Friday, March 29, 2013

Tainted Turtle Meat Kills at Least Three Kids, Poisons Hundreds in West Sumatra

At least three people have died and hundreds more were sickened after consuming toxic turtle meat in Mentawai Island, West Sumatra, a local news portal reported on Wednesday.

Rijel Samaloisa, deputy mayor of Mentawai, told news portal that three children — a 3-year-old, an 8-year-old and an 11-month-old – died after eating the tainted meat on Tuesday night.

“The first victim died this morning [Tuesday] and the other two passed away in the afternoon. The latest information, a child aged 7 years old, is in critical condition at the Tuapejat Regional Hospital,” Rijel said.

He said residents of a fisherman’s community in the Sao hamlet of Bosua village, South Sipora, ate turtle that had been caught on Sunday. The deputy mayor added that some victims died because their families could not seek treatment in time.

“People were [sick] on Sunday but they were not directly taken to get medication,” he said.

All of the poisoned survivors have since received medical treatment, Rijel said, adding that they were admitted to Tuapeijat Hospital and Sioban community health center. reported that limited access to the village hindered the ability to seek treatment for the sickened villagers, as the only means of transportation which can accommodate many people at once is a boat with an outboard engine. Soa hamlet is located at the southern part of Sipora island and it can take up to two hours in good weather to reach the district health facilities. The regional hospital could take up to four hours to reach from the village, which has no mobile phone coverage, according to the portal.

Rijel said this was not the first time Mentawai people were sickened after consuming turtle meat.

“People have never learned, there were similar cases like this in the past,” he said. reported that 36 people on the island were poisoned from turtle meat on March 16.

Mentawai Island Health Office head Warta Siritoitet said there were four cases of poisoning from turtle meat in the past year in Mentawai.

Rijel said that the Mentawai administration would issue a mandate to prohibit the consumption of turtle.

“People will be prohibited to eat any kinds of turtle. We will distribute [a circular about the ban] in the mosques, churches, governments offices and other places,” he said.
 See original article at:  jakarta globe article

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Drift gillnets kept out of leatherback area . . . for now.

We can breathe a momentary sigh of relief. This Monday, the Pacific Fishery Management Council voted unanimously to maintain protections off California and Oregon for the critically endangered population of Pacific leatherback sea turtles. However, in 2014 these federal fishery managers will consider another proposal for allowing driftnets into sea turtle habitat southwest of Monterey, California.

At the meeting a few days ago in Tacoma, Washington, the Council considered a full array of proposals to expand the use of drift gillnets off California and Oregon and into an area currently designated to protect Pacific leatherback sea turtles. But Oceana—with the help of our partners, and support of our avid Wavemakers—successfully thwarted those efforts by presenting new science on the decline of leatherback sea turtles; by revealing scientific data showing massive wasteful bycatch of large whales, dolphins, sharks, and other fish by the drift gillnet fishery; and by bringing forward the public uproar over the proposed expansion of the driftnet fishery into a currently protected area.
Mile-long drift nets hang like invisible curtains in the water column to catch swordfish, but they unselectively entangle other marine life traversing through the open ocean. To numerically paint the portrait of this wasteful fishery, for every five swordfish caught in 2011, one marine mammal was killed and six fish were tossed back dead. When it comes to whales, this fishery takes many species, but one of particular concern is the sperm whale. The largest of the toothed whales, sperm whales have the largest brain of any animal and it is estimated that 16 of these amazing endangered whales were taken in the drift gillnet fishery in 2010 alone.
This far exceeds the allowable take of this endangered species under the federal Endangered Species and Marine Mammal Protection Acts. These nets are also responsible for discarding 27 common molas, fondly called ocean sunfish, for every swordfish caught in the 2010-2011 fishing season. Drift gillnets are also particularly devastating to sharks of many species. In summary, this bycatch is atrocious especially given that cleaner fishing gears are available which still allow for a viable fishery.  
At the meeting this week, Oceana urged the Council to phase out and close the drift gillnet swordfish fishery, and to replace it with cleaner gears like harpoons. Harpoons were the predominant method of catching swordfish up to 1979, before drift gillnets became an official legal gear for catching swordfish off California in 1980. Additionally, we proposed other experimental gears—like buoy gear—which show promise for successfully catching swordfish without disturbingly high bycatch rates.
While we celebrate the fact that protected areas for the ocean’s largest sea turtle will remain in place for now there is more work to be done. The Council is still considering re-opening the southern portion of the Pacific Leatherback Conservation Area to deadly drift gillnets next year. We will continue to urge the Council and the State of California to phase out drift gillnets and replace them with cleaner gears.
Thank you to the more than 36,000 of you who signed the letter asking the Council to phase out drift gillnets and a special acknowledgement to our Wavemakers from the greater Seattle/Tacoma area who testified to the Council in person over the weekend urging them to protect our valuable ocean ecosystem by ridding our waters of these deadly nets.

From the Oceana blog:  Oceana blog article

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Species "Extinction Crisis" to be focus of CITES meeting in Bangkok


New plans to protect elephants, rhinos and other species will be discussed at a critical meeting that begins in Bangkok on Sunday.
Delegates will review the convention on the international trade in endangered species (CITES).
Around 35,000 animals and plants are at present protected by the treaty.
But with a global "extinction crisis" facing many species, this year's meeting is being described as the most critical in its history.
The CITES agreement was signed in Washington in March 1973 in an attempt to regulate the burgeoning trade in wild flora and fauna.
It entered into force in 1975 and experts say that legitimate global imports of wildlife products are now worth more than $300bn (£200bn) a year.
The convention works by licensing commercial trade in species.
The process is meant to be governed by the scientific evidence of threat against an animal or a plant.
However, as CITES consists of government delegations, its decision-making is rooted in the political and economic interests of member countries.
In Bangkok, delegates from some 178 countries will face some critical decisions.

Read more of this article at the BBC website: CITES meeting on Extinction Crisis