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ATP WEEKLY TURTLE BULLETIN

No. 114, 10th January 2014



1. Australia: Fishermen declare war on Cape York sea pirates, backed by Chinese crime gangs, who are plundering Great Barrier Reef

SOURCE: news.com.au
DATE: 5th January, 2014

Thousands of tonnes of marine life including sea cucumber, abalone, turtle and shark have been plundered at levels not seen since fleets of hundreds of foreign fishing boats raided northern waters of Australia five years ago. Chinese organised crime syndicates operating out of Indonesia's port town of Merauke in West Papua are understood to be behind the spike in cross-border sorties by mostly Papua New Guinea (PNG) locals. Officials believe a price rise from $10/kg to $30/kg for dry sea cucumber is behind the latest onslaught. Australian Fisheries Management Authority general manager for operations Peter Venslovas said, "We've identified the main end point is through Hong Kong to China.'' Asian market for sea cucumber is estimated at $US60 million a year. The Chinese Government this year cracked down on officials buying it in restaurants because it was seen as a sign of opulence. Angry Islanders in the Torres Strait have told how they are now prepared to take the law into their own hands to protect the pristine coral reef systems off the tip of Cape York in Queensland, "This is our livelihood. We rely on it for our future. Our way is to settle this with the tip of a spear. Tensions are high.''

Link to this web article online (English)


© News Limited


2. USA: GPS traffic maps for leatherback turtles show hotspots to prevent accidental fishing deaths

SOURCE: phys.org; bbc.co.uk
DATE: 8th January, 2014

The leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) in the Pacific Ocean is one of the most endangered animals in the world. Its population has declined by more than 90 percent since 1980. One of the greatest sources of mortality is industrial longlines that set thousands of hooks in the ocean to catch fish, but sometimes catch sea turtles as well. Using modern GPS technology, researchers are now able to predict where fisheries and turtles will interact and to reduce the unwanted capture of turtles by fishermen.
In a new study in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, researchers show the use-intensity distributions for 135 satellite-tracked adult turtles and distributions of longline fishing effort in the Pacific Ocean. The overlap of these distributions in space and time allows prediction of by-catch risk. The fundamental problem is an unfortunate accident that occurs when fisheries and turtles end up fishing in the same place at the same time . The researchers also found that areas of predicted by-catch risk did not overlap for eastern and western Pacific nesting populations of leatherback turtles – indicating these populations should be treated as distinct management units with respect to fishing by-catch. For western Pacific populations there are key areas of high risk in the north and central Pacific Ocean, but the greatest risk is adjacent to the nesting beaches in tropical seas of Indo-Pacific islands such as Papua New Guinea, Irian Jaya and the Solomon Islands. These areas are under the exclusive economic control of national authorities and can readily be regulated. For eastern Pacific nesting populations, there is moderate risk associated with migrations to nesting beaches, but a large and persistent risk is in the South Pacific Gyre, a broad open ocean area outside national waters. Management is currently lacking for this area and may be difficult to implement. The researchers argue that time and area closures for the fisheries are essential to protect these animals as well as to maintain the health of the commercial fishery. t The authors recommend that efforts should focus on these predicted hotspots to develop more targeted management approaches to alleviate leatherback by-catch..
The research was conducted by a team from Drexel University, several other universities, the NOAA/NMFS Southwest Fisheries Science Center and a U.S. non-profit, The Leatherback Trust.

Link 1 to this web article online (English)

Link 2 to this web article online (English)






In a new study in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, researchers show the use-intensity distributions for 135 satellite-tracked adult turtles and distributions of longline fishing effort in the Pacific Ocean. The overlap of these distributions in space and time allows prediction of bycatch risk. Maps show probable relative interactions between leatherback turtles and industrial longline fisheries in the Pacific, over four quarters of the year. (Top row: Q1-Q2. Bottom row: Q3-Q4.) The researchers argue that time and area closures for the fisheries are essential to protect these animals as well as to maintain the health of the commercial fishery. Credit: Roe et al.


3. Vadodara city, India: Star tortoises seized in railway parcel

SOURCE: indiatimes.com – DATE: 5th January, 2014

The Special Operations Group (SOG) of railway police seized 10 star tortoise (Geochelone elegans) and arrested the person who took delivery on the evening of the 4th of January 2014. The tortoises were delivered with other material by a company based in Chennai. The police had received information regarding a suspicious parcel that had arrived with others at Navjivan Express. While one person claimed five parcels, another man residing in Danteshwar came to claim the sixth. The parcel had four polythene bags containing fish and one cloth bag with the tortoises inside. The police informed the forest officials and local conservationists.. According to the police, the species is protected under schedule four of the Wildlife Protection Act. But remain in high in demand as they are considered auspicious in Feng Shui.

Link to this web article online (English)




4.
Hanoi, Vietnam: Ensuring sufficient food source for Rafetus swinhoei

SOURCE: tienphong.vn
DATE: 8th January, 2014

According to the latest decision of Hanoi People's Committee (PC) regarding the responsibilities and management of Hoan Kiem Lake, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) introduced a plan to manage aquatic resources in the lake including regular water sampling and analysis. Notably, the Deputy Chairman of Hanoi PC emphasised the importance of “ensuring sufficient food availability for the Hoan Kiem Turtle (Rafetus swinhoei)”. Moreover, the lake should be sampled for other aquatic species in order to determine if they possibly could have negative effects on the lake's ecosystem.

Link to this web article online (Vietnamese)

 


5. 
Rethink needed on turtle conservation

SOURCE: phys.org
DATE: 9th January, 2014

Scientists and conservationists had believed that marine protected areas would be key to enhancing the recovery of protected species and e cosystems. But a new international study by The University of Queensland and Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands has shown this conservation method may have the opposite effect. Destructive grazing of high numbers of green turtles (Chelonia mydas) concentrated in a small number of marine protected areas leads to on-going degradation and imminent collapse of seagrass habitat. The study found that when the turtle numbers increased to about 20 turtles per hectare their foraging habits changed from eating only seagrass tips to digging up and consuming the roots and rhizomes, creating abundant bare gaps and increasing erosion and reducing seagrass regrowth. University of Queensland's Professor Mumby said recent protection efforts had been successful in many areas worldwide, but green turtles still remained highly threatened. "The protection of major nesting beaches, tightened hunting restrictions, and additional conservation measures have led to population increase, including inside marine protected areas. At the same time, however, their feeding grounds – sea grass meadows – have been declining worldwide at a fast rate as a result of poor management of coastal pollution," Professor Mumby said.

Link to this web article online (English)



© tienphong.vn


© MJA Christianen


 
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