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Gabon Encouraging African Countries To Support The Fight Against Ilegal Fishing

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The Gabonese Government is enlisting other African countries to collaborate in marine protection and the fight against illegal fishing in the continental waters.

The announcement follows the successful conclusion of a five-month long surveillance and control mission of intense investigation at sea dubbed Operation Albacore, a pioneering collaboration between Sea Shepherd Global, a global NGO that fights illegal fishing and conserves marine biodiversity, and the Gabonese Government. During the operation, national agencies, including the National Parks Agency (ANPN) and the army patrolled Gabon’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The Gabonese Minister of State and Minister of Fisheries and Livestock, Gabriel Tchango, said that Operation Albacore brought to light the heavy toll of illegal fishing and the need for effective law enforcement and collaboration.

Fishing is an important economic activity for our country.

“Gabon’s EEZ covers an area of over 200,000 square kilometres of highly productive waters, accounts for 20% of Atlantic tuna global catches. As a continent, we need to join hands to fight illegal fishing that threatens our economic mainstay,” Mr Tchango stated, adding that he is having discussions with Equatorial Guinea and hopes to expand the operation next year to others countries in the region.

Some 60 Gabonese and Sao Tomean technicians and military personnel were trained to board tuna and other boats on the high seas and to undertake audits of the boats’ paperwork and cargo. During the 2016 tuna-fishing season, Operation Albacore conducted 5 missions in 21 days in Gabonese and Sao Tomean waters. The most horrifying discovery by a mixed team from Gabon and Sao Tome boarding a Spanish longliner authorised to fish tuna in Sao Tomean waters was the extent and violence of the by-catch.

Dr. Mike Fay, a special advisor to Gabonese President S.E. Ali Bongo Ondimba for the “Blue Gabon” program and National Geographic Explorer in Residence describes the horror of what they found: “The freezers were crammed with thousands of shark fins – there must have been at least 20 tons – and not a single tuna was visible. This boat had been illegally massacring sharks in contradiction with its license and against EU regulations”.

“Gabon’s goal is to become an innovative regional leader for marine protection. We are determined to convene our neighbours and the rest of Africa to fight illegal fishing, such as the massive shark catch of the long liner fleet”, said Minister of State and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Emmanuel Issoze-Ngondet. Whales, dolphins, sharks and turtles are regularly captured in the tuna nets.

Gabon launched the “Blue Gabon” program in 2012 under the leadership of Dr. Mike Fay and Professor Lee White, head of the National Parks Agency. That same year, the ANPN and the Waitt foundation led a marine expedition to explore Gabon’s seabed onboard the Plan B, a state-of-the-art marine research vessel. After visiting the team on board the Plan B, President Ali Bongo Ondimba made a commitment to “launch a marine conservation and management program and to do for our ocean what we have done for the forests”.

George Mba Asseko, Director General of the Gabonese Fisheries and Aquaculture Agency, stated that he was ready to propose legislation to Government to declare a series of marine protected areas covering 23% of Gabon’s EEZ.

Environment

Build, Buy, Or Retrofit? 3 Green Housing Considerations

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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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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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