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Marine Life & Conservation

Japanese Prime Minister tells Parliament he will “boost efforts” to restart commercial whaling

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Japan’s Prime Minister has told parliament he will boost efforts towards restarting commercial whaling, despite a UN court order that Tokyo must halt killing whales in the Antarctic.

Shinzo Abe’s comments on Monday were likely to cause dismay for those who had hoped the ruling by the international court of justice (ICJ) would herald the beginning of the end of the whale hunt.

“I want to aim for the resumption of commercial whaling by conducting whaling research in order to obtain scientific data indispensable for the management of whale resources,” he told a parliamentary commission.

“To that end, I will step up efforts further to get understanding from the international community.”

Abe said that in contrast to the foreign perception that whaling communities mercilessly exploit the marine mammals, whaling towns show respect to the animals, with religious services at the end of every hunting season. “It is regrettable that this part of Japanese culture is not understood,” he said.

Japan has continued to hunt whales by exploiting a loophole in a 1986 global moratorium that allows lethal research on the mammals. But the country has made no secret of the fact that the meat ends up in restaurants and at fish markets.

The annual hunt in the Southern Ocean has proved particularly contentious, with sometimes violent confrontations between whalers and protesters.

Australia, backed by New Zealand, took Japan before the ICJ in 2010 in an attempt to stop the yearly hunt. The court said the hunt was a commercial venture masquerading as research.

Tokyo called off its 2014-15 Antarctic season, and said it would redesign the mission in an effort to make it more scientific.

A separate hunt in the north-west Pacific continues, as do hunts in coastal waters, which are not covered by the moratorium.

Since the ICJ ruling, Japanese e-commerce marketplace Rakuten has told online retailers they cannot sell whale and dolphin meat through its site.

But dealing in whale meat “does not violate international or domestic laws in any way”, said the Japanese fisheries minister, Yoshimasa Hayashi.

Hayashi told the same parliamentary committee that Rakuten had made a commercial decision as a private firm and that the increasing number of companies refusing to sell whale meat was “regrettable”.

Inviting people to dine on whale in his ministry, he said a “whale week” campaign, which began on Monday, was part of efforts to let Japanese people know that whaling and eating whale meat are part of their culture.

At the opening event, Hayashi ate whale meat steak with other MPs who support whaling, before moving to a cafeteria in the farm ministry building, where he had a lunch set of whale meat tataki, a dish similar to carpaccio, seasoned with shredded green onions.

During the campaign week, visitors will be given a chance to taste a small portion of fried whale meat for free, according to the ministry.

Japan’s consumption of whale meat has diminished greatly in recent decades and it is no longer a regular part of most people’s diet. But powerful lobbying forces have ensured the continued subsidisation of the hunt with taxpayer money.

Tokyo has always maintained it was trying to prove whale populations were big enough to sustain commercial hunts.

 

Source: www.islandsbusiness.com

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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Marine Life & Conservation

CCMI announces launch of two key projects, supported by RESEMBID

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Building Resilient Reefs

Project title: Increasing Coral Reef Resilience with Assisted Evolution via Selective Restoration

Via this recently awarded RESEMBID grant, funded by the European Union, CCMI aims to rebuild coral reef ecosystem resilience through cutting-edge restoration techniques. The project will develop assisted evolution methods via selective restoration with stress (heat and disease) tolerant corals, to promote and sustain biodiversity of these threatened ecosystems.

This project will build on CCMI’s past research, incorporating our understanding of coral restoration disease resistance and outplanting methodology, while conducting state of the art experimentation to assess thermal tolerance, all of which will be used to increase the resilience of coral reefs through advanced restoration practices. Visiting collaborator Dr. John Bruno (Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), will be joining the team in the field in April 2022 and will also be present for the press conference. Outcomes from the work will include improved restoration strategies that will be shared regionally – seeking to ultimately increase coral resilience throughout the Caribbean. A short project overview will be given, including the opportunity for Q&As. The press conference will then be followed by a Reef Lecture by Dr John Bruno on the wider threats to global coral reef health.

https://reefresearch.org/what-we-do/research/restoration/


Adapting to COVID-19

Project Title: Urgent technical assistance to support CCMI’s capacity to be a regional leader in protecting marine biodiversity and improving resilience.

This project is supported by a RESEMBID grant, funded by the European Union, which will enable CCMI to manage the impacts of COVID-19 by improving health and safety features of the facilities infrastructure and adapting emergency management processes. The grant will support enhanced operational resilience, thereby supporting CCMI’s continued work on improving and protecting marine biodiversity in the Cayman Islands and wider Overseas Territories.

https://reefresearch.org/who-we-are/field-station/adapting-to-covid-19/

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