Ecosystems

Philippines bans fishing to revive biggest reef
October 2, 2007 07:40 AM - Reuters

The Philippines has tightened laws banning fishing and collecting of species on the country's largest coral reef to help it recover from near destruction, the World Wildlife Fund for Nature said on Tuesday.

The 27,400 hectare Apo Reef off the coast of Mindoro island was almost drained of life by heavy fishing, including by dynamite and cyanide, which left only a third of coral cover by the early 1990s.

Biologists aim to wipe out Alaska's "Rat Island"
October 1, 2007 06:46 PM - Yereth Rosen, Reuters

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Reuters) - Two centuries after rats first landed on a remote Aleutian island from a shipwreck, wildlife managers in Alaska are plotting how to evict the non-native rodent from the island that bears their name.

Rat Island, like many other treeless, volcanic islands in the 1,000-mile (1,609-km) long Aleutian chain, is infested with rats that have proved devastating to wild birds that build nests in the earth or in rocky cliffs.

"They pretty much made the island worthless for a lot of wildlife," said Art Sowls, a biologist with the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, which sprawls across the Aleutians and other Alaska islands.

Rodents have reigned at Rat Island at the western end of the Aleutians since the 1780 shipwreck of a Japanese sailing ship, wreaking havoc on millions of seabirds with no natural defenses against land predators.

Killer Amoeba Blamed for Six Deaths
October 1, 2007 03:50 PM - Chris Kahn, AP, Lisa Vorderbruggen, Contra Costa Times / MCT

PHOENIX (Sept. 29) — It sounds like science fiction but it's true: A killer amoeba living in lakes enters the body through the nose and attacks the brain where it feeds until you die.
 
Even though encounters with the microscopic bug are extraordinarily rare, it's killed six boys and young men this year. The spike in cases has health officials concerned, and they are predicting more cases in the future.

"This is definitely something we need to track," said Michael Beach, a specialist in recreational waterborne illnesses for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"This is a heat-loving amoeba. As water temperatures go up, it does better," Beach said. "In future decades, as temperatures rise, we'd expect to see more cases."

Volcano Erupts Off Yemen, Soldiers Killed
October 1, 2007 02:43 PM - Mohammed Ghobari, Reuters

SANAA (Reuters) - A volcano erupted on a Yemeni Red Sea island late on Sunday, killing at least seven soldiers and spewing lava and ash hundreds of meters into the air.

A government official said seven bodies had been recovered, along with one survivor, all soldiers stationed on Jabal al-Tair island, some 80 miles off Yemen's mainland.

A Defence Ministry official on the island, which has been home to a military base since Yemen's 1996 conflict with Eritrea, said its western part had "collapsed" into the sea.

Sushi Craze Threatens Mediterranean's Giant Tuna
October 1, 2007 09:27 AM - Reuters

BARBATE, Spain - Fishermen like Diego Crespo have trapped the giant tuna swarming into the warm Mediterranean for over 3,000 years, but he says this year may be one of his last.  Japanese demand for its fatty flesh to make sushi has sparked a fishing frenzy for the Atlantic bluefin tuna -- a torpedo-shaped brute weighing up to half a tonne that can accelerate faster than a Porsche 911. Now a system of corralling the fish into "tuna ranches" has combined with a growing tuna fishing fleet to bring stocks dangerously close to collapse, warn scientists from ICCAT -- the body established by bluefin fishing countries to monitor the stock.

Green Campaign Dents Palm Oil Demand
October 1, 2007 09:20 AM - Reuters

KUALA LUMPUR - A campaign by environment groups against palm oil is costing the product market share in Europe, a top Malaysian palm oil industry official said on Monday.  Palm oil, used as food and in products ranging from cosmetics to biofuel, has come under fire from environmentalists in Europe and America who say the rapid expansion in palm cultivation is responsible for vanishing tropical forests and wildlife.

Deforestation Needs to be in Next Climate Pact
October 1, 2007 09:08 AM - Reuters

JAKARTA -Cutting emissions from deforestation will be key to curbing climate change and should be agreed upon in December's climate talks in Bali, a leading Indonesian forestry researcher said on Monday.  The conference on the resort island is expected to initiate talks on clinching a new deal by 2009 to fight global warming.   Under the Kyoto Protocol, developed nations can pay poor countries to cut emissions from activities such as the manufacture of refrigerants and fertilizers as well as capturing greenhouse gases from farm waste and rubbish dumps.

Tropical Storm Juliette forms in Mexican Pacific
September 30, 2007 05:27 PM - Reuters

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Tropical Storm Juliette formed in the Pacific Ocean off Mexico and was forecast to whirl along off the Baja California peninsula over the next few days, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said on Sunday.

Juliette was carrying maximum sustained winds of 45 mph (72 kph) and was more than 350 miles southwest of the peninsula.

The center described Juliette as a "weaker storm" that could lose force as it hit cooler waters.

Greek forests severely damaged by summer fires
September 30, 2007 09:36 AM - WWF

A report by WWF gives an overview of the damages and environmental impacts caused by the devastating wildfires that raged throughout southern Greece this past summer.

According to WWF-Greece, the wildfires scorched a total of 177,265 hectares in the Peloponese Peninsula south of Athens — 55% (97,518ha) of which consisted of forests and areas of natural vegetation, 41% (78,104ha) of  agricultural land and 1% of infrastructure (settlements, roads, etc.).

Magnitude 7.4 quake hits near New Zealand
September 30, 2007 09:21 AM - Reuters

A strong earthquake with a magnitude of 7.4 hit some 500 km (300 miles) southwest of New Zealand on Sunday, but there were no reports of damage and authorities discounted the risk of a major tsunami.

The quake occurred at around 6:24 p.m. local time, and was felt throughout the south of New Zealand's South Island, said Warwick Smith of state agency GNS Science.

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