no other fishery existed. That is not a sustainable perspective. That’s the problem," she said.

Turtles and swordfish migrate between Canada and Florida. Shore said her group argued that there’s not enough information to know whether or not longlines harm sea-turtle populations.

Leatherbacks are listed as being in danger of extinction. Loggerheads are listed as threatened, which is defined as likely to become endangered in the foreseeable future.

"The bottom line from our point of view for sea-turtle protection is, after 40 years on the endangered species list, no U.S. population of sea turtles has recovered, and longline fishing remains one of the primary reasons," Shore said.

Scott Taylor, a co-founder of Day Boat Seafood, disagreed.

"The fact of the matter is, this is really a non-issue," he said. "It makes my blood boil."

He said that the real problems for turtles were from loss of habitat and collisions with ships and pleasure boats.

Taylor said that his vessels have had no observed turtle deaths in the past five years.

"We do interact occasionally. A turtle will get either hooked or entangled in a line. I think there were something like 40 or 50 documented interactions over a five-year period, all of which were live releases."

Longlines also catch swordfish that are too small to keep, as well as sharks, diving sea birds, bluefin tuna and game fish such as blue marlins. Taylor said the amount of bycatch (unintended and unwanted catch) is low. U.S. law requires each boat to keep a bycatch log and send the reports to the National Marine Fisheries Service. NMFS observers go on about 10 percent of the trips, he said.

Taylor said his company agreed to take extra measures, such as increasing the number of independent observers to verify the accuracy of its bycatch reports, to counter critics. In five years, he plans to have observers on all vessels.

About 25 percent of Day Boat’s swordfish catch is from buoy gear instead of longlines. One or two hooks are attached to each buoy. They’re watched from the boat, and each line is hauled up quickly when it has a fish on it. Longlines, by contrast, generally aren’t hauled in for eight hours or longer.

Buoy gear produces less bycatch, but fishermen don’t use it exclusively because they can’t get enough fish, Taylor said.

NMFS requires fishermen to get trained in how to release sea turtles. They also must use a type of hook that turtles are less likely to swallow. The vessels’ location must be monitored. Observers join some fishing trips to check bycatch amounts. Lines must be long enough so that if turtles are snagged they can swim to the surface to breathe. NMFS also closes some areas for protection.

"We think it has worked," said Margo Schulze-Haugen, chief of the agency’s highly migratory species management division. Turtle losses have declined to what scientists have determined are acceptable limits, she said.

"There are many longline fisheries in the world that do not take anywhere near the care of the ecosystem that the U.S. does," Schulze-Haugen said.

SeaTurtles.org, however, argued that not enough is known about sea turtles to certify longlines like the ones Day Boat Seafood uses as sustainable.

"While this is a small fishery, there isn’t enough observer coverage or scientific data to determine whether or not on its own it harms the sea turtle populations or not," Shore said. One area of uncertainty, she said, is how many turtles are released alive but die as a result of being hooked.

One recent study by NMFS scientists and others, published Dec. 31 in a scientific journal, found that fewer female loggerheads nesting at Juno Beach in Florida were surviving in the ocean than previously thought. The scientists used satellite tagging to follow female loggerheads. They concluded that more studies were needed, but that if additional work verifies their findings, stronger conservation measures may be needed.

Kerry Coughlin, regional director for the Americas with the Marine Stewardship Council, said the experts involved in the certification looked closely at the issue of endangered and threatened turtles. Conservation groups made suggestions, and the company agreed to implement some of them, Coughlin said. The end result is a gain for turtles, she said.

Lee Crockett, who oversees federal fisheries policy at the Pew Environment Group, said that just because Day Boat Seafood got the eco label doesn’t mean that all longline fishing is sustainable.

"I think Day Boat is unique in the way they approach their fishing and their business practices and their commitment to do a better job," he said.

Jennifer Jacquet of the Sea Around Us Project at the University of British Columbia Fisheries Centre and colleagues criticized the MSC in an article in the journal Nature in 2010, saying that its standards aren’t stringent enough. The article also said that the certifiers have a financial conflict of interest, arguing that those who are lenient get more work.

In Canada, the Ecology Action Center in Halifax, Nova Scotia, said the MSC shouldn’t certify the Canadian swordfish industry because the improvements it has promised to make aren’t in place yet. The center and the Canadian conservation group David Suzuki Foundation have been calling for alternatives to longline fishing, arguing that too many sharks and sea turtles end up on the lines.

Malaysia to spend $7.7M to defend palm oil from criticism
The Malaysian government will spend 24 million ringgit ($7.7 million) in 2011 and 2012 to counter criticism over the social and environmental impact of palm oil, reportsANTARA.Deputy Minister for Plantation Industries and Commodities Datuk Hamzah Zainuddin said Malaysia would “promote the advantages” of palm oil relative to other alternatives. He added that conversion of rainforests for oil palm plantations “is not damaging the environment,” citing Malaysia’s current forest cover as proof."In Malaysia, the total land area covered by forests is 56.4 per cent," he said.Malaysia is the world’s second largest producer of palm oil after Indonesia. It has roughly 4.5 million hectares of oil palm plantations.Malaysia aims to increase production over the next decade by improving productivity across existing plantations and targeting roughly a million hectares of indigenous forest land in Sarawak, a state in Malaysian Borneo. Environmentalists and human rights activists complain that planned expansion will run roughshod over traditional communities while destroying large areas of rainforest.Past and current efforts by Malaysia to defend palm oil against criticism have met mixed reviews. In 2009 Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), a group that regulates advertisements, banned a “misleading” ad by the palm oil industry. Bloggers and journalists have also complained about a deluge of comment spam whenever they post an article critical of palm oil.The oil palm is the world’s most productive commercial oil seed. Palm oil is used widely as a cooking oil and in processed food products, cosmetics, and cleaning agents. Europe is considering importing palm oil biodiesel to help meet renewable fuels targets, although recent scientific research indicates that greenhouse gas emissions savings from switching to palm oil from conventional fossil fuels are non-existent when forests and peatlands are cleared to produce palm oil.MAKES ME SO ANGRY! NOT DAMAGING TO THE ENVIRONMENT????? AARRRGGGHH

Malaysia to spend $7.7M to defend palm oil from criticism

The Malaysian government will spend 24 million ringgit ($7.7 million) in 2011 and 2012 to counter criticism over the social and environmental impact of palm oil, reportsANTARA.

Deputy Minister for Plantation Industries and Commodities Datuk Hamzah Zainuddin said Malaysia would “promote the advantages” of palm oil relative to other alternatives. He added that conversion of rainforests for oil palm plantations “is not damaging the environment,” citing Malaysia’s current forest cover as proof.

"In Malaysia, the total land area covered by forests is 56.4 per cent," he said.

Malaysia is the world’s second largest producer of palm oil after Indonesia. It has roughly 4.5 million hectares of oil palm plantations.

Malaysia aims to increase production over the next decade by improving productivity across existing plantations and targeting roughly a million hectares of indigenous forest land in Sarawak, a state in Malaysian Borneo. Environmentalists and human rights activists complain that planned expansion will run roughshod over traditional communities while destroying large areas of rainforest.

Past and current efforts by Malaysia to defend palm oil against criticism have met mixed reviews. In 2009 Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), a group that regulates advertisements, banned a “misleading” ad by the palm oil industry. Bloggers and journalists have also complained about a deluge of comment spam whenever they post an article critical of palm oil.

The oil palm is the world’s most productive commercial oil seed. Palm oil is used widely as a cooking oil and in processed food products, cosmetics, and cleaning agents. Europe is considering importing palm oil biodiesel to help meet renewable fuels targets, although recent scientific research indicates that greenhouse gas emissions savings from switching to palm oil from conventional fossil fuels are non-existent when forests and peatlands are cleared to produce palm oil.

MAKES ME SO ANGRY! NOT DAMAGING TO THE ENVIRONMENT????? AARRRGGGHH

McDonald’s Corp. has officially joined the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), a body that sets criteria for improving the social and environmental performance of palm oil production. The move bolsters the RSPO, which has recently been joined by other major companies, including Walmart, The Hershey Company, and Citigroup, and has seen uptake of its certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) increase. 
Learn more about CSPO here

McDonald’s Corp. has officially joined the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), a body that sets criteria for improving the social and environmental performance of palm oil production. 

The move bolsters the RSPO, which has recently been joined by other major companies, including Walmart, The Hershey Company, and Citigroup, and has seen uptake of its certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) increase. 

Learn more about CSPO here

Property development could destroy critical breeding ground for endangered species
As we all know mangroves are one of the most endangered habitats on earth having already lost over 40% of our mangroves forests. These submerged forests are so important for local communities as they provide a nursery ground for commercially important fish species, as well as preventing erosion and offering protection from natural disasters (such as hurricanes and tsunami). They also provide timber and fire wood and act a huge natural filter trapping sediment in their intricate root system.
So, with such a small proportion of this ecosystem remaining it must have the highest protection from governments, right? Well the short answer is no.
Umm al Qwuain, one of the seven Emirates that makes up the UAE, lies right on the latitudinal fringes of where mangroves can exist. The natural harbours’ shape slow the currents allowing for deposition to take place creating shallow waters. Ideal conditions for mangroves. Due to the mangroves, and the shallow sandy beaches on the outer islands, Umm Al Qwuain has become a sanctuary to the endangered green turtle and critically endangered hawksbill turtle which breed there on the Sheiks own private island- safe from egg collectors. The culturally, economically and environmentally important hamour grouper, which has experienced a dramatic population crash, also breeds inside these mangroves. The Emirate is even the home to government funded fisheries laboratories that are doing a great job at restocking several important commercial fish species, which have been decimated by over fishing, and have perfected captive growth of the native mangrove species.
So what’s the problem? That all sounds great, but unfortunately, it is not the whole story. In 2006 EMAAR property developers began an ambitious project to build a brand new marina in Umm Al Qwuain complete with recreational parks, schools, 8000 private residence and several man made islands. And herein lies the issue. If you change the currents inside the natural harbour by introducing obstacles (man made islands would do it) you will change to deposition rates of the natural islands. They will essentially be washed away, all the mangroves and associated biodiversity with them.
Environmental impact assessments have been performed and have given the plans the go ahead (as they did with the palm islands in Dubai- those fantastic feats of engineering had no impact there at all :S). Currently building has ceased due to a finance problem but as soon as the money becomes available there is nothing to stop EMAAR continuing with their plans and destroying one the most valuable natural jewels in the United   Arab Emirates.

Property development could destroy critical breeding ground for endangered species

As we all know mangroves are one of the most endangered habitats on earth having already lost over 40% of our mangroves forests. These submerged forests are so important for local communities as they provide a nursery ground for commercially important fish species, as well as preventing erosion and offering protection from natural disasters (such as hurricanes and tsunami). They also provide timber and fire wood and act a huge natural filter trapping sediment in their intricate root system.

So, with such a small proportion of this ecosystem remaining it must have the highest protection from governments, right? Well the short answer is no.

Umm al Qwuain, one of the seven Emirates that makes up the UAE, lies right on the latitudinal fringes of where mangroves can exist. The natural harbours’ shape slow the currents allowing for deposition to take place creating shallow waters. Ideal conditions for mangroves. Due to the mangroves, and the shallow sandy beaches on the outer islands, Umm Al Qwuain has become a sanctuary to the endangered green turtle and critically endangered hawksbill turtle which breed there on the Sheiks own private island- safe from egg collectors. The culturally, economically and environmentally important hamour grouper, which has experienced a dramatic population crash, also breeds inside these mangroves. The Emirate is even the home to government funded fisheries laboratories that are doing a great job at restocking several important commercial fish species, which have been decimated by over fishing, and have perfected captive growth of the native mangrove species.

So what’s the problem? That all sounds great, but unfortunately, it is not the whole story. In 2006 EMAAR property developers began an ambitious project to build a brand new marina in Umm Al Qwuain complete with recreational parks, schools, 8000 private residence and several man made islands. And herein lies the issue. If you change the currents inside the natural harbour by introducing obstacles (man made islands would do it) you will change to deposition rates of the natural islands. They will essentially be washed away, all the mangroves and associated biodiversity with them.

Environmental impact assessments have been performed and have given the plans the go ahead (as they did with the palm islands in Dubai- those fantastic feats of engineering had no impact there at all :S). Currently building has ceased due to a finance problem but as soon as the money becomes available there is nothing to stop EMAAR continuing with their plans and destroying one the most valuable natural jewels in the United Arab Emirates.

Climate change scientists of the world..what’s your price? 
If this turns out to be true then it is disgusting.
Willie Soon, a U.S. climate change skeptic who has also discounted the health risks of mercury emissions from coal, has received more than $1 million in funding in recent years from large energy companies and an oil industry group, according to Greenpeace.

Climate change scientists of the world..what’s your price? 

If this turns out to be true then it is disgusting.

Willie Soon, a U.S. climate change skeptic who has also discounted the health risks of mercury emissions from coal, has received more than $1 million in funding in recent years from large energy companies and an oil industry group, according to Greenpeace.

tylercard:

ver2go:

The  chief Raoni cries when he learns that brazilian president Dilma  released the beginning of construction of the hydroelectric plant of  Belo Monte, even after tens of thousands of letters and emails addressed  to her and which were ignored as the more than 600,000 signatures. That  is, the death sentence of the peoples of Great Bend of the Xingu river  is enacted. Belo Monte will inundate at least 400,000 hectares of  forest, an area bigger than the Panama Canal, thus expelling 40,000  indigenous and local populations and destroying habitat valuable for  many species - all to produce electricity at a high social, economic and  environmental cost, which could easily be generated with greater  investments in energy efficiency.
It was brought to my attention that there is a petition we all can sign to help support these indigenous people and the Amazon. Please take a second to check it out below or comparable petitions that are available. Thank you.
http://amazonwatch.org/take-action/stop-the-belo-monte-monster-dam
 

12 seconds is how long it took me to sign this petition. I hope you can spare that much and do the same.

tylercard:

ver2go:

The chief Raoni cries when he learns that brazilian president Dilma released the beginning of construction of the hydroelectric plant of Belo Monte, even after tens of thousands of letters and emails addressed to her and which were ignored as the more than 600,000 signatures. That is, the death sentence of the peoples of Great Bend of the Xingu river is enacted. Belo Monte will inundate at least 400,000 hectares of forest, an area bigger than the Panama Canal, thus expelling 40,000 indigenous and local populations and destroying habitat valuable for many species - all to produce electricity at a high social, economic and environmental cost, which could easily be generated with greater investments in energy efficiency.

It was brought to my attention that there is a petition we all can sign to help support these indigenous people and the Amazon. Please take a second to check it out below or comparable petitions that are available. Thank you.

http://amazonwatch.org/take-action/stop-the-belo-monte-monster-dam

 

12 seconds is how long it took me to sign this petition. I hope you can spare that much and do the same.


The oceans are in a worse state than previously suspected, according to an expert panel of scientists.
In a new report, they warn that ocean life is “at high risk of entering a phase of extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history”.
They conclude that issues such as over-fishing, pollution and climate change are acting together in ways that have not previously been recognised.
The impacts, they say, are already affecting humanity.

The oceans are in a worse state than previously suspected, according to an expert panel of scientists.

In a new report, they warn that ocean life is “at high risk of entering a phase of extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history”.

They conclude that issues such as over-fishing, pollution and climate change are acting together in ways that have not previously been recognised.

The impacts, they say, are already affecting humanity.

 
Croatia’s waterway management plans, being enforced as the country closes in on European Union membership, could destroy Europe’s largest river protected area, nature defenders WWF said Friday.
The environmental watchdog said that “111 kilometres (69 miles) of ‘Europe’s Amazon’, comprising parts of the natural meandering river stretches of the Danube, Drava and Mura rivers in Croatia, could be channelled in a way that would destroy Europe’s largest river protected area without bringing any real economic benefit to the region.”
Three major river regulation projects in the border area with Hungary and Serbia, that Croatia has tried to implement since 2008, comprise construction of 190 new structures, and include dredging gravel and sand from the natural river beds to increase navigation and flood protection.
However, environmental groups deem it unnecessary, the WWF statement said.
"The enforcement of such outdated projects just before Croatia’s admission to the EU is a big scandal," it quoted Arno Mohl, a WWF project coordinator, as saying.
He labelled the plans the “biggest threat to the Danube, Drava and Mura in Croatia in the last 30 years” and called for them to be stopped immediately.
In March, five central European countries — Austria, Croatia, Hungary, Serbia and Slovenia — signed a deal to launch a cross-border nature reserve.
It paved the way for the creation of the world’s first five-country protected area, described as ‘Europe’s Amazon’ because of its rich biodiversity.
The reserve will create Europe’s largest riverine protected area, covering 700 kilometres (435 miles) along the Danube, Drava and Mura rivers.
It includes rare floodplain forests and river islands and is home to Europe’s highest density of breeding pairs of white-tailed eagle and endangered species such as the little tern, black stork and otters, WWF said.
Earlier this month the European Commission gave Croatia the green light to complete EU accession talks and become the bloc’s next member on July 1, 2013.

Croatia’s waterway management plans, being enforced as the country closes in on European Union membership, could destroy Europe’s largest river protected area, nature defenders WWF said Friday.

The environmental watchdog said that “111 kilometres (69 miles) of ‘Europe’s Amazon’, comprising parts of the natural meandering river stretches of the Danube, Drava and Mura rivers in Croatia, could be channelled in a way that would destroy Europe’s largest river protected area without bringing any real economic benefit to the region.”

Three major river regulation projects in the border area with Hungary and Serbia, that Croatia has tried to implement since 2008, comprise construction of 190 new structures, and include dredging gravel and sand from the natural river beds to increase navigation and flood protection.

However, environmental groups deem it unnecessary, the WWF statement said.

"The enforcement of such outdated projects just before Croatia’s admission to the EU is a big scandal," it quoted Arno Mohl, a WWF project coordinator, as saying.

He labelled the plans the “biggest threat to the Danube, Drava and Mura in Croatia in the last 30 years” and called for them to be stopped immediately.

In March, five central European countries — Austria, Croatia, Hungary, Serbia and Slovenia — signed a deal to launch a cross-border nature reserve.

It paved the way for the creation of the world’s first five-country protected area, described as ‘Europe’s Amazon’ because of its rich biodiversity.

The reserve will create Europe’s largest riverine protected area, covering 700 kilometres (435 miles) along the Danube, Drava and Mura rivers.

It includes rare floodplain forests and river islands and is home to Europe’s highest density of breeding pairs of white-tailed eagle and endangered species such as the little tern, black stork and otters, WWF said.

Earlier this month the European Commission gave Croatia the green light to complete EU accession talks and become the bloc’s next member on July 1, 2013.

Help Save Palawan
Palawan is a beautifully biodiverse island province in the Philippines with tens of hundreds of species of flora and fauna as well as some endemics.
In 2007 national geographic traveler magazine rated this island as the 13th best island in the world having “incredibly beautiful natural seascapes and landscapes. One of the most biodiverse (terrestrial and marine) islands in the Philippines… The island has had a Biosphere Reserve status since early 1990s, showing local interest for conservation and sustainable development”.

The province of Palawan is known for its natural resources which have captivated many people, both Filipinos and foreigners.
It is home to 40% of the Philippines’ remaining mangrove areas, 30% of the country’s coral reefs, 17 key biodiversity areas, 2 UNESCO World Heritage Sites (the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River Natural Park and the Tubbataha National Marine Park), and 8 declared protected areas. It also has a wide variety of flora and fauna species.
According to Hagedorn, the ecosystem in Palawan, though, is fragile with the island’s narrow shape and thin layer of topsoil that makes it prone to erosion, and this is one good reason why mining should be banned.
A second reason is that there are laws that protect Palawan, such as the Republic Act (RA) No. 7611 or the Strategic Environment Plan for Palawan, which spells out the general strategy for development of the province.
RA 7611 mandates that “all types of natural forests, areas above one thousand (1,000) meters elevation, peaks of mountains or other areas with very steep gradients, and endangered habitats and habitats of endangered and rare species should be fully and strictly protected and kept free of human disruption,” according to a statement released by the Save Palawan Movement.
 In spite of this law, mining continues, and there are still applications for mining permits being filed even in core protection zones, said Atty. Grizelda “Gerthie” Mayo-Anda, founding executive director of the Environmental Legal Assistance Center, trustee member of the Palawan NGO Network Inc., and convenor of Bantay-Mina-PNNI.

A third reason is that the “costs outweigh the benefits,” said Anda. Mining activities result in reduction of forest cover, water pollution, and displacement of indigenous communities, she added.
According to Hagedorn, banning mining will not mean the end of livelihood. His city, Puerto Princesa, has shown that through tourism and agriculture, it is possible to survive even without mining activities.
Mika Ortega, eldest daughter of slain broadcaster “Doc Gerry,” joined the appeal for 10 million signatures for the campaign.
"We live in a culture of death. We need to change that and go back to a culture of life. The most important thing is not gold, copper, cellphone or a laptop. It’s food, air, and water—things we are losing already. The costs always outweigh the benefits. Let’s bring back a culture of life," she said. 
Lopez called for support for the signature campaign. “There is nothing in the world that can stand in the face of a people united,” she said.

Help Save Palawan

Palawan is a beautifully biodiverse island province in the Philippines with tens of hundreds of species of flora and fauna as well as some endemics.

In 2007 national geographic traveler magazine rated this island as the 13th best island in the world having “incredibly beautiful natural seascapes and landscapes. One of the most biodiverse (terrestrial and marine) islands in the Philippines… The island has had a Biosphere Reserve status since early 1990s, showing local interest for conservation and sustainable development”.

The province of Palawan is known for its natural resources which have captivated many people, both Filipinos and foreigners.

It is home to 40% of the Philippines’ remaining mangrove areas, 30% of the country’s coral reefs, 17 key biodiversity areas, 2 UNESCO World Heritage Sites (the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River Natural Park and the Tubbataha National Marine Park), and 8 declared protected areas. It also has a wide variety of flora and fauna species.

According to Hagedorn, the ecosystem in Palawan, though, is fragile with the island’s narrow shape and thin layer of topsoil that makes it prone to erosion, and this is one good reason why mining should be banned.

A second reason is that there are laws that protect Palawan, such as the Republic Act (RA) No. 7611 or the Strategic Environment Plan for Palawan, which spells out the general strategy for development of the province.

RA 7611 mandates that “all types of natural forests, areas above one thousand (1,000) meters elevation, peaks of mountains or other areas with very steep gradients, and endangered habitats and habitats of endangered and rare species should be fully and strictly protected and kept free of human disruption,” according to a statement released by the Save Palawan Movement.

 In spite of this law, mining continues, and there are still applications for mining permits being filed even in core protection zones, said Atty. Grizelda “Gerthie” Mayo-Anda, founding executive director of the Environmental Legal Assistance Center, trustee member of the Palawan NGO Network Inc., and convenor of Bantay-Mina-PNNI.

A third reason is that the “costs outweigh the benefits,” said Anda. Mining activities result in reduction of forest cover, water pollution, and displacement of indigenous communities, she added.

According to Hagedorn, banning mining will not mean the end of livelihood. His city, Puerto Princesa, has shown that through tourism and agriculture, it is possible to survive even without mining activities.

Mika Ortega, eldest daughter of slain broadcaster “Doc Gerry,” joined the appeal for 10 million signatures for the campaign.

"We live in a culture of death. We need to change that and go back to a culture of life. The most important thing is not gold, copper, cellphone or a laptop. It’s food, air, and water—things we are losing already. The costs always outweigh the benefits. Let’s bring back a culture of life," she said. 

Lopez called for support for the signature campaign. “There is nothing in the world that can stand in the face of a people united,” she said.