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* Namibia allows over-fishing of hake

* To hunt or to preserve?

* Namibian Cape fur seals worth more to Namibia alive than dead

* Nova Scotia cod fishery shows initial indications of recovery

* Record carbon emissions leave climate on the brink

* More harp seals visiting Delaware beaches

* Poor ice in Gulf of St. Lawrence likely to endanger seals

* Global warming: February sea ice extent at record low

* Thousands of grey seals in danger

* Grey seal pups take 'epic journey'

* Why consumers boycott Canadian seafood

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Other issues and articles on seals

 


 

Like Canada, Namibia allows over-fishing and then blames seals for fish population crashes

Spain’s hake appetite threatens Namibia’s most valuable fish

By: MARCOS GARCIA REY and JOHN GROBLER

Oct. 7, 2011

allafrica.com

WALVIS BAY ― Spanish companies are catching an estimated seven out of 10 Namibian hake in what has been considered one of the world’s richest fishing grounds.

Despite warnings that the stock could drop further from an already alarmingly low level, the Government of Namibia this year increased the quotas for hake catches.Meanwhile, some players ignore the rules entirely and don’t even bother to hide it. José Luis Bastos, a Spanish fishing magnate, was blunt: “We are over-catching hake, and I don’t have a problem telling the [fisheries] minister this.

”Bastos exceeds quotas without fear of harsh punishment because he is among a dozen well-connected Spanish ship owners who control almost all trade in hake, the most lucrative fish. Hake, with its mild taste and tight white flesh, is Spain’s most popular seafood.Namibia's fishing grounds in the cold, nutrient-rich Benguela Current are some of most abundant in the world.As in the rest of the world, where 85 per cent of stocks are fished to – or over – their limits, Namibian hake has been caught far beyond sustainable levels. Estimates are that there are only 13 per cent as many hake as swam here in the 1960s.

And since the decades-old nation exports most of its affordable fish protein, Namibia is increasingly food poor. A third of its two million people live on less than US$1 a day and unemployment is estimated at more than 50 per cent.There are a few groups that escape this desperate situation. Among them: The ruling post-revolutionary establishment and fishing magnates like José Luis Bastos.

From his office in the port city of Walvis Bay, Bastos explains why he’s not concerned about breaking the law. “If they are going to fine me, they must fine me,” he told reporters from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. “I’ll see what I can do about the possible penalties.”He adopted Namibian citizenship to qualify for fishing rights and is confident he can avoid stiff penalties.As he speaks, Bastos is surrounded by photos of himself with Sam Nujoma, the once celebrated rebel leader who resisted the racist apartheid regime in South Africa to become founding father and President of independent Namibia.

Though no longer President, Nujoma still dominates Namibian politics. Bastos is his frequent host on hunting trips to his farm. One picture showed Nujoma with a giant kudu he shot there. Not long ago, the farm covered almost 250 000 acres in the country’s interior, though Bastos says it is now half that size.About 10 other Namibian-Spanish joint ventures operate in Walvis Bay.

The 'Wall Street' of fish is what the locals call the long rows of high-tech processing factories with private docks for landing fish in what is among the world’s best-organised whitefish market facilities.The nearby airport was recently upgraded at a cost of 32 million Euro – half of it paid for with loans from the Spanish government – in an attempt to handle cargo jets so fresh hake can be flown to Europe.“The Spanish are in the veins of Namibia,” fisheries union leader Daniel Imbili said. He said Namibia, with scant market knowledge or resources, has little choice but to go along with the relationship.

The town that is a company Lüderitz is the only other real fishing port in the country and Spain plays the dominant role. In 1990, at Nujoma’s invitation, the Spanish company Pescanova set up shop there under the name of NovaNam.Angel Tordesillas, then-general manager of Pescanova in South Africa, steered several of the company’s trawlers to the expanding fishing port. Over the next two decades, Lüderitz grew from a population of 12 000 to 32 000.“We can say that Lüderitz is Pescanova,” Spanish ambassador to Namibia Alfonso Barnuevo said.

The investment in Lüderitz earned Pescanova the gratitude of the new nation. Tordesillas fostered a close friendship with Nujoma, then president. And Pescanova has since maintained a close relationship with political leaders. Today the company is the world’s largest supplier of hake, controlling at least 20 per cent of the total quota in Namibia in recent years. It is the third largest seafood company in Europe with 2010 sales of 1.6 billion Euro.Anonymous Namibian interests own 49 per cent of NovaNam. The rest is controlled by Pescanova, apart from a two per cent share in the company held by its workers.But it is not a happy operation.

Employees repeatedly protest poor working conditions and pay. In January, The Namibian reported, 600 workers demonstrated, claiming they were exploited and subject to “slavery.”“Everybody is afraid of Pescanova,” Imbili said. “The playing ground is not equal for all. Tordesillas is very powerful in Namibia because he’s [influencing] the Government.”Pescanova operates the largest fishing fleet in Europe and now processes more than 100 000 metric tons of fish annually, but the company is not communicative. It took 14 weeks and more than 25 phone calls and e-mails before its director of communications answered ICIJ’s request for comment with an e-mail: “We decline the invitation for interviews.”

WHERE THE POWER IS

Bastos and Pescanova are two sides of a coin that bears the same roots: Spain. That’s where most of the fish are going, and so are the profits.Companies headquartered in Spain with local subsidiaries control about 75 per cent of the hake market, according to estimates by industry insiders. Their catches last year would have brought in about US$300 million on Spain’s frozen-fish market.“The fishing industry is dominated by Spain.

That’s not a secret,” said Cornelius Bundje, deputy director of the Namibia Maritime and Fisheries Institute in Walvis Bay. “The Spanish are making a profit, and they take it to Spain and other countries.” Imbili agrees: “Billions of Namibian dollars go to Spain. The money is not invested in Namibia. There is not a value adding for Namibia in the fishing industry. … The wealth is leaving Namibia.

”Even the Namibian Hake Association ― traditionally chaired by a Namibian ― is headed by a Spaniard: Antonio Marino of Tunacor, a joint venture with the Galician company Pescapuerta. The appointment shows the extent to which Spanish interests have penetrated the Namibian ruling class. Marino, who also happens to be married to the president’s stepdaughter, denies that there is undue Spanish control of the local industry.

The key to this situation is access to the quotas. To the casual observer, Namibia’s thriving fishing industry is a model of local empowerment: Trawlers all fly the national flag, and at the sound of the 06h00 morning whistle local workers walk past flashy new SUVs parked at the factory gates.The hake industry alone employs 9 000 Namibians ― a fact that’s frequently cited to demonstrate the local benefits. Fisheries control is often lauded by international experts as one of the best in the developing world. But a closer look at the hake fishery reveals more disturbing elements.Foreign companies, mainly Spanish, benefit from political patronage that arbitrarily and opaquely hands out fishing rights to loyal members of Nujoma’s ruling Swapo Party, critics say.All Namibians are potential fishing rights holders, but the Ministry of Fisheries chooses the lucky ones.

In the past ten years, only 38 applicants have received hake quotas. When those holders get their fishing rights, they can sell quotas to the highest bidder, usually a Spanish company.This system has raised questions before, such as when the former fisheries minister Helmut Angula did not deny owning shares in a company that had seen its hake quota increased by 385 per cent.Quota is allocated on a “need” basis, which means applications often list all kinds of women's groups and marginalised people as shareholders, usually via “development trusts.” This way, empowerment criteria are met but the people whose names are used often never get to see any money, critics say.“Corruption is a significant component in influencing the allocation of concessions to particular people,” said Namibian fisheries economist Charles Courtney-Clarke.

“The Namibian Government has been unable to address the dominance of foreign companies in the fishing industry because they [Swapo leaders] lack a real plan apart from taking advantage of control over resources.”In a private conversation, a general manager of one of the Spanish fishing companies described how the system works. The Spain-based company owns 50 per cent of the local branch; the other 50 per cent belongs to Namibian partners. “They have a very high salary per month, but they don’t do any work at all,” he said. “When they pay a visit to our factory, they’re horrified at the smell of hake. But we need them because they are fishing-rights holders. Here we all need this kind of people, for political influence.”Suso Pérez, another Spanish operator, of Espaderos del Atlántico, said the local partners are figure-heads cashing in on their political alliances. “They’re all members of Swapo who have no bloody idea about fisheries.”

FISHING TO THE LIMIT – AND OVER

That Bastos so freely acknowledged overfishing his quota was because, he said, it was simply too low. “We informed the minister that the resources are fine, we are catching in record time,” he said. “We need quantity to be able to survive. I hope that the minister will take that into consideration when they decide the quotas.”Bastos said that what’s needed is more quota and less competition. In his view, too many things get in the way of fishermen’s bottom line.Sustainable fishing relies on scientifically based quotas – how much fish you can take without actually killing off the population. But the most common problem in the world’s fisheries is that scientific evidence has not been heeded by politicians and fishermen.And here Namibia fits into the larger and much direr global picture.

The last assessment of world fish stocks from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations concludes that 85 per cent of world fisheries are fished to their maximum, overfished or depleted.Namibia became a textbook case of that phenomenon when Spanish trawlers first started plundering hake in the 1960s. They hauled out so much fish that by the time Namibia won Independence in 1990, the stock was only at an estimated 13 per cent of its original level.Since Independence Namibia’s rulers have gotten a better grip of the valuable resource. The stock is no longer declining, scientists say, but it’s still a fraction of what it was, and it’s fished to its biological maximum.

Each year, the Government-controlled Namibian National Marine Information and Research Centre (NatMIRC) gives advice on biologically acceptable levels of outtake for each fish species. But the Fisheries Ministry often yields to industry pressure and sets a higher quota, critics say.“Misrepresentation of statistical information to justify increases in quota is common knowledge,” said Courtney-Clark about local stock assessments.This spring the scientists at the research centre set the biologically acceptable quota of hake to a maximum of 145 000 metric tons for the 2011-12 season, but then the Fisheries Ministry decided to raise it.

“The Minister decided on 180 000 tonnes, probably considering socio-economic factors,” explained Carola Kirchner in an e-mail. She was a Government stock assessment scientist for 18 years until she recently resigned. “Whether the stock will sustain catches of this magnitude is questionable. … In my opinion it was not a very good idea. … This will seriously backfire at some stage.”Kirchner’s assessment is that the stock will decrease again. “They can completely go against the centre’s advice. … We have to quietly accept the decisions.”The Ministry acted under significant pressure from the industry. In April, almost all hake fishing companies halted operations and laid off workers in protest for what they considered a low quota.

“What they are trying to do is blackmail me,” Bernhard Esau, Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources told the Windhoek Observer at the time. Esau did not return calls, e-mails and written requests for interviews from ICIJ.In the end, and despite its own misgivings on overfishing the stock, the Ministry of Fisheries increased the hake quota by 29 per cent above the previous year’s 140 000 metric tons. The increase went against the NatMIRC scientists’ recommendation that “variations in the [quota] must be capped at 10 per cent.”In their latest stock-assessment report the scientists say that what little is left of the stock is still vulnerable and that “the fishery should be managed by using the precautionary approach.”

ONE WORD:FISH

Carmen Sendino heads the Spanish Cooperation Office, the Spanish government’s aid organisation in Windhoek.Spain has encouraged its industry’s monopoly of the Namibian hake industry, exchanging a dozen official State visits in as many years to discuss the sector. It subsidised the transfer of Spanish-flagged vessels to Namibia and then pressured the Government to ignore invitations from the EU to enter into fishing agreements that would allow other European fishing fleets into its waters.

Also, since 1997, the NatMIRC’s research projects have been financed by the Spanish government and the region of Galicia.The generosity has to do with one thing – the presence of the Spanish seafood companies. Sendino was reluctant to comment on the details in the relation between the Spanish aid and the fishing sector, but she said one word that summarises it all: “Pesca,” Spanish for fisheries.Spain has handed out millions of dollars in aid to Namibia – some of it directly to the fishing industry. The last available figures indicate that from 2006 to 2009 Spain’s aid to the country was worth in excess of 50 million Euros, according to data from Spain’s foreign affairs ministry.

“Spain is supporting the Namibian Government, and they pay back this aid through the hake industry,” said Imbili, the union leader.According to Peter Pahl, managing director of Namibian-run fishing company Seaworks, the aid and subsidies from the Spanish government are used to lobby on behalf of its companies for fishing rights. “The Spanish government is lobbying Namibia. In this sense, Madrid’s government is being very proactive”.

The Spanish Secretariat for International Cooperation told ICIJ in a statement that the aid is not meant to favour the Spanish fishing companies in Namibia but “to strengthen the Namibian fishing sector,” which represents a quarter of the country’s exports income.As relationships go, Nujoma’s and Bastos can be said to be fairly close. In his picture-filled office, Bastos confided to us about a favour he is doing for “the old man,” as Bastos usually refers to Nujoma.“I am building a house for him,” said Bastos, and showed a power of attorney from the former President to deal with the development.The house will be located on a prime piece of land situated in what is locally referred to as “the Millionaire’s Mile” along Walvis Bay’s flamingo-flecked lagoon.On parting, Bastos added that he never asked Nujoma for any favours.

 


 

To hunt or to preserve?

Written by Clemencia Jacobs
Friday, 02 September 2011 09:32
Namibian Economist, economist.com.na

International animal welfare organisations have released a new study which suggests that seals are “worth far more alive than dead.”
‘The economies of seal hunting and seal watching in Namibia’ – a study commissioned by World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), Humane Society International and Respect for Animals (RFA) – concludes that even though the Namibian seal watching tourism industry is increasing in popularity and bringing in profits, it is being threatened by the annual seal harvesting season.

“In 2008, the seal hunt generated only $488 582 (about N$34 million) while seal watching generated a whopping $195 4329 (about N$136.8 million)

in direct tourism expenditure in the same period...In contrast with the hunt, seal watching is proving to be a reliable revenue generator. As many as 10% of tourists that visit Namibia – about 100 000 of the total number which visited the country in 2008 – have paid for the pleasure of watching seals in their natural habitat. Based on current growth trends, the report predicts that by 2016 as many as 175 000 tourists will participate in seal watching, generating close to $325721 (N$2 280 047) in direct revenue,” said WSPA in a statement.

But the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources says the annual seal harvest is justified as the seals prey on fisheries, which in turn, affects the profit of the country’s fisheries sector.

The ministry further says the annual seal harvest is within the mandate of the Constitution. Olivia Shuuluka, an economist at the Ministry of Fisheries, said the exploitation of the Cape Fur Seal represents one of the oldest commercial “fisheries” in the region and dates back to the 17th century.
Shuuluka added that the harvesting is in accordance with the UN Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and that the principle of sustainable management is also taken into consideration whenever seals are harvested; which is in line with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Code of Conduct for Responsible fisheries.

“The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources operates in the framework of the Marine Resources Act of 2000, to ensure the sustainable utilisation of marine resources for future generation. It is from this that Namibia shall continue with the sustainable management of all its natural resources, both living and non-living, including seals,” she told the Economist during a recent interview. Shuuluka added that the organisations which are calling for a more humane way in which to harvest the seals, has thus far failed to come up with an alternative method.

This year, the seal harvest has provided 81 people with jobs. According to Shuuluka, employees in the seal sector are all Namibians and have acquired harvesting skills as per the Marine Resource Act of 2000.

“It is important to share with you that those that are doing the harvesting, normally under-go training as to how to harvest and handle the seals during the harvesting season. The employment is seasonal and is highly depended on the number of seals to be harvested for a specific harvesting season. Indirect employment is also created from other workplaces such as shops, tannery and manufacturers, specialised in manufacturing and exporting for international designers; they further process the seal skin and employs between 10-20 people who are trained in how to cut, staple, buff and tan the skins,” she said with regard to the economic benefits the harvest holds for the country.

“Each year up to 85,000 baby seals are killed in Namibia to make just a few dollars from their furs; this report highlights that they would be worth so much more to the Namibian economy alive. Eco-tourism is a growing part of Namibia’s identity but tourists will be shocked to find that a seal they photograph one day may be killed the next morning. There is a clear economic case for the government to protect these animals,” said Claire Bass, WSPA’s International Oceans Campaign leader. A conference will be held on 20 September with the aim to gather facts and different viewpoints on the annual seal harvest. The conference will take place under the auspices of Ombudsman John Walters.

 


 

Study Confirms Namibian Seal Watching Worth 300 Percent More Than Seal Hunting

Author: Humane Society International/Canada
Published on Aug 31, 2011 - 7:03:41 AM
yubanet.com

MONTREAL (Aug. 31, 2011) A comprehensive study on "The economics of seal hunting and seal watching in Namibia" commissioned by international animal welfare organizations demonstrates that seals are worth far more alive than dead. Comparing the most recent figures available for both industries the report concludes that the annual Namibian seal slaughter poses a major risk to the far more lucrative seal watching tourism industry.

The report was commissioned by Bont voor Dieren (BvD), Humane Society International (HSI), Respect for Animals (RFA) and the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), and produced by the Australia-based independent economics consultancy Economists at Large. It reveals that in 2008, the seal hunt generated only CAD$503,000 (USD$513,000), a poor comparison to seal watching which netted CAD$1.97 (USD$2) million in direct tourism expenditure in the same period.

The economics report provides a detailed insight into the seal slaughter by examining the monetary benefits attached to each part of the trade. Bull seals account for a large proportion of the profits attached to the seal kills, as their penises are sold in Asian markets for alleged aphrodisiac qualities, at approximately CAD$134 (USD$137) per kilogram. The seal pups are killed for their fur, with each pelt sold for as little as CAD$5.67 (USD$5.78). Aside from the low income netted by the seal slaughter, the practice poses a real threat to the far more lucrative seal watching industry; large scale killing could lead to a collapse of seal populations, as witnessed in the 1990s.

Seal watching in contrast is a popular tourism activity undertaken by around 10 percent of tourists to the country just over 100,000 in 2008. Based on current growth trends, the report predicts that by 2016 as many as 175,000 tourists will participate in seal watching, generating close to CAD$3.34 (USD$3.4) million in direct revenues. Seal watching also delivers benefits to a far wider range of Namibian society than seal killing, helping boost tourism support services such as hotels and restaurants.

WSPA ambassador Leona Lewis said: "No price would ever be high enough to justify the killing of these harmless animals. This country has so much natural beauty to offer tourists, why allow this brutal practice to tarnish its reputation forever?"

Incongruously, the seal watching takes place on the very same beaches where the killing is allowed: Cape Cross, Atlas Bay and Wolf Bay. During the hunt season, from 1 July to 15 November, hundreds of baby seals are clubbed to death between dawn and 8 a.m. at Cape Cross, a ˜Seal Reserve'. At 10 a.m., the same beach opens as a seal watching attraction and hundreds of tourists flood in.

Quotes from organisations commissioning the report:

"Each year in Namibia, nursing baby seals are forcibly separated from their anguished mothers and beaten and stabbed to death for their fur. Fortunately, this report confirms that seal watching has the potential to contribute far more to Namibia's economy than this outdated slaughter ever could. We urge the government of Namibia to act in the best interests of its citizens, and the seals, by ending the slaughter forever." Rebecca Aldworth, executive director of Humane Society International/Canada.

"Each year up to 85,000 seals are killed in Namibia to make just a few dollars from their furs; this report highlights that they would be worth so much more to the Namibian economy alive. Eco-tourism is a growing part of Namibia's identity but tourists will be shocked to find that a seal they photograph one day may be killed the next morning. There is a clear economic case for the government to protect these animals." Claire Bass, WSPA International Oceans Campaign Leader.

© Copyright YubaNet.com

 


 

Nova Scotia cod fishery shows initial indications of recovery

By John Timmer
July 2011
arstechnica.com

Like other areas off Canada's east coast, the Scotian Shelf suffered a collapse of its fisheries during the 1990s. Haddock and cod were caught in an unsustainable fashion, eventually leading to a tremendous decline in their numbers that prompted the government to shut the fisheries. Despite this drastic action, stocks of fish like cod and haddock have remained low for years, raising the prospect that these ecosystems had shifted into an entirely new structure, one in which the former top predators would only occupy a tiny niche. Now, however, researchers are reporting the first signs that this alternate structure itself may be collapsing, raising the prospect that the Scotia Shelf may be on the verge of returning to its former self.

Although the Scotia Shelf was closed to commercial fishing, researchers were able to undertake annual surveys of the ecosystem's health using a standard bottom trawl, a practice that had started well in advance of the fishery's collapse. These provided data on the numbers and health of different species of fish; other data tracked plankton and other organisms at the base of the food web.

This data tracks a dramatic decline in the number of top predators that bottomed out just after 1990. With the predators gone, the population of smaller foraging fish (capelin, herring, and the sand lance) exploded, increasing by 900 percent in the post-collapse years. These foragers decimated the large-bodied plankton, causing their numbers to plunge as well. Worse still, these fish started feeding on the immature predators in such large numbers that they kept the population from recovering long after the maturation of young fish should have restored any temporary upset. In short, the ecosystem appeared to have shifted from one stable state, dominated by large predators, to a different one, in which smaller foragers existed in such large numbers that they kept most predators from making it to adulthood. The authors term this a predator-prey reversal.

The boom in forager population, however, followed a pattern seen in other ecosystems that have lost their top predators: the foragers outstripped their food supply, and the boom was followed by a population crash. The authors estimate that the area could support somewhere in the area of 4.3 million metric tons; the total population of foragers peaked in the mid-'90s at over 10 million tons. But these fish were individually smaller than they had been in previous years, suggesting that food had in fact become a constraint on the population. At the present, their population has dropped dramatically, down to 3 million tons.

With the forager population shrinking, the larger zooplankton species have started to increase in population, and the predatory species are starting to come back. After hovering at five percent of their previous numbers, cod have returned to a level not seen since the early 1990s. Haddock have come back even stronger, and have displaced cod as the most significant predator.

It has only been the during the last two years that the top predators have shown signs of recovery, so it's too early to conclude that the predator-prey reversal has itself been reversed. And the authors aren't sure whether the ecosystem will ever return to its former state, where cod is the dominant species. Nevertheless, they seem optimistic that this may be the case, and view the recent changes as an indication that the switch between different states of this ecosystem need not be permanent.

Any recovery is also currently fragile, as the authors note that other areas where fisheries have collapsed have been kept from recovery by a variety of factors: booms in jellyfish populations, the arrival of invasive species, and eutrophication from fertilizer runoff. So far, at least, none of these has prevented what may be a nascent recovery. There's still the chance that the predators will undergo a boom and bust of their own before the ecosystem finds a new stable point, and Canadian authorities might find themselves under pressure to reopen the area to fishing before it's ready. If and when it does reopen, however, we can hope that everyone involved has learned the importance of managing it for sustainability.

Note: this article refers to the journal article, "Transient dynamics of an altered large marine ecosystem," published in Nature, July 2011.

 


 

Record carbon emissions leave climate on the brink

Fiona Harvey, guardian environment correspondent
guardian.co.uk
29th May, 2011

Highest ever carbon emissions from energy sector puts hopes of preventing temperature rises of 2C in doubt, according to IEA chief economist

Greenhouse gas emissions increased by a record amount last year, to the highest carbon output in history, putting hopes of holding global warming to safe levels all but out of reach, according to unpublished estimates from the International Energy Agency.

The shock rise means the goal of preventing a temperature rise of more than 2 degrees Celsius – which scientists say is the threshold for potentially 'dangerous climate change' – is likely to be just 'a nice Utopia', according to Fatih Birol, chief economist of the IEA. It also shows the most serious global recession for 80 years has had only a minimal effect on emissions, contrary to some predictions.

Last year, a record 30.6 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide poured into the atmosphere, mainly from burning fossil fuel – a rise of 1.6Gt on 2009, according to estimates from the IEA regarded as the gold standard for emissions data.

'I am very worried. This is the worst news on emissions,' Birol told the Guardian. 'It is becoming extremely challenging to remain below 2 degrees. The prospect is getting bleaker. That is what the numbers say.'

Professor Lord Stern of the London School of Economics, the author of the influential Stern Report into the economics of climate change for the Treasury in 2006, warned that if the pattern continued, the results would be dire. 'These figures indicate that [emissions] are now close to being back on a 'business as usual' path. According to the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's] projections, such a path ... would mean around a 50 per cent chance of a rise in global average temperature of more than 4C by 2100,' he said.

'Such warming would disrupt the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people across the planet, leading to widespread mass migration and conflict. That is a risk any sane person would seek to drastically reduce.'

Birol said disaster could yet be averted, if governments heed the warning. 'If we have bold, decisive and urgent action, very soon, we still have a chance of succeeding,' he said.

The IEA has calculated that if the world is to escape the most damaging effects of global warming, annual energy-related emissions should be no more than 32Gt by 2020. If this year's emissions rise by as much as they did in 2010, that limit will be exceeded nine years ahead of schedule, making it all but impossible to hold warming to a manageable degree.

Emissions from energy fell slightly between 2008 and 2009, from 29.3Gt to 29Gt, due to the financial crisis. A small rise was predicted for 2010 as economies recovered, but the scale of the increase has shocked the IEA. 'I was expecting a rebound, but not such a strong one,' said Birol, who is widely regarded as one of the world's foremost experts on emissions.

John Sauven, the executive director of Greenpeace UK, said time was running out. 'This news should shock the world. Yet even now politicians in each of the great powers are eyeing up extraordinary and risky ways to extract the world's last remaining reserves of fossil fuels – even from under the melting ice of the Arctic. You don't put out a fire with gasoline. It will now be up to us to stop them.'

Most of the rise – about three-quarters – has come from developing countries, as rapidly emerging economies have weathered the financial crisis and the recession that has gripped most of the developed world.

But he added that, while the emissions data was bad enough news, there were other factors that made it even less likely that the world would meet its greenhouse gas targets.

• About 80% of the power stations likely to be in use in 2020 are either already built or under construction, the IEA found. Most of these are fossil fuel power stations unlikely to be taken out of service early, so they will continue to pour out carbon – possibly into the mid-century. The emissions from these stations amount to about 11.2Gt, out of a total of 13.7Gt from the electricity sector. These "locked-in" emissions mean savings must be found elsewhere.

'It means the room for manoeuvre is shrinking,' warned Birol.

• Another factor that suggests emissions will continue their climb is the crisis in the nuclear power industry. Following the tsunami damage at Fukushima, Japan and Germany have called a halt to their reactor programmes, and other countries are reconsidering nuclear power.

'People may not like nuclear, but it is one of the major technologies for generating electricity without carbon dioxide,' said Birol. The gap left by scaling back the world's nuclear ambitions is unlikely to be filled entirely by renewable energy, meaning an increased reliance on fossil fuels.

• Added to that, the United Nations-led negotiations on a new global treaty on climate change have stalled. "The significance of climate change in international policy debates is much less pronounced than it was a few years ago," said Birol.

He urged governments to take action urgently. 'This should be a wake-up call. A chance [of staying below 2 degrees] would be if we had a legally binding international agreement or major moves on clean energy technologies, energy efficiency and other technologies.'

Governments are to meet next week in Bonn for the next round of the UN talks, but little progress is expected.

Sir David King, former chief scientific adviser to the UK government, said the global emissions figures showed that the link between rising GDP and rising emissions had not been broken. "The only people who will be surprised by this are people who have not been reading the situation properly," he said.

Forthcoming research led by Sir David will show the west has only managed to reduce emissions by relying on imports from countries such as China.

Another telling message from the IEA's estimates is the relatively small effect that the recession – the worst since the 1930s – had on emissions. Initially, the agency had hoped the resulting reduction in emissions could be maintained, helping to give the world a "breathing space" and set countries on a low-carbon path. The new estimates suggest that opportunity may have been missed.

 


 

More harp seals visiting Delaware beaches

Mar 22, 2011

Harp seal pup
The harp seal, an animal native to Arctic waters and the southeastern coast of Canada, are becoming more and more common in U.S. waters. Three have been spotted on Delaware beaches so far this season, and two survived. / Getty Images photo

Written by Molly Murray
The News Journal

LEWES --Three adult harp seals came ashore on Delmarva beaches this season, marking what appears to be a trend throughout the region.

Officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that a large number of harp seals has migrated into Northeast region waters. And they also warned beachgoers to keep themselves and pets away from the animals. The seals can bite and pass on diseases, the officials said.

Normally, harp seals live in the Arctic and along the southeastern coast of Canada. In recent years, however, they have been spotted as far south as coastal North Carolina.

"In the spring, the Western North Atlantic harp seal population migrates to the waters around Newfoundland and Gulf of St. Lawrence to give birth to their young on pack ice," said Gordon Waring, who leads the seal program at NOAA's Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole, Mass. "However, in the past few years, we've seen an increasing number of adult and juvenile harp seals in U.S. waters from Maine to New Jersey in the spring."

Suzanne Thurman, executive director of Delaware's marine mammal stranding organization, the MERR Institute, said until this year one or two harp seals would typically be seen stranded or resting on the beach. Already this year, there have been three, she said.

Two survived. One, a female, died.

When Thurman and her team examined the dead seal, they discovered 18 oyster shells in her stomach.

Waring said he's never heard of that, but it is not uncommon to find harp seals that have swallowed rocks.

He said some speculate they swallow rocks to regulate buoyancy, or because they are starving.

Thurman wonders if it may be because the animals -- which in their normal range lick ice to get drinking water -- mistake the rocks as a water source.

Harp seals have been turning up south of their normal range since the early 1990s.

The population has grown dramatically. Canadian officials estimated in 2009 that there are 6.9 million animals.

Thurman said that with marine stranding networks and reporting systems, there is better data available, which could be a factor in increased observations.

mmurray@delawareonline.com

302-463-3334



 

Poor ice conditions expected to affect baby harp seals

Seals on thin ice
MEAT COVE — Poor ice conditions in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence are likely to endanger this year’s harp seal pups.

MEAT COVE — Poor ice conditions in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence are likely to endanger this year’s harp seal pups.

Published on March 20, 2011

Erin Potti

Department of Fisheries and Oceans biologist Mike Hammill said newborn seals could be affected by the lack of ice cover in the southern Gulf, which stretches from Gaspé Bay to Meat Cove and south to include Iles-de-la-Madeleine.

“We can’t really measure the mortality,” said Hammill. “We (won’t) know the true impact until about five years later when these animals will start to have their own young and we will see if there’s a drop in pup production or not.”

Hammill says harp seals usually look for ice pans that are about 15 metres long and about a metre thick, giving them enough room to birth and nurse their pups. This year’s ice pans measure about five metres in length and are less than a metre thick.

“If the female can find ice that’s big enough to support her and the pup for lactation, and there’s no real storm activity, it doesn’t really matter because the pups stay on the ice,” said Hammill. “The problem arises when the pans are too small, so the female can’t get up on the ice to (nurse) the pup ... If the pups are constantly being washed into the water, that’s when they get tired and they will drown.”

Hammill took a helicopter ride last week to inspect the harp seal population. He said most of the ice available was found along the New Brunswick coast and along western Cape Breton.

“There should be around 200,000 seal pups born in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence,” said Hammill. “We haven’t seen that many, and also there’s some indication that fewer pups have been born this year.”

Harp seals will give birth on ice pans, unlike the grey seals, which pup on nearby islands. At last count, the harp seal population in eastern Canada is estimated at nine million, with about 30 per cent of the population born in the Gulf. DFO estimates the size of the herd by conducting aerial surveys every four years and counting pups.

Pups are born throughout March, undergo a moult at about 25 days old and are weaned from their mothers. As their food supply runs out they begin to migrate to the Arctic, usually by April or May.

“The population is starting to reach a maximum or a ceiling,” said Hammill. “This is what we would expect for a population that’s getting close to the environmental carry capacity.”

Hammill said it’s unknown how the ice conditions will impact seal hunters, who typically harvest harp seals in late March.

Canada’s fisheries minister has not yet set the total allowable catch limit for this year’s harp seal hunt, however, DFO has approved an application from the North of Smokey Fishermen’s Association for a developmental allocation of 5,000 harp seals a year in each year from 2011 to 2015.

On Sunday, The Associated Press reported that American biologists are currently trying to determine why harp seals from Canada have been showing up in U.S. waters in greater numbers this year and farther south than usual. While it’s unclear what drove about 100 seals south, experts say it’s possible that climatic conditions and food supply are playing a role.

epottie@cbpost.com

 


 

Global warming: February sea ice extent at record low

Posted on March 6, 2011 by Bob Berwyn

Northern hemisphere snow cover well above average

By Summit Voice
Summit County Voice

Sea ice extent
Arctic sea ice extent for February 2011 was 14.36 million square kilometers (5.54 million square miles). The magenta line shows the 1979 to 2000 median extent for that month. The black cross indicates the geographic North Pole.

SUMMIT COUNTY — Arctic sea ice extent in February tied with 2005 for lowest on record since 1979, when satellite measurements began. Ice covered about 5.54 million square miles of the Arctic area, about half a million square miles below the average.

The sea ice extent was below average in both the Atlantic and Pacific sectors, especially in the Labrador Sea and the Gulf of St. Lawrence, according to the monthly update from the National Snow and Ice Data Center. Here’s an excerpt.

“While ice extent has declined less in winter months than in summer, the downward winter trend is clear. The 1979 to 2000 average is 15.64 million square kilometers (6.04 million square miles). From 1979 through 2003, the February extent averaged 15.60 million square kilometers (6.02 million square miles). Every year since 2004 has had a mean February extent below 15 million square kilometers (5.79 million square miles).”
The lack of sea ice in the Gulf of St. Lawrence poses a challenge for Harp Seal populations, which generally breed in the ice in February and March.

Sea ice grew at an average rate for the month, but the overall extent remained low as warm air dominated over much of the Arctic Ocean, with temperatures between 4 and 7 degrees above average, and even warmer (9 to 13 degrees) over the East Greenland Sea and toward the North Pole.

Temperatures 4 to 11 degrees below average prevailed over western and east-central Eurasia and parts of the Canadian Arctic in a pattern linked with the Arctic Oscillation, when the distribution of high and low pressure systems shift dramatically over the Arctic and sub-Arctic region. Last winter’s negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation was the most pronounced since 1951, bringing harsh winter weather to the northeastern U.S. and parts of Europe, but shifting ice patterns to deplete some of thickest and oldest ice in the region.

The NSIDC, together with the Rutgers University Global Snow Lab also tracks winter snow cover, using records going back 45 years in an effort to track climate change. During that span, snow cover in February averages about 17.8 million square miles.

February 2011 had the sixth-largest snow cover extent on record, at 18.3 million square miles, with more snow than usual in the western and central U.S., eastern Europe, Tibet and northeastern China.

Below-average sea ice extent and extensive snow cover are not contradictory:

“Both (are) linked to a strong negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation (see our January 5, 2011 post). A strongly negative AO favors outbreaks of cold Arctic air over northern Europe and the U.S., as many people experienced first-hand these last two winters. Whether this is a trend, or in any way linked to ongoing climate warming in the Arctic, remains to be seen."

 



Thousands of seals in grave danger from storm

Grey seals
Grey seals have taken to the shore for birthing season due to lack of ice on the Northumberland Strait. ctv.ca 2011

Updated: Sat Jan. 15 2011 6:40:13 PM

CTV.ca News Staff

Thousands of grey seals have taken to the beaches of Pictou Island for birthing season because of a lack of ice in the Northumberland Strait between Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.

Seals currently outnumber the amount of Pictou Island citizens by about 100 to one, much to the delight of some locals.

"It seems to me that they have figured out that this is a safe haven. We have a very small population. People that live here tend to appreciate nature and everything that comes with it and it's becoming an event," island resident Jane MacDonald told CTV News.

Warm water temperatures have kept sea ice from forming this winter. Normally the cows would have their babies on the thick ice surrounding the island.

Grey seals on Pictou Island
Thousands of grey seals have taken to the beaches of Pictou Island for birthing season. ctv.ca 2011

There are worries that a storm surge could be deadly for the newborns. Five years ago, thousands of seals sought safety on Pictou Island's beaches, but a storm wiped out three-quarters of the young pups.

"However, this is nature occurring naturally, in that, should we get these winds, this herd or pups will be in jeopardy," MacDonald said.

Other locals are worried about the climate.

"We're just seeing them now because there's no sea ice. If there's sea ice, they'd all be out on the ice and we wouldn't see any of them," island resident John Ross said.

If conditions hold, the seals and their pups will stay on the island for another month before heading to their natural home -- the waters surrounding Atlantic Canada.

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans estimates there are 300,000 grey seals off the Atlantic coast. The department recently commissioned a study to look at ways to reduce the grey seal population off Sable Island because it believes the seals are hurting the recovery of groundfish stocks.

With a report from CTV Atlantic Bureau Chief Todd Battis

 


 

Thrown in at the deep end: Three seal pups survive being washed 350 miles from home on 'incredible journey'

By David Derbyshire
dailymail.co.uk

Grey seal pup
Back in Northumberland: One of three newborn grey seal pups who went missing from their home on the Farne Islands only to be discovered hundreds of miles away on the coast of Holland (c) PA 2011

Last updated at 12:07 PM on 14th January 2011

At the tender age of three weeks old, most seal pups are frolicking on the beach or taking their first tentative dips in the sea.

But these adorable looking youngsters are made of tougher stuff.

In an epic journey that has astonished widlife experts, three newborn grey seal pups went missing from their home on the Farne Islands, Northumbria - only to be discovered hundreds of miles away on the coast of Holland.

The pups are thought to have been swept out to sea on strong tides and forced to make the perilous crossing during some of the worst weather of the year.

Grey seal pup
Strong swimmer: The pups are thought to have been swept out to sea on strong tides and forced to make the perilous crossing during some of the worst weather of the year (c) PA 2011

The first of the 'Farne Island three' was found on a Dutch beach on the island of Texel on 13 December aged less than three weeks old.
After it was discovered by a member of the public, apparently abandoned and alone, it was taken to a seal rescue centre in Holland.
Pups two and three were found on the 6 and 7 January and were taken to the same centre.

All of the seal pups are recovering well and will be released back into the wild once they have put on enough weight.
David Steel, National Trust Head Warden for the Farne Islands, said: 'This is a remarkable tale of determination and survival in the turbulent waters of the North Sea. For three young grey seal pups to make it through such an ordeal is amazing.'

Grey seal pup
Further afield: Seal pups have been discovered along the Northumberland coastline, but never this far away (c) PA 2011

More than 1,300 pups are born each year on the Farne Islands. Although grey seal pups can swim at an early age they rarely leave the breeding colony until they have weaned and lost their fluffy white coats.
They were spotted by their tell-tale splotches of dye.
The Farne Islands is the only place in Britain to use coloured dye to tag the newly born seals.

Colours are rotated during every colony count; two of the seals had blue dye putting their birth around 30 November, and the third pup had yellow dye, putting its birth date at around mid-November.

Late November and early December saw easterly winds and stormy seas around the Farne Islands which would have played a part in sweeping the seal pups far out into the sea.

Map of grey seals' journey

Home to one of the largest grey seal colonies in England the Islands are also famous for its hundred thousand seabirds including puffins.

Mr Steel added: 'The two pups with the blue dye would have still been dependent on their parents and the third pup would have only just gained its independence when they began their mammoth journey.
'Young pups have been discovered along the Northumberland coastline but this a real rarity.'

Tagging and survey work on grey seals has been taking place on the Farne Islands since the early 1950s - the longest running study of grey seals in the world - and the place where seal tagging was pioneered.
The survival rate of grey seals in the seas around the Islands is low and more than 45 per cent of pups do not last the winter.

Previous records suggest that older seals from the Islands have made it as far as Norway and the Faroe Islands.

Dr Bernie McConnell from the Sea Mammal Research Centre at the University of St Andrews, said: 'From our own survey work it appears that grey seal pups spend a significant part of their first year exploring - often to places hundreds of miles away.'

 


 

What motivates consumers to participate in boycotts: Lessons from the ongoing Canadian seafood boycott

By Karin Braunsberger, University of South Florida St. Petersburg, College of Business Administration, 140 Seventh Avenue South, Bayboro Station 306, St. Petersburg, FL 33701-5016, United States
and Brian Buckler, Avila University, School of Business, 11901 Wornall Road, Kansas City, MO 64145, United States

Journal of Business Research
Vol. 64:1
Jan. 2011
pp. 96-102

Abstract

Despite the tremendous growth in consumer boycotts, marketing has paid relatively little attention to consumer boycott motivations. Addressing this deficiency, this study uses netnography to investigate boycott motivations and perceived boycott participation costs by analyzing consumer comments submitted to an online boycott petition. The results show that boycott pledgees explicitly express their desire for the target to abolish its egregious behavior, their anger about the behavior in question, and their desire for punitive actions. Signatories also pledge participation for moral reasons and identify with the cause reflected by the boycott. Boycott motivations also include the belief that consumers have the power to impact the boycott target's bottom line and/or behavior as well as the belief that the boycott will succeed in forcing the target to cease its egregious behavior. Signatories, however, rarely refer to the costs of boycott participation.

For full text, visit Elsevier.

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