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MEDIA REPORTS

WATER, OCEANS AND WETLANDS

This page was updated on: 08/08/13

2006

Water, Oceans and Wetlands Media Report Archives: 2010; 2009; 2008; 2007; 2005; 2004; 2003; 2002

 

DECEMBER 2006

IOC ACTS TO IMPROVE TSUNAMI WARNING SYSTEM
A new partnership between the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) and the global satellite communications leader, INMARSAT, was announced on 26 December 2006. The partnership provides free satellite communication links to 50 sea-level sensors in the Indian Ocean, making this part of the tsunami warning system the most advanced real-time network in the world.

Link to further information
UNESCO press release, 26 December 2006

LESSONS FROM 2004 TSUNAMI RECOVERY EFFORT MUST BE PASSED ON – UN REPORT
Former US President Bill Clinton has indicated that the two-year recovery effort after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami has shown “examples of great new approaches, as well as decisions and programmes based on flawed assumptions that have caused us to lose time and beneficiaries to suffer.” He writes this in the introduction to the just-released Key Propositions for Building Back Better, a report highlighting major achievements and lessons learned during the two year recovery process from the tsunami. The report identifies 10 key lessons learned, including the need for: governments, donors and aid agencies to recognize that families and communities drive their own recovery; recovery to promote fairness and equity; and local governments to be empowered to manage recovery efforts.

Links to further information
UN News Centre, 21 December 2006
Much Done, More to Do: A 24 Month Update on UNICEF’s Work to Rebuild Children’s Lives and Restore Hope Since the Tsunami

NEW EUROPEAN DIRECTIVE FOR CLEANER GROUNDWATER
On Tuesday 12 December 2006, the European Parliament approved legislation to improve the cleanliness of water through stricter measures against pollution by preventing “hazardous substances” such as cyanide, arsenic, biocides and phytopharmaceutical substances from seeping into the water. The directive’s scope was broadened so that it will protect groundwater “against pollution and deterioration” rather than just “against pollution.” Member States will be required to take “all measures necessary to prevent inputs into groundwater of any hazardous substances.” The measure is particularly important because, in many areas, groundwater is the largest source of public drinking water and the most sensitive freshwater resource. Member States will have two years to transpose the directive into national law, so it should therefore take effect from early 2009.

Link to further information
European Parliament’s press release, 12 December 2006

GREENLAND RAISES HUNTING QUOTAS FOR NARWHALES
Greenland’s politicians are increasing hunting quotas for narwhales
against biologists’ recommendations. Biologists at the North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission studying wildlife in the Arctic region estimate that, in order for Greenland’s narwhale population not to shrink, whalers can hunt only 135 narwhales a year. However, Greenland raised the hunting quota for narwhales from 285 to 385 whales this year, reportedly as a result of whalers’ protests against the quotas.

Link to further information
Copenhagen Politiken,
10 December 2006

UNGA CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE ACTION TO SUSTAINABLY MANAGE FISH STOCKS
The UN General Assembly (UNGA) discussed draft resolutions on oceans and the law of the sea and on fisheries on 8 December 2006. In the latter, which was adopted by consensus, the Assembly called on States to take immediate action, individually and through regional organizations, to sustainably manage fish stocks and protect vulnerable deep sea ecosystems from harmful fishing practices. The UNGA also called on all States to act in a precautionary manner and apply an “ecosystem approach” to the conservation, management and exploitation of fish stocks. The Assembly identified bottom trawling and illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing as the most destructive fishing practices and threats to vulnerable marine ecosystems, to the detriment of sustainable fisheries, as well as the food security and the economies of many States, particularly developing States. A number of countries and conservation organizations expressed disappointment that the text did not include a moratorium on high seas bottom trawling, but highlighted that contains provisions that could bring an end to the destruction of deep sea ecosystems on the high seas by bottom trawl fishing over the coming years.

The omnibus text on oceans and the law of the sea includes: definitions of the terms “marine genetic resources” and “maritime security and safety;” a call to reconvene the Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group on marine biological diversity beyond national jurisdiction in 2008, and to complete, within two years, the “assessment of assessments,” which would lead to a regular process for global reporting on the state of the marine environment; and a request to the Secretary-General to prepare a study on assistance available to help developing States realize the benefits of sustainable development of marine resources.

Links to further information
UN News Service, 8 December 2006
UN Press Release, 7 December 2006
Deep Sea Conservation Coalition Press Release, 8 December 2006 

EUROPEAN COMMISSION TO CONSIDER CUTTING COD CATCH QUOTA

Proposals to reduce cod catches by 25 percent, along with smaller reductions in the permitted plaice, sole and hake allowances, will be presented to fisheries ministers from EU member States later this month. The global conservation group WWF expressed concern with the Commission’s proposal, particularly for cod in the North Atlantic where they cited problems with accounting for cod catches. WWF has called for deploying observers on board fishing vessels as a solution to this problem.

 

Link to further information

Environmental News Service, 5 December 2006

 

GLOBAL WARMING REDUCES THE NUMBER OF MICROSCOPIC MARINE PLANTS – STUDY

A recent study published in the journal Nature predicts that phytoplankton will grow more slowly in warming oceans. The study is based on satellite data that revealed a reduction in the number of microscopic marine plants in warmer oceans. This finding is expected to affect the whole food chain, as less food will be available to fish and other organisms, including marine birds and mammals. Scientists also concluded that as the climate warms, phytoplankton growth rates go down, along with the amount of carbon dioxide these plants consume. Carbon dioxide therefore accumulates more rapidly in the atmosphere, producing more warming.

Link to further information
Environmental News Service, 7 December, 2006 

LAUNCH OF THE DUNDEE UNESCO CENTRE FOR WATER LAW, POLICY AND SCIENCE
At its 33rd session, in 2005, the UNESCO General Conference approved the establishment of the IHP-HELP Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science at the University of Dundee, Scotland, UK. The EU launch of the Centre took place in Scotland House in Brussels, Belgium, on 28 November 2006. The Centre is closely linked to HELP and is based at the International Water Law Research Institute of the University of Dundee in Scotland.

Link to further information
UNESCO Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science website

IRAQI MESOPOTAMIA WETLAND RECOVERS UNDER UNEP PLAN
Satellite images show that almost 50 percent of the total area of Iraq’s Mesopotamian marshes present in the 1970s, which almost vanished during Saddam Hussein’s rule, had been re-flooded with seasonal fluctuations. The marshes - reputed to be the biblical Garden of Eden - are a major source of fish and freshwater for local people, as well as being an important habitat for wildlife. Hussein drained the marshes after the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The rehabilitation project – Support for Environmental Management of the Iraqi Marshlands – which includes a series of local community-led campaigns, is funded by Japan and managed by UNEP.

Link to further information
UN News Service, 7 December 2006
 

NOVEMBER 2006

 

STUDY PREDICTS WILD FISHERIES TO COLLAPSE BY 2050

A new scientific study published in Science predicts that, if fishing around the world continues at its present pace, more and more species will vanish, marine ecosystems will unravel and there will be “global collapse” of all species currently fished by 2050. Collapse is defined as 90 percent depletion. However, the scientists also say it is not too late to turn the situation around, if remedial action is taken promptly. Researchers found that as long as marine ecosystems are biologically diverse, they can recover quickly once over-fishing and other threats are reduced.

Link to further information

Environmental News Service, 6 November 2006
 

Former US President Bill Clinton endorsed the Mangroves for the Future Initiative, a five-year programme lead by IUCN- the World Conservation Union and UN Development Programme (UNDP). The programme seeks to conserve coastal ecosystems in the Asian region impacted by the 2004 tsunami and promote investment in coastal ecosystem management in the region. On 31 October 2006, in New York, US, at a meeting with donors and six of the affected governments (India, Indonesia, Maldives, Seychelles, Sri Lanka and Thailand), donors pledged an additional US$10 million to the initiative. Other governments and international organizations endorsed the initiative, and indicated they would consider providing financial support. Clinton, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery, underlined that “by protecting the environment, communities are able to promote economic well-being, secure their futures and protect themselves and their families.”
 

Link to further information
IUCN Press release

WINGS OVER WETLANDS PROJECT LAUNCHED
The recently launched Wings Over Wetlands (WOW) project aims to improve the conservation of African-Eurasian migratory waterbirds through implementing measures to conserve the critical network of sites that these birds require to complete their annual cycle. It is the largest international wetland and waterbird conservation initiative ever to take place in the African-Eurasian region. The WOW project, which was launched on 20 November 2006, is sponsored by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) through UNEP, the German Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, the Secretariat of the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (UNEP/AEWA Secretariat), and several other donors. The project will help foster international collaboration along the flyways, build capacity for monitoring and conservation, and demonstrate best practice in the conservation and wise use of wetlands in 12 selected countries.

Links to further information
WOW project website
Wetlands International press release, 20 November 2006

CUSTOMERS THREATEN TO BOYCOTT COLLAPSING BLUEFIN TUNA

WWF has reported that major Japanese and European buyers are threatening to boycott the Mediterranean bluefin tuna unless conservation measures are adopted to protect the collapsing stock. A number of restaurants in the UK and Spain have also stopped buying this species of tuna. The regulation of this fishery will be discussed by delegates at the meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, which is meeting from 17-26 November 2006, in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Link to further information

WFF Press release, 9 November 2006

 

2006 HUMAN DEVELOPMENT REPORT LAUNCHED, 2007 REPORT TO FOCUS ON ENERGY AND CLIMATE CHANGE

A global plan of action is urgently needed to resolve the growing water and sanitation crisis that causes nearly two million child deaths every year, leaves 1.2 billion people without access to safe water and 2.6 billion without access to sanitation, according to the 2006 Human Development Report released on 9 November 2006 in South Africa. The central message of the 2006 report is that the global water crisis is not one of physical scarcity, but rooted in poverty and inequality. The report assumes that water is a basic human right. It points out that few countries treat water as a political priority, the poorest often pay the most for water; and the international community has failed to prioritize water and sanitation in partnerships to achieve the MDGs.

UNDP has also announced that the 2007 Human Development Report theme will be Energy, Environment and Climate Change. According to Kevin Watkins, Director of the Human Development Report Office, the topic will provide an “opportunity to work better with various UN agencies and beyond to bring human development concerns to the centre of the “Beyond Kyoto” debate.”

Links to further information

2006 UN Human Development Report Homepage

2006 UN Human Development Report
Kevin Watkins’ announcement of 2007 HDR theme

 

OCTOBER 2006

 

EU MINISTERS IGNORE RECOMMENDED BAN ON NORTH SEA COD

European fishery ministers have, for the fourth year in a row, set aside the recommendation by experts and NGOs to close the cod fisheries in the eastern Baltic. Instead, they have cut the quota by ten per cent for 2007. The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) estimates that about 50,000 tons of cod remain in the North Sea, but warns that the population should be three times that size if it is to survive in the long-term. Last year, EU ministers allowed fishermen to catch some 26,000 tons of North Sea cod. WWF denounced the EU decision as being motivated by short-term economic interests.

 

Links for further information

Environmental News Service, 18 October 2006

WWF Press release, 25 October 2006

 

STUDY CALLS FOR PROTECTION MEASURES FOR LARGE FISH

A recent study published in the journal Nature shows that commercial fishing removes older and larger fish, leaving younger and smaller fish less capable of surviving natural changes in the ecosystem. Researchers have found that fishing not only can lead to declining stock levels, but also causes greater natural population variability, which presents a greater risk of collapse than previously thought. The study recommends that fishery managers adjust quotas and regulations to protect large fish.

 

Link for further information
Environmental News Service, 18 October 2006

ICELAND RESUMES COMMERCIAL WHALING
The first Icelandic whaling vessel left Reykjavik on 18 October 2006, following the Icelandic government’s decision to resume commercial whaling despite the moratorium established by the International Whaling Commission in 1985. The Ministry for Fisheries has set itself a quota of 39 whales for the 2006-2007 season. Whalers plan on capturing 30 minke whales and nine rorquals (fin whales), the latter of which is listed as a threatened species by IUCN-The World Conservation Union. The whales hunted by the Icelandic fleet are not expected to be used for domestic consumption, but rather as exported meat to Japan. However, Oceana reports that Japan has indicated that it will not purchase the meat because it already has enough.

Link for further information
Oceana press release, 26 October 2006

SHARK FIN TRADE KILLING MILLIONS—STUDY

A new study has revealed that the rising global demand for shark fins is killing some 73 million sharks annually, three times more than the official catch figure reported to the UN. This study was published as the cover story in the October 2006 edition of Ecology Letters. A team of researchers calculated the number of sharks represented in the fin trade using a unique statistical model and data from Hong Kong traders. When the figures were converted to shark weight, the total was three to four times higher than shark catch figures reported to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). Concern about the shark fin trade has grown over the past few years as demand has surged beyond sustainable levels for slow-to-produce shark populations and without regulation in most countries. Three shark species are listed on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), and 20 percent are threatened with extinction according to the 2006 Red List of Threatened Species. Last week the European Parliament voted to tighten the EU's shark finning regulations, which allow fishermen to land fins and carcasses separately.

 

Link to further information
Environmental news service, 3 October 2006

 

US TO STRENGTHEN EFFORTS TO PROTECT SUSTAINABLE FISHERIES

US President Bush has directed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in consultation with Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez, to strengthen efforts to protect sustainable fisheries and fight destructive fishing practices, such as unregulated high seas bottom trawling. Secretary of State Rice was specifically requested to collaborate with Regional Fishery Management Organizations (RFMOs) and other international organizations to establish rules based on sound science to promote sustainable fishing practices and end destructive fishing practices, such as unregulated bottom trawling, explosives and chemicals that destroy the long-term productivity of vulnerable ecosystems such as seamounts, corals, and sponge fields. In addition, the US will seek to collaborate with other countries to establish new RFMOs where no such arrangement currently exists.

 

Link to further information
White House News Release, 3 October 2006

 

SEA LICE FROM FISH FARMS KILLING WILD SALMON—STUDY

New research from the University of Alberta shows that wild salmon migrating to the open ocean are being killed at an alarming rate by sea lice produced by fish farms located on the West Coast of Canada. Parasites from fish farms have been found to kill as much as 95 percent of young salmon that migrate past the facilities. The research offers a warning about the environmental impacts of salmon farms, whose operations the authors argue must change and possibly relocate if wild fish stocks are to survive.

 

Link to further information
Courier-Islander news story, 4 October 2006

 

UNICEF PROMOTES SAFE WATER IN COMOROS

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has been working with over 100 villages in Grand Comoro to ensure access to safe water following another eruption of an active volcano. The water on this Indian Ocean island, the largest in the Comoros archipelago, has been polluted twice in the past year and a half by Mount Karthala’s eruptions. Its population depends on rainwater harvesting, but water collected in cisterns and tanks has became clogged with ash as a result of the eruptions. UNICEF has brought millions of liters of fresh water as a short term measure, and is working to protect the cisterns from future eruptions by covering them with metal sheds. The Fund is also educating the population about the importance of protecting their water sources, to protect themselves from diarrhea, malaria and other health issues.

 

Link to further information
UN News Service, 10 October 2006

 

SEPTEMBER 2006

 

AUSTRALIA SUPPORTS MORATORIUM ON HIGH SEAS BOTTOM TRAWLING

Australia has reportedly announced that it will support establishing a moratorium on high seas bottom trawling when the UN General Assembly will start debating the protection of marine resources in the deep seabed in October. A number of governments have already called for a global moratorium including Brazil, Chile, the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, the UK, South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands and Vanuatu. In addition, over 1,500 marine scientists from more than 60 countries have signed a letter in support of an immediate UN moratorium on high seas bottom trawling.

 

Link to further information
Deep Sea Conservation Coalition press release (22 September 2006)