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'Illegal fish trade pushes critically endangered vaquita to extinction'
A recent survey by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) of marine product sellers in southern China and Hong Kong revealed a continuing illegal trade in a banned fish species which, if left unchecked, will lead to the extinction of the vaquita – the world’s most endangered marine mammal.
The vaquita is a small porpoise found only in the waters of the northern Gulf of California, off the coast of Mexico. In 1997, its population was estimated at 567 but by 2014 it had plummeted to just 97 animals due to fishery bycatch.
Recent evidence based on acoustic surveys suggests a 42 per cent decline in the vaquita population in 2013-14. This alarming drop is due to the resurgence of illegal gillnet fishing targeting totoaba fish, the swim bladders of which are highly sought in Hong Kong and southern mainland China.
International trade in totoaba fish has been banned under a global convention since 1977, yet black market trade persists. Its dried swim bladder, known as fish maw, is used in foods such as soups for its supposed health benefits. There are around 34 different types of fish maw but totoaba is one of the most highly prized and expensive and is referred to as “golden coin” maw in the trade.
In May 2015, EIA conducted a survey of 23 fish maw retailers in Hong Kong and Guangzhou, China, as well as online research to ascertain the availability of illegal totoaba products on the market. The results show that illegal trade continues to supply a relatively small group of entrenched consumers, indicating a failure by enforcement agencies to curb the smuggling and sale.
Read today's EIA News Update in full at eia-international.org/illegal-fish-trade-pushes-critically-endangered-vaquita-to-extinction
#vaquita #totoaba #China #Mexico
Image: Totoaba maws openly on sale in Guangzhou, China (c) EIA ... See MoreSee Less
8 hours ago ·
Malayan tiger reclassified as Critically Endangered by IUCN
The Malayan tiger has been reclassified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species.
The Tigers of Peninsular Malaysia were only recognised as a new subspecies (Panthera tigris jacksoni) in 2004.
The Malayan tiger has been reclassified because the best available evidence indicates that the number of mature individuals is likely less than 250 animals and has declined by more than 25 per cent in one generation (seven years).
The estimated nationwide population continues to decline from roughly 3,000 in the 1950s to 500 between 1990 and 2003 to an estimate of 250-340 in 2013.
The IUCN cites illegal trade in tiger products, loss of habitat and prey base depletion as factors in the sub-species' decline.
Image: Malayan tiger, by Rennett Stowe ... See MoreSee Less
12 hours ago ·
Orangutans face extinction on Borneo where deforestation is ‘simply unsustainable’ – UN
The massive conversion of Borneo’s forests for the production palm oil together with the impact of climate change is driving to extinction the orangutan on Asia’s largest island, making it “clear that a future without sustainable development will be a future with a different climate and, eventually, without orangutans, one of our closest relatives,” a new United Nations report revealed today.
This, according to Achim Steiner, the Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), who wrote the foreword of the report, The Future of the Bornean Orangutan: Impacts of Change in Land Cover and Climate, released today. And the report’s lead author Dr. Serge Wich declared: “The current policies for land conversion on Borneo are simply unsustainable” not just for orangutans but for the human population as well.
* Want to know more? Read EIA's latest expose of corruption in Indonesia's palm oil sector, 'Permitting Crime: How palm oil expansion drives illegal logging in Indonesia', at ht.ly/QgSBl
According to the report published by UNEP and Liverpool John Moores University in collaboration with the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP), “the massive conversion of Borneo’s forests for agricultural development - primarily oil palm - will leave the endangered orangutans fragmented and facing extinction in a number of areas.”
“The environmental impact of climate change exacerbated by the deforestation of Borneo could result in severe floods, temperature rises, reduced agricultural productivity and other negative effects,” the report said.
While native to Indonesia and Malaysia, a century of deforestation, illegal logging, hunting and expansion of agro-industrial plantations, have combined to isolate orangutans to only the rainforests of Borneo – the world’s third largest island – and Sumatra, says UNEP.
Borneo’s deforestation rate has been among the world’s highest for over two decades and 56 per cent of the protected tropical lowland forests – an area roughly the size of Belgium – was lost between 1985 and 2001.
The report goes on to say that if deforestation in the Southeast Asia continues, a staggering 75 per cent of the original forest cover will be lost by 2030.
Read the United Nations press release in full at www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=51525#.VboEmXuX-Tx
#Indonesia #Malaysia #forests #palmoil #orangutans
Image: A team from International Animal Rescue Indonesia recovers an orangutan from an area devastated for palm oil plantation (c) Alejo Sabugo / International Animal Rescue Indonesia ... See MoreSee Less
13 hours ago ·