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Korea: Before festival, $3.4 million worth of illegal whale meat found in Ulsan
Sixteen people were detained and four arrested after over 27 tonnes of meat from 40 illegally hunted minke whales were discovered in cold storage in Ulsan’s North district on Apr. 6, Ulsan’s Jungbu Police Station announced on May 25.
The detainees included restaurant owners and transportation and sales managers. The market value of the whale meat was estimated at four billion won (US$3.4 million).
The hunting of minke whales and sales of their meat are banned by an number of agreements and regulations, including the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES); a Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs notice banning whale hunting; a Ministry of Environment notice on the international list of endangered species; and the Protection of Wild Fauna and Flora Act.
“The reason illegal minke whale hunting hasn’t been eradicated yet is because it’s impossible to satisfy the whale meat demand through the normal channels involving animals that are auctioned off after incidental catching or beaching, and because their scarcity makes business very profitable, with one animal going for anywhere from tens of millions of won to 100 million won (US$85,000),” the police explained. “They call it the ‘ocean Lotto.’”
With Ulsan’s 2016 Whale Festival a day away, the Ulsan Federation for Environmental Movement (UFEM) and the environmental group Hot Pink Dolphins separately announced proposals for making the festival one “the region can be proud of.”
Speaking at a press conference at the entrance of Ulsan’s South District Office that day, members of UFEM explained, “This year marks the 22nd Ulsan Whale Festival, yet the 12 billion won (US$10.2 million) spent in the eight years since Jangsaengpo’s designation as a ’special whale culture district‘ have nothing to show for it.”
UFEM also noted that the Whale Festival was left out of a Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism selection last year of “promising festivals” nationwide due to a lack of content and identity.
“What it needs now is a move toward finding its own identity as a whale festival, a major change in thinking, and the direction for that should be toward a ‘whale eco-city,’” UFEM said.
The group went on to list a series of proposals, including designating the minke whale as a legally protected marine animal, designating the gray whale migration site off Jangsaengpo (currently South Korean National Monument No. 126) as a legally protected marine zone, making a political decision to ban the eating of whale meat, and granting Jangsaengpo’s fishing population whale eco-tourism rights and eco-commentary and guide duties.
In a separate statement, Hot Pink Dolphins presented its own plan for “helping the vanishing whales return to Ulsan‘s waters and creating a Whale Festival that is a happy occasion for both people and whales.” Its ideas includes halting publicity, exhibitions, and activities related to whaling culture, refusing to sell or consume whale meat, and stopping dolphin shows at aquariums.
Full story at english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_national/745555.html
#Ulsan #Korea #minke #whales CITES
Image: Whale meat at the Ulsan whale festival (c) Nicole McLachan, via Korean Whaling: Accidentally on Purpose ... See MoreSee Less
6 hours ago ·
Cambodia: Mekong dam a threat to rare dolphins - and villagers too
THE DON SAHONG hydroelectric dam threatens the last 80 Irrawaddy dolphins in the Mekong River - as well as the livelihoods of the people downstream in Cambodia, who depend heavily on the river’s resources.
The people in Preah Romkel village of Stung Treng province claim their way of life is in danger. The eco-tourism that boosts the local economy will be destroyed if the endangered Irrawaddy dolphins are driven into extinction by the impact of the new Don Sahong Dam on the Laos-Cambodian border.
Lok Chanthou, deputy chief of Preah Romkel village, said villagers would be among the first to feel the impact of the dam. The Mekong river ecology would change and there would be no fish to catch and no dolphins to attract the tourists, she said.
"We are an eco-tourism community. Our lives depend on the river and its natural beauty. The dam construction is affecting tourism. If the dolphins die out, the tourism business will die as well," Chanthou said.
Full story at www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Mekong-dam-a-threat-to-rare-dolphins--and-villager-30286974.html
#Cambodia #Laos #Mekong #dam #Irrawaddy #dolphins
Image: Irrawaddi dolphin, by Dan Koehl ... See MoreSee Less
9 hours ago ·
SE Asia’s damaged peat swamps could release 8.7 gigatonnes of CO2
Clear-cut rainforests and homeless orangutans make for powerful images, but it’s what you don’t see — hidden just below the surface — that may be the most sinister threat from tropical development. Long after the last tree is harvested from a peat swamp, decomposition of the soil continues to release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Now, alarming new models show us how much is at stake, and how quickly it is being lost.
Just over half of the world’s tropical peat is found in South-East Asia, where swamps began forming 6-8,000 years ago. The organic material accumulates at a rate of 0.2-2.0mm per year, locking in large quantities of carbon. There it safely remains — unless the land is drained for agriculture or development.
By 2010, oil palm plantations had replaced 2.1 million hectares (8,100 square miles) of the region’s peat forests, while another 2.3 million hectares had been logged and abandoned. Combined, that is just smaller than Denmark.
According to new models published by a team of researchers with the US Forest Service and Universities of New Hampshire and Oregon State, that land will release 8.7 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide over the next 100 years.
To put this in perspective, that is equal to 23 power plants consuming 47 million train car-loads of coal during the same period. To offset this, we need to keep 18 million cars off the roadways for a century, or prevent every car on the planet from driving for two years ...
Read the full story on Mongabay.com at news.mongabay.com/2016/05/se-asias-damaged-peat-swamps-could-release-8-7-gigatons-of-co2/
#Indonesia #forests #deforestation #palmoil #climate #globalwarming
Image: Peat forest in Sumatra, Indonesia, razed by fire to make way for oil palm plantation (c) Paul Hilton ... See MoreSee Less
9 hours ago ·