WA logging Doubts
The State's environmental watchdog has cast doubt on the future of native forest logging in WA, raising concerns over the impact of declining rainfall and the spread of disease. The Environmental Protection Authority released a key report on the 2004-2013 forest management plan this morning. EPA chairman Paul Vogel said there were serious doubts that continued logging in the low rainfall zone and adjoining medium rainfall zone in the eastern portion of South-West forests was sustainable. The EPA has recommended no change to the current management plan, but has warned declining rainfall and climate change is set to result in lower log yields from WA forests. Mr Vogel said declining rainfall and disease needed to be taken into account in the next forest management plan.
"In the current audit, lower actual yields of jarrah sawlogs than forecast is, as the Conservation Commission states, likely to be subject to a number of factors," he said. "However declining long term rainfall throughout the South-West will have a deleterious effect on tree growth." Mr Vogel said there should be a separate review of logging in low rainfall zones, including the eastern jarrah forests. "However a 10-year plan may contain levels of inflexibility that are undesirable given the uncertainties," he said. Mr Vogel said he was also concerned about the affect of dieback and other diseases in WA forests. The Department of Environment had also failed to establish final guidelines for special fauna habitat zones, which were key component of the current management plan, he said. *WA News
Surveys in south-west Queensland have shown a big increase in numbers of one of the state's most endangered marsupials. Sunday is National Bilby Day, which is used to raise awareness of the plight of the endangered marsupial and other threatened species. Four bilbies were released into a predator-proof enclosure in the Currawinya National Park, south of Quilpie, five years ago. It is the only site in the state where bilbies have been reintroduced to the wild. Department of Environment and Resource Management zoologist Dr Peter McRae says the effort is paying off and the population is continuing to expand. "In the first two years almost after they were released, I was seeing one or two or maybe three bilbies in a week and now I can go down there and see 20 or 30 in a night," he said.
"I guess the most important part of it is that I'm seeing little juveniles that are just out of the pouch - that is a really good sign." Dr McRae says he is worried about people becoming complacent and tired of efforts to save Queensland's most endangered animals. He says while there are positive signs for the bilby population, the day should encourage people to consider the impact of humans on native animals. "They've declined in range by nearly 99 per cent of their former range in Queensland and if we're losing an animal like that, we are doing something drastically wrong," he said. "This is just a reminder that we really need to look after this planet and these landscapes if we want to survive ourselves." *ABC
New Federal Environment Minister
Peter Garrett has been shifted sideways, and the Federal Environment portfolio has been taken over by Tony Burke, former Agriculture Minister. This is not good, Burke is a strong supporter of the commercial kangaroo Industry, and he supports "sustainable logging" and "sustainable commercial fishing". Not good news at all for wildlife, but I dont think any of us expected good news for wildlife out of this last election. *WPAA
Butterflies are emerging up to 10 days earlier in spring than they did 65 years ago. As Melbourne warms, the city's butterflies are emerging at least 10 days earlier in spring than they did in 1945, according to research that reveals for the first time a causal link between increasing greenhouse gases, the city's warming environment and the timing of a natural event.
Here's a new and very interesting website where you can help record wildlife sightings. http://www.climatewatch.org.au/
China has suffered extremely abnormal weather this year as a result of climate change, weather researchers said. "Since last winter, events related to high temperatures, such as droughts, have been severe, and heavier-than-usual rains have hit some parts of the country, causing mudslides and flooding," Ren Guoyu, chief expert of the National Climate Center, said on the sidelines of the 21st Century Forum that started on Tuesday. *ChinaDaily...... Read more.......... http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2010-09/09/content_11276617.htm
An abrupt command from Beijing to follow through with ''iron-fisted'' energy and carbon emission cuts has thrown China's industrial heartlands into chaos. Steel factories across the country are slashing production, implying a rocky outlook for Australian commodities such as iron ore, while smaller Chinese industrialists have been arbitrarily plunged into darkness. ''We had no water to flush the toilet, we couldn't use the fridge and, of course, production stopped,'' said an office manager at Wanxing wire mesh factory in Anping, Hebei province. *SMH
Read More ....http://www.smh.com.au/business/beijings-iron-fist-on-emissions-has-industry-gasping-20100908-151ew.html
Voiceless, Two Job Opps.
Voiceless is now seeking to fill two separate positions, Executive Manager and Legal Counsel. Job descriptions are available by following this link http://www.voiceless.org.au/Taking_Action/Recruitment/ . We encourage you to pass the details of these exciting new roles onto your colleagues and friends, who are ready to dream big and help continue to build the cutting-edge area of animal law. *Voiceless
Rangers have caught a 3.3 metre saltwater crocodile at a river crossing on the Central Arnhem Highway. The crocodile was found in a trap at the Goyder River crossing, 120 kilometres north of Bulman. It is the second to be caught in the area in a month. But rangers believe a bigger, 5 metre animal may still be in the area. The Department of Natural Resources says people who choose to swim in the area are putting themselves at risk. *ABC. Meanwhile a group of women were shaken but unharmed when a three-metre crocodile attacked their boat, the ABC reported today. The women were competing in a fishing competition in the Northern Territory on the weekend when the crocodile launched itself out of the water and hit the boat in the NT. One of the women, Toni Flouse, said the crocodile hit the boat hard enough to leave "battle scars" on the vessel. "He looked like he was aiming for (one of the women on the boat), that's for sure," Ms Flouse told the ABC.
Three logging contractors have been sentenced to a total of 210 hours of community service for a violent assault on protesters in Tasmania’s Florentine Valley that was caught on video in 2008. Their lawyer claimed "they and other contractors are pawns in this dispute between environmentalists and the forestry industry," * WPAA
Whittlesea is one of the few places in Melbourne you'll find a golden sun moth or a growling grass frog. The Merri Creek Management Committee says these endangered species are even more threatened now by the rapid pace of development along Whittlesea's urban growth boundary. Waterwatch co-ordinator Jane Bevelander said the committee held its first eco bus tour last week to try to create awareness about the delicate eco-systems along the creek, starting at the old Epping landfill now home to the growling grass frog. ``There is less than 1 per cent of Victorian native grasslands left,'' she said. ``Pockets of ecosystems are keeping these species alive, and that's why so many groups are trying to link these pockets. Without these pockets, we're looking at even more extinction.'' Ms Bevelander said Merri Creek flowed about 80km from the Great Dividing Range to Clifton Hill where it joined the Yarra River. The golden sun moth was thought to be extinct in Melbourne until 2003, when it was accidentally rediscovered by a committee member in Whittlesea. ``There are two populations along the creek now but it needs native grassland, in particular wallaby grass, for nesting and feeding,'' Ms Bevelander said. The eco bus tour was held on September 7 to mark the day the last Tasmanian tiger died at Hobart Zoo in 1936. *Whittlesea Post
Florida wildlife officials said charges of possessing illegally taken wildlife stemmed from photos of a deer carcass posted to Facebook. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said Citrus County residents William Buchanan, 21, and Tara Anne Carver, 28, were charged with second-degree misdemeanor counts of possession of illegally taken wildlife after photos appeared on Facebook of them skinning the animal, the Ocala (Fla.) Star-Banner reported Wednesday. Lt. Steve Farmer, investigations supervisor for the commission, said investigators determined the deer was killed in May, outside of deer season. He said Carver told investigators Buchanan killed the deer, but he admitted only to helping to move and skin the animal. *UPI.com
Another cassowary has been killed, this time near Bramston Beach. About 2pm on Saturday a large female cassowary was fatally injured after a being struck by a car on the Bramston Beach Road. The bird was a mature female weighing an estimated 60kg. The injured bird disappeared into thick roadside vegetation and the driver contacted Bramston Beach conservationist Russell Constable, with a request to find the cassowary and contact the relevant authorities. At 2.20 pm Mr Constable found the injured cassowary sitting in a rainforest creek and contacted Community for Coastal and Cassowary Conservation (C4) representative Liz Gallie, who in turn contacted the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service. Ms Gallie relayed essential information from her office whilst Mr Constable focused on monitoring the injured cassowary until help arrived. Veterinarian Dr Tom Gough, from Innisfail Tully Veterinary Surgery, administered a tranquiliser so the injured bird could be moved out of the creek and examined thoroughly. The injured cassowary was found to have a severed foot and Dr Gough acted promptly to euthanise the cassowary. Two Queensland Parks and Wildlife officers arrived shortly after the examination and removed the dead cassowary from the site. Bramston Beach cassowaries belonged to Innisfail's Graham Range population, said Mr Constable. `We only have approximately 1500 of these magnificent endangered birds left in Australia and this is a tragic loss not just for our small Bramston Beach community but it is a loss for all Australians.'' *Innisfail Advocate
Fast food customers at a McDonald's restaurant were astonished to see two alleged pet thieves wrestling with a python in a nearby car park. The pair grappled with the five-foot snake named Boris, which they're believed to have stolen from a Melbourne pet shop. Australian police labelled the two men as "dumb and dumber", reports The Metro. Detective Sergeant Andrew Beams said: "Anyone who gets out there with a one-and-a-half metre python in a McDonald's car park, they're pretty dumb." Boris was described as "not happy" at being removed from his container in the shop by the men, who have been charged with burglary and theft. Boris, now safely back in his container at the shop, has "a very nice personality" and played up because he was upset at not being handled properly, according to Jodie Graham, the owner of Totally Reptiles. *Orange.uk.com
Northern Beaches Roadkill
The appalling state of roadkill on the northern beaches will be highlighted at a public forum at the Tramshed, Narrabeen, on Monday Night from 7pm. Hosted by the Northern Beaches Roadkill Prevention Group, the forum aims to call the relevant government agencies to fund and install more wallaby-proof fencing at roadkill hotspots on the peninsula. Guest speakers on the night will include Wires rescuer Mandy Beaumont, president of the roadkill prevention group Jacqui Marlow as well as Warringah and Pittwater mayors Michael Regan and Harvey Rose. There will also be talk from Dr Dan Ramp from the University of New South Wales on the benefits of wallaby-proof fencing. This will be followed by an audience question and answer session with representatives from the RTA, police and National Parks and Wildlife Service. Neva Poole from the roadkill prevention group said the RTA and government had stalled for too long. ``It is not just about raising awareness, we want action and we want action now,'' she said. * Manly Daily
Millions of migrants will soon be trucked across country Victoria to safety. From late this month or early next, the program will start, as trucks head from Victoria's north to the south and east. As spring temperatures rise and the soil warms, the relocation will go into overdrive. The program is essential to preserve Victoria's horticulture industry. It doesn't involve the relocation of people - rather, it's all about the relocation of millions of Victorian honeybees. The bees, an essential component of the Victorian honey industry as well as the fruit, canola and vegetable industries, must be moved for their own safety. They must be moved out of the way of insecticides, which will soon be aimed at locust ''hoppers'', expected to emerge en-masse in Victoria's Mallee and northern country in coming weeks. Their emergence will mark the start of what could be Victoria's worst locust plague in 75 years. *Age
Read more .. http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/millions-of-bees-hit-the-road-to-escape-poison-spray-20100912-15708.html
Port Phillip Bay Wildlife
Port Phillip Bay has become a mecca for all sorts of marine tourists lately. A leopard seal was discovered beaching itself in Frankston, while two green turtles from Queensland were recently found in Mt Martha and Dromana. One of the turtles has since died but the other is recuperating at Melbourne Aquarium with hopes of eventually being released. And a pod of common dolphins, which normally live in the ocean, has decided to call the bay home. In June there was another rare visitor a deep sea sun fish that swims at depths of 600m and can grow to more than three metres in length came ashore at Seaford. Michelle Thomas of Wildlife Victoria believes bay dredging has encouraged the influx. ``Anecdotally, it is thought these species are turning up due to the deepening of the channel into the bay, which at the mouth of the bay was a lot shallower than it is now,'' she said. Jeff Weir, of the Dolphin Research Institute, said the recent birth of two calves to common dolphins is proof the pod is here to stay. ``Normally this dolphin species would be tourists only,'' he said. ``This open ocean species taking up residence in an enclosed and shallow bay is something that is almost unheard of anywhere in the world.'' The pod of more than 20 dolphinscan be seen between Frankston and Dromana. * MP Leader
Australian scientists have discovered that Regional dialects exists in bats. "Bats in different regions have different calls. You may have the same species on the north and the south coast but they'll have different calls," said research leader Brad Law, of the Forest Science Centre, which is part of Industry & Investment NSW. For example, some bats in Eden sound quite different to bats just north of Batemans Bay, he said. Scientists had long suspected bats had distinctive regional dialects, but it had never been proven in the field, Dr Law said. As part of their research, the team spent months capturing bats at night, identifying each one and recording their calls with special equipment. * Age
Read more http://www.theage.com.au/environment/bat-pack-stick-to-their-roots-in-a-manner-of-squeaking-20100912-156zm.html
Only the size of a pencil tip when born, 60 critically endangered white-bellied frogs will be released today in the small South-West town of Witchcliffe in an attempt to reintroduce the species to the area. With only 200 of the amphibians left in the wild, a joint Department of Environment and Conservation and Perth Zoo breeding program is battling to slow the rapid loss of frogs. Devastated by habitat destruction caused by feral pigs, illegal firewood harvesting, off-road vehicles and fire, the species was confined to a limited and isolated ecological niche and susceptible to environmental changes, DEC regional manager Kim Williams said. Perth Zoo's director of animal health, Helen Robertson, said the biggest challenge was working with such a tiny species that weigh just 0.03g as froglets. "Despite the challenges, we successfully reared 75 froglets from wild-collected egg nests," she said. "The captive rearing is an important step in increasing their chances of reaching adulthood." Environment Minister Donna Faragher said the frog translocation was part of the work of the recently established Threatened Species Council. It is the first of its kind for white-bellied frogs. Usually, eggs rather than grown frogs are put in the wild. * The West.com.au
Bottlenose dolphins in Western Australia have invented a clever new trick for catching dinner. They use their long snouts to lift heavy conch shells to the surface and then shake them about in the hunt for fish that have sought refuge inside. Simon Allen, a marine biologist at Murdoch University, said dolphins in Shark Bay are renowned for their "remarkable array" of sophisticated behaviours, including using sponges as tools and beaching themselves intentionally in pursuit of fish in shallow waters. But he and his colleagues were shocked when they first saw a dolphin suddenly appear with a massive conch on its head. "We nearly fell off the boat. It looked like a unicorn," he said. "It was a fantastic wildlife encounter." They thought the dolphin might have been using the shell as a toy or been showing off to its fellow cetaceans. When they looked closely at their photographs of the strange display, however, its purpose was revealed: to get at the tasty contents. *Age
Read more http://www.theage.com.au/environment/whale-watch/dolphins-shell-out-for-a-fish-supper-20100909-153bk.html
Female marine snails living off Perth beaches have developed male sex organs on their foreheads as a result of exposure to the banned toxin tributyltin, a Curtin University study has found. The study found alarming rates of the abnormality known as imposex in the molluscs. In waters off Cockburn Sound, Fremantle, Garden Island and Hillarys the number of females affected by the hormone disrupting disorder ranged from 50 per cent at North Mole to 100 per cent at Colpoys Point off Garden Island. At Cottesloe the numbers were 35 per cent and Hillarys 82 per cent. Associate professor Monique Gagnon from Curtin University said the snails had almost disappeared from Fremantle waters due to the high rates of TBT pollution and the impact it was having on snail reproduction.
Read more.. http://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/a/-/wa/7921767/female-snails-growing-penises/
At 52 feet long and weighing 60 tons, it was truly a giant of the deep. Some 200 years ago, however, the magnificent whale made a fatal wrong turn. Maybe it simply lost its way. More likely, it was ailing and easy prey as it veered off course to be speared on a whaler's harpoon and dragged from the open sea to the Thames. And there on the riverbank, the North Atlantic right whale - thought to be more than 50 years old - was stripped bare, its head removed and its carcass left to slowly sink into the mud.
Two centuries on, the skeleton of the whale, preserved in its rich muddy grave, has been uncovered by archaeologists. And now the bones, discovered two months ago, are on show at the Museum of London Docklands. *MailonLine
Read more and see photos: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1310489/Skeleton-18th-century-whale-London-met-bloody-end.html#ixzz0zPAC9eDE
Earthquake Kiwi Safe
An endangered New Zealand kiwi that survived a buffeting in its egg during this month's 7.0-magnitude earthquake has hatched safely. Richter, named after the now-defunct scale used to measure earthquakes, hatched on Sunday at the Willowbank Wildlife Reserve in Christchurch. "Our first egg hatch this year is one breakage that is a welcome relief after the recent quakes," conservation minister Kate Wilkinson said. The ground-dwelling kiwi, the avian symbol of New Zealand, is threatened by a host of introduced predators including rats, cats, dogs, ferrets and possums. Department of Conservation spokesman Rory Newsam said there were fewer than 70,000 kiwis left in New Zealand and the rowi, the sub-species to which Richter belongs, numbered only 300. Mr Newsam said Richter's egg rolled around in its incubator during the September 4 earthquake but rubber matting prevented any damage. He said the chick would be taken to a small island sanctuary until it was about one year old and better able to defend itself, then released into a wildlife protection area on the South Island. * AFP
Monkeys blown up in Grisly Tests
INPEX ( the company doing blasting in Darwin Harbor) is relying on experiments where monkeys, dogs, sheep and ducks were suspended in water and blown up by explosives to test the effects of marine blasting. The experiments, conducted for the US Defense Nuclear Agency in 1973, form the basis of Inpex's information about damage to marine animals. The sheep were wearing face masks connected to air pipes to keep them alive until the blast. Inpex plans to conduct 1300 blasts in Darwin Harbour over 14 months. About 120,000 cubic metres of rock would be removed from Walker Shoal to make the channel deep enough for tanker ships. The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) says Inpex relied on the report's citation in a literature review for Woodside Petroleum in 1996. But a copy of the results, conducted by the Lovelance Foundation and obtained by the NT News, details the experiment.
The Inpex EIS translates the Lovelance results to a safety range. Outside 1250m from a 300kg blast is regarded as safe for marine mammals, but within 473m mammals will sustain "moderately severe" injuries. Fish appear to be less sensitive - a 10kg fish will be safe outside 600m, 99 per cent will survive at 342m, 50 per cent will die if closer than 263m. Environment Centre NT co-ordinator Stuart Blanch said the tests were not accurate for Darwin sea life. "A dolphin is not a sheep ... or a monkey," he said. Inpex did not answer questions about why 37-year-old science was being used, but spokeswoman Ilka Burnham-King said "protection zones" would be set up around the blasting areas, which will need to be free of dolphins, turtles and crocodiles for 20 minutes before a blast. *NT news
Ed Comment; Meanwhile the Northern Territory Environment Centre is threatening to take legal action against the planned $12 billion Inpex gas plant if the company does not shelve plans to blast Darwin Harbour. In its response to Inpex's environmental impact statement, the Centre says the plan to blast a shipping channel for up to 14 months could harm Darwin's threatened snub-fin dolphins, and many other marine species. *
Illegal trade in wildlife is happening in Malaysia but it is still under control with effective enforcement, said Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan). “The department is doing everything within its authority and jurisdiction to curb illegal wildlife trade in Peninsular Malaysia,” a Perhilitan spokesman said. He said initiatives from Perhilitan include doubling its staff and placing officers trained in species identification and intelligence gathering at the country’s 13 entry points. It had also reinforced its co-operation through integrated enforcement task force with other agencies like the army, police, Customs, marine police, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, Anti-Smuggling Unit, airport authorities and non-governmental organisations, he added. “Perhilitan has established 13 border checkpoints at major entry/exit points throughout the peninsula and is planning to set up five additional checkpoints in Kuala Kedah (Kedah), Kuala Perlis (Perlis), Butterworth (Penang), Subang Airport (Selangor) and Labuan for monitoring,” he said in an e-mail interview.
In its effort to combat illegal wildlife trade, especially wildlife smuggling, Perhilitan set up a flying squad, the Wildlife Crime Unit, in 2005. “The unit has successfully arrested suspected illegal traders and confiscated various wildlife species since its formation,” said the spokesman. One of the most prominent cases involved the confiscation of 35 tonnes of clouded monitor lizard (Varanus bengalensis) worth about RM3mil and the arrest of a suspect in Johor in November 2008, he said, adding that the department was also using a network of informers to provide vital information pertaining to illegal wildlife activities. “Sales of wildlife over the Internet are also being monitored and several arrests have been made based on that information,” he said. The spokesman also assured that Perhilitan would actively follow up on information supplied by the public in its effort to enforce the new Wildlife Conservation Act, which was recently passed by Parliament. “The 24-hour enforcement unit on standby will address all information pertaining to illegal wildlife activities.” However, he acknowledged that there were shortcomings and difficulties in curbing illegal wildlife trade including smuggling. “Nevertheless, efforts are being undertaken by the various parties to address these weaknesses.” * SundayStarOnline
Ed Comment, In recent weeks, a reptile salesman strapped 15 live Australian lizards to his chest attempting to get them to the US, a German reptile collector tried to leave NZ with 44 geckos and skinks concealed in a hand-sewn pouch in his underwear, and a woman was arrested in Sweden with 75 live snakes hidden in her bra.
Coal Seam Gas Industry (CSG)
Last week we mentioned the dead kangaroos that had drowned in a pond built by the burgeoning CSG Industry. The article is repeated below this article in case you missed it. Supporters of the CSG juggernaut Industry claim it will bring in $10 billion dollars in pipeline expansion projects during the next 10 years, with CSG Industries expected to spend another $30 billion dollars during the next 10 years in Queensland. But the environmental costs are expected to massive. Infrastructure construction on Curtis Island and Gladstone will be huge, with processing plants, harbor development and dredging, without considering the housing expansion to accomodate all the workers. Not to mention the exotic marine pests brought in by the huge boats, to a harbor that is already contaminated by many exotic marine pests. Pipeline construction across Queensland will fracture remnant habitat areas, disrupt farming, and create more roadworks, with heavy road transport expected to increase dramatically. The CSG Industry can potentially add 20 to 30 million tonnes of Greenhouse gases to Australia's targets.
Apparently we have around 250 years supply of CSG gas in Queensland at the moment, but with a juggernaut Industry like this how long will that last? 100 years, 50 years, or perhaps even less. And what happens when its all been flogged off overseas? Natural gas is considered to be a transition fuel, a fuel we can use as we change over to a low emmission economy, but what do we use if we've flogged it off for a quick few dollars to prop up a spendthrift government? But the real problem is that no-one is monitoring the environmental costs of the Industry. Conservation Councils just don't have the funds or the staff to assess the already inadequate EIS processes, and any environmental assessment will probably be done by a few Conservation Council volunteers, and final decisions made by a government Minister. Conservation groups already have their backs to the wall, besieged by urban issues, and relying on Government funding and on a few donations. Small rural groups are doing their best to draw attention to the environmental impacts of CSG prospecting, but the projects have already been Government approved, and are almost impossible to stop, once started. The video link about the drowned kangaroos is below, and is only the tip of the iceberg. If it hadn't been for a small local group, no-one would have been aware of this disgrace. We expect there will be many more CSG environmental issus arise, that should have been addressed in an EIS process, but were not. *WPAA
CSG, a coal seam gas mining company, with the support of the Queensland government, has built ponds lined with plastic that attracts kangaroos to the water, but when they get in, they can't get out and drown. This has been going on for weeks. See the video here, but be warned its not nice viewing. However all wildlife lovers should see the video. Its an indication how little the Queensland government cares about protecting our wildlife, to allow such an awful situation to arise. The coal seam gas mining Industry was supposed to have gone through a "thorough" environmental assessment process, but there have been multiple problems with it so far. http://anti-mining.com/videos/kangaroo%20ponds.html We are asking the Queensland Government to "please explain" how this was allowed to happen, and what penalties will be imposed on the mining company. We strongly suggest you visit the WAAM home page for more information, the link is on the video page, and there are more uTube video links there. Here's the video link again http://anti-mining.com/videos/kangaroo%20ponds.html Please express your anger and disgust to the Qld Premier Anna Bligh at firstname.lastname@example.org and the Mining Minister Steven Robertson here at email@example.com Please send them the link so they can watch the video too!
They have lost arms, legs, ankle parts, but nine survivors of encounters with sharks say that the oceans' greatest predator - not humans - should fear the water. The survivors gathered at the United Nations in New York on Monday to tell the world that their attackers, like the great white, desperately need protecting. Paul de Gelder, a Royal Australian Navy diver whose right hand and lower right leg were torn off last year in Sydney Harbour, said he wanted to "speak out for an animal that can't speak for itself." Rampant overfishing is driving some species to the brink of extinction, with 73 million sharks killed annually just to feed Asia's demand for shark fin soup. "We're decimating the population of sharks just for a bowl of soup," de Gelder said. Pew Environment Group, a Washington-based organisation that brought the survivors to the UN, says 30 per cent of shark species are threatened or near-threatened with extinction, while the status of 47 per cent is not properly known.
Scientists say that wiping out sharks, who are at the top of the ocean food chain, creates a destructive ripple effect throughout the marine eco-system. For example, sharks eat seabirds, so that a reduction in shark numbers leads to more seabirds, who then eat up the bait fish needed by tuna, another endangered big fish. Another example is the gradual collapse of life on coral reefs once the primary predator is removed from the balance. "The ramifications on the ocean eco-system are vast," said Matt Rand, director of shark conservation at Pew. Pew is lobbying for an end to finning, where fishermen simply slice off shark fins and throw the mortally wounded creature back into the sea, and for strict catch limits to be imposed worldwide. Currently "in the open ocean there are no limits on how many sharks can be caught," Rand said.
The survivors said the fear inspired by sharks, most famously in the massively popular film Jaws, is hugely distorted. Fewer than 70 people are recorded as being bitten annually worldwide, although the number does not include incidents in countries where statistics are not kept. Of those, just a handful die, making fatal shark attacks less likely than lightning strikes. Debbie Salamone, who went to work for Pew after a shark severed her Achilles tendon in 2004 in Florida, said that at first "I was really not a big fan of sharks. I wanted to plot my revenge and was planning to eat shark steaks." She said that she came to understand that instead she should go the other way and help the fearsome, but vulnerable fish. "I decided I needed to find some sort of reason," she said. "I decided this was a test, a test of my commitment to environmental conservation." *AFP
For the second time in two weeks animal carcasses have been dumped near a school bus shelter off the Huon Highway, south of Geeveston. On Thursday a large number of wallaby carcasses were dumped near the shelter, which is about 150m south of Hermans Rd. Robert Pittam, who lives nearby, said the carcasses were only metres from the road and visible from it. His 16-year-old son found them while walking the family's dogs and Mr Pittam took some photographs. He said the remains were fairly fresh. ``Luckily it was the school holidays or up to eight children, some as young as nine, would have had to stand next to the mess,'' Mr Pittam said. He said he tried to contact Huon Valley Council's ranger and police but they did not return calls. ``The only person who seemed interested was the Parks and Wildlife ranger, who did call,'' Mr Pittam said. Remains of goats had previously been dumped at the site, along with household rubbish, including many broken bottles. ``The place truly is not only dangerous for the kids but scenes like that are horrible,'' Mr Pittam said.
His home is about a kilometre from a rubbish dump Huon Valley Council operates a waste transfer station in Hermans Rd. He believed that when the waste site was closed people dumped rubbish at the roadside site. Hermans Rd also led to forestry roads where wallabies were shot. Mr Pittam said he worked with a man who was a shooter and who had expressed disgust at the dumping practice. The remains of the wallabies were removed on Friday. ``No one wants to take responsibility if they did this [left the remains in the bush it would not be so bad,'' he said. But he accepted little could be done to stop the dumping. In mid-July the Mercury reported that over about three months about 200 wallabies and kangaroos had been killed at the Glenorchy tip, Tolosa Park and in nearby bushland. The killers had even taken to taunting Glenorchy council workers by putting the bludgeoned carcasses on display. A police officer said it appeared the wildlife was being clubbed with a baseball bat or similar weapon and dogs were used to chase the animals. Tip staff had arrived at work to find bloodied animal carcasses at the entrance. *Mercury