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Brazil Federal Regional Court Rules in Favour of the Southern Right Whales

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Brazil’s Federal Regional Court of the Fourth Region has ruled to keep a suspension on whale watching tours in the Southern Right Whale Environment Protection Area (APA) in its place. The ruling was made after finding that the preservation of the endangered whale species was the primary purpose behind the area’s protected status.

In May 2012, an injunction suspending whale watching activities was granted by Laguna’s Federal Justice system after Sea Shepherd Brazil filed a civil action lawsuit against Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio). In this lawsuit, Sea Shepherd Brazil successfully argued that even though the APA was established 13 years ago, there were no studies on the environmental impact of whale watching tours, and therefore, ICMBio should cease their activities until a proper assessment had been carried out.

 

Federal judge Fernando Quadros da Silva acknowledged that while whale watching tours provided an income source for locals and encouraged environmental education, photographic evidence collected by Sea Shepherd Brazil suggested that human interaction could compromise the ability for cetaceans to reproduce. Therefore, the priority was to preserve Southern Right Whale populations by ensuring environmental licensing regulations were properly adhered to.

 

The Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) lists Southern Right Whales in their Red Book of Endangered Species. Many of the countries with waters that these whales frequent have been prompted to ban boats from making close range observations of the animals. These bans are essential as Southern Right Whales tends to seek sheltered coves for their nurseries and prefer a habitat often within 20 meters of shore. Unfortunately, this makes them far more vulnerable to potential harm from human interactions.

 

Sea Shepherd Brazil’s attorney Renata Fortes was confident that the court would rule in favour of the whales when ICMBio was forced to admit that there were no studies into the potentially harmful activities taking place in the APA, even though regulations exist to protect the area’s cetacean inhabitants. She argued that before being seen as financial resources, whales must be considered living beings, and assessments should not be conducted as a result of Sea Shepherd Brazil’s request, but because they are a requirement of the law. The assessments would also help determine who would best oversee Southern Right Whale protection regulations.

 

Sea Shepherd Brazil Legal Coordinator Luiz Andre Albuquerque was also pleased that the judiciary was paying attention to conservation issues, and believes that the court’s decision reaffirmed an increasing desire for the country to take care of the environment. Albuquerque went on to stress that economic losses should never be allowed to overshadow the preservation of endangered species. This is especially the case when the option of land-based Southern Right Whale watching tours exist around the region and visual recognition monitoring can be carried out via aerial and terrestrial means.

 

News Courtesy of www.seashepherd.org

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Euro-Divers opens to guests at Alila Kothaifaru Maldives

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In celebration of Euro-Divers’ 50 Years of Diving with Friends in the Maldives, the team have opened a new PADI 5 Star Dive Center at Alila Kothaifaru Maldives.

Alila Kothaifaru Maldives retreat lies at the northern edge of the Maldives in the tranquil Raa Atoll, reached via a panoramic 45-minute seaplane voyage from Male. The island has 80 all-pool-villas, 36 of which are over water with a private pool for your enjoyment and 44 beachfront villas designed seamlessly to immerse guests in the natural surroundings. In support of sustainable tourism, Alila hotels adopt Earth Check operating standards, integrating their environments’ natural, physical, and cultural elements.

Raa Atoll is well-known for the excellent scuba diving it offers. The underwater landscape of Raa Atoll is characterized by a high number of thilas scattered inside the lagoons. These underwater coral mountains are magnets for marine life including huge schools of tropical reef fish, a generous splash of colour, iconic bucket-list-must-see marine creatures including sharks, mantas (appearing during the entire year), turtles, and uncrowded dive sites—a perfect diver’s heaven for beginners and experienced divers. We offer a full range of PADI courses for different levels. From November till March, the Manta cleaning station is located 15 minutes away by boat.

The team from Alila Kothaifaru Maldives look forward to welcoming you soon.

Find out more at: www.euro-divers.com/alila-kothaifaru-maldives

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Marine Life & Conservation

Blue Marine Foundation launches new partnership with Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance

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Ocean charity makes initial grant of $90,000 to marine parks on six Dutch Caribbean islands. Award will fund projects including coral protection, and training youth marine rangers.

Ocean conservation charity Blue Marine Foundation has announced it is awarding $90,000 in funding to support marine conservation in the Dutch Caribbean. A range of projects run by protected area management organisations on six islands will each receive a grant of $15,000. The funding is the first step in a longer-term partnership to support the islands and help secure sustainable financing through the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) Trust fund.

To improve ocean governance, Blue Marine uses a combination of top-down intervention and bottom-up project delivery to help local communities at the front line of conservation. It will work together with the DCNA to help marine-park organisations protect the unique and threatened biodiversity of the Dutch Caribbean.

The new partnership is an important development in the successful management of marine conservation parks in the Dutch Caribbean. The UK-based charity has established a small-grants fund to provide rapid access to support for critical conservation projects run by marine parks.

The individual projects and their local partners are:

Unique ecosystems on the islands are vulnerable to threats such as feral livestock causing sedimentation on reefs, and invasive species, including lionfish and coral diseases. They are also at risk from overfishing, climate change, coastal development, erosion and the build-up of harmful algae caused by waste water.

The islands of the Dutch Caribbean are also home to important “blue carbon” habitats – ocean ecosystems such as seagrasses, mangroves and other marine plants that suck up and lock away carbon from the earth’s atmosphere. Seagrass is so efficient at this it can capture and store carbon dioxide up to 35 times faster than tropical rainforests.  The management and protection of these blue carbon habitats is vital in the fight against climate change.

Current marine conservation measures in the islands include a 25,390 square km mammal and shark sanctuary- Yarari sanctuary- across the Exclusive Economic Zone of Bonaire, Saba and St Eustatius. All six islands have inshore Marine Protected Areas ranging in size from 10 to 60 sq km.

Blue Marine’s Senior Project Manager Jude Brown commented: “Having recently visited two of the islands, I witnessed first-hand how special this region is. Diving the waters off Saba I saw huge Tarpon swimming amongst shoals of blue tang, and hawksbill turtles feeding on the seagrass beds. I also witnessed the challenges these islands are facing from coral disease to issues with coastal development. It is an exciting opportunity to work in the Dutch Caribbean, bringing expertise and funding from Blue Marine to join with the wealth of knowledge already on the islands, to work together to protect the important marine life arounds these islands.”

Tadzio Bervoets, Director of the DNCA commented: “The Dutch Caribbean consists of the Windward Islands of St. Maarten, Saba, and St. Eustatius and the Leeward Islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao. The nature of the Dutch Caribbean contains the richest biodiversity in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The diverse ecosystems are a magnet for tourism and at the same time the most important source of income for residents of the Dutch Caribbean. Nature on the islands is unique and important but it is also fragile. The coming week we will be in The Netherlands to present a Climate Action Plan for the Dutch Caribbean to emphasize the urgent need for a climate smart future for our islands.”


Photo: Coral reefs in the Dutch Caribbean- Photo credit: Naturepics: Y.+T. Kühnast- all rights reserved

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A luxurious dive resort in the heart of Lembeh Strait. Enjoy refined services while exploring the rich waters of Indonesia.

The resort is nestled around an ocean front deck and swimming-pool (with pool-bar) which is the perfect place to enjoy a sundowner cocktail at the end of a busy day of critter-diving.

All accommodation is full board and includes three sumptuous meals a day. Breakfast and lunch are buffet meals and in the evening dining is a la carte.

Book and stay before the end of June and benefit from no single supplements in all room types!

Booking deadline: Subject to availability – book and stay before end of June 2022

Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email info@diversetravel.co.uk.

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