Personal tools

You are here: Home / Resources and news / News / WWF


Jul 16, 2013 WWF statement on ICJ whaling case
Today public hearings closed at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the case between Australia and Japan over whaling by Japan in the Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica. In May 2010, the Australian government initiated legal proceedings in the ICJ against the government of Japan alleging that so-called 'scientific' whaling by Japan is in breach of the country's international treaty obligations. Whaling for commercial purposes has been banned internationally since 1986 and the Southern Ocean was declared a whale sanctuary in 1994 affording it an additional layer of protection. The Australian government has requested the ICJ to order the government of Japan to cease its 'scientific' whaling programme in the Southern Ocean, and to provide assurances and guarantees that it will not take part in any further 'scientific' whaling in this zone. New Zealand has intervened in support of Australia's case. After extensive commercial whaling in the twentieth century brought most great whale species in the Southern Ocean close to extinction, the governments party to the International Whaling Commission (IWC) established the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, recognizing the critical importance of protecting whales in this special place. Japan exploits a clause in the IWC treaty that allows for the killing of whales for "scientific purposes." "Since the whaling treaty was signed there have been great scientific advances that allow data about whales to be obtained through non-lethal means. The International Court of Justice has heard abundant evidence on why hunting hundreds of whales in the Southern Ocean is not necessary for science," said Wendy Elliott, species programme manager at WWF. "In this day and age there is no reason to kill whales for scientific research and WWF strongly hopes for a positive ruling by the court that will end whaling in the Southern Ocean."
Jul 12, 2013 A landmark opportunity for the Antarctic`s Southern Ocean?
Bremerhaven, Germany: The Antarctic Ocean Alliance (AOA) and its partners say the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) has a landmark opportunity to protect the Antarctic`s Southern Ocean this week. CCAMLR members will decide the fate of two key proposals for Antarctic marine protection, either of which would create the world's largest marine protected rea (MPA) if designated. "Marine protected areas promote scientific research in Antarctica and ensure the regions ocean resources are well managed for future generations," said Bob Zuur, WWF's Antarctic and Southern Ocean Initiative.  "Antarctica's ocean is the least protected on Earth.  We ask CCAMLR to act on the best available scientific evidence and create these critical protected areas." The special CCAMLR meeting has been called because the Commission couldn't come to a consensus on the two proposals at its meeting in October 2012. The United States and New Zealand propose that CCAMLR designate a Ross Sea MPA of 2.3 million Km 2 . The Ross Sea is often referred to as the last ocean because it is one of the only large ocean habitats that is still relatively intact and home to a dazzling array of marine wildlife. A second proposal from Australia, France and the European Union would designate seven marine protected areas in East Antarctica covering about 1.63 million Km 2 . The Southern Ocean is home to more than 10,000 unique species including most of the world's penguins, whales, seabirds, colossal squid and the commercially targeted Antarctic toothfish. The region is critical for scientific research, both for studying how intact marine ecosystems function and for determining the impacts of global climate change. The AOA partners are attending the CCAMLR meeting in Bremerhaven working to ensure CCAMLR delegates step up to the challenge and designate the Ross Sea and East Antarctic proposals. "The world is watching the outcome of this CCAMLR meeting," said Steve Campbell, Campaign Director of the Antarctic Ocean Alliance, a group of more than 30 environmental organizations. "The Southern Ocean is a global commons like no other and protecting these vital marine habitats would benefit all of us, now and in the future."
Jul 02, 2013 World's top dolphin scientists urge NZ government to act now or Maui's will be extinct in 20 years
Auckland: Some of the world's leading whale, dolphin and porpoise scientists have expressed their 'extreme concern' about the survival of New Zealand's Maui's dolphin , urging the government to take immediate action to ensure 'full protection of Maui's in all areas throughout their habitat'. The Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) acknowledged in its 2013 report , released this weekend, that Maui's will decline to just 10 adult breeding females in six years and become functionally extinct in less than 20 years—unless their full range is protected from gillnetting and trawling. This followed a similar call from the IWC in 2012. Global conservation organization WWF presented a paper to the IWC Scientific Committee 65th meeting in Jeju, Korea in June that highlighted the lack of progress from New Zealand to save the last estimated 55 Maui's dolphins. WWF-New Zealand's Executive Director, Chris Howe, said: "One year after the IWC urged immediate action to protect our critically endangered dolphins, it is unacceptable that Maui's are still at risk of dying needlessly while we wait for adequate protection. "The government needs to step up now to do everything in its power to save Maui's dolphins. We call on Conservation Minister Nick Smith and Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy to announce permanent measures that remove fishing gear which kills dolphins from their waters, and help affected fishermen adopt dolphin-friendly methods. Anything less will not give the species a fighting chance at survival." The government announced interim protection measures in June 2012, but dangerous fishing activity is still allowed to continue in parts of Maui's habitat, including off the Taranaki coast and inside harbours. Eight months ago a public consultation on the Threat Management Plan for Maui's dolphin closed, yet the government has yet to make a decision on protecting them. Scientists' estimate that over 95% of unnatural Maui's deaths are caused by entanglement and drowning in gillnet or trawl fishing. An expert panel convened by the government in 2012 estimated that around 5 Maui's are killed each year in fishing nets, a rate 75.5 times what the population can withstand. Howe said: "The world is watching and waiting for New Zealand to take action to save these small and critically endangered dolphins. Both the survival of Maui's and our international reputation is on the line."
Jun 18, 2013 Industrialisation of the Great Barrier Reef denounced by World Heritage Committee
The Australian Marine Conservation Society and WWF-Australia said today that Australia's governments are putting the Great Barrier Reef at risk by failing to implement the World Heritage Committee recommendations around rapid industrialisation. WWF- Australia's Richard Leck, who has been attending the World Heritage Meeting as an observer, said Australia had been put 'on notice' by the World Heritage Committee. "Australian governments now have a firm deadline of June 2014 for action to avoid the global icon being placed on an international list of shame. This will be a crucial 12 months for ensuring the future of our reef and the AU$6 billion tourism industry that relies on it," Mr Leck said. "The decision reinforces the strong concerns that scientists, fishers, local communities and people around the world have for the reef, "The World Heritage Committee was explicit that the most precious pristine areas of the reef including Keppel Bay, north Curtis Island and the northern section of the reef need to be protected," said Mr Leck. Felicity Wishart Great Barrier Reef Campaign Director said that the government had made some progress on water quality and farm runoff but that these gains could be overshadowed by millions of tonnes of dredging and dumping for planned mega-port development along the coast. "Both major political parties had the opportunity to support the recommendations of the World Heritage Committee through changes to Australian environmental laws put before the Australian Senate on Monday night. Both political parties refused. "We need both major political parties to recognise just how serious the threat to the reef is. Australian scientists are concerned, the World Heritage Committee is concerned, and yesterday millions of people tweeted their concerns. "Yet the Queensland Government continues to fast track large scale port developments on the Great Barrier Reef and the Australian Government is failing to stop them. "Australian state and federal governments must heed the World Heritage Committee recommendation and put the brakes on the rapid industrialisation of the coastline. There should be no more port development or dredging and dumping until a plan to properly protect the reef is in place. "Right now there is a proposal to dredge millions of tonnes of seafloor less than 50kms from the Whitsunday Islands on Environment Minister Burke's desk. What will Tony Burke now do? Australians and the world deserve to know. "We will continue this campaign to protect the reef from unacceptable industrialisation" concluded Ms Wishart. BREAKING NEWS: Decision through - Australia's rapid industrialisation of the Great Barrier Reef denounced by World Heritage Committee. — Fight for the Reef (@fightforthereef) June 18, 2013
Jun 18, 2013 Europe's last wild sturgeons threatened by ongoing illegal fishing and caviar trade—WWF and TRAFFIC
Bucharest, Romania – Ongoing illegal fishing and trade in caviar in Romania and Bulgaria is threatening the survival of sturgeons in the Danube river basin, finds a new report by WWF and TRAFFIC. The report's findings are based on interviews with caviar retailers and DNA analyses of samples obtained from selected shops, restaurants, markets, street vendors and sturgeon farms in Romania and Bulgaria. Significant information was also obtained in discussions with fishermen. In both countries, a fishing ban currently is in place until 2015. However, Bulgarian fishermen told researchers they used modern equipment such as sonar and GPS, as well as the forbidden traditional hook lines – "carmaci" – to catch wild sturgeons. "Romania and Bulgaria are home to the only viable wild sturgeon populations left in the European Union, and unless this sophisticated illegal fishing is stopped, these fish are doomed," said WWF's Jutta Jahrl, author of the new report. In total, 30 caviar samples were obtained and analysed during the latest study to determine the species of origin (14 in Romania, 14 in Bulgaria and two of Bulgarian farmed caviar in Austria). Of five samples said by vendors to be from wild-caught sturgeons, four were shown to be from the highly sought-after beluga sturgeon (Huso huso). Five of the six sturgeon species native to the Danube river basin, including the beluga, are critically endangered. Illegal fishing – principally for their caviar – is the main direct threat to their survival. "The survey demonstrates that caviar allegedly from wild sturgeons is still being offered for sale in Bulgaria and Romania, despite the current ban," said Jahrl. Although trade in farmed caviar is permitted if containers are specially labeled, eight of the caviar samples bought in fish shops or from street vendors did not have the mandatory labels and codes required under CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) to indicate their legal origin. Of three samples that did possess CITES labels, DNA analysis indicated they were from species or hybrids other than those declared on the label. Furthermore, five samples were mixtures containing more than one species of sturgeon, which is not permitted under the strict CITES rules (except for so called "pressed caviar"), while a further six samples were shown not to be sturgeon caviar, despite being explicitly sold as such. "These cases demonstrate that Bulgaria and Romania need to improve significantly their implementation of European Union Wildlife Trade Regulations and CITES labelling provisions," said TRAFFIC's Katalin Kecse-Nagy. "Consumers should only buy caviar that has authentic CITES labeling, or risk being ripped-off or worse." In 2011, a TRAFFIC study compiled for WWF revealed illegal caviar from Bulgaria and Romania was regularly being seized elsewhere in the EU. "Two years ago, attention was drawn to the need for Bulgaria and Romania to implement stronger controls over the caviar trade, but progress seems to be lacking," said Kecse-Nagy. Researchers also found that vendors in both countries, especially those offering supposedly illegal caviar, only sell to people they trust. The result is a covert chain of custody from poachers to customers involving middlemen and indicating a criminal network. "The illegal caviar trade is not just a wildlife protection issue. It also involves contraband and organized crime, loss of tax revenue for the countries concerned, and there are health and veterinary issues, too," said Kecse-Nagy. "Effective enforcement is a vital prerequisite for a successful fight against poaching and illegal wildlife trade. Tight inland and border controls are crucial, especially at the external frontiers of the EU, such as Moldova, Ukraine and Turkey, together with good national and cross border cooperation." The report also recommends the use of modern technology, such as DNA analysis, to help monitor the caviar trade and for strict control measures to regulate online caviar sales and sturgeon aquaculture operations. The report, Illegal caviar trade in Bulgaria and Romania, was funded by The Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund and WWF.
Jun 07, 2013 South China Sea, Mediterranean and North Sea are shipping accidents hotspots
Gland, Switzerland: Some of the world`s most iconic oceans are also the most at risk according to a new study on shipping accidents released by WWF for World Oceans Day. The South China Sea and East Indies, east Mediterranean and Black Sea, North Sea and British Isles were found to be dangerous hotspots for accidents involving ships. "Since 1999 there have been 293 shipping accidents in the South China Sea and east Indies, home of the Coral Triangle and 76 per cent of the world's coral species." said Dr Simon Walmsley, Marine Manger, WWF International. "As recently as April this year we`ve seen a Chinese fishing boat run aground on a protected coral reef in the Philippines that had already been damaged by a US Navy ship in January." Fishing vessels accounted for nearly a quarter of the vessels lost at sea but general cargo ships account for over 40 per cent. Cargo ships often operate short shipping routes, associated with the tramp trading where ships don't have a set route and pick up opportunistic trade, particularly in Southeast Asia. The risk to the environment is directly linked to the type and amount of hazardous substances, including oil, being transported and the sensitivity of the marine area where any accident could occur. In 2002, the Prestige oil tanker sunk resulting in over 70,000 tonnes of oil being released into the Atlantic Ocean off the Spanish coast. "The Prestige oil spill caused not only environmental impacts but economic losses estimated at €8 billion. Even small scale accidents in very sensitive environments, like the Great Barrier Reef, can have profound environmental consequences." said Dr Walmsley. Climate change models show increased storm surges, changing wind and wave patterns and extreme weather events which are likely to exacerbate the risks of foundering leading to potential catastrophic environmental destruction. Fifty per cent of all accidents are caused by foundering, where a boat sinks due to rough weather, leaks or breaking in two. As the global fleet continues to expand rapidly and begins to operate routinely in more risky areas the probability of accidents and likely severity of impacts will again increase unless precautionary measures are put in place to address identifiable risk factors. "We really want to see the shipping industry promote greater owner and operator responsibility and encourage owners to register with better flag states, the country which a vessel is registered to." "Additionally, irresponsible and badly performing owners and countries need to be exposed in order to motivate them to significantly increase their standards which will decrease the number of accidents we see still occurring today" said Dr Walmsley.
May 30, 2013 Late night deal on fisheries lacks decisive action on fish stocks
Brussels, Belgium: Early this morning negotiations between the Irish Presidency and the European Parliament concluded with an agreement on the basic regulation of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). WWF is concerned that some key issues are being ignored such as decisive actions badly needed to replenish seriously depleted fish stocks.   Despite efforts to reach a deal on this issue by member of the European Parliament, Ulrike Rodust, and her parliamentary negotiating team, the Irish Presidency, representing a divided Fisheries Council led by countries with large fishing industries, preferred to defend a business as usual approach that might delay fish stock recoveries. "WWF acknowledges the constructive role played by the European Parliament in its attempt to bring about a deal that would reinvigorate a failed fisheries policy. While almost two-thirds of the assessed fish stocks in the EU are overexploited and many fishermen face bankruptcy, the majority of EU's governments have decided to stonewall negotiations and have refused to accept an agreement that would allow a full recovery and increased income for fishermen within the next 10 years." Tony Long, Director of the European Policy Office. The new EU-CFP reform cannot continue the 40 year pattern of negotiations and self-congratulation by politicians, while fish stocks continue to decline. "Even if the new CFP does not address the deep problem of overcapacity, WWF hopes that we do not return to the old wasteful way of managing EU's fish stocks. We will continue to ensure that fishermen, and stakeholders, with the support of the scientific community, will have a decisive say over how the industry is run." The European Parliament and Mrs Rodust's negotiating team and the Irish Presidency should be commended for their endeavour to provide a real transition to a sustainable CFP despite the Fisheries Council inability to support ambitious goals. The agreement includes some positive elements but fails to end overfishing in the coming generations. The new deal needs to become a legal framework that helps reverse the current frenzied grab for threatened fish, the overcapacity of fishing fleets and a regime whereby the industry is forced into noncompliance.   "We call on all concerned stakeholders to quickly start working within the new legislative framework for multi annual plans to be drawn up and implemented urgently. The plans need to become the backbone of the new CFP. They must be framed to deliver on the most urgent needs for fish stocks and the marine environment recovery. We also hope that the new CFP provides the basis for forging a truly sustainable foreign dimension for the EU's fleets. While negotiating partnership agreement with Third Countries, the EU shall act in line with international commitments, obligations and policy objectives to achieve sustainable fishing operations outside EU's waters".
May 27, 2013 Russian seas finally protected by robust law against oil pollution
Russian has passed a long-awaited law to protect the country's seas from oil pollution after 120,000 Russians signed a petition as an Earth Hour 2012 conservation challenge. WWF-Russia has been working with the Russian authorities on a law since the catastrophic oil spill in the Kerchensky Strait of Southern Russia in 2007. In 2011 the State Duma approved a first hearing of a draft law that did not adequately protect the marine environment against oil spills. In response, WWF-Russia used the Earth Hour I Will If You Will challenge platform to motivate citizens to campaign for a more complete version of the law. Celebrities filmed video pledges about what they would be willing to do if 100,000 people signed the petition. Most completed their promises within three weeks from when the goal was reached. WWF-Russia, the Ministry of Natural Resources and a specialized State Duma committee worked together to redraft the initial draft law into a robust protection against oil pollution. The new law defines rules for extracting and transporting hydrocarbons and requires operating companies to take increased responsibility for preventing oil spills. If a spill does occur, the company holding the licence must now make full restitution to the environment, even if one of their contractors was at fault. The law also includes measures to coordinate response to a spill and will enable volunteers to help with the clean up. WWF-Russia used the Earth Hour 2013 I Will If You Will challenge platform to promote a petition to ban industrial logging in Russia's protective forests and will continue to campaign for further measures to protect the seas against oil pollution. WWF's Earth Hour started in Sydney, Australia, in 2007 as a citizen initiative to protest against climate change, and call for urgent action. People were encouraged to switch off their lights as a symbolic action to demonstrate their commitment to a sustainable future. Since then, Earth Hour has grown at a huge pace to become the world's largest mass participation environmental movement, active in over 150 countries, and has gone "beyond the hour" to become a platform where people can mobilise action on climate and other environmental priorities. Posted: January 4 2013  Updated: May 27 2013
May 27, 2013 EU fisheries ministers use bullying tactics to allow overfishing
Brussels, Belgium: Despite negotiating through the night to save fisheries in Europe it is becoming clear that certain European Union (EU) countries with large fishing industries, supported by the Irish Presidency, are using bullying tactics with members of the European Parliament (MEP) to push them into accepting a deal that will result in overfishing until 2020, and does little to support coastal communities. "MEPs like Ulrike Rodust have admirably defended their parliamentary mandate in negotiations over recent weeks, and have strongly resisted pressure from Fisheries and Agriculture Council to throw in the towel and reach a quick but weak compromise. The council's attitude of non-negotiation goes completely against the spirit of co-decision with parliament and is completely unacceptable." Roberto Ferrigno, WWF's Common Fisheries Policy reform coordinator "WWF calls on parliament and council to agree on a policy that effectively stops overfishing and allows fish stocks to recover in order to support fishermen in the long term." Threats by some fisheries ministers to walk out of negotiations and abandon the whole Common Fisheries Policy reform are a slap in the face of the widespread public support for an ambitious deal which spurred an overwhelming majority of over 500 MEPs in favour of strong reform earlier this year. WWF calls on the fisheries ministers and the European Parliament to agree on the fastest full recovery targets for fishery stocks. They have it within their powers to ensure that discards, fishing subsidies and stock management are addressed immediately and effectively so that we can reverse, within ten years, the situation where almost two out of three assessed stocks are at crisis level.  "This is not just the view of WWF, it is also held by progressive fishermen, scientists, industry and the public who all want real and sustainable reform. This deal will guide EU fisheries policy for the next 10 years and in the current situation of depleted fish stocks, we may not have another chance to get it right." Andrea Kohl, Programme Director with the WWF European Policy Office. "We need a strong reform allowing fish stocks to recover. WWF is looking very carefully at the non-transparent negotiations which appear to contradict the principle of co-decision and permit blackmail threats to the MEPs by certain countries."     Common Fisheries Policy reform Nearly two out of three assessed fish stocks in Europe are overfished. WWF believes that the current reform of the EU's Common Fisheries Policy must aim to ensure that by 2020 no more stocks are overfished through meaningful reform of the Common Fisheries Policy. Building on a draft European Commission plan, the European Parliament adopted a legislative proposal in February with an overwhelming majority that would end overfishing in Europe. According to recent research, the current position of the European fisheries ministers, would allow overfishing to continue for more than 100 years. Ministers and Mrs Rodust, should respect their democratic mandate and look for real compromise in negotiations this week. How it works In the trilogue negotiations, the Council of Ministers of the 27 EU fisheries ministers is represented by Simon Coveney, Irish Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine Affairs, who holds the Presidency of the Council and speaks for all of the EU's fisheries ministers. The European Parliament is represented in the negotiations by Ulrike Rodust, rapporteur of the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy and a member of the European Parliament. The Council of Ministers is not willing to negotiate with the parliament on an equal basis, as provided by the Lisbon Treaty, and is trying to force the parliament to drop its ambitions to achieve a swift recovery of fish stocks, and accept a reform that will continue the status quo. Otherwise, they threaten to stop the entire reform process.
May 23, 2013 A second chance for a trapped whale shark
20 May, 2013: Fishermen in the Sonmiani Bay have successfully released a juvenile whale shark trapped in their fishing nets. A tuna gillnet operating along the Balochistan coast caught the 3.5 metre whale shark accidentally. The captain of the vessel, Muhammad Ismail, a fisherman trained by WWF-Pakistan to release endangered animals trapped in nets, took great care to ensure the whale shark was freed. It took more than an hour to get this struggling animal free without harming it. In the past local fishermen killed whale sharks for their liver oil which was smeared on the hull of fishing boats. Whale sharks are occasionally reported from the area but the status of their population is not known in Pakistan. They can be seen along coastal offshore waters of the country which is their feeding, breeding and basking ground. Mr. Rab Nawaz, Director WWF-Pakistan stressed the need for protection of this species in Pakistan because of their dwindling population. There is no known natural predator of this large fish but they often die by entanglement in fishing gear. In order to protect the whale shark, WWF-Pakistan is lobbying for provincial wildlife departments of Sindh and Balochistan to include whale sharks in Appendix-I  of the respective wildlife acts so that these gentle giants may be given the status of a protected animal. In recent years WWF-Pakistan has involved all major stakeholders in creating awareness among fishermen to not kill or harm these and other endangered species. It is due to these efforts that rescue and release activities are being reported more frequently.
May 15, 2013 Fisheries deal fails to bridge gap with ambitious European Parliament
Brussels, Belgium: After pulling yet another all-nighter, fisheries ministers unfortunately remained predictable with little effort being made to meet the European Parliament half way on their ambitious proposal to save fisheries in Europe. "The devil is in the detail as they say, but in this case it's the lack of detail, as fisheries ministers decided on a legally neutral text with few binding timelines and concrete measures. If implemented it would enable them to continue badly managing our oceans and ruining our fish stocks for yet another decade."  says Roberto Ferrigno, WWF's Common Fisheries Policy reform coordinator. "On the opposite side of the coin, the European Parliament demands an ambitious reform that would deliver new fishing laws aimed at restoring fish stocks, through transparency, fixed timelines, accountability and enforceability" "This new law that is currently in the making will be used for the next 10 years to protect our oceans and fish stocks. A new WWF analysis¹ shows that recovery of fish stocks could take more than 100 years under current proposals by EU Fisheries Ministers, whereas with the Parliament's offer, it could only take 10 years for 75% of the stocks to recover – the latter is by far the better deal and it's what we urgently need", concludes Ferrigno. The council has dealt its cards and it is now up to the European Parliament, led by MEP Ulrike Rodust, to decide whether they accept the so-called 'compromise' that the council is offering - or whether they reject it and stand their ground by sticking to their ambitious position for reform. It remains to be seen if they will use their new co-decision powers to say "no deal now is better than a bad deal for the next 10 years", or not.
May 13, 2013 Good news for sharks at Indian Ocean Tuna Commission meeting
Gland, Switzerland: WWF welcomes the adoption of key conservation measures for oceanic white-tip sharks, whale sharks and cetaceans following the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) annual meeting last week in Mauritius. IOTC member states agreed on important measures for the management of tuna fisheries and other vulnerable species such as white-tip sharks, which are not to be retained and need to be released unharmed if possible, while purse seiners can no longer set around whale sharks and cetaceans. One very positive outcome was the adoption of a proposal by the Maldives with regard to interim target and reference points, and a framework for management decisions to be taken in response to changes in stock status. A reference point is a benchmark value that helps managers decide how the fishery is performing and is often based on an indicator such as fishery stock size or the level of fishing. Fisheries scientists conduct a fishery stock assessment to provide estimates of a fishery stock size and fishing mortality over time. Reference points serve as a standard to compare those estimates based on our understanding of the biological characteristics of the targeted species. "This is an important step towards the implementation of full harvest control rules and paves the way for the development of management tools essential for a sustainable fishery", said Dr Wetjens Dimmlich, Indian Ocean Tuna Coordinator for WWF's Smart Fishing Initiative. "WWF welcomes the increasing involvement of Indian Ocean coastal developing states in conservation proposals, demonstrating an awareness of the need to responsibly manage tuna fisheries in the region," Dr Dimmlich added. "Negotiation and successful adoption of the Maldives proposal for the management of tunas in the Indian Ocean is indeed a giant leap forward in the history of IOTC. "We are now confident and convinced that together we can make IOTC an effective tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organisation", said Dr Hussain R Hassan, the Maldives Minister of State for Fisheries and Agriculture, and head of the Maldives' delegation. WWF looks forward to continuing work in cooperation with the Maldives Government and other developing coastal states in the region to improve the management and conservation of tuna stocks.
May 13, 2013 Ending overfishing may take more than 100 years says WWF analysis of EU proposals for fish stock recovery
Brussels, Belgium: New scientific analysis from environmental organisation WWF reveals recovery of European fish stocks will take more than 100 years under current proposals by EU Fisheries Ministers. "No law can end overfishing in one fell swoop but Ministers appear to be actively sidelining stock recovery", says Roberto Ferrigno, WWF's Common Fisheries Policy project coordinator. "For the sake of fishermen, coastal communities and the health of our oceans, Ministers must set targets for the fastest possible recovery. 100 years plus is too long." Two out of three fish stocks in European waters are considered overfished. Ambitious reform of Europe's Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) could reverse this situation over the next 10 years. But core elements of the reform package relating to discards, subsidies and stock recovery are under dispute, and negotiations between the European Parliament and Fisheries Ministers over what shape future EU fishing laws should take, may collapse. Parliament wants to reduce fishing activity to allow stock recovery by 2020, with stock size and catches managed according to the principle of 'maximum sustainable yield' (MSY). WWF analysis suggests implementation of Parliament's ambitious proposals, could result in the recovery of three-quarters of overfished European stocks within the next 10 years. In contrast, Fisheries Ministers want to reduce fishing pressure gradually without any binding measures before 2020, resulting in an uncertain century-long recovery process. "Procrastinating until 2020 would sanction continued overfishing," says Ferrigno. "Ministers risk losing perhaps the last opportunity to ensure Europe once again has healthy and economically viable fisheries." Currently, European fisheries produce only about 60 percent of what could be landed if stocks were allowed to recover. CFP reform is faltering due to contrasting socio-economic interests of individual Member States. "Some fishing nations want to maintain the status quo and thwart reform," says Ferrigno. "Real change is hanging by a thread. Failure to deliver now will be a massive setback in the fight against overfishing, threatening the health of our oceans as well as the future of the fishing industry." The upcoming Fisheries Council meeting on May 13-14th may be the last chance Ministers have to collaborate with Parliament, revive the CFP reform process, deliver meaningful targets for stock recovery, and end overfishing. For further information: WWF EUROPEAN POLICY - ALEXANDRA BENNETT, Communications Director, WWF European Policy Office, , +32 477 393 400 ROBERTO FERRIGNO, Common Fisheries Policy Project Coordinator, WWF European Policy Office, , +32 497 433 688
May 02, 2013 Tuna on the move on World Tuna Day!
Mindoro Occidental, Philippines: The movements of four mighty swimmers named Amihan, Badjao, Hagibis, and Buhawi, can now be followed as they go about their business in the Coral Triangle. These four adult yellowfin tuna have satellite tags attached that are providing some interesting information about their movements through the ocean. "The data we have gathered so far reveal that tuna movements cover an impressive amount of nautical miles a day, travelling back and forth in a general north-south direction from where they were caught and released," says Dr. Jose Ingles, Tuna Strategy Leader of the WWF Coral Triangle Programme. The Coral Triangle, which encompasses the seas of Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Timor Leste, is a known tuna nursery and migratory path, producing about 30 per cent of the total global tuna catch. "Through this activity, we hope to identify key spawning, feeding, and nursery grounds of this much sought-after species and make a case for governments to protect these sites," adds Dr. Ingles. Tuna feeds millions of people in the Coral Triangle and providing jobs and livelihood to thousands of fishers and their families who directly depend on the ocean. See where tuna swim in the #CoralTriangle in this tracking map! Happy World Tuna Day! #WWF — WWF Coral Triangle (@Coral_Triangle) May 2, 2013
Apr 29, 2013 First evidence of a leatherback turtle along Pakistan's coastline
Pakistan: A leatherback turtle, one of the rarest living reptiles, was recently caught and safely released back into the sea by a group of fishermen near Surbandar village, Gwadar, Balochistan province in Pakistan. WWF-Pakistan staff helped in the rescue and release of this turtle. This rescue, along with the recent location of a large population of olive Ridley turtles from offshore waters previously thought to be extinct from the area, is a positive sign for the marine biodiversity of Pakistan. Along the coast of Pakistan five species of marine turtles are reported to occur which include green, olive Ridley, hawksbill, loggerhead and leatherback turtles. Of these, leatherback is considered to be the rarest species occurring along the area and indeed globally; they are one of the most endangered species of marine turtles. Previously there were a number of reports about occurrence of leatherback from Pakistan including a dead leatherback turtle recorded from Pushukan near Gwadar in 2002 but no living turtle was recorded from the country before. Muhammad Moazzam Khan, Technical Adviser in marine fisheries for WWF-Pakistan pointed out that since leatherback turtles feed only jellyfish, their occurrence in the country may be on account of a recurrence of jellyfish blooms in the coastal areas. He pointed out that the global population of this species was estimated to be 115,000 adult females in 1982. By 1996 this had been revised down to about 30-40,000. Leatherback populations in the Indian Ocean have undergone dramatic declines in the past forty years. The nesting colony at Terengganu, Malaysia went from more than 3,000 females in 1968, to 20 in 1993, to just 2 recorded recently with no signs of recovery. WWF-Pakistan with the support of provincial wildlife departments has been involved in turtle conservation and awareness programmes along Sindh and Balochistan coasts for almost two decades. With the establishment and strengthening of sanctuaries and wildlife refuges as well as awareness raising activities, local communities are now better equipped to protect turtles and their nests and reduce bycatch in fishing gears as evidence from the recent finds show.
Apr 26, 2013 Governments take a stand against fisheries crime
Vienna, Austria: Governments meeting at the United Nations Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice this week in Vienna agreed to a proposal from Norway, to address crimes at sea that impact upon the environment, including fisheries crimes. Illegal fishing undermines efforts by governments and responsible fishers to sustainably manage fisheries. It also threatens livelihoods, food security and sustainable development and costs the global economy US$23 billion annually. Despite the severity of these problems, governments often lack adequate laws to put offenders out of business. In many countries, even serious fisheries offences only warrant a fine and are not regarded as crimes. And despite industrial fishing today being a globalised business, fisheries crimes have not previously been regarded as an issue warranting international law enforcement cooperation. "With illegal fishing depleting fish stocks, especially in developing countries and on the high seas, often with impunity and in broad daylight, this move by the international community to take the problem seriously is long overdue", said Jessica Battle, Global Ocean Governance Programme Manager, WWF International. "Now, we need to see individual governments, especially as flag states, take legislative action to criminalise serious offences and to effectively enforce the law. The future food supply and wellbeing of coastal communities across the world is at stake." WWF is advocating for serious fisheries offenses to be criminalised and crimes adequately punished to effectively deter fishers and fishing companies from engaging in crimes. This involves upgrading national laws but also international cooperation by fisheries, judiciary, customs and police agencies.
Apr 09, 2013 South Africa makes marine conservation history by declaring Prince Edward Islands a marine protected area
Cape Town, South Africa: WWF-South Africa (WWF-SA) is elated over Minister Edna Molewa's recent formal announcement of the declaration of the Prince Edward Islands as a marine protected area (MPA) – Africa`s first offshore MPA. Dr Morné du Plessis, WWF-SA's Chief Executive says, "This is a historic day for marine conservation in South Africa. This declaration demonstrates South Africa's new commitment to protecting the Prince Edward Islands, an important national heritage and a crown jewel of our oceans. We praise the minister for her visionary leadership and commitment to securing our marine biodiversity for future generations." The marine biodiversity of the Prince Edward Islands is of global importance. The islands are home to a suite of spectacular marine wildlife, including albatrosses, penguins, killer whales and Patagonian toothfish stocks. Unfortunately this wildlife has been threatened by illegal and unsustainable fishing practices in the past, resulting in significant economic and ecological losses to South Africa. WWF International's Director General, Jim Leape, says, "It is inspiring to see such environmental leadership in South Africa, and I applaud Minister Molewa for her vision. Still too little of the world's precious oceans are protected from exploitation, and this is a landmark victory for marine conservation – and hopefully a sign of more to come." "Protection of the Prince Edward Islands is a significant contribution to the conservation of global biodiversity and the fragile Southern Ocean, in particular. The WWF network remains committed to supporting the South African government in ensuring the adequate protection of this area for now and for future generations," concludes du Plessis. The islands, which consist of Prince Edward and Marion Islands, are located almost 2,000 kilometres south of South Africa in the Southern Ocean, and form an important global biodiversity hotspot, which was subject to rampant poaching during the late 1990s. Patagonian Toothfish otherwise known as Chilean Seabass (in northern markets) was poached around the islands and this was part of a wider phenomenon across the Southern Ocean and Antarctic waters. At 180,000km2, approximately the combined size of the Free State Province, Lesotho and Swaziland, the MPA is one of the world's largest. Today's declaration follows a long and very successful collaboration between WWF-SA and the Department of Environmental Affairs. It comes almost seven years after South Africa's then Minister of Environmental Affairs, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, initially announced his intention to declare the MPA. WWF has worked closely with the Department of Environmental Affairs to complete a thorough planning and stakeholder consultation process. Plans developed included a legal analysis, spatial conservation plan and a draft management plan. Financing for much of this planning process was obtained from the private sector – through a sponsorship by Sanlam and the Charl van der Merwe Trust.
Mar 27, 2013 A chill on environmental protection as Arctic shipping heats up
After a year's delay, the United Nations body tasked with developing polar shipping regulations has recommended provisions to address the environmental impacts of Arctic shipping – but they don't go far enough, says conservation organization WWF. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) met last week to shape the Polar Code, a legally binding set of rules for shipping in polar regions. Although the final Polar Code won't be adopted this year, recommendations made now will strongly influence the environmental provisions of the final Code. "The provisions proposed on environmental protection issues are simply too weak", says Lars Erik Mangset, Advisor for WWF-Norway. "Major risks, like acute pollution from heavy fuel oil, are not even addressed. And although the Polar Code is legally binding, many of the most pressing issues have been placed in the voluntary section of the code or deferred to later discussions, potentially outside the Code." Rapid warming in the Arctic has led to the opening up of commercial sea routes in the region.  While destination ship traffic in and out of the Arctic is expected the greatest traffic increase the next decades, transport over the Northern Sea Route (above Russia and Scandinavia) has seen substantial growth over the past few years and is in particular being targeted as a route for tanker and bulk traffic.  Increased traffic in these waters, coupled with the fact that the Arctic is up to 95% unsurveyed and chart coverage is generally inadequate for coastal navigation, means that the risks of operating should be matched with suitable precautionary measures in order to protect the environment. For example, banning the use and carriage of heavy fuel oil in sensitive areas would reduce the environmental impacts of a spill significantly. "Arctic shipping will expand massively in the next few decades. The recommendations are disappointing, but they are not yet set in stone. Arctic countries have an opportunity now to advocate world-class environmental protection measures, which this region needs and deserves", says Dr. Simon Walmsley, Marine Manager for WWF-International. Solid international and domestic legislation, respectively in the Antarctic and in Canada, sets a good precedent. Canada already in place close to zero-tolerance limit on oil and oily discharge and other waste streams from ships, and has advocated for similar provisions in the Polar Code. This is a positive precedence for other Arctic states to follow. WWF is calling on IMO member states to commit to meaningful environmental protection in the Polar Code, through a ban on heavy fuel oil in the Arctic, as well as heightened restrictions on operational discharges, carbon emissions and the spread of alien species in ballast water. More information Lars Erik Mangset Advisor Shipping and Climate, WWF-Norway Email: Mobile: +47 93 20 94 94 Dr. Simon Walmsley, Marine Manager WWF-International Email: Mobile:+44 (0)7920023318 About WWF's Global Arctic Programme WWF is working with its many partners – governments, business and communities – across the Arctic to combat these threats and preserve the region's rich biodiversity.  The WWF Global Arctic Programme has coordinated WWF's work in the Arctic since 1992. We work through offices in six Arctic countries, with experts in circumpolar issues like governance, climate change, fisheries, oil and gas and polar bears. About WWF WWF is one of the world's largest and most respected independent conservation organizations, with almost five million supporters and a global network active in more than 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption.
Mar 19, 2013 Making a sustainable living from fishing in the Indus Delta
The Indus Delta, where the Indus River flows into the Arabian Sea, is a 600,000 ha large area with 17 creeks, swamps and extensive mudflats. It is part of a complex creek system inhabited by small, local fishing communities. Historically, agriculture made the delta flourish until large-scale irrigation works caused serious intrusion and erosion of the soil. Many farmers changed their spades for fishing nets and migrated to the small, remote coastal town Keti Bunder. Today 90% of the village depends on fisheries as a source of income. But income varies a lot depending on the season, and is heavily reliant on unsustainable techniques such as illegal drift gillnets that catch non-target fish of poor quality. Working as a fisheries officer at WWF Pakistan, I embarked in a trade-off initiative between 2009 and 2012 to help fishermen turn away from these unsustainable practices. Almost a year later, I returned to the village ... As I arrived at Keti Bunder, a cold breeze was blowing; it was a nice Sunday afternoon. A few fishermen just came back from their trip and were unloading the catch of the day. I boarded the boat as it started to take off slowly, heading towards Bhoori village, my final destination. The waves surged towards the edges of the creeks as it hit the dense mangrove patches and subsided. As we made our way along the channels, a small flock of painted storks flew past. I caught the sight of a brahminy kite feeding on a mullet in the salt shrubs. We crossed the channel, entered a sub-creek through a deeper water zone and, finally, reached Bhoori. I jumped off the boat and walked through the mud towards a group of fishermen who were waiting for me. According to the village tradition, the fishermen offered me some water to clean my feet and we all set down in a small room, a thatch hut that was made of typha reeds. The seven fishermen whom I had worked with closely over the past years were wearing their traditional shalwar kameez, they looked at me curiously for I had returned after almost one year. On my right sat Mohammed Amin Jatt, 65 years old, who daily earns 200 – 250 PKR (between 1,5 and 2 euros) and has to feed a family of 10 people.  "We used to cultivate red rice, we had enough water in the village from the Indus River flourishing our lands," he said. "Once freshwater supply started to get depleted, I had to adapt fast to be able to continue to support my family, so I turned to fishing."  Mohammed explained that the shift from agriculture to fishing was not abrupt. It had taken some time before he had completely abandoned farming.  "The first years were tough, combining fishing and farming to make a living. This continued until the mid 80's when fish catches went down drastically. My kids used to go to bed on an empty stomach, because we didn´t have earnings from agriculture anymore and the fishing nets were not meant to use on a boat. So I took a loan, bought a boat and an estuarine set-bag net. I set up my nets in different creeks as there was plenty of fish. We could fish anywhere, the mole holder who helped me purchase the boat bought whatever we caught. However, this got me, my family and the other fishermen sitting in this room into big problems."  Mohammed Ismail Jatt, Ali Mohammed and Hamzo nodded their heads in unison. "We just followed the others, thinking it would bring great benefit. We used to hear stories from people living in other creeks that they were much happier, not realizing that this kind of fishing would completely eliminate our chances of survival."  I was astonished to hear how desperate they were to find a way out of the predicament. "We were caught in the loan cycle trap and it seemed impossible for us to get out, we continued to take credits from the mole holder because we did not have earnings or savings to maintain our household. We were desperate because the interest rate was fixed at an exorbitant rate," told Hamzo, aged 42. "When WWF told us they would help us, we thought it was just another formality, that nothing would change. But then we started to have discussions in the village", Ali Mohammed stated. "And when you came back with a set of options, we were pleased to hear from you. It seemed a logical way to get out of the loan, even though we realized that it would be difficult to put into practice. We exchanged our five estuarine set-bag nets for the five nets you offered, your ideas were fully reasonable as you described five individual plans."  "The plan was straightforward, developed to tackle your different problems," I replied. "Amin's loan had to be waved off, along with the provision of insulated plastic containers, new engine and boat repair, whereas Hamzo and Ismail got new boats and new engines along with larger mesh sized nets. But we didn´t just want to give you an incentive, we wanted to provide you with a concrete, sustainable long-term alternative". Amin interrupted me excitedly: "it was an excellent, innovative idea when WWF asked us to make ponds to store crabs, we consider them as our bank, we can obtain cash at anytime. When we have a bad fishing day, we can sell 10 to 12 crabs, earning around 300PKR (about 2,5 euros) per crab, which is great."  After some silence, he concluded: "previously we used to cast nets everywhere and the fish depleted rapidly. Now we fish in a targeted way, our fishing practices have improved. The next challenge is to create a better market for selling our fish. We hope that with the support of WWF, this will soon become another reality."   By Umair Shahid, Fisheries Officer, WWF Pakistan
Mar 14, 2013 Historic vote protects sharks and manta rays at CITES
Dr. Carlos Drews, head of WWF's CITES delegation, issued the following statement in reaction to today's historic vote to regulate trade of several species of sharks and manta rays: "This is a historic moment, where science has prevailed over politics, as sharks and manta rays are being obliterated from our oceans. This decision will put a major dent in the uncontrolled trade in shark meat and fins, which is rapidly destroying populations of these precious animals to feed the growing demand for luxury goods." "These timely decisions to have trade in sharks and manta rays regulated by CITES show that governments can muster the political will to keep our oceans healthy, securing food and other benefits for generations to come – and we hope to see similar action in the future to protect other commercially exploited and threatened marine species, both at the national and international level." Governments on Thursday reaffirmed the stronger protections for three species of hammerheads, in addition to porbeagles, oceanic whitetips, and two species of manta rays. The sharks and manta rays were listed on CITES' Appendix II, seeking to regulate their international trade to sustainable levels. Victory! Better protection through #CITES for sharks and manta rays upheld. Big sigh of relief after this historic moment. — WWF News (@WWFnews) March 14, 2013


Regional Coordinating Unit
Dakar, Senegal
Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO)

Supported by GEF IW:LEARN