Environmental News Archive

An almost weekly update of environmental news, particularly marine updates, with occasional splatters of transportation, indigenous, ideas of sustainability and sustainable development from around the world.


Gulf War oil spill, Tsunami hazards to be discussed in coastal conference

Thursday September 15, 2005

The long-term impact of the hazardous oil spill from the Gulf War twelve years ago on coastal and marine resources; coastal monitoring programmes for Gulf waters; and Tsunami hazards and mitigation along the Gulf and Arabian Sea coasts are some of the important subjects to be discussed in the First International Conference on Coastal Zone Management and Engineering at the Middle East 'ARABIANCOAST 2005.'
United Arab Emirates: Monday, August 29 - 2005

The conference will be held in Dubai under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, UAE Minister of Finance and Industry and Chairman of Dubai Municipality, during 27 - 29 November 2005. The Scientific Review Committee has accepted some 110 papers from nearly 150 papers that were received from 20 countries around the world.

According to Francois Smit, Vice-Chairman of the Scientific Review Committee, the overwhelming response to the conference from all over the world gave the committee a tough time in finalising the papers to be presented at the conference.

'There was approximately 25 papers on each of the six themes of the conference. The eight-member scientific committee, composed of internationally recognized experts in their respective fields, examined them from technical and quality viewpoints. The relevance to the Gulf region were also taken into consideration while making a final decision on the accepted papers,' he said.

Smit noted that there are some 20 papers concerning the UAE coasts while 28 papers concern the Gulf and Middle East regions including nine from Kuwait, five from the Sultanate of Oman, eight from Iran and four from Egypt. Others papers are from India, USA, Italy, UK, Jordan, Nigeria, Turkey, Japan, Greece, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Indonesia, New Zealand, Denmark, South Africa, Australia and Tunisia.

'The papers' presenters were asked to submit an extended abstracts of the papers by mid-October. The final list of the papers will be announced thereafter,' he said.

The Coastal Management Section at Dubai Municipality has initiated the ARABIANCOAST Conference series in order to bring together regional and international scientists, environmentalists, coastal engineers and coastal managers to discuss the latest achievements and developments of relevance to ensuring best practice in development and preservation of the regional coastal zone.

The event will also provide a platform for discussion on coastal impact problems and remedial solutions, including the presentation of case studies of relevance to the region. There will be particular emphasis on building collaborative linkages between stakeholders, agencies, programs and professionals working in the region to ensure universal adoption of best practice. A technical trade exhibition will be held along side the main conference.

Related Information:
Thajudeen V. Aliar
Journalist, Media Section,
Public Relations & Organisations Dept.,
Dubai Municipality
PO Box: 67, Dubai, UAE
Tel: +971 4 2064609 (Off) +971 50 5881278 (Cell)

Our Vision
To create an excellent city that provides the essence of success and comfort of living.

Dubai Municipality, Dubai, UAE, http://www.dm.gov.ae/
© 1996-2005 by AME Info FZ LLC. All rights reserved.
This story was posted by Anne-Birte Stensgaard, News Editor
Monday, August 29 - 2005 at 12:19 UAE local time (GMT+4)

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Nonprofit to Launch Innovative Tsunami-Reconstruction Program

Leaders of Portland-based Rebuilding Community International (RCI) will introduce a pioneering sustainable-redevelopment program next week in Sri Lanka.

(OPENPRESS) August 31, 2005 -- “Our projects will have a lasting impact not only through reconstruction of communities, but through rehabilitation of livelihoods” said RCI Board member and native Sri Lankan Sadna Samaranayake. “We’re not just restoring structures, we’re creating economic strength, resilience, and hope within communities."

Rebuilding Community International is a pioneering disaster-relief nonprofit dedicated to providing devastated communities with volunteer building professionals to help restore structures, build self-sufficiency, and create an improving quality of life. Our logo (a “hand up”) symbolizes our vision: empowering survivors (through teaching, sharing resources, and building together) to rebuild their communities, preserve their environment, and attain enduring social and economic growth.

RCI’s innovative sustainable-redevelopment program helps devastated communities recover and thrive. Our unique approach both restores buildings and addresses the underlying conditions that make poor communities extremely vulnerable to natural hazards. RCI’s unique holistic approach integrates the best practices of disaster relief, including: collaboration to ensure efficient, appropriate solutions that produce economic growth, ecological balance, and social progress; cash-for-work and training programs that accelerate recovery and give hope to those who’ve lost livelihoods; sustainable planning and infrastructure development that safeguards natural resources; cost-effective mitigation that creates disaster resilience; green building to restore and protect the environment; new sustainable-business facilities to diversify and strengthen local economies and foster self-reliance; service-learning projects to help college students develop social responsibility and leadership skills; and accountability and transparency to enhance our effectiveness at translating good intentions into good results.

Given the considerable criticism of conventional disaster relief and the enormity of destruction in South Asia, UN Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery Bill Clinton has appealed to relief agencies to innovate and “build back better.” Rebuilding Community International’s pioneering approach could be the model for the future that the international community envisions.

The cost for rebuilding an entire sustainable village in Sri Lanka (i.e., including a multi-use community center, 30 simple homes, a community school with playground, and a sustainable-business facility) is just $231,000. With basic furnishings, equipment, and supplies for one year, the cost of rebuilding of an entire community is about $258,000 (approximately the average cost of a home in Portland, Oregon).


Disasters are closely linked to poverty


For every disaster recorded in developing countries there are thousands of stories of personal tragedy, where livelihoods of the vulnerable poor have been wiped out, reports IRIN

Natural disasters are happening more often, and having an ever more dramatic impact on the world in terms of both their human and economic costs.

While the number of lives lost has declined in the past 20 years – 800,000 people died from natural disasters in the 1990s, compared with two million in the 1970s – the number of people affected has risen. Over the past decade, the total affected by natural disasters has tripled to two billion.

According to the UN’s Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, some 75 per cent of the world’s population live in areas that have been affected at least once by either an earthquake, a tropical cyclone, flooding or drought between 1980 and 2000.

"The tsunami [of December 2004] has come at a time when the world is ready for a new look and a new focus for disaster reduction. We can no longer do business as usual," Peter Walker, director of the Feinstein International Famine Centre at Tufts University, told journalists.

"Economies are not changing as fast as climate," he added.

In December’s tsunami in the Indian Ocean, an estimated 250,000-300,000 people were killed or are still missing, while millions of lives have been upturned, socially and economically, by its impact.

The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which publishes a World Disasters Report annually, calculates that from 1994 to 1998, reported disasters averaged 428 per year. From 1999 to 2003, this figure shot up by two-thirds to an average of 707 natural disasters each year. The biggest rise occurred in developing countries, which suffered an increase of 142 per cent.

In 2003, there were approximately 700 natural disasters, which killed an estimated 75,000 people and caused about $65 billion worth of damage, according to a 2004 report by Munich Re, an international insurance company.

Since 1988, the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters has kept a worldwide emergency database of disasters, called EMDAT. This contains essential information about over 14,000 disasters in the world, dating from 1900, up to the present day.

Natural disasters are divided into three specific groups: hydro-meterological (or weather-related), geophysical and biological.

EMDAT’s data shows that, over the past decade, the number of natural and technological disasters has risen sharply. Both hydro-meteorological and geophysical disasters have become more common, becoming 68 per cent and 62 per cent respectively more frequent over the decade. This reflects longer-term trends.

Weather-related disasters still outnumber geophysical disasters by nine to one over the past decade, according to the Federation’s analysis, while floods are the most-reported natural disasters in Africa, Asia and Europe.

Storms with high winds are most frequent in the Americas and Oceania.

The factors most often blamed for the increase in natural disasters are environmental degradation, climate change, population growth (in particular, unplanned urban growth), and the negative results of economic globalisation.

According to Walker, the world has not yet realised the importance of including disaster-reduction strategies in government policy.

He told the media: "Adaptation to climate change is crucial. For example, there has been a 20 per cent increase in severe storms recently. Disasters [as a sector] have suffered from being kept in a niche. Disasters have failed development."

Disasters are closely linked to poverty; they can wipe out decades of development in a matter of hours, in a manner that rarely happens in richer countries.

The UN’s Rapid Environmental Assessment of the impact of the December 2004 tsunami noted: "Disproportionately many of the victims of this disaster were poor people who depended on eco-system services and natural resources for their livelihoods."

Poor people in developing countries are particularly vulnerable to disasters because of where they live.

Research shows that they are more likely to occupy dangerous locations, such as flood plains, river banks, steep slopes, reclaimed land and highly populated settlements of flimsy shanty homes.

Munich Re’s annual review of natural catastrophes in 2003 said that the earthquake that devastated Bam in Iran in December of that year killed more than 40,000 people mainly because their housing was not designed to handle a major tremor.

"Traditional buildings of mud brick and heavy roofing are particularly unsafe when earthquakes strike," the report stated.

A comparison of the impact of natural disasters in industrialised countries compared with developing countries mirrors the same vulnerabilities and inequalities that are both the result and cause of unequal global development.

For many development strategists, and critics of globalisation, the vulnerability of the poor in the face of natural disasters is symptomatic of the poverty cycle that forces poorer communities (and nations) into a downward spiral of destitution.

Anthony Spalton of the Federation’s Disaster Preparedness and Response Department told journalists, "Only recently have we as a sector better understood the relationship between disasters and the erosion of development gains."

Figures compiled by the World Bank show that between 1990 and 2000, natural disasters resulted in damages constituting between 2 per cent and 15 per cent of an affected country’s annual GDP.

Europe is not immune to the high economic costs of disaster either. The cost of environmental disasters in Europe is currently $11.4 billion a year and rising, according to the European Environment Agency’s 2003 assessment.

Physical mitigation measures not only protect houses and land at risk – they are symbols of the priority local communities and authorities place on reducing disaster risks.

Didier J. Cherpitel, former secretary-general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said, in the organisation’s 2002 Disaster Report, "Disasters are first and foremost a major threat to development, and specifically to the development of the poorest and most marginalised people in the world – [disasters] ensure they stay poor."

For many development strategists, and critics of globalisation, the vulnerability of the poor in the face of natural disasters is symptomatic of the poverty cycle that forces poorer communities (and nations) into a downward spiral of destitution. Their plight is compounded by their inability to mitigate the impacts of the disasters they suffer.

Commenting on how ill-equipped poor countries are to recover from disasters, Anthony Spalton of the Federation’s Disaster Preparedness and Response Department told the media, "Only recently have we as a sector better understood the relationship between disasters and the erosion of development gains."

According to the Federation’s 2004 World Disasters Report, the economic cost of natural disasters has rocketed in recent years. Statistics show that the impacts vary considerably according to the level of human development attained in the countries where disasters strike.

In the past two decades alone, economic losses from natural disasters have multiplied five-fold to $629 billion. Annual losses from weather-related events have increased in real terms from an estimated $3.9 billion in the 1950s to $63 billion in the 1990s, according to the report.

Economically industrialised countries tend to experience higher losses in dollar terms, but the impact as a proportion of the gross domestic product (GDP) is lower. For developing countries, disasters can cause serious setbacks to economic and social development.

According to the Federation’s analysis, disasters in industrialised countries have inflicted an average of $318 million of damage per event – over 11 times higher than the $28 million per disaster in developing countries. This is hardly surprising when the expensive infrastructure of rich countries is taken into account, but the overall impact on the economies of rich countries is, in most cases, negligible.

GDP losses for individual events can be even more devastating: in Honduras in 1998, Hurricane Mitch caused losses equal to a staggering 41 per cent of GDP. In terms of the government’s annual tax revenue, the losses amounted to 292 per cent.

In specific areas, a natural disaster’s impact can be even higher. In Aceh, Indonesia, the total estimate of damage and losses from the tsunami, according to the UN’s Rapid Environmental Assessment, was $4.45 billion – nearly 97 per cent of Aceh’s GDP.

Disasters therefore have serious consequences at every level: for the economy of the nation, for the affected community and for individual households. For every disaster recorded in developing countries there are thousands of stories of personal tragedy, where livelihoods of the vulnerable poor have been wiped out in moments. Whether they are fishermen, shopkeepers, farmers or labourers, a disaster may not only destroy their homes and local facilities, but also their tools, assets, clients, environments and wherewithal to survive. In the case of the 2004 tsunami, millions were affected.

Despite the increased number of disasters, statistics compiled by the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies show that average annual death tolls have dropped from over 75,000 per year (1994 to 1998) to 59,000 per year (1999 to 2003), indicating that to some degree mitigation and early warning provisions may be having an impact. Some argue it is the changing profile of natural disasters which affects the numbers of deaths.

Droughts and famines have proved the deadliest natural disasters worldwide in recent years, accounting for at least 275,000 deaths since 1994 – nearly half the total. However, the current estimate of 250,000 to 300,000 dead and missing from the 2004 tsunami illustrates how a single natural disaster – in this case caused by an underwater earthquake – can hugely eclipse the annual average in minutes.

The impact of disasters in terms of casualties also varies enormously depending on the level of development in the country concerned. During the past decade, disasters in industrialised countries killed an average of 44 people per event, while disasters in developing countries killed an average of 300 people each.

From 1994 to 2003, deaths per reported disaster were on average seven times higher in countries of low development than in highly developed countries. These figures say nothing of the impact on communities who have to care for and live with those maimed and rendered disabled by a disaster.

Medical and emergency-assistance facilities available in rich and poor countries are vastly different. In many countries, where the health system is barely functioning or grossly under-resourced, the assistance given to victims of disasters may be non-existent or minimal, which results in many more deaths and injuries. In some cases, secondary health-consequences, such as the spread of disease, may also claim lives due to dysfunctional emergency health-services following a disaster.

In many industrialised countries, early-warning systems can mitigate loss of human life, as they trigger stand-by emergency services in advance of natural disasters. When countries lack the resources or organisation for early-warning mechanisms, casualties are inevitably greater.

Because natural disasters hit poor people the hardest, implementing effective disaster-recovery programmes, if they are well-targeted, may be an effective means of reducing poverty, according to reports by the ProVention Consortium Ð an international network of public, private, non-governmental and academic organisations dedicated to reducing the impact of disasters in developing countries.

Recovery assistance can not only restore the economic stability that existed prior to the disaster, but can surpass a country’s previous, often unsustainable, survival systems. Increasingly, development agencies, banks and governments see an opportunity to offer more sustainable, organised alternatives when implementing recovery programmes for communities.

A chance to change arises, as does the opportunity to avoid a development path where further natural or technological disasters are likely. These opportunities, however, are often not taken due to lack of vision, planning or resources.

In most industrialised countries, property and life are insured against loss or destruction. This allows for a faster recovery, which helps individuals and communities as well as the country as a whole to minimise the economic and social damage caused by a disaster.

Of course, most of those affected by natural disasters are not insured against loss or damage, as they struggle against the odds merely to survive.

According to Munich Re’s 2004 report, of the 700 natural disasters that took place that year, insured losses accounted for only $15.8 billion of the $65 billion damage.

For poorer countries, disasters represent serious setbacks in terms of any meagre economical advances. Recovery is slow or impossible due to an absence of any mechanism of insurance or government recovery-programme.

In addition, any reconstruction, or repeat investment, that follows a disaster will invariably divert funds away from development programmes to emergency relief and recovery.

Investment in preparedness pays. Investing in strategies to mitigate the impact of disasters is not only compassionate, and a government responsibility, but it also makes economic sense.

"Progress in the meteorological and hydrological sciences shows that the impacts of natural hazards can be reduced through prevention and preparedness, Michel Jarraud, secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organisation, stated in March 2004.

The World Bank and the US Geological Survey estimate that economic losses worldwide from natural disasters in the 1990s could have been reduced by $280 billion if $40 billion had been invested in preventive measures. While the wisdom of hindsight is powerful, in a world of competing and scarce resources, $40 billion is no small amount to invest in preventive measures – against disasters which optimistic government officials may prefer to bet will not take place.

In China, the World Bank estimated that the $3.15 billion spent on flood control over the past four decades of the 20th century averted losses of about $12 billion.

A study focusing on the potential benefits of mitigation in Jamaica and the Dominican Republic showed that, in specific cases, investing in mitigation would have resulted in big gains. In relation to infrastructure like ports and schools, the benefits – calculated as "avoided losses" in the event of a natural disaster – would have been between two and four times the value of the investment.

Better satellite forecasting and early-warning systems may be partly responsible for less people dying from hydro-meteorological disasters. The acceptance of disaster-preparedness, where international financial institutions, national governments and large development agencies see mitigation strategies as an important part of their work, is now recognised as crucial by experts on disaster-risk reduction.

However, the real key to mitigating loss of human life lies in community preparedness and education about risk reduction. "Had we invested in risk reduction before, the damage that the tsunami has done to achieving the Millennium Development Goals would be far less," Spalton told journalists at the World Conference on Disaster Reduction in Kobe, Japan, in January.

"One of the main reasons we are here [Kobe] is to see that [investment in risk reduction] becomes a reality. For governments to come up with cash and resources, for investment in local, regional and national disaster-mitigation and preparedness," Spalton explained.

Salvano Briceno, head of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, told journalists he was optimistic about change: "The world has advanced enormously since the Yokohama conference [on disaster reduction in 1994]. There is now a high awareness of vulnerability and natural disasters and the higher frequency of disasters.

"We have an increased knowledge of disasters caused by environmental degradation and global warming in particular, which is resulting in a rise in sea levels. There is no doubt that disaster reduction is more relevant; although there is more awareness, there is also more vulnerability, so it is a double-edged sword."

Despite Briceno’s optimism, it remains to be seen whether international finance institutions, banks, governments and development agencies will rise to the challenges presented to them by the increasing number and severity of natural disasters. To what extent will the lessons learnt from the recent tsunami, and the resolutions of the Kobe world conference, be implemented to reduce the pain and loss disasters cause throughout the world?

Perhaps more relevantly, questions remain concerning the estimated two billion people affected by natural disasters in the past decade: what quality of life can they hope to recover, and will their development reduce or increase the chances of future disaster?

US launches Indian Ocean tsunami warning system in Thailand

09/14/2005 -- 23:08(GMT+7)

Bangkok (VNA) - The US Agency for International Development (USAID) on September 14 announced in Bangkok the launch of the US government's Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning System (IOTWO) programme.

The two-year programme, with total fund of 16.6 million USD, will contribute to the development of integrated early warning and mitigation systems that allow countries in the Indian Ocean region to detect and prepare for tsunamis and related coastal hazards.

The US programme involves close collaboration with the International Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). The IOC has the lead responsibility for developing the Indian Ocean's regional warning capability. At the national and local level, the US technical assistance will primarily support efforts in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand, and the Maldives, the countries most severely affected by the December 2004 disaster.

In June, the UN approved an initiative to set up a tsunamis warning and mitigation system in the Indian Ocean.-Enditem

World Vision housing project in Indonesia lauded as ‘best practice’ in post-tsunami rebuilding

15 Sep 2005 08:29:00 GMT
Source: NGO latest
World Vision International (WVI)
Website: http://www.wvtsunami.org

A World Vision housing project in Aceh has been lauded as ‘best practice’ by the Indonesian government department tasked with rebuilding the tsunami-affected area.

The head of BRR (Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency for Aceh and Nias) Mr Kuntoro Mangkusubroto expressed his appreciation of World Vision’s work during a public ceremony in Banda Aceh this week.

After presentations and speeches, the first foundation stone for World Vision’s permanent housing project was laid at Lamjabat village, about four kilometres northwest of Banda Aceh city.

World Vision plans to build 139 permanent houses for tsunami survivors in the area. The redesigned village incorporates escape routes and high points as part of the community’s disaster mitigation plans. The 2004 tsunami destroyed the village, home to more than 1,600 people.

The event was held to share planning and restructuring guidelines of the village with surrounding communities and local government agencies, media and other national and international non-government organisations.

The Governor of Aceh, Azwar Abu Bakar, several sub-district and village leaders of Banda Aceh and Banda Besar areas, national land agency officials, NGO and USAID representatives and the community attended the ceremony.

Around 260 villages across Aceh have started the reconstruction process supported by various NGOs. “But today is a special day because this is the first time a village is planned,” said Kuntoro.

Kuntoro explained to the 150-plus audience that World Vision involved the community in the planning process of Lamjabat village as well as using an integrated approach.

“Let’s make Lamjabat a role model, an example for other villages,” said Kuntoro.

“Beforehand, there were NGOs who came only to build houses, but they could not provide the sanitation, water, and other facilities.

“At the time I thought this plan was too good to be true, because this is the first time where everything is planned: the width of the road, pavement, fishpond, the mosque, women’s centre and schools.

“Could this be real? But today, Alhamdulillah(thank God) this is something real,” Kuntoro said happily.

Head of Lamjabat village, Mr Azbar expressed the community’s excitement over the development.

“This development is done fully by the community facilitated by World Vision. Unlike other developments, World Vision is the only one who involved the community since the beginning,” Azbar said.

Mr Kuntoro requested a ‘Learning Centre’ be constructed in the village with displays to educate other agencies and communities on best practice in community based housing development for Aceh reconstruction. The displays would also allow the community to follow the development process in their village.

“By doing this, people could see the development they usually mistrust, could even be done bottom-up. Aceh could be known as the place where the development process always respects community wishes.”

Seven community groups, including skilled workers, have been established to assist with building houses in the village.

In Lamjabat, in addition to the permanent housing project, World Vision continues to distribute food aid to the community.

“We appreciate World Vision for helping us. All over Banda Aceh you’ll see this kind of shelter built by NGOs and the people, so that they don’t have to pass the month of Ramadan in their tent. We appreciate that. Thank you World Vision,” said Kuntoro.

Coastline pilot schemes launched

Published: 2005/09/12 14:21:01 GMT

Three pilot schemes testing ways of improving the management of Scotland's coastline have been announced by Environment Minister Ross Finnie.

The minister said the pilots would be launched in Shetland, on the Firth of Clyde and the Berwickshire coast.

He outlined a three-year strategy to reconcile all of the different uses of the sea from fishing to tourism.

But conservationists criticised the Scottish Executive for not going ahead with a new Marine Act immediately.

National park

A draft Marine Bill was included in the Queen's Speech at Westminster in May.

Mr Finnie boarded an old sailing ship in the River Clyde on Monday to announce his strategy for safeguarding Scotland's marine environment.

The document sets out the timescale for developing a marine and coastal strategy, starting next year with Scottish Natural Heritage reporting to ministers on possibilities for Scotland's first coastal and marine national park.

A decision on that will be taken some time during 2007, followed by legislation if necessary at some point after that year's Holyrood elections.

The park would then be designated during 2008.

Mr Finnie said: "Scotland's coasts and seas could support some 25,000 jobs in fishing, energy and tourism."

Progress on marine issues is desperately slow and inadequate
Robin Harper MSP
Scottish Greens

"The three pilot projects will test new ways of managing different sea areas next to urban, rural and island communities and will help us determine what, if any, legislation is required to better safeguard our seas and coastal communities."

But critics argued that with a Marine Bill now in prospect at Westminster to regulate the management of coastal areas, similar legislation is needed at Holyrood.

Scottish Greens co-convener Robin Harper said: "The real issue here is the snail's pace, and the prospect of Scotland stepping out of line with the rest of the UK. "Progress on marine issues is desperately slow and inadequate."

'Crunch time'

"The laws governing the seas are out of date, uncoordinated and in many cases contradictory - that is the problem."

Calum Duncan, convener of Scottish Environment LINK's Marine Task Force, said it was "crunch time" for Scotland's seas.

He said: "This strategy must be a countdown to delivery - setting clear, measurable, time-bound outputs."

Story from BBC NEWS:


Growing land bulge found in Oregon

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

PORTLAND, Oregon (Reuters) -- A large, slow-growing volcanic bulge in western Oregon is attracting the attention of seismologists who say that the rising ground could be the beginnings of a volcano or simply magma shifting underground.

Scientists said that the 100 square-mile bulge, first discovered by satellite, poses no immediate threat to nearby residents.

"It is perfectly safe for anyone over there," said Michael Lisowski, geophysicist at the United States Geological Survey's Cascades Volcano Observatory in Vancouver, Washington.

The bulge is rising at a rate of about 1.4 inches per year, according to a report issued by the U.S. Geological Survey.

The bulge is in a sparsely populated area 3 miles southwest of South Sister, a mountain 25 miles west of Bend, Oregon.

Lisowski said the unnamed bulge was created because of a big cavity, estimated to be about 4.5 miles below the surface, that is filling with fluid.

The fluid is likely magma, but could also be water. It was described in the report as a lake 1 mile across and 65 feet deep.

The bulge is a bare patch of land with no residents, and anyone in the area would not be able to see, feel or smell anything, seismologists said.

South Sister is one of three volcanic peaks called The Three Sisters, which are part of the Cascade mountain range. The range includes four of the 18 most active volcanoes in the United States, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The South Sister probably erupted last time about 2,000 years ago, seismologists said.

Further north, the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens killed 57 people, destroyed at least 230 square miles of forest and spewed ash for hundreds of miles.

Mount St. Helens has rumbled back to life recently, spitting lava, rocks and ash, but has not had another big eruption.

A lava dome is growing in the huge crater created in Mount St. Helens, but that event appears to be unrelated to the South Sister bulge, seismologists said.

"Growth of the new lava dome inside the crater of Mount St. Helens continues, accompanied by low rates of seismicity, low emissions of steam and volcanic gases, and minor production of ash," the U.S. Geological Survey said in a daily report.

Scientists said they would continue to monitor the bulge, most likely over a number of years.

"We haven't seen anything like this in the Cascade range," Lisowski says, "although we have only been looking in the last 20 years."

Copyright 2005 Reuters. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Enthusiast uses Google to reveal Roman ruins

Google Earth programme leads to remains of ancient villa.
Published online: 14 September 2005
Declan Butler

Using satellite images from Google Maps and Google Earth, an Italian computer programmer has stumbled upon the remains of an ancient villa. Luca Mori was studying maps of the region around his town of Sorbolo, near Parma, when he noticed a prominent, oval, shaded form more than 500 metres long. It was the meander of an ancient river, visible because former watercourses absorb different amounts of moisture from the air than their surroundings do.

His eye was caught by unusual 'rectangular shadows' nearby. Curious, he analysed the image further, and concluded that the lines must represent a buried structure of human origin. Eventually, he traced out what looked like the inner courtyards of a villa.

Mori, who describes the finding on his blog, Quellí Della Bassa, contacted archaeologists, including experts at the National Archaeological Museum of Parma. They confirmed the find. At first it was thought to be a Bronze Age village, but an inspection of the site turned up ceramic pieces that indicated it was a Roman villa.

"Mori's research is interesting in its approach," says Manuela Catarsi Dall'Aglio, an archaeologist at the National Archaeological Museum of Parma. He says the find may be similar to a villa the museum is currently excavating at Cannetolo di Fontanellato, which was found during the construction of a high-speed rail network. "Only a scientific, archeological dig will tell," he adds.

The local authorities will have to approve any archaeological digs before they can take place.

World Bank Contributing to Extinctions

World Bank Contributing to Extinctions and Overfishing New Report Documents Damage to the Pacific Ocean from Investments in Destructive Longline Fishing

September 13, 2005 — By Sea Turtle Restoration Project

Forest Knolls, CA — Only weeks after the World Bank announced a new project to promote sustainable fishing, a new report documents how controversial bank investments in longline fishing in the Pacific are contributing to overfishing for tuna and an extinction crisis for sea turtles and seabirds. As the World Bank prepares for its annual meeting on September 24-25, new questions arise as to the destructive impact of investments by the World Bank and other multilateral development banks on the ocean and fisheries resources.

The report, Bankrupting the Pacific: How Multilateral Development Banks are Contributing to Overfishing and Helping Push Sea Turtles and Seabirds to the Brink of Extinction in the Pacific, released by the Sea Turtle Restoration Project today, shows how the International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group, and Asian Development Bank poured millions of dollars into destructive longline fishing in the Pacific. These investments were made in critical nesting and migratory habitats of critically endangered sea turtles and seabirds without any assessment of the impact on biodiversity of the regions where the projects took place and in direct violation of their own environmental and fisheries policies.

"Asian Development Bank and World Bank Group investments in longline fishing have helped drive the 100 million year old leatherback sea turtle to the brink of extinction in the Pacific," warns Robert Ovetz, Ph.D., Save the Leatherback Campaign Coordinator with the US-based NGO the Sea Turtle Restoration Project and lead author of the report.

The female nesting population of the 100 million year old Pacific leatherback sea turtle has collapsed by 95 percent since 1980. The leatherback is listed as critically endangered by the World Conservation Union and scientists warn that it could extinct in the next 5-30 years unless immediate action to remove threats to its survival such as longline fishing. The Pacific loggerhead sea turtle and the black-footed albatross are also caught primarily by longlines and considered on the precipice of extinction. Longline fishing is the main threat to albatross seabirds, 19 of the 21 of the species of which are considered threatened or endangered.

"The banks do not even follow their own weak environmental policies. Despite the fact that longlines catch or kill about 4.4 million non-target sharks, seabirds, sea turtles, billfish and marine mammals each year in the Pacific alone, in each case, the banks found that no environmental impact report was even required." noted Ovetz.

These investments have also triggered overfishing of the very resource that was supposed to contribute to long-term development. Recent reports in the scientific journals Nature and Ecology have warned that tuna, billfish and shark populations have declined by 87 to 99 percent in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific since the 1950s.

According to Ovetz, "the multi-lateral banks are directly to blame for contributing to the crash in bigeye and albacore tuna in the Pacific, a crucial source of revenue for impoverished coastal and island nations."

The report calls for the banks to cancel ongoing longline fishing projects, implement a moratorium on all future longline projects and implement a set of reforms of their own practices to prevent further damage to the ocean ecosystem.


• For a copy of the report Bankrupting the Pacific click here [pdf].

• For a review copy of the Sea Turtle Restoration Project's new documentary film Last Journey for the Leatherback? contact Robert Ovetz, Ph.D.

About the Sea Turtle Restoration Project
The Sea Turtle Restoration Project is a California-based international marine conservation organization that works to protect sea turtles and other marine species in the United States and in countries around the world. For more information about sea turtles and the Sea Turtle Restoration Project, please visit www.seaturtles.org and www.savetheleatherback.com.

Robert Ovetz, Ph.D.
Save the Leatherback Campaign Coordinator
Sea Turtle Restoration Project
415-488-0370 x106

Maldives Still Faces Drinking Water Shortages after Tsunami

September 14, 2005 — By Associated Press
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — About 90,000 residents of the Maldives still have shortages of potable water nearly nine months after the Asian tsunami slammed into the Indian Ocean archipelago and contaminated supplies, a U.N. report said Wednesday.

The information was reported in the U.N. Millennium Development Goals update, which said a shortage of safe drinking water was one of the biggest development challenges facing the Maldives after the Dec. 26 tsunami. The U.N. initiative sets targets to reduce poverty and disease by 2015.

"We are yet to fully understand the long-term impact that the tsunami will have had on poverty in this country," said Patrice Coeur-Bizot, resident U.N. coordinator in the Maldives. "Besides destroying thousands of homes ... we know that it left many islanders with long-term pollution to their water supply."

The tsunami left at least 82 people dead and 2,200 households needing emergency water after it struck, but the long-term affect on ordinary islanders may be much greater, he said.

The tsunami contaminated ground water with salt and waste from septic tanks on many islands.

The Maldives is made up of 1,192 coral islands about 500 kilometers (300 miles) off southern India and is home to 300,000 people.

Source: Associated Press

A Marshy Expanse Is Stripped to the Bone

Published: September 13, 2005

It is said that wetlands soak up water like a sponge. These NASA satellite images show that process at work in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina struck on Aug. 28.

The top image shows the state's southeastern region on Aug. 9. The bottom image was made on Sept. 4, after storm clouds cleared. The images, their colors artificially adjusted, show vegetated areas in bright green; flooded areas are darker.

It remains to be seen how Louisiana's wetlands will survive the storm. Scientists are only beginning to discern damage inflicted on them from high winds and waves, and from the presence of so much floodwater for so many days.

Much of the water is contaminated by spills from oil and gas installations and from vehicles trapped in the storm. Wetlands can cleanse water of pollutants up to a point, but even they can be overwhelmed.

According to the United States Geological Survey, Louisiana has lost an average of 34 square miles of wetland a year since the 1930's as efforts to control the Mississippi River kept its muddy waters out of the marshes, depriving them of needed infusions of sediment.

Centuries of stress caused biggest quake

Centuries of stress caused biggest quake
9.5 magnitude, 1960 Chile temblor killed 2,000, produced tsunami

Updated: 4:47 p.m. ET Sept. 14, 2005
LONDON - Nearly four centuries of pent-up stress and energy were brewing under the surface before the biggest ever recorded earthquake rocked Chile in 1960, scientists said on Wednesday.

The May 22 quake, whose epicenter was below the ocean floor off the coast of Chile, had a magnitude of 9.5.

It killed more than 2,000 people, left 2 million homeless, caused heavy damage in the cities of Concepcion, Valdivia and Puerto Montt towns and churned up a tsunami that hit as far away as Hawaii, Japan and the Philippines.

To produce an earthquake the size of 1960 event, scientists thought it would take several hundred years of energy and slippage to build up. It is believed that the longer the time since a previous quake the bigger the next one will be.

But two earthquakes, in 1737 and 1837, occurred in the same area which should have lessened the impact of the 1960 tremor.

Using soil and sand samples dating back 2,000 years and records of land movement along the fault line, researchers in Chile reconstructed a picture of the events that preceded the record-breaking quake to explain what made it so powerful.

"In these records, the 1960 earthquake ended a recurrence interval that had begun almost four centuries before, with an earthquake documented by Spanish conquistadors in 1575," Marco Cisternas, of the Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso, said in a report in the science journal Nature.

Cisternas and his team said the two earlier quakes did not produce any subsidence or tsunami and probably left the fault with more accumulated energy that was eventually released in the record-breaker.

Ignacio Salgado, who worked on the research, said knowing the history of the quake and the behavior of such giant tremors is important because it could influence the magnitude of future earthquakes. "If the events are more frequent maybe they will be of lower intensity," he said in an interview.

The world's biggest earthquakes, including the one that triggered the deadly Indian Ocean tsunami in December 2004, occur in subduction zones where one of the earth's tectonic plates is driven below another. During the 1960 quake a rupture about 621 miles long occurred where the Nazca plate slipped under the South American plate.

"Thanks to the work of Cisternas et al, we now have more insight into the seismic cycle in south-central Chile," Sergio Barrientos, of the Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization in Vienna, Austria said in a commentary on the research.

(c) Reuters 2005. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by caching, framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters and the Reuters sphere logo are registered trademarks and trademarks of the Reuters group of companies around the world.

Slow seismic slip begins in Pacific Northwest

Earthquake chance 30 times higher for brief period, but odds still remote
By Robert Roy Britt

Updated: 6:17 p.m. ET Sept. 14, 2005

An important seismic event imperceptible to humans has begun in the Pacific Northwest as predicted, according to the government agency Geological Survey of Canada.

The chance of a major earthquake is 30 times higher now for a roughly two-week period, but the odds are still remote, scientists say.

The event is called episodic tremor and slip (ETS). It involves a slow movement of the Juan de Fuca and North America tectonic plates along the Cascadia margin of southern British Columbia. Faults associated with the plates have been the sites of major earthquakes -- akin to the colossal tsumani-causing quake last December in Indonesia -- every 500 years or so, the geologic record shows. The last such temblor in the area struck on Jan. 26 in the year 1700.

The movement is slower than a traditional earthquake but more rapid than the normal creep associated with the fault. It runs in the reverse direction of the normal creep.

The movement was predicted. Scientists recently learned that these ETS events recur about every 14 months. It has been detected by Global Positioning System instruments.

The event does not mean an earthquake is imminent, but geologists are eager to study it and learn more and they say sooner or later an ETS event is likely to trigger a major quake.

"Compared to the steady year-round stress accumulation, this more rapid stress increase implies that a large subduction earthquake is more likely to happen during the time of an ETS event," the Canadian geologists write.

The slippage and associated minor tremors "are directly related to megathrust (Sumatra-like) earthquake potential," lead geologist John Cassidy and a colleague said in Tuesday's statement. "Neither the tremor nor the slip can be felt."

Odds go up
The slip began Sept. 3 on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State and has migrated north to the Vancouver Island area, Cassidy wrote. Victoria moved 0.12 inches (3 millimeters) to the West over the course of two days. The events are thought to last six to 15 days.

Cassidy's colleague, Stephane Mazzotti, has done some calculations on the odds of a large temblor.

"The probability of occurrence of a megathrust earthquake is about 30 times higher during this approximately two-week window, than during the rest of the 14.5 month cycle," Cassidy told LiveScience. "Having said that, 30 times a small number is still a small number."

Geologists simply don't know when one of these events will trigger a major quake, Cassidy said.

The immediate importance of the event is that it occurred as predicted and can now be used to improve understanding of the region's seismology.

"By better understanding these events, we will be able to better predict the effects (and perhaps timing) of future magnitude 9 earthquakes along the West Coast," Cassidy and his colleague write.

A separate study recently concluded that a major earthquake along the fault could be overdue, given clusters of the events seen in the geologic record. Because the fault is offshore, scientists say its rupture could create a devastating tsunami.

© 2005 LiveScience.com. All rights reserved.


News Review for Week August 29 - September 4, 2005

News Review for Week August 29 - September 4, 2005
Compiled by November Tan, Intern
Edited by Holly S. Lohuis
Ocean Futures Society

Giant turtle is spotted off coast
September 4, 2005 (BBC)
Conservation experts say the discovery of a leatherback turtle in the North Sea is exciting and significant.
Eyewitnesses have reported seeing a six-foot creature swimming 100 metres off the Norfolk/Suffolk coast.
Peter Richardson, from the Marine Conservation Society, said the species was the largest turtle in the world.
"It travels to British waters in summer to feed on jelly fish but is normally seen on the west side near the Atlantic so is an exciting find this far east."
Some experts believe that the more frequent sighting of the leatherback turtle is the result of global warming.

Blue shark sighted near the coast
September 2, 2005 (BBC)
A blue shark has become the latest shark to be spotted off the Cornish coast this summer.
Members of the Mounts Bay Pilot Gig Rowing Club said they saw a 7ft long blue shark swim under their boat as they practised near Penzance.
It is the latest in a series of apparent shark sightings off the Cornish coast this summer.
A marine expert said that blue sharks have been known to attack humans, but never in British waters.
Richard Pierce, chairman of the Plymouth-based Shark Trust, said: "Blue sharks have been here for millions of years. They are summer visitors.
"Sadly they are becoming unusual. The rate at which we are killing them off means that sooner or later we won't be seeing them."

Ozone layer making a recovery
Scientists caution it could take decades to restore
September 2, 2005 (CNN - By Marsha Walton)
ATLANTA, Georgia -- Earth's ozone layer, which protects both humans and plant life from ultraviolet radiation from the sun, appears to be recovering.
A study just published by the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences shows declining ozone levels have leveled off from 1996 to 2002, and in some areas there even are small increases.
But scientists are cautious about the apparent recovery of the ozone layer, which they say has been thinning for many years because of the widespread use of several industrial chemicals.
"We will absolutely have to monitor for at least another decade before we can be confident," said Betsy Weatherhead, one of the researchers on the study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

German Conservative Links Katrina to U.S. CO2 Policy
September 2, 2005 (Reuters)
BERLIN — A German conservative policymaker said on Thursday climate change had played a role in Hurricane Katrina and urged the U.S. to join other nations in cutting the carbon dioxide emissions blamed for global warming.
Gerda Hasselfeldt, a leading candidate to become environment minister if the conservative opposition wins next month's election, was asked in an interview with n-tv television if climate change had contributed to the devastation wrought by the storm on the U.S. Gulf Coast in which thousands may have died.
"That is the case," she replied, adding that there should be better coordination at the global level to achieve a further reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.
"The U.S. must be more involved. But we will not achieve that through insults," Hasselfeldt said.
The White House has shunned the Kyoto Protocol, a global agreement adopted by more than 150 countries, which aims to reduce the emission of so-called greenhouse gases. U.S. President George W. Bush pulled the United States out of Kyoto and has said it would have "wrecked" the economy.
The United States is the world's biggest carbon dioxide emitter and wants emissions cuts to be voluntary. Last month the United States joined other countries including Japan, China and India in a pact which focused on technology sharing without set targets.

Clever Whale Uses Fish to Catch Seagulls
September 2, 2005 (AP)
NIAGARA FALLS, Ontario — An enterprising young killer whale at Marineland has figured out how to use fish as bait to catch seagulls -- and shared his strategy with his fellow whales.
Michael Noonan, a professor of animal behavior at Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y., made the discovery by accident while studying orca acoustics.
"One day I noticed one of the young whales appeared to have come up with a procedure for luring gulls down to the pool," the professor said. "I found it interesting so I noted it in my log."
First, the young whale spit regurgitated fish onto the surface of the water, then sank below the water and waited.
If a hungry gull landed on the water, the whale would surge up to the surface, sometimes catching a free meal of his own.
Noonan watched as the same whale set the same trap again and again.
Within a few months, the whale's younger half brother adopted the practice. Eventually the behavior spread and now five Marineland whales supplement their diet with fresh fowl, the scientist said.

Endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal Gives Birth
September 2, 2005 (AP)
POIPU, Hawaii — There's a new celebrity lazing away the day on the sunny beaches outside Kauai's south shore resorts. An endangered Hawaiian monk seal known as Seal 310 gave birth early Tuesday morning to a pup on the beach in front of Kiahuna Plantation Resort near Poipu.
The mother and baby have been attracting quite a crowd, and Kauai Marine Conservation coordinator Michele "Mimi" Olry was tasked with creating buffer zones to separate the pup from its two-legged admirers.
Olry orchestrated the volunteer efforts at the site, setting up tents and umbrellas for volunteer monitors.
"The resorts have been kind to work with us," she said.
And with schools going into session this week, the job of monk seal monitoring has been made a little quieter, she said.
Kauai, along with Niihau, is home to most of the 50 or so Hawaiian monk seals sighted by researchers on Hawaii's main islands. Hawaiian monk seals are an endangered species with a population of only about 1,300 living primarily in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
Olry said the birth caught her by surprise because she had been expecting a birth from another seal known as K02, also more affectionately referred to as "Poipu Mom." That seal was last spotted near the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa in Poipu.

Study sheds light on strange sea creatures
Scientists find shellfish that glow; others can see ultraviolet
September 2, 2005 (MSNBC)
After fleeing in the face of Hurricane Katrina, ocean researchers have returned to the Gulf Mexico where they are getting a revealing new look at the deep sea.
“We are exploring the deep sea with new eyes,” oceanographer Tamara Frank of the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution said Friday.
During Operation Deep Scope, Frank and others aboard the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Research Vessel Seward Johnson are using a camera that operates with dim red light to study life on the sea floor.
They have found a variety of deep-dwelling shellfish that produce their own light, animals with surprising ability to see ultraviolet light and a previously unknown type of squid, 6 feet (2 meters) long, that attacked their camera.
“Imagine, something that big that had never been seen before,” scientist Edith A. Widder, who recently left Harbor Branch, said in a telephone briefing.

Whale sightings during sea survey
September 1, 2005 (BBC)
A one-week event to monitor whales and dolphins around the United Kingdom revealed significant sightings off the South West.
Two Minke whales were seen in St Ives Bay in Cornwall and a group of 50 common dolphins was seen near Berry Head in south Devon.
Bottle-nose dolphins and porpoises were also seen off Lundy in north Devon and off north Cornish coasts.
The survey was conducted by the Sea Watch Foundation during August.
Groups of about 50 common dolphins were seen off the Channel Islands too.
BBC South West Environment Correspondent Adrian Campbell said: "The presence of larger schools of common dolphins is associated with good fish stocks.
"This snapshot of the whale and dolphin population suggests they are doing better here than some other parts of the UK."

Katrina reignites debate over global warming
September 1, 2005 (AP)
Hurricane Katrina's fury has reignited the scientific debate over whether global warming might be making hurricanes more ferocious.
At least one prominent study suggests that hurricanes have become significantly stronger in the past few decades during the same period that global average temperatures have increased. Katrina blew up in the Gulf of Mexico to a Category 5 hurricane with winds of 175 mph before slackening a bit Monday when it hit, swamping New Orleans and the Mississippi coast.
Other leading scientists agree the Atlantic Basin and Gulf Coast regions are being battered by a severe hurricane phase that could persist for another 20 years or more. But they believe that a natural environmental cycle is responsible rather than any human-induced change, and they point to what they consider to be large gaps in the global warming analysis conducted by a climatologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Roger Pielke Jr., who studies the social impacts of natural disasters and climate change at the University of Colorado, said any link between the intensity of Katrina and other recent hurricanes and global warming is "premature." Most forecasts suggest climate change would increase hurricane wind speeds by 5 percent or less later in this century.

Study Finds Oregon Wild Fish Risk Extinction
September 1, 2005 (AP)
PORTLAND, Ore. — The first status report on wild fish in a decade suggests that nearly half the native species in the state are at risk of extinction.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists studied 69 distinct fish populations, including all varieties of the state's salmon and steelhead species, and most of the trout population. They also assessed selected sturgeon, lamprey, dace and chub species listed under the Endangered Species Act.
Eleven of the 33 salmon and steelhead populations are at risk of irreversible decline, and seven are potentially at risk, according to a draft of the report.
Eight historic populations have gone extinct in the past century, most of them concentrated in upper reaches of the Snake and Klamath rivers cut off from migrating fish by the construction of power-generating dams.
Spring chinook salmon illustrate the pattern. The species went extinct in the upper Snake and Klamath after dams were built. Four of the remaining six spring chinook units are at risk because of the loss of habitat, the loss of many historic sub-populations, the escape of large numbers of domesticated hatchery fish into spawning grounds and other problems.
Among trout species, such as redband and bull trout, 17 of 27 unique populations are at risk, five are potentially at risk, and four are not at risk.

Latest Findings on Plummeting Pacific Salmon Populations to Be Presented at 8th World Wilderness Congress; First Congress in United States Since 1987 Begins This Month
September 1, 2005 (WILD Foundation)
WASHINGTON — Close to 25 percent of all Pacific salmon species studied are at risk of extinction, according to the Atlas of the Pacific Salmon, released by State of the Salmon, a joint project between The Wild Salmon Center and Ecotrust.
The study represents the first map-based measurement of the condition of North Pacific salmon through their entire lifespan.
The book’s findings show that Pacific salmon appear to be headed in the same direction as their Atlantic counterparts. Half of all wild Atlantic salmon stocks are either extinct or in great decline. But although biologists, fishery managers and conservationists know a fair amount about the reasons for the decline in Atlantic salmon, they lack similar information for Pacific salmon.
“We know we are losing Pacific salmon species at an alarming rate, but we’ve been driving blind in our efforts to save them,” said Dr. Xanthippe Augerot, co-director of State of the Salmon. “The Atlas will help remedy the chronic lack of information that’s been hampering our efforts.”
The conclusions published in the Atlas are the result of 10 years of research undertaken by Dr. Augerot and her colleagues. The book proposes four approaches to solving these large-scale challenges: an international monitoring system; more effective fisheries management; increased conservation efforts; and improved partnerships to protect salmon throughout the entire Pacific Rim.

Stocks of Cod and Red Snapper Drop, but Others Improve
September 1, 2005 (Washington Post - By Juliet Eilperin)
Pacific whiting and North Atlantic swordfish stocks are rebounding but populations of cod and red snapper continue to struggle, according to a report released yesterday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Overall, the annual survey, which comes as the Bush administration is considering changing federal rules designed to prevent overfishing, said the state of the country's fisheries is largely unchanged from last year. NOAA Fisheries Service tracks a third of known fish stocks, and it reported that 19 percent of those populations are being fished faster than they can reproduce.
"This year's report show progress for some stocks but also signals we have our work cut out for us," said Bill Hogarth, who directs NOAA Fisheries. "We really have a plan of where we're going."
But marine advocates seized on the new report as fresh evidence that federal authorities have not clamped down on commercial exploitation. In New England, for example, management officials have decided to allow cod overfishing until 2009, even though they are trying to rebuild the dwindling species.

British Groups Mass Millions of Members to Halt Global Warming
September 1, 2005 (ENS)
LONDON, UK - Some of the largest British campaign organizations, united their millions of supporters today to demand action on climate change. Eighteen groups have joined forces to launch the biggest climate change coalition in British history. Five hundred volunteers formed a giant human banner on London's South Bank to mark the launch of the new movement, called Stop Climate Chaos.
The new coalition wants the Blair government to slash the UK's greenhouse gas emissions and make fighting climate change a key part of its plans to deal with global poverty. The UK holds the European Union Presidency until December 31, a position the coalition wants to see used to cool the global climate.
The National Federation of Women's Institutes, Greenpeace, Oxfam, Christian Aid, WWF, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development, Friends of the Earth, The Wildlife Trusts, Woodland Trust, People & Planet and Tearfund are some of the groups in the new coaliton.
The coalition will use its base of support "to campaign against government failings while mobilizing public support for government initiatives that reduce the huge levels of carbon dioxide being emitted."

South Korea says Finds Carcinogens in Chinese Fish
September 1, 2005 (Planet Ark)
SEOUL - South Korea officials said on Wednesday they were stepping up inspections of imported Chinese freshwater fish after finding cancer-causing chemicals in some fish sent from the country.

The Korea Food & Drug Administration (KFDA) said in a statement released on Tuesday it had found the carcinogens malachite green and leucomalachite in some imported Chinese carp available at a local wholesale market.
The KFDA said the fish were probably imported before Aug. 23. The agency had placed a quarantine on Chinese and Vietnamese eels since July after finding malachite green in eel and eel-related products from those countries.
Malachite green, which has been found to be carcinogenic in rats, has been widely used by fish farmers to kill parasites. The chemical is banned in many countries, including China.
Earlier this month Hong Kong, which relies heavily on mainland China for food supplies, found malachite green in eels and other freshwater fish.

Climate change will 'cause chaos'
August 31, 2005 (BBC)
Climate change will cause chaos in the seas and coastal communities around Scotland, according to a new report.
The conservation charity WWF said environmental changes would lead to more storms on the west coast and disruption to the food chain.
The report suggested major changes were on the way, with oceans becoming more acidic, plankton shifting and storm-driven floods more frequent.
WWF said the changes would affect fish, sea birds, dolphins and porpoises.
The report found the rise in frequency of major storm surges could wreak havoc on west coast communities, similar to storms which hit the Western Isles in January.
It said a rise in sea temperature, which has already increased about a degree in surface temperature, was also likely to disrupt the breeding, feeding and growing cycles of fish and sea birds.
Dolphins and porpoises were identified as being under threat from chemical pollution and a reduced food supply.
WWF Scotland's director Richard Dixon said reducing carbon dioxide emissions was the only way to prevent climate chaos and called on Scottish ministers to take action.

Climate change 'species threat'
August 31, 2005 (BBC)
Some species around Northern Ireland's coast are under threat because the sea is warming up, a WWF report has found.
The report warns the UK and Irish marine environment could see changes, with a deepening decline in cod and threats to sea bird colonies.
Pollution and reduced food could accelerate the decline of the harbour porpoise, a common sight off the east Antrim coast and the Foyle Estuary.
Malachy Campbell of WWF NI said the seas were under "severe pressure".
"This report shows that climate change has the power to deepen this crisis, disrupting and changing the entire ecosystem," he said.
The report - Climate change: Plunging our Seas into Deeper Crisis - said an increase in sea surface temperature will be a major factor in further disrupting the breeding, feeding and growing cycles of fish, and in turn sea birds and mammals.

Islands warned of global warming
August 31, 2005 (BBC)
Conservationists are predicting wildlife will be affected by climate change in the Channel Islands over the next 50 years.
A report by conservation group WWF has asked governments to do more to protect marine life from global warming.
But WWF said the geographical position of the islands made them particularly vulnerable to changes.
WWF Research Officer Emily Lewis-Browns said such changes would affect animals' breeding rates.
Ms Lewis-Browns, a marine research officer for WWF, said: "Certainly any storms may affect the Channel Islands more so than other areas, and also the warming of temperatures will be more noticeable because it's an area that is always going to be warmer than the north of Scotland, for example."
Ms Lewis-Browns added that varying sea temperatures which could be brought about by global warming would affect animals' reproduction.
She said: "What we find in warm seas is that the warming effect reduces productivity.
"Seas that are cooler have increased productivity. So, as seas warm, it reduces productivity."

Study: Ozone layer has stopped shrinking
August 31, 2005 (Reuters)
WASHINGTON -- The ozone layer has stopped shrinking but it will take decades to start recovering, U.S. scientists reported on Tuesday.
They said an international agreement to limit production of ozone-depleting chemicals has apparently worked, but the damage to ozone has not been halted completely.
An analysis of satellite records and surface monitoring instruments shows the ozone layer has grown a bit thicker in some parts of the world, but is still well below normal levels, the scientists report in Wednesday's issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research.
Elsewhere, the decline in ozone levels has stabilized, said Betsy Weatherhead, a researcher at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "The observed changes may be evidence of ozone improvement in the atmosphere," she said in a statement.
The experts credited, at least in part, the 1987 Montreal Protocol which was ratified by more than 180 nations and set legally binding controls for on the production and consumption of ozone-depleting gases containing chlorine and bromine.
Chinese Fish Farms, Deemed Safe Suppliers to Hong Kong, are Dried-Out or Don't Exist
August 31, 2005 (AP)
HONG KONG — Several mainland Chinese fish farms selected by authorities to provide Hong Kong with safe freshwater fish either don't exist or are dried pools slated for urban development, local media reported Wednesday.
The news came amid a major scare about the safety of freshwater fish imported from the mainland. Some of the fish have tested positive for malachite green -- a possibly cancer-causing chemical that farmers use to fight infections in fish.
Mainland officials provided a list of 18 fish farms in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong that were supposed to be raising safe fish. But the list didn't have detailed addresses or contact information, the Ming Pao Daily reported.
Hong Kong health officials were not aware of the situation and only received confirmation from the mainland late Tuesday, said Sally Kong, a government spokeswoman.
Media investigations revealed that one selected farm could not be found and villagers claimed they have never heard of it. Another farm on the list has long gone out of business to make way for the construction of a factory, the paper said.
"The water level in the fish ponds is only ankle-high. How could we supply fish to Hong Kong?" a villager was quoted by the South China Morning Post as saying.
The daily said four of the operating farms had not been inspected by authorities this year and did not know they had been selected.

Scientist Scours Global Waters in Bid To Save Earth's Largest Freshwater Fishes
August 31, 2005 (AP - By Miranda Leitsinger)
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Floating down the Mekong in his dinghy, Zeb Hogan is on the ultimate fisherman's quest: to find the world's largest freshwater fishes.
The American biologist's search is to take him to 10 rivers around the globe including the Nile, Amazon and Mississippi, looking for about 20 species of hulking fish such as the goliath catfish, Chinese paddlefish and North American lake sturgeon -- not to catch them, he says, but to save them.
"These big, amazing creatures all over the world, they might be goners, on their way out," said Hogan.
Right now Hogan is on the Mekong that flows through the Indochinese peninsula, looking for a stingray said to weigh over 1,300 pounds (600 kilograms) -- as much as a full-grown longhorn steer.
He knows it's out there; he photographed one in 2002. And smaller stingrays abound. As he passes villages on riverbanks or floating on the water, he sees children playing with severed stingray tails.
The 2,600-mile (4,183-kilometer) Mekong is known for its diversity of river creatures, as well as their size, to judge from places along its banks named the Pool of the Giant Catfish, or the Pool of the Giant Carp.
Just last May, fishermen in Thailand landed a Mekong catfish that weighed 646 pounds (293 kilograms) and measured 8 feet, 10 inches (2.7-meter) long. It's believed to be the largest freshwater fish ever caught. It ended up on dinner tables.

Stressed Out Corals Will Get a Break From Dredging
August 31, 2005 (ENS)
FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida - For the first time researchers are measuring the stress level of coral organisms with a new high tech process. The test will measure the effect of a beach restoration project in Broward County, Florida on an adjacent coral reef.
The new stress measurement technique allows for identification of sub-lethal stress, providing managers with early diagnosis before damage becomes irreversible.
The approach is based on a coral stress level scale developed by researchers at the NOAA sponsored National Coral Reef Institute at Nova Southeastern University Oceanographic Center in Fort Lauderdale.
NOAA is working with Broward County to protect coral reef ecosystems against potential impacts of dredging as the county undertakes the beach restoration project.
The project involves movement of sand from local offshore sources on the beaches between Port Everglades and the border between Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
If coral stress levels due to excess turbidity or sedimentation during dredging activities exceed a pre-established threshold, the County’s Biological Monitoring Plan, as agreed to with Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection, states that the county will suspend activities until coral condition improves and dredging can be safely resumed.

Coral 'little damaged by tsunami'
August 30, 2005 (BBC)
Almost 90% of coral reefs hit by the Indian Ocean tsunami escaped severe damage, according to research.
Study of 175 sites along 700km of Thailand's west coast found 60% of reefs suffered little or no damage.
Just 13% were severely damaged in the tsunami which killed more than 220,000 people, but scientists expected that to recover in five to 10 years.
The findings are to be presented to the Royal Geographical Society's annual conference in London on Tuesday.
The study found the most northerly coast and islands more damaged than those further south, with shallow reefs on wave-exposed islands and shorelines most vulnerable.
Areas counted as severely damaged if at least half of the coral was broken or overturned.
Damage could have been caused both by the force of the waves, and stirred-up sediment smothering the coral.
In other areas, coral was dying because the earthquake had lifted the seabed and placed the coral on dry land.

Georgia To Allow Underwater Logging, Despite Environmental Concerns
August 30, 2005 (AP — By Elliott Minor)
CAIRO, Ga. — Along with regular lumber, Ryan Lee's sawmill supplies wood from sunken cypress and pine logs, which fell into rivers while being rafted to ports and sawmills during the heyday of Southern logging in the 1800s and early 1900s.
Retrieving the valuable logs from river bottoms has been illegal in Georgia since 1998 because of legal and environmental concerns, forcing suppliers like Lee to buy them in other states.
But that's about to change.
Earlier this year, Georgia lawmakers approved legislation authorizing underwater logging for two years on parts of the Flint and Altamaha rivers mostly in southern Georgia. If there are no problems with the logging, the law may be extended.
Environmentalists oppose the work, citing concerns for spawning fish, water quality and the legality of disposing of the logs -- which are technically state property -- at less than market value.
"This is the nursery grounds of the river. To create a business that benefits a few ... certainly is not in the public interest," said Deborah Sheppard, executive director of Altamaha Riverkeeper, a Darien-based river watchdog group.

Jellyfish Cause Shutdown of Swedish Nuclear Reactor
August 30, 2005 (AP)
STOCKHOLM, Sweden — A Swedish nuclear power plant shut down one of its three reactors Monday because of an abnormal accumulation of jellyfish in the cooling system.
The Oskarshamn plant in southeastern Sweden uses water from the Baltic Sea in its cooling tanks.
The water has been unusually rich in jellyfish in recent weeks, but the problem grew worse Monday morning, forcing officials to shut down the reactor.
"When there are too many jellyfish in the cooling water, the flow is hindered and we have to clean it to keep the reactor going at full effect," plant spokesman Erik Mattsen said.
Operator OKG said there was no danger to the public. The reactor was to be restarted Tuesday.
The Oscarshamn plant supplies about 10 percent of the electricity used in Sweden. The reactor that was shut down was commissioned in 1972 and was Sweden's first commercial nuclear power unit.

Award-Winning Documentary Hawksbill Babies at Oneloa is Available to Teachers for Free
August 30, 2005 (Snorkel Bob Foundation)
MAUI, HAWAII — The DVD, Hawksbill Babies at Oneloa (Makena Beach), shows a rare daylight hatching of the most endangered turtles in the Pacific. Tree shade and dark clouds fooled turtles and nest watchers both, cooling the sand to nighttime temperatures. When emissaries of the Snorkel Bob Foundation came upon some half-emerged, apparently dead babies, they recorded events as nature kicked in. The audio is an interview with turtle biologist Cheryl King by Snorkel Bob, Himself.
Hawksbill Babies debuted in Turtlerama on Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island in January, 2005, with special matinee shows for 800 school kids on Kauai. The Snorkel Bob Foundation forwarded Turtlerama proceeds to The Sea Turtle Restoration Project's Save The Leatherback Campaign and the 2005 Hawksbill Recovery Project on Maui. Turtlerama attendees wrote letters and petitioned United Nations General Secretary Kofi Anan to stop longline fishing, the primary killer of the nearly-extinct giant Leatherback turtle. The event succeeded in generating a record number of signatures and personal letters from school kids across Hawaii, leading to the UN agenda for June 2005. Longline fishing may soon be banned.
Hawksbill Babies at Oneloa received an award for best documentary film at The Hawaii Ocean Film Festival this summer in Kauai, Hawaii, and is now a featured segment of the Compleat Reef Video available at all Snorkel Bob shops in Hawaii or at http://www.snorkelbob.com/.

Workers struggle to save seals
Rescue center nears capacity
August 29, 2005 (AP)
WESTBROOK, Maine -- The seals look up with sad eyes, some too tired or sick to lift their heads. Some have been abandoned by their mothers, others are malnourished. A few have been injured by sharks looking for a seal pup snack.
While the sick animals await treatment, workers and volunteers blend fish frappes for the young pups. With five feedings a day, they consume 500 pounds (225 kilograms) of fish daily.
The Marine Animal Lifeline is the largest of a handful of organizations that rescue and rehabilitate stranded seals in New England, covering an area from the New Hampshire border to Rockland, Maine. Last year, it had 805 reports of stranded, injured or dead seals but took in no more than 47 seals at any given time.
In July, that number swelled to 60 and a call went out for more volunteers.
"We're pretty much the county hospital. We take anything and everything, and we're filled to capacity," founder Greg Jakush said over the sound of barking seals as workers fed them meals of fish.

Bruce Babbitt Calls for More Dams To Cope with Global Warming's Effects
August 29, 2005 (Contra Costa Times — By Mike Taugher)
SACRAMENTO — California should build more dams and reconsider building a highly controversial peripheral canal, a key architect of the state's decade-old Delta water plan said Thursday.
Bruce Babbitt, who served as Interior Secretary during the Clinton administration, said the state has to worry not only about an aging infrastructure and a growing population, but also the fact that the state's water supplies will be sorely stretched by the effects of global warming.
"It is no longer a theory," Babbitt said in testimony to the Little Hoover Commission watchdog agency in Sacramento. "It is no longer a probability. The effects of global warming are upon us, and they are going to have a major impact on water management in California."
New reservoirs will be needed to offset the loss of snowpack, he said.
And rising sea levels will push saltwater further into the Delta, fouling drinking water for 23 million Californians who get at least some of their water from pumps in the south Delta. That problem could be addressed by a peripheral canal, which would divert water from the Sacramento River and shunt it to Southern California in a way that bypasses the Delta.

Sea Turtle Film Chosen for Broadcast on PBS Stations
August 29, 2005 (ENS)
FOREST KNOLLS, California - The new documentary film "Last Journey for the Leatherback?" by the Emmy award-winning documentary filmmaker Stan Minasian (The Last Days of the Dolphins?, The Free Willy Story: Keiko's Journey Home) will be broadcast this fall on PBS stations nationwide, beginning with KCSM, San Mateo, California.
The documentary combing science, activism and rare footage of endangered sea turtles will be seen on KCSM-TV Saturday, September 10th at 7:30 p.m. KCSM is available on Channel 17 for most Bay Area cable viewers.
“Sea turtles are really symbolic of what’s happening to the oceans as a whole. As go sea turtles, so go, will go, the ocean,” explains Dr. Sylvia Earle, a National Geographic explorer-in-residence, in the opening sequence of the film as dozens of newly hatched leatherback sea turtles crawl to the water under the moonlight.
Scientists predict that the giant Pacific leatherback sea turtle, which has survived unchanged for over 100 million years, could vanish in the next five to 30 years, if current threats from industrial longline fishing are not curtailed.
Every year, industrial fishing boats set billions of baited hooks on lines that stretch for miles, and millions of miles of nets to catch swordfish and tuna. These hooks and nets are primary causes in the decline of the leatherbacks.
The female nesting population of leatherback sea turtles in the Pacific Ocean has collapsed by 95 percent in the past 20 years.
The leatherback is the largest sea turtle, measuring nine feet long, tipping the scales at 2,000 lbs. Conservationists are becoming increasingly alarmed and active in their fight to save these ancient giants, and to stop harmful human impacts on the world’s ocean ecosystems.

Global Warming Led to Mass Extinction 250 Million Years Ago
August 29, 2005 (ENS)
BOULDER, Colorado - Scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado have created a computer simulation showing Earth's climate in unprecedented detail at the time of the greatest mass extinction in history. It shows that rising atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide interfered with ocean circulation of oxygen that led to marine extinctions, and raised temperatures on land that led to terrestrial extinctions.
"The results demonstrate how rapidly rising temperatures in the atmosphere can affect ocean circulation, cutting off oxygen to lower depths and extinguishing most life," says lead author Jeffrey Kiehl, a scientist with the Climate and Global Dynamics Division of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).
Kiehl and co-author Christine Shields focused on the dramatic events at the end of the Permian period of the Paleozoic Era, when an estimated 90 to 95 percent of all marine species, as well as about 70 percent of all species on land, became extinct.
The research appears in the September issue of the journal "Geology."

Thriving coral reef thrills marine research group
August 29, 2005 (SF Chronicle – by Jim Doyle)
PACIFIC OCEAN - Marine scientists sailing the central Pacific to study its remote coral reefs have reached an underwater Eden even more pristine than they had hoped for, according to e-mail dispatches they sent Sunday.
The elaborate coral structures of Kingman Reef, an atoll about halfway between Hawaii and Australia, are teeming with tiger sharks, dolphins, aggressive snapper, green turtles and giant manta rays -- as densely packed with sea life as a fully stocked tropical aquarium.
"Eureka!" expedition leader Enric Sala wrote in an e-mail sent by satellite from the White Holly, which is based in San Francisco. "We have found it -- a pristine reef, where corals are alive and healthy and form a forest so thick that there is no space even for sand between them."
In contrast, the scientists found clear evidence of overfishing and global warming at three nearby islands: Tabuaeran (population 1,500), Kiritimati (population 10,000) and Palmyra atoll, which was briefly occupied by the United States during World War II. The scientists will next visit Teraina Island (population 950) in the Republic of Kiribati.