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‘Seismic Shift’ In Shark Conservation Following New CITES Protection

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'Seismic Shift' In Shark Conservation Following New CITES Protection

A cause for celebration among Humane Society International’s marine experts as parties voted to give greater protection to thresher sharks, silky sharks and devil rays by listing them all in Appendix II, at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)

 

Rebecca Regnery, deputy director of wildlife, Humane Society International issued the following statement:

“Today’s vote to give CITES protections to thresher and silky sharks, reflects a seismic shift in the way the world views and conserves sharks. It indicates that countries recognise the conservation crisis of largely unmonitored international commercial trade in shark products such as fins and meat, leaving many shark species struggling to survive. We are delighted that CITES Parties have acknowledged the urgent need to correct this oversight in order to maintain healthy shark populations, and now we urge them to finalise the adoption of this measure by giving it the green light at the end of this meeting later this week.”

 

We are delighted that CITES Parties have acknowledged the urgent need to correct this oversight in order to maintain healthy shark populations.

 

Devil rays are beautiful, defenceless marine animals that have come under increasing serious threat due to demand from Asia for their food-filtering gill plates which are used in ‘medical’ products. Today member countries of CITES have given us hope that they will take the necessary actions to protect angelic devil rays from possible extinction. With this species in serious decline, this decision comes just in time, so we urge countries to approve this measure at the end of the meeting later this week.”

Thresher sharks are one of the most gracefully beautiful types of shark with their long, flowing tail. This has made them a favourite for divers in some countries such as the Philippines. Unfortunately they are also targeted in large number for their meat, fins and other products which are traded commercially. Proper regulation of both fisheries and trade in thresher sharks is an absolute necessity for these species to continue to thrive.

What was the proposal?

This proposal was to include in CITES Appendix II the bigeye thresher shark (Alopias superciliosus), as well as the two other “look-alike” species of the genus Alopias (commonand pelagic threshers) led by Sri Lanka with the following co-proponents: the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Benin, Brazil, Burkina Faso, the Comoros, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, the European Union, Fiji, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Maldives, Mauritania, Palau, Panama, Samoa, Senegal, Seychelles and Ukraine.

Thresher shark fast facts:

  • Thresher sharks are one of the most threatened of all pelagic shark species.
  • The bigeye thresher sharks has the lowest annual rate of population increase of all thresher sharks and is therefore especially at risk of depletion by fisheries.
  • Despite bans on catches by regional tuna fisheries agreements in the Atlantic (ICCAT), and Indian (IOTC) oceans, catches reported to the UN FAO have continued to rise in some oceans and have only fallen slightly in others.
  • Thresher sharks are listed on Appendix II of the UN Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and Annex I of the CMS Sharks MoU due to the need for collaboration on international conservation measures of this species.
  • Listing on CITES Appendix II would complement these and other fisheries management measures and help curb over-fishing and illegal fishing and trade in this species.
  • Trade in sharks that were caught illegally falls under the category of wildlife trafficking.

The silky shark is caught in large numbers in commercial fisheries around the world either on purpose or accidentally when fishing for other species. These catches are traded internationally in unsustainable numbers for their meat, fins and other products. The demand for these products has led to low incentives for adopting fisheries management measures to regulate their catches and to use methods to avoid catching them and resulted in a catch level that must be reduced now in order to prevent further declines in the populations of this vulnerable species.

What was the proposal?

Proposal to include the silky shark (Carcharhinus falciformis) in CITES Appendix II led by the Maldives with the following co-proponents: the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Benin, Brazil, Burkina Faso, the Comoros, the Dominican Republic, Egypt, the European Union, Fiji, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Palau, Panama, Samoa, Senegal, Sri Lanka and Ukraine.

Fast facts about the silky shark:

  • Increasing number of silky shark fins are found in the international fin trade despite catches being prohibited by regional fisheries management organizations in both the Atlantic (ICCAT) and the western Pacific (WCPFC) oceans.
  • The silky shark is one of the main species that is caught incidentally in tuna fisheries and this especially affects juvenile silky sharks.
  • The silky shark is listed on Appendix II of the UN Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and
  • Annex I of the CMS Sharks MoU due to the need for collaboration on international conservation measures of this species.
  • Listing on CITES Appendix II would complement these and other fisheries management measures and help curb over-fishing and illegal fishing and trade in this species.
  • Trade in sharks that were caught illegally falls under the category of wildlife trafficking.

Mobula (devil) rays

Devil rays are beautiful, defenceless animals that have come under serious threat due to the demand for their gill plates, which they use to filter their food, for use as an Asian medical product. In 2013, CITES member countries agreed to regulate the trade in manta ray gill plates which has further increased the demand for products from devil rays. These rays are in serious trouble if fisheries and trading nations do not start to regulate the trade in these products immediately.

What was the proposal?

This proposal is to include in CITES Appendix II the sicklefin devil ray (Mobula tarapacana)

and spinetail devil ray (Mobula japanica), as well as the seven other “look-alike” species of devil rays (the genus Mobula) led by Fiji with the following co-proponents: the Bahamas, Bangladesh, Benin, Brazil, Burkina Faso, the Comoros, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Egypt, the European Union, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, the Maldives, Mauritania, Palau, Panama, Samoa, Senegal, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, and the USA.

Fast facts about devil rays:

  • M. japonica and M. Tarapacana are the two largest species of devil rays with the most valuable gill plates and the highest market demand.
  • Fisheries for these species have shifted from limited subsistence fishing to unsustainable commercial fishing to supply the international demand for their gill plates.
  • All species are listed on Appendices I and II of the UN Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and
  • Annex I of the CMS Sharks MoU. Full protection and collaboration on international conservation measures are required of member countries of these agreements.
  • It is difficult to distinguish between the dried gill plates in trade of the different species of manta and mobula rays.
  • Trade in rays that were caught illegally falls under the category of wildlife trafficking.

 

 

Environment

Build, Buy, Or Retrofit? 3 Green Housing Considerations

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green housing techniques

Green housing is in high demand, but it’s not yet widely available, posing a serious problem: if you want to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, do you invest in building something new and optimize it for sustainability, or do you retrofit a preexisting building?

The big problem when it comes to choosing between these two options is that building a new home creates more waste than retrofitting specific features of an existing home, but it may be more efficient in the long-run. For those concerned with waste and their environmental footprint, the short term and long term impacts of housing are in close competition with each other.

New Construction Options

One reason that new construction is so desired among green living enthusiasts is that it can be built to reflect our highest priorities. Worried about the environmental costs of heating your home? New construction can be built using passive solar design, a strategy that uses natural light and shade to heat or cool the home. Builders can add optimal insulation, build with all sustainable materials, and build exactly to the scale you need.

In fact, scale is a serious concern for new home buyers and builders alike. Individuals interested in green housing will actively avoid building more home than they need – scaling to the square foot matter because that’s more space you need to heat or cool – and this is harder to do when buying. You’re stuck with someone else’s design. In this vein, Missouri S&T’s Nest Home design, which uses recycled shipping containers, combines the tiny home trend with reuse and sustainability.

The Simple Retrofit

From an environmental perspective, there’s an obvious problem with building a new home: it’s an activity of mass consumption. There are already 120 million single-family homes and duplexes in the United States; do we really need more?

Extensive development alone is a good enough reason to intelligently retrofit an existing home rather than building new green structures, but the key is to do so with as little waste as possible. One option for retrofitting older homes is to install new smart home technology that can automate home regulation to reduce energy use.

Real estate agent Roxanne DeBerry sees clients struggle with issues of efficiency on a regular basis. That’s why she recommends tools like the Nest Thermostat, which develops a responsive heating and cooling schedule for the home and can be remotely adjusted via smartphone. Other smart tools for home efficiency include choosing Energy Star appliances and installing water-saving faucets and low-pressure toilets. These small changes add up.

Big Innovations

Ultimately, the most effective approach to green housing is likely to be aggressive retrofitting of everything from period homes to more recent construction. This will reduce material use where possible and prevent further aggressive land use. And finally, designers, activists, and engineers are coming together to develop such structures.

In the UK, for example, designers are interested in finding ways to adapt period houses for greater sustainability without compromising their aesthetics. Many have added solar panels, increased their insulation levels, and recently they even developed imitation sash triple glazed windows. As some have pointed out, the high cost of heating these homes without such changes will push these homes out of relevance without these changes. This is a way of saving existing structures.

Harvard is also working on retrofitting homes for sustainability. Their HouseZero project is designed for near-zero energy use and zero carbon emissions using geothermal heating and temperature radiant surfaces. The buildings bridge the gap between starting over and putting up with unmanageable heating and cooling bills.

It will take a long time to transition the majority of individuals to energy efficient, green housing but we’re headed in the right direction. What will your next home be like? As long as the answer is sustainable, you’re part of the solution to our chronic overuse – of land, energy, water, and more.

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Environment

How the Auto Industry is Lowering Emissions

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auto industry to clean air pollution

Currently, the automotive industry is undergoing an enormous change in a bid to lower carbon emissions. This has been pushed by the Government and their clean air plans, where they have outlined a plan to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.

Public Health Crisis

It is said that the levels of air pollution lead to 40,000 early deaths in the UK, with London being somewhere that is particularly bad. This has led to the new T-Charge, where heavy polluting cars will pay a new charge on top of the existing congestion charge. Other cities have taken action too, with Oxford recently announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel cars from the city centre by 2020.

Eco-Friendly Vehicles

It is clear that the Government is taking action, but what about the auto industry? With the sale of petrol and diesel plummeting and a sharp rise in alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is clear that the industry is taking note and switching focus to green cars. There are now all kinds of fantastic eco-friendly cars available and a type to suit every motorist whether it is a small city car or an SUV.

Used Cars

Of course, it is the cars that are currently on the road that are causing the problem. The used car market is enormous and filled with polluting automobiles, but there are steps that you can take to avoid dangerous automobiles. It is now more important than ever to get vehicle checks carried out through HPI, as these can reveal important information about the automobile’s past and they find that 1 in 3 cars has a hidden secret of some kind. Additionally, they can now perform recall checks to see if the manufacturer has recalled that particular automobile. This allows people to shop confidently and find vehicles that are not doing as much damage to the environment as others.

Public Perception

With the rise in sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles, it is now becoming increasingly more common to see them on UK roads. Public perception has changed drastically in the last few years and this is because of the air pollution crisis, as well as the fact that there are now so many different reasons to switch to electric cars, such as Government grants and no road tax. A similar change in public opinion has happened in the United States, with electric car sales up by 47% in 2017.

Progress

The US is leading the way for lowering emissions as they have declined by 758 million metric tons since 2005, which is the largest amount by far with the UK in second with a decline of 170 million metric tons. Whilst it is clear that these two nations are doing a good job, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in order to improve the air quality and stop so many premature deaths as a result of pollution.

With the Government’s plans, incentives to make the change and a change in public perception, it seems that the electric car revolution is fully underway.

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