Contents Vol. 8 No 2
2. Eight predictions for 21st century conservation
10 Women laureates battle parasites and disease
10 UNESCO comes to Haiti’s aid
11 Biodiversity target will not be met in 2010
12 Post-2010 targets must recognize key biodiversity areas
12 Afghanistan launches plan for higher education
13 First karez restored in Iraq
14 Iraq joins Avicenna Virtual Campus
14 The Scarlet Knight arrives in Spain
15 David Hills on what industry can learn from nature
17 Fisheries in a cod climate
20 All you ever wanted to know about biodiversity...
24 New releases
Tuna on the menu in Doha
All eyes are on Doha (Qatar) this month and the diplomatic talks over the proposed ban on bluefin tuna fishing in the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. Monaco’s proposal to prohibit this lucrative trade in order to give depleted stocks time to recover has won the support of the USA and European Union but is opposed by Japan, which imports 80% of its tuna. In Doha from 13 to 25 March, the 175 Parties to the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) are examining more than 40 proposals for the conservation and sustainable management of a range of mammal, reptile, fish, insect, coral and plant species. The United Republic of Tanzania and Zambia, for example, are requesting authorization to hold a one-off sale of government ivory stocks recovered from elephants which have died of natural causes. Seven other African countries led by Kenya are making a counterproposal for a 20-year moratorium on any softening of the ban on ivory trade in place since 1989. The USA proposes prohibiting all hunting of the polar bear. Canada argues that climate change is a greater menace for the species than hunting. Egypt wishes to reduce the level of protection of the Nile crocodile, arguing that stocks have recovered sufficiently. Guatemala and Honduras are proposing the inscription of four iguana species in Appendix II – which would permit trade in these reptiles but with strict controls – to protect them from collectors. Brazil and Argentina are proposing a similar listing for the commerce of rosewood and Palo Santo, two trees which produce essential oils used extensively in perfumery and cosmetics.
The debates should be animated. But then, there is a lot at stake. The case of the bluefin tuna, which can grow to 3 m in length, is symptomatic of growing international concern over the destruction of the world’s marine ecosystems through overfishing: 81.9 million tons of fish were harvested from the oceans in 2006. A single specimen of bluefin tuna was reportedly sold for US$120,000 in January this year.
The oceans ‘are in a terrible state,’ observe the authors of our lead story in this issue. ‘Destructive practices have continued in the oceans that would never have been tolerated on land.’ One of their eight predictions is that the plight of the oceans will come to the fore of conservation efforts this century. There is no time to lose: an estimated 52% of marine fish stocks are fully exploited, 19% overexploited and 9% depleted or recovering from depletion. CITES observes that 'the maximum wild capture fishing potential from the world’s oceans has probably been reached and a more closely controlled approach to fisheries is required.’ The fate of the bluefish tuna in Doha will be a gauge of the international community’s commitment to sustainable fisheries.
As this issue was going to press, the news broke that the proposed ban on blue tuna fishing had been rejected in Doha.
Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences