Monday, June 29, 2009

Wolves, Seals & Tuna: some encouraging news

My apologies for my not keeping up with new postings. I have been immersed in some video & editing assignments. So let's see what's been going on lately . . .

Some good news:

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has placed the wolves of Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin back on the endangered species list. Once protected, these wolves of the Great Lakes were demoted from endangered to threatened by the Bush Administration and then all protection was removed in 2007. Following legal action by several NGOs, protection was reinstated but then it was removed by the new administration just this past April. New legal action again by NGOs has now once again reinstated the wolves endangered status.

It could continue to seesaw back and forth as the anti-wolf lobby, headed by cattle ranching interests, fights back. But the potential loss of these wolves has consequences, as seen in the past when open hunting of wolves caused a spike in the deer population and throughout a wide range of small animals and rodents. Cattle ranchers, in protecting their herds, now had a whole new set of problems to deal with as deer grazed on the lands and small animals ran amok in numbers. Nature demands that we keep our top predators to insure a balanced ecosystem.

Hawaiian Monk Seals have long been considered one of the most endangered of all marine mammals. Their existence in the Hawaiian Island chain, particularly in the northern islands, has been tenuous at best.

But the National Marine Fisheries Services has recently agreed to extend protection for the seals across the entire chain with federally protected habitat, thereby hopefully improving the seals chances for survival. This particularly important in the northern islands where the seals have had the greatest difficulty due to starvation, disease, and entanglement with fishing nets and gear.

Populations of tuna have been decimated worldwide as market demand for this seafood continues to grow. Realizing their future industry is at stake, several of the world's leading tuna processors have formed the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF). Included in the foundation are Bumble Bee, Starkist, and Chicken of the Sea.

The foundation's goals are to commit to processing only tuna that:
  • Comes from well-managed, non-depleted stocks
  • Can be verified as to being legally caught
  • Has not been caught using methods that generate unacceptable levels of bycatch
  • Has not been transshipped (offloaded) at sea
All of these news items are good news but will require vigilance on the part of NGOs and government watchdog agencies or organizations to insure that they are properly carried out.

Still, it's nice to start the week on an optimistic note.

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