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Giant Amazon fish being fished to extinction

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Arapaima, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish, has been fished to extinction in some communities in South America, a new study has found.

The arapaima can grow up to 10 foot long (3m) and weigh more than 28 stone (181kg). Its size, and its tendency to swim near the surface of rainforest rivers, makes the fish an easy target.

The findings of the study, published in the journal Aquatic Conservation: Freshwater and Marine Ecosystems, contradict traditional bio-economic theory, which says such extreme overfishing is unlikely to happen because scarcity of a species would mean costs are driven up.

The study instead supports the alternative “fishing-down” theory that says high value fish can still be fished to extinction.

Lead-author Leandro Castello, assistant professor of fisheries in Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University explained, “Bioeconomic thinking has predicted that scarcity would drive up fishing costs, which would increase price and help save depleted species. 

“If that prediction were true, extinctions induced by fishing would not exist, but that is not what has happened.”

The fish is one of the most overexploited in the Amazon basin. Arapaimas are hunted for food and for its scales, and are popular with locals as they are such large, prize fish.

The researchers looked at numbers of the species in 41 fishing communities, covering 650 square miles of floodplain area. There were also interviews conducted with 182 fishermen. The results are worrying.

Arapaima populations were overfished in nearly all of the areas studied and were found to be extinct in 19% of communities, depleted in 57% and over-exploited in 17%. They were only un-fished in 2% of communities. 

Three of the five known species are already thought to be extinct

“Fishers continue to harvest arapaima regardless of low population densities,” said Castello.

The study says this could be happening to a lot of other species, as a lack of research makes it difficult to know the exact state of populations. 

“Because tropical regions suffer from widespread illegal fishing and a lack of data, these findings suggest that many similar fishing-induced extinctions likely are going unnoticed”, said Castello

He added, “There is also a lack of economic alternatives for the fishers.”

Stocks are even being depleted accidentally, as young fish are often harvested when fishermen collect other species in nets.

However, the study does say that the implementation of protective regulation means numbers have recovered in some communities.  The study found that, in such areas, the density of arapaima can be 100 times higher than areas where there are no rules. 

Fabio De Souza of the Society for Research and Protection of the Environment in Brazil is helping implement community management for the fish in the region.

He said, “There is willingness among fishers to implement management, but our efforts require more support from governmental agencies.”

Overfishing is a huge problem around the world, but there are only limited policies to protect oceans, lakes and rivers. 

Only 3% of the world’s marine areas are currently protected. Campaigners have called for nations to commit to protecting up to 10%, to reduce the devastation of marine life.

Photo:  Haka’s Photos via Flickr

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Further reading:

Marine pioneer Lewis Pugh to swim seven seas 

World Oceans Day: ‘we can each do something to help protect our ocean’

John Kerry: the oceans are ‘under siege’

Global Ocean Commission launches ‘rescue package’ to save the oceans

UK government to lead fight against unsustainable fishing of sharks

Environment

Environmentally Sustainable Furniture for Dummies

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eco-friendly sustainable furniture choices
Shutterstock / By Rawpixel.com | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/rawpixel

We probably don’t think a great deal about our furniture choices. I know that I tend to just buy whatever looks pretty, seems functional and fits my budget. That usually means a trip to a few showrooms and big warehouse stores, like Ikea.

But we have a responsibility to the planet. We can do better. There are three major ways that our furniture can help the environment:

  1. Purchase used and/or recycled furniture and extends the lifecycle of precious materials.
  2. Source furniture that is free of environmentally unsustainable products.
  3. Choose furniture that doesn’t require electricity – opting for manual transitioning.

By investing in environmentally sustainable, high-qualify furniture, you’ll be able to pass down items from generation to generation. This will save your heirs on the cost of furnishing their own home, and help to protect the environment from wasteful fad furniture that only lasts a season or two.

Natural and Recycled Furniture Materials

If you absolutely love the look of wood furniture, search for environmentally sustainable products. For example, locally sourced wood or bamboo can easily be replenished without requiring excessive international harvesting of precious woods that harm the environment.

Sustainable wood products are only sourced from companies and locations that have the ability to quickly replace harvested wood – providing a responsible resource for generations of manufacturers and consumers.

Recycled furniture can either be a gently used item from someone else’s home, or a new piece of furniture that’s been used from reclaimed sources. You’ve probably seen examples of this at your local park – cities are increasingly using recycled materials to create benches and picnic tables.

But recycled materials don’t have to feel rough or rustic. Items made from recycled wood are readily available for order online or in-store. And believe it or not, electronic waste can be reclaimed and crafted into beautiful pieces of modern furniture.

The only limitation on recycled furniture design is the imagination of the creator. If you want to do it yourself, check out this DIY recycled furniture pinterest board!

Avoid Harsh Chemicals that Harm the Environment

Did you know that many cushions are made of highly-flammable polyurethane? Furniture manufacturers help keep our butts out of the hot seat by treating the materials in cushions with fire-retardant toxins. Unfortunately this padding breaks down overtime and the dust is both toxic to humans and the environment.

There are multiple lines of eco-friendly furniture that avoid the use of flammable polyurethane – often substituting with organic cotton. Just understand that you’re going to be in for a bit of sticker shock – eco-friendly furniture, when purchased new from major brands, gets pricey.

If you can’t afford the pricetag, I recommend finding used furniture from the same product line. There are a ton of websites dedicated to helping eco-friendly consumers find used organic, responsibly sourced products – and that includes furniture.

You’ll also want to stay away from faux leather. Furniture made from pleather and other leather substitutes are heavily treated with chemicals. That’s never a win.

Hypo-allergenic stuffing, combine with traditional leather might be a decent compromise if you have to have the leather look to tie a room together. But be conscious of the fact that tanning is not an environmentally friendly process, so try to limit these materials in your design.

In conclusion, it’s up to you how crazy you want to go. I think that as long as you stay with used furniture, you’re on the right track – even if it isn’t environmentally perfect, it’s at least a sunk cost for the environment – the damage has been done and you’re extending its useful life. But I think the most important takeaway here is buy quality items that you can pass down to your next generation – if that means spending more on higher quality new items that are sustainably sourced, so be it.

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Livery Services: Mother Nature Needs You to Invest in an Eco-Friendly Fleet

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green fleets
Shutterstock Photos - By tostphoto | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/tostphoto

In the United Kingdom, fleet vehicles make up most of the traffic traveling our roadways. If there’s one area of the transportation sector environmentalists should be focusing on, it’s the way we move goods, services and people around the empire.

Businesses that operate a fleet of vehicles need to realize the environmental impact of their service, and the opportunities available to help them lower their operating costs, while saving mother nature.

A green fleet is much cheaper to operate – both because of lower petrol consumption and government grants and tax benefits.

Let’s take a closer look at the things your company is unnecessarily spending money on every year due to an old, dirty fleet of polluters.

Vehicle Taxes on Polluters vs. Environmentally Friendly Fleets

If you want to operate your commercial van on public roads, you’re going to have to pay a VED, or Vehicle Excise Duty. The total fee assessed for this is based on the age of your vehicle, not how much you drive it. This is important, because an idle fleet of polluters can be just as costly as a fleet of green vehicles that produce value for your company.

Vans that were built after 1 March 2001 were taxed either £132 every six months, or £240 annually. This rate is effective per the TC39 VED tax code. There are exceptions to this rate.

For example, if your van is classified as a Euro 4 van, and was manufactured between 1 March 2003 and 31 December 2006, TC36 VED tax code applies to you. The six-month rate is £77, or £140 annually.

For older vans, manufactured prior to 1 March 2001, your tax rate is based on the size of the engine. Vans with engines less than 1549cc are charged £82.50 every six months, or £150 annually. Old vans with larger engines must pay £134.75 every six months, or £245 annually.

Euro 4 vans are the cheapest to operate from a tax perspective. Why? Because they were fitted with specialized filters that help to reduce the amount of dangerous pollutants that make it into earth’s atmosphere. You enjoy the tax savings year-after-year by operating these vehicles.

It really is economically more affordable to operate a green fleet.

Petrol Costs – Another Reason to Think Green to Save Green

The cost of petrol is heavily impacted by our environment. When Britain is thrashed by stormy weather due to global warming, or oil production is impacted by environmental disasters, the cost of filling up skyrockets.

At the time of this writing, petrol is £1.16 per liter, and diesel is £1.18 per liter. There are forecasts from reliable agencies that see the price continuing to rise in the near future, passing price points not seen since 2014.

Regardless of the speculative nature of future fuel prices, the fact remains that vehicles that use less fuel save their operators money every time the wheels turn.

As an alternative, many companies are heavily investigating and testing all-electric and hybrid alternatives for a greener, more economical fleet. As an example, the Nissan Leaf is one of the most popular all-electric vehicles – and it’s a fantastic choice for transporting people or smaller cargo payloads to residential destinations.  The total cost to charge a Nissan Leaf, using current electrical vehicle charging technology, is just £3.64 to go from empty to full charge.

That’s a HUGE savings over filling a petrol tank. And with the prevalence of fast-charge locations, it’s possible to go from zero to empty in just 30 minutes.

In conclusion, there are many ways to save on fleet operation costs. And by investing in a more efficient fleet, you’ll be doing your part to save the environment. Both tax incentives and lower operating costs make green fleets a no-brainier for serious fleet operators throughout the United Kingdom.

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