Lapang Islanders in Indonesia

"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -

“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."

(Live Kryon Channelings was given 7 times within the United Nations building.)

Question: Dear Kryon: I live in Spain. I am sorry if I will ask you a question you might have already answered, but the translations of your books are very slow and I might not have gathered all information you have already given. I am quite concerned about abandoned animals. It seems that many people buy animals for their children and as soon as they grow, they set them out somewhere. Recently I had the occasion to see a small kitten in the middle of the street. I did not immediately react, since I could have stopped and taken it, without getting out of the car. So, I went on and at the first occasion I could turn, I went back to see if I could take the kitten, but it was to late, somebody had already killed it. This happened some month ago, but I still feel very sorry for that kitten. I just would like to know, what kind of entity are these animals and how does this fit in our world. Are these entities which choose this kind of life, like we do choose our kind of Human life? I see so many abandoned animals and every time I see one, my heart aches... I would like to know more about them.

Answer: Dear one, indeed the answer has been given, but let us give it again so you all understand. Animals are here on earth for three (3) reasons.

(1) The balance of biological life. . . the circle of energy that is needed for you to exist in what you call "nature."

(2) To be harvested. Yes, it's true. Many exist for your sustenance, and this is appropriate. It is a harmony between Human and animal, and always has. Remember the buffalo that willingly came into the indigenous tribes to be sacrificed when called? These are stories that you should examine again. The inappropriateness of today's culture is how these precious creatures are treated. Did you know that if there was an honoring ceremony at their death, they would nourish you better? Did you know that there is ceremony that could benefit all of humanity in this way. Perhaps it's time you saw it.

(3) To be loved and to love. For many cultures, animals serve as surrogate children, loved and taken care of. It gives Humans a chance to show compassion when they need it, and to have unconditional love when they need it. This is extremely important to many, and provides balance and centering for many.

Do animals know all this? At a basic level, they do. Not in the way you "know," but in a cellular awareness they understand that they are here in service to planet earth. If you honor them in all three instances, then balance will be the result. Your feelings about their treatment is important. Temper your reactions with the spiritual logic of their appropriateness and their service to humanity. Honor them in all three cases.

Japan's Antarctic whaling hunt ruled 'not scientific'

Japan's Antarctic whaling hunt ruled 'not scientific'
Representatives of Japan and Australia shake hands at the court in The Hague. (NOS/ANP) - 31 March 2014
"Fast-Tracking" - Feb 8, 2014 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll) - (Reference to Fukushima / H-bomb nuclear pollution and a warning about nuclear > 20 Min)

China calls for peaceful settlement of maritime disputes

China calls for peaceful settlement of maritime disputes
Wang Min, China's deputy permanent representative to the United Nations, speaks during a meeting to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the enforcement of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, at the UN headquarters in New York, on June 9, 2014. The Chinese envoy on Monday called for a harmonious maritime order, saying that maritime disputes should be settled through negotiation between the parties directly involved. (Xinhua/Niu Xiaolei)

UNCLOS 200 nautical miles vs China claimed territorial waters

UNCLOS 200 nautical miles vs China claimed territorial waters

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Australian humpback whale comeback a 'symbol of hope'

Yahoo – AFP, 28 July 2015

Humpback whales were commercially harvested around the Australian coast 
between 1912 and 1972, with tens of thousands of the animals killed, decimating
the species (AFP Photo/Ari S. Friedlaender)

Australia's humpback populations have recovered so well from years of devastating whaling that they could be delisted as a threatened species in a conservation success story scientists Tuesday hailed as "a symbol of hope".

Humpback whales were commercially harvested around the Australian coast between 1912 and 1972, with tens of thousands of the animals killed, decimating the species.

But their recovery has been remarkable, spawning a thriving whale watching industry.

A new paper, "Embracing conservation success of recovering humpback whale populations", said Australian numbers were increasing at nine percent a year off the country's west coast and 10 percent for the east coast.

As of 2012, they had grown to more than 63 percent (east coast) and 90 percent (west coast) of those recorded before the whaling era.

Australia's Murdoch University's Cetacean Research Unit, which contributed to the paper published in the journal "Marine Policy", said it was a rare success story.

"For the first time in over a generation, the iconic humpback whales of Australia have become a symbol of both hope and optimism for marine conservation," it said.

"Optimism in conservation biology is essential to encourage politicians, policy makers and the public to solve conservation problems."

The paper, which also involved scientists from Oregon and North Carolina in the United States, said the animals were now no longer at risk of extinction and proposed they be delisted as a threatened species under Australian law, where they are listed as vulnerable.

The once over-exploited whale has already had its conservation status downgraded in other regions including the North Pacific population off British Columbia, Canada.

As of 2012, Australian humpback numbers had grown to more than 63% (east coast)
 and 90% (west coast) of those recorded before the whaling era (AFP Photo/Ari S.

Marine scientist Michelle Bejder, who led the review, said removing humpbacks from the threatened list would be allow conservation funding to be redirected towards other species more at risk.

"Hopefully other animal species may be afforded a similar chance of recovery success to that of the humpback whales," she said.

"Blue whale populations have been depleted greatly and remain endangered, while very little scientific data is available on Australian snubfin dolphins and Australian humpback dolphins."

Bejder said management efforts must now balance the need to maintain humpback whale recovery within a marine environment experiencing increased coastal development and rapid growth in industrial and exploration activities.

"Increased interactions with maritime users are likely to occur," Bejder said, including acoustic disturbance from noise, collisions with vessels, entanglements in fishing gear, and more interactions with the booming whale watching industry.

"Adaptive management actions and new approaches to gain public support will be vital to maintain the growth and recovery of Australian humpback whales and prevent future population declines," she added.

US family make million-dollar gold find from Spanish fleet off Florida

A treasure-hunting family has found more than $1m worth of gold artefacts from the wreckage of a sunken 1715 Spanish ship in the Atlantic Ocean

The Guardian, Reuters in Orlando, 28 July 2015

Gold coins and gold chain that were found in the wreckage of a 1715 Spanish fleet
that sunk in the Atlantic Ocean. Photograph: 1715 Fleet Queens Jewels LLC/Reuters

A Florida family has been rewarded for years of treasure hunting after finding gold artefacts worth $1m or more from the wreckage of a 1715 Spanish fleet that sank in the Atlantic, according to a salvage company.

The find included 51 gold coins of various denominations and 40ft (12m) of ornate gold chain, said Brent Brisben, whose company, 1715 Fleet – Queens Jewels LLC, owns the rights to the wreckage.

The Schmitt family, who hunt for treasure off their salvage vessel Aarrr Booty, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Brisben said he timed the announcement to coincide with Friday’s 300th anniversary of the sinking of 11 galleons brought down by a hurricane off the coast of Florida, as the convoy was sailing from Havana to Spain.

Eric Schmitt found the artefacts in 15ft (4.5m) of water off Fort Pierce, approximately 130 miles (210km) north of Miami.

The Spanish convoy’s manifests indicated the ships carried cargo valued today at about $400m (£257m), of which $175m had been recovered, Brisben said.

His company bought the rights to the site in 2010 from heirs of treasure hunter Mel Fisher. The firm allows others, including the Schmitts, to search under subcontract agreements.

The centrepiece of the Schmitts’ latest find is a perfect specimen of a coin called a royal, made for Spain’s King Phillip V and dated 1715. Only a few royals were known to exist, according to a news release from Brisben’s company.

The gold chains are made of small, handcrafted, two-sided links of six-petalled olive blossoms. They were called money chains and are believed to have been used as a tax-free coinage, the news release said.

Under federal and state law, Florida will take possession of up to 20% of the find for display in a state museum. Brisben’s company and the Schmitt family would split the remainder, Brisben said.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Photos emerge of incredible Easter Island discovery, June 10, 2015

Archaeologists dig up the famous statues. Picture: Easter Island Statue
Project Source: Supplied

THERE’S a lot more to Easter Island’s famous statues than first meets the eye.

A new series of photographs of the 2012 excavation has emerged that captures the moment archaeologists dug out the previously hidden stone bodies, discovering a surprising secret along the way; the monoliths were covered in detailed ancient tattoos.

The images have been shared widely on social media, being viewed more than 1 million times on Imgur.

They show intricate markings such as crescents, which academics say represent the canoes of the local Polynesians, the UK’s Mirror reports. Little else is known about the markings yet.

Detailed markings are visible. Picture: The Easter Island Statue Project
Source: Supplied

There are 887 huge statues carved between AD 100 and 1800 — which are up to 10 metres tall. Members of the Easter Island Statue Project have been excavating the statues for years, and provided the first photos of their torsos in 2012. This surprised many, with people believing they only had heads.

“The reason people think they are (only) heads is there are about 150 statues buried up to the shoulders on the slope of a volcano, and these are the most famous, most beautiful and most photographed of all the Easter Island statues,” Jo Anne Van Tilburg from the Easter Island Statue Project said.

“This suggested to people who had not seen photos of (other unearthed statues) that they are heads only.”

They are fascinating. Picture: The Easter Island Statue Project Source: Supplied

In 1919 pictures of the first excavations by the Mana Expedition to Easter Island revealed that some statues were full sized. The discovery was confirmed in 1955 by the explorer Thor Heyerdahl when his Norwegian Archaeological Expedition excavated a statue.

Over subsequent decades the discoveries were gradually forgotten, known by archaeologists but not by tourists, who began visiting the isolated island in the 1990s.

They’re discovering an island that was first settled by Polynesian people who arrived by canoe as part of a great wave of Pacific colonisation.

Much remains unknown about the statues — how were they made? How was such a remote island populated? How were they moved around the island? And what happened to the society that had resorted to cannibalism by the time Captain James Cook visited in 1774?

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Friday, July 10, 2015

Pope Francis urges dialogue on Bolivia-Chile sea dispute

On a visit to the city of La Paz, Pope Francis has called for dialogue between Chile and Bolivia over a long-running border dispute. His time in the city, among the highest on Earth, was limited on medical grounds.

Deutsche Welle, 9 July 2015

Francis landed in La Paz early on Wednesday evening, welcomed by choirs who sang in the indigenous Aymara language.

He was met by Bolivian President Evo Morales, a champion of Latin America's radical left and Bolivia's first indigenous president. Francis greeted Bolivians with a message of inclusion, continuing the central theme of his three-nation tour of South America.

He praised the country for taking important steps to make its poor and indigenous less marginalized. Bolivia is South America's poorest nation.

Morales handed Francis - whose language often echoes that of the leftist Liberation Theology movement - two politically-charged gifts. One was a crucifix carved into a Communist hammer and sickle. The other was a copy of "The Book of the Sea," - about the loss of Bolivia's access to the sea in the War of the Pacific with Peru between 1879 and 1883.

'Raise bridges, not walls'

In a speech to civil authorities in La Paz later, Francis urged countries to improve diplomatic relations "in order to avoid conflicts between sister peoples and advance frank and open dialogue about their problems."

"I'm thinking about the sea here," said the pope, referring to the ongoing dispute between the two countries which is set to be ruled upon by the International Court of Justice by the end of the year. "Dialogue is indispensable. Instead of raising walls, we need to be building bridges."

Short stay at altitude

Although the pope had praised Bolivia earlier, he also denounced a pervasive "atmosphere of inequality," and lamented that welcome economic growth had "opened the door to corruption."

With La Paz standing more than 4,000 meters (13,000 feet) above sea level, extra oxygen tanks were on hand for Francis, who lost a lung during his youth.

Aboard the flight from Ecuador, where the Argentine pope began his "homecoming" tour to South America, Francis was said to have drunk a tea made of a mix of coca leaves, chamomile and anise seeds to ward off the effects of altitude.

However, medical considerations meant that the pontiff's time in La Paz was limited to four hours, before he flew on to Santa Cruz in Bolivia's central lowlands, for a two-day stay.

rc/jr (AFP, AP, Reuters)

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Shell hits a snag in Arctic oil drilling, July 8, 2015

Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell has a hit a snag in its latest attempt to drill for oil in the Arctic waters off Alaska. 

The Fennica, one of the ice-breakers it was planning to use, has been holed in the ballast tank and returned to port. 

The company said systems on board the ship warned there was a leak, and the crew found a one-metre long tear in the hull. It did not say how the damage occurred, the Volkskrant reports. 

The company does not expect the set-back to delay drilling, but cannot be sure until it receives a damage report. 

Shell was granted a licence to drill for oil and gas in the Arctic in May, despite warnings by protestors it could lead to an environmental disaster.

The licence for up to six exploratory wells was granted by the US government’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management which said it had taken a ‘thoughtful approach to potential exploration’.

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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Pioneering Dutch enterprise sets out to put seaweed on the table, July 7, 2015

One enterprising Dutch firm is attempting to commercially farm seaweed and the initial results indicate it may be possible, writes Esther O’Toole.

Do you eat seaweed? No? Are you sure? Only around sushi? Well, think again. Seaweed is found in many consumer products from ice cream and processed foods, to vitamin supplements, toothpaste, mascara and biofuel. 

What is more, being a sustainable crop, it reduces fresh water, land and fertilizer usage. This versatile and tasty resource is drawing a lot of interest in international agricultural circles, including one prominent Dutch enterprise, The North Sea Farm Foundation (Stichting Noordzee Boerderij). North Sea Farm have been testing the nutrient rich waters north of Texel, with a view to getting seaweed on more Dutch plates in the very near future. 

Initially set up by Marcel Schuttelaar, of Schuttelaar & Partners, the foundation launched a proof of concept mission last November. Using two different growing platforms (one static, one flexible) and two varieties of edible kelp, they set out with the purpose of discovering whether the rough North Sea was suitable for this kind of offshore agriculture. 

This month’s first successful harvest seems to indicate that it is. Having laid 10 metres of line in the hopes of growing one kilo of usable product, they ended up with 15 kilos. 

North Sea Farm’s Koen van Swam says the partly crowdfunded project is now heading towards scaling up. The June crop is being independently tested for nutritional value and consumer safety and a second harvest is planned for October. 

Fishing industry

Seaweed cultivation can work in harmony with both nature and existing offshore industries like fisheries, sea energy and conservation. The North Sea is a challenging spot to cultivate with waves that vary in size from one to a whopping six metres high, which can sometimes make access to the platforms difficult. However, unlike more sheltered European growing areas (for instance in Norway and The Shetlands), the North Sea offers real space to spread out.

‘This is really pioneering,’ said van Swam. ‘If we can grow it here, we can grow it anywhere!’ 

The seaweed industry, he says, offers the chance for entrepreneurs from many traditionally strong Dutch trades, such as maritime transport, fishing, mussel farming and agrofood, to collaborate. North Sea Farm expects to help create jobs and offer ‘fantastic growth potential’ for all partners across the supply chain. 

This year the global seaweed market for human consumption was estimated at nearly $6m. The Dutch government is conducting research of its own and has estimated there is scope for up to 400 square kilometres of seaweed fields off the Dutch north coast by 2050, with no discernible negative impact. Seaweed is regularly used by fish as a nursery, so the impact could in fact be a positive one. 

North Sea Farm is equally ambitious as it sets out to raise in the region of €400,000 for expansion, hoping the green initiative’s early success will encourage new investors. That amount would allow them to grow 5,000-10,000 kilos of seaweed by next season. And to make sure the Dutch consumers know what to do with this superfood, they are also working on a cookbook.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Cuban, US scientists bond over big sharks

Yahoo - AFP, Robert Macpherson,July 2, 2015

"Tiburones: Sharks of Cuba" marks the first time that TV cameras have
 recorded American and Cuban scientists working side by side to explore the
mysteries of shark behavior, habitats and migration (AFP Photo/James Watt)

Washington (AFP) - Somewhere in the North Atlantic right now, a longfin mako shark -- a cousin of the storied great white -- is cruising around, oblivious to the yellow satellite tag on its dorsal fin.

In mid-July, that electronic gizmo should pop off, float to the surface and instantly transmit a wealth of data to eagerly awaiting marine scientists in Cuba and the United States.

How the mako became one of the first sharks ever to be satellite-tagged in Cuban waters is the subject of an hour-long documentary that is a highlight of Discovery Channel's cult summer series Shark Week.

"Tiburones: Sharks of Cuba" marks the first time that TV cameras have recorded American and Cuban scientists working side by side to explore the mysteries of shark behavior, habitats and migration.

It also comes as Cuba and the United States renew full diplomatic ties, more than five decades after Fidel Castro's communist revolution.

"The Caribbean has, I think, 20 percent of the world's biodiversity of sharks and Cuba is the heart of that," the show's director Ian Shive told AFP by telephone from Los Angeles.

What's more, a half-century of isolation and limited development mean Cuba's coral waters have largely escaped the kind of negative environmental impact seen elsewhere in the region, Shive said.

"The oceans surrounding Cuba are like time capsules," he said. "You can go back and look at the Caribbean as it was 50 years ago."

Inspiring the project was a shark of legend -- El Monstruo, or The Monster, a great white caught by fishermen off the Cuban village of Cojimar, east of Havana, 70 years ago.

Biggest ever

Reputedly 21 feet long (6.4 meters) long and weighing in at 7,000 pounds (3,175 kilograms), it remain perhaps the biggest great white ever captured anywhere in the world.

"All the fishermen and their families came down. They were excited because they had never seen such a big animal in Cojimar," fisherman Osvaldo Carnero, a young boy at the time, told the filmmakers.

Tagging a similar big shark was one of the goals of the 15-day expedition in February that brought together shark experts from Cuba's Center for Coastal Ecosystems Research and Florida's Mote Marine Laboratory as well as Shive's camera crew.

They found initial success along Cuba's south coast in a pristine coral reef system known as the Gardens of the Queen, once visited by Christopher Columbus and now one of the Caribbean's biggest marine parks.

There they successfully tagged two large silky sharks with help from veteran Cuban diver Noel Lopez Fernandez, who wrangled them underwater with his bare hands and then rubbed their bellies to sedate them.

Surprising data has already been received from the silkys, Robert Hueter, Mote's associate vice president for research, told AFP in a telephone interview from Sarasota, Florida.

Not only do they prefer to stay near the reef, the satellite tags -- which measure sea depth as well as location -- revealed that the sharks can dive as far down as 2,000 feet (610 meters), much deeper than assumed for the species, Hueter said.

From the Gardens of the Queen, the scientists set off for Cojimar and struck it lucky by snagging the longfin mako, with top shark cinematographer Andy Casagrande underwater capturing video of the rarely seen oceanic creature.

Only the second

It is only the second longfin mako to be sat-tagged, Hueter said. The first, in 2012, roamed from the Gulf of Mexico and around Florida before turning up in the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, on the US East Coast.

Hueter is hoping for the so-called "pop-up" satellite tag, worth about $4,000, to come off the shark and commence its data dump sometime in mid-July.

"Everyone's eager to get that data," said Shive, who recalled the two years it took to get US permission to go to Cuba and for Havana to green-light the first-ever satellite tagging of its sharks.

Hueter is hopeful that better relations between Washington and Havana will facilitate more joint projects between Florida-based scientists and their Cuban counterparts just 90 miles away.

"In some ways (the February expedition) was the culmination of a lot of work, and in other ways it was the starting point for what will hopefully be a new age of cooperation between the United States and Cuba," he said.

"Tiburones: Sharks of Cuba" premieres Tuesday in the United States. Discovery Channel, which launches its 28th annual Shark Week on Sunday, plans to air the show in other countries in the coming months.

Friday, July 3, 2015

BP set to pay largest environmental fine in US history for Gulf oil spill

  • BP will pay $18.7bn after the justice department and four states sued
  • Money will be divided among states and earmarked for cleanup projects

The Guardian, Dominic Rushe in New York, Thursday 2 July 2015

The 2010 disaster at BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig caused devastating
pollution in the Gulf of Mexico. Photograph: Gerald Herbert/AP

BP has agreed to pay a record environmental fine of $18.7bn to settle legal actions brought by the US and several states over the fatal 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The US justice department, along with the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Texas and Florida, all sued BP for damages not covered by the company’s earlier settlements with businesses and individuals harmed by the worst offshore spill in US history.

The settlement ends all litigation between BP, the states and the US government and allows the company to pay over 18 years. BP’s share price rose on the news.

Last September, judge Carl Barbier, who has overseen the tortuous legal case resulting from the disaster, ruled BP had been “grossly negligent” in its handling of the well. The decision opened up BP to the highest possible fines.

The company will pay $7.1bn in “natural resource damage assessment”, and the money will be divided among the states and earmarked for environmental cleanup projects related to the spill. BP was fined $5.5bn under the Clean Water Act.

Some environmentalists were disappointed with the fine, which has yet to receive court approval. Jacqueline Savitz, vice-president for Oceana in the US, said: “If the court approves this proposal, BP will be getting off easy and ‘we the people’ will not be fully compensated for the natural resource damages that we suffered, and the law requires that the public is made whole for those damages.

“For these two payments alone, Clean Water Act violations and natural resource damages, BP would be getting away with less than half of what the law would justify,” she said. “The court should not let BP get off the hook without fully compensating Americans for what was lost. A low-end settlement would not only cheat the public, but it would send the wrong message to BP and the other companies that drill in our oceans, telling them that they may not have to pay for the future damages they cause.”

The 2010 explosion at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig cost 11 lives and resulted in 4.2m barrels of oil spewing into the Gulf over 87 days, according to the US government.

BP argued the volume of the spill was far lower. Barbier eventually ruled BP was responsible for the release of 3.1m barrels. The spill affected the shore of the Gulf coast from Louisiana to Florida. Its impact on seafood and wildlife is still being assessed.

Louisiana attorney general James “Buddy” Caldwell said: “This agreement is the result of five years of hard-fought litigation and intense scientific research, and it provides Louisiana the coastal restoration and compensation it needs following the Deepwater Horizon disaster.”

He said Louisiana, the state most affected by the spill, was recovering more than $10bn from BP – more than any state has ever recovered for this type of case. “This agreement lets us focus right away on improving the state without further litigation delays and appeals that could take years. I am extremely pleased by the work done by the court and all the parties in this matter to reach an agreement that will bring great and historic benefits to Louisiana and the Gulf.”

“Five years ago we committed to restore the Gulf economy and environment and we have worked ever since to deliver on that promise,” said BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg.

“We have made significant progress, and with this agreement we provide a path to closure for BP and the Gulf. It resolves the company’s largest remaining legal exposures, provides clarity on costs and creates certainty of payment for all parties involved.”

More than five years after the disaster, environmentalists and Gulf residents are still counting the cost. Fatalities among dolphins and other marine life have surged in the spill’s aftermath.

“No monetary award can ever undo the destruction of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. But, while we look forward to additional details, today’s agreement, the largest environmental settlement in American history, represents a significant step toward justice for the Gulf Coast ecosystems, economies and communities that were damaged by the disaster,” Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, said in a statement. “More than five years later, this agreement between the five Gulf states, BP and the department of justice brings real hope for the future of the Gulf Coast.”

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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Thai crackdown on rogue fishing as fears grow over EU ban

Yahoo – AFP, Preeti Jha, 1 July 2015

Migrant workers sort fish in a port in Mahachai on the outskirts of Bangkok (AFP
Photo/Nicolas Asfouri)

Mahachai (Thailand) (AFP) - A belated Thai clampdown on illegal fishing is forcing unlicensed vessels ashore, threatening to paralyse a key industry as the kingdom desperately tries to avoid a European Union ban on exports worth $1 billion a year.

Barrels of fish packed in ice are usually rolled off boats at a bustling port in Samut Sakhon, a coastal province near Bangkok, by Myanmar and Cambodia migrant workers who prop up the world's third largest seafood producer.

A migrant worker sits on a fishing boat
 in a port in Mahachai on the outskirts of
Bangkok (AFP Photo/Nicolas Asfouri)
But many will sit idle from Wednesday, say their Thai employers, who have failed to obtain necessary fishing permits under a raft of new government rules aimed at cleaning up the shadowy industry.

Next to buckets of red snapper destined to become fish balls for the local market and fishmeal to rear shrimp marked for Europe, a Thai vessel owner says there are "too many rules and too little time".

"We will have to keep paying bills with no income," said the worried 59-year-old, who withheld his name, as he prepares to cease operations until he can meet the conditions for a new permit.

The Wednesday deadline to register boats with authorities and acquire permits under revised standards, including installing equipment such as tracking devices, comes after the European Union threatened to ban fish imports from the kingdom unless it combats illegal fishing.

In April Brussels issued Thailand with a "yellow card" for inadequate fisheries monitoring, controls and punishment, warning that a "red card" and eventual import ban would follow if it failed to improve within six months.

The spectre of losing $1 billion in European sales is a shortfall the ruling military can ill-afford in an already sluggish economy.

Thailand saw only 0.3 percent growth in the first quarter and exports have been slowing in part, says the World Bank, due to an erosion in competitiveness.

Aphisit Techanitisawad, president of The Thai Overseas Fisheries Association, estimates around 3,000 fishing vessels nationwide will forsake the seas from Wednesday.

A worker checks canned fish at the 
Anusorn Group factory in Tasai, on the
 outskirts of Bangkok (AFP Photo/
Nicolas Asfouri)
"About 80 percent of all the fishermen, they're coming back to shore" to seek permits, he told AFP at his fisheries factory in Samut Sakhon.

Thailand's image battered

A recent shortage in fresh fish has already seen his workers stop processing crab sticks for French export, instead focussing on canning sardines and mackerel from frozen supplies for the Myanmar and Cambodian markets.

A labour ministry spokeswoman said around 80,000 migrants were working in Thai fisheries since the deadline for compulsory migrant registrations closed Tuesday.

Aphisit thinks the government could have imposed a more lenient timeframe for changes.

But premier Prayut Chan-O-Cha has remained adamant the industry has been left unchecked for too long.

"Don't put any more pressure on government," he said when asked about rising anger within the fishing industry.

"If we don't pass these measures a 200 billion baht ($6 billion) industry could be wiped out so everybody should cooperate," he said.

Thailand's image has been battered in recent years by a series of fishing abuse allegations from prominent rights groups of ships using slave and child labour as well as trafficking victims.

Migrant workers at work in a port in 
Mahachai, on the outskirts of Bangkok
(AFP Photo/Nicolas Asfouri)
And last year the US downgraded the kingdom to its lowest ranking on human trafficking, a designation that can trigger sanctions.

Bangkok is desperate to improve its standing, while sanctions have not yet been imposed, laying out new measures including a ban on fishing workers under 18 in the months since. The latest Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report is due for imminent publication.

Observers say that while the latest threat of an EU ban has triggered a renewed sense of urgency in authorities, rushed actions will fail to combat illegal fishing in the long-term.

Improving "monitoring, control and surveillance" will help to tackle longstanding problems of pirate fishing, slavery and trafficking in Thailand's fisheries industry, said Daniel Murphy, a Bangkok-based campaigner for the Environmental Justice Foundation.

But by rapidly regulating the neglected sector the government "risks regularising more vessels than Thailand's exhausted waters can support as well a significant number of vessels which have spent years openly flouting fishing laws", he said.

In this handout photograph released by Indonesia’s Ministry of Fishery on
 April 8, 2015, hundreds of rescued foreign fishermen mostly from Myanmar and
Thailand are gathered during an operation at the private Indonesian fishing firm
 Pusaka Benjina Resources located in remote Benjina island of Maluku
province. (AFP Photo/Ugeng Nugroho/Ministry of Fishery)

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A fisherman formerly held in slave-like conditions by a Thai-owned fishing firm in
Benjina, Maluku, shows evidence of abuse. (Antara Foto/Humas Kementerian

Nemo's garden off Italy offers hope for seabed crops

Yahoo – AFP, Olivier Morin, and Angus MacKinnon in Rome, 1 July 2015

Project coordinator of Nemo's Garden, Gianni Fontanesi, checks condensation
inside immerged Biosphere (AFP Photo/Olivier Morin)

Noli (Italy) (AFP) - In the homeland of pesto, a group of diving enthusiasts have come up with a way of growing basil beneath the sea that could revolutionise crop production in arid coastal areas around the world.

The pungent green herb has long been synonymous with the steep, terraced cliff-sides of Liguria, the northern Italian region known for its spectacular Riviera coastline and for producing one of the world's best-loved pasta sauces.

Those two standout features of the region could now become even more intimately associated thanks to the pioneering efforts of Sergio Gamberini.

A diving nut and specialist in under-water communications, Gamberini has begun growing basil in large plastic spheres anchored to the sea bed 100 metres off shore and eight metres below the surface in an experiment he has dubbed "Nemo's garden".

"The idea came to me because I wanted to create more interaction between the surface and the diving activity," Gamberini told AFPTV.

Having started with a simple plastic ball into which he place a tub with herb seeds planted in compost, he is now in his fourth season of production from an under-water garden comprised of three "biospheres" which he is allowed to keep in the water for three months a year.

Project coordinator of Nemo's Garden, Gianni Fontanesi, checks immerged
Biospheres, in Noli (AFP Photo/Olivier Morin)

"I chose a typical activity of farmers, and I said 'why not bring it under water?'" he said. "I realised that there was an opportunity to create a new site to grow vegetables."

Evaporation ensures humidity between 80 and 90 percent inside the spheres, the condensation provides the necessary moisture and, even well below the waves, there is enough light in this sunny corner of Europe to ensure the plants themselves regenerate their oxygen supply via photosynthesis.

Having proved the system works, Gamberini's challenge now is to prove that it can produce herbs and vegetables in a cost-efficient way.

"I don't know if it will be the future because we have to prove that it can be self-supportable," he said. "If a pound of lettuce (grown underwater) costs too much, it won't have a future."

Parasite-free zone

The primary advantage of underwater growing is the stability of thermal conditions.

"The sea maintains the temperature without a great difference between day and night," said Gianni Fontanesi, who is in charge of running the project.

In late June, at the start of the European summer, the water on the coastal shelf of the northern Mediterranean is 25 degrees C (77 degrees F), while inside the spheres the temperature reaches 29 degrees C.

Ocean Reef CEO Sergio Gamberini, head
 of Nemo's Garden project, pictured in Noli 
(AFP Photo/Olivier Morin)
The plants are thriving in an environment where they are protected from the insects and parasites that would normally be giving a basil grower headaches at this time of year.

The results so far have have been encouraging, with the spheres producing more densely-leafed plants than is usual -- perfect for being ground up with pine nuts, parmesan and olive oil to produce authentic Ligurian pesto.

An experiment with lettuce is already underway and mushrooms, tomatoes, tomatoes and green beans will all be given a go this summer.

"In the longer term, this could be a solution for arid regions next to the sea," said Gamberini, who admits there is still much work to be done to work out how to apply his principles on a larger scale.

But he is not the only one to have faith in his idea: under-water basil was one of the 20 food-related innovations chosen to represent Italy at the ongoing World Expo in Milan which has "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life" as its theme.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Coral gardening beckons ecotourists to restore reefs

Yahoo – AFP, Kerry Sheridan, 30 June 2015

Diving instructor Patti Gross plants coral and scrubs algae off coral as part of a
 gardening project at Alligator Reef in the Florida Keys on May 23, 2015 
(AFP Photo/David Gross)

Miami (AFP) - Coral reefs are fragile and in danger worldwide, but a growing movement to restore them is based on the science of breaking off pieces in order to grow more, known as coral gardening.

It works like this: marine biologists cut off the tips of live branching corals, hang the pieces on man-made underwater trees where they grow, and later "outplant" them on real reefs on the ocean floor.

After years of trial and error, scientists in Florida are now bringing their methods to the public -- via diving trips, ecotourism outings and summer camps for teens -- to counter the harmful effects of climate change, pollution and industrial development.

Scientist Diego Lirman (R) from the 
University of Miami, shows a volunteer
 how to make coral cookies, which will
 be nailed onto the ocean floor in 
Biscayne Bay, Forida on May 23, 2015
(AFP Photo/Kerry Sheridan)
"It is just like if you had a rosebush in your garden. As you prune that rosebush back, it grows back healthier, bushier, a little more lively," explains Stephanie Schopmeyer, senior research associate at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine Science, which runs a program called Rescue a Reef that allows citizen scientists to join the project.

"Corals that are fragmented actually grow back faster and with more branches," she said.

On a recent outing, Schopmeyer and about a dozen other divers and snorkelers spent a sunny spring morning on the water, traveling first by boat to an underwater nursery in Biscayne Bay where they scrubbed algae off the man-made trees on which Staghorn corals hang, and later to another area where they planted nursery-grown bits of coral on an existing reef.

Certified scuba divers did the underwater work, while a handful of tourists and students helped make cookies -- small discs on which they use epoxy to affix finger-sized pieces of coral. Then, the volunteers snorkeled, watching the divers nail their handiwork on the ocean floor.

Nicole Besemer, a graduate student at the University of Miami, says she was surprised to learn that corals can survive and thrive after being cut and nailed in a new place.

"As a diver in south Florida, I want to make sure that my reefs are as healthy as they can be," Besemer says.

"I know they are not what they used to be."

Reefs in danger

Corals may look like rocks or plants but they are actually animals in the same family as jellyfish and anemones. Each individual coral is called a polyp, and the reef grows as polyps grow copies of themselves. Most corals reproduce by releasing eggs and sperm into the water.

Coral reefs are important because they provide habitat and food for fish, turtles, seahorses, sea urchins and other creatures.

But the reefs are struggling, with their numbers down 50-95 percent in some parts of the world.

Pollution cuts off their light and food supply, overfishing removes the creatures that keep them clean and healthy, development and dredging cause sediment to smother them, and ocean acidification makes it harder for them to grow.

Storms can also kill them. Diego Lirman, an associate professor of marine biology and ecology at the University of Miami, did his dissertation some 30 years ago on the impact of hurricanes on a place nearby called Elkhorn Reef.

Now, he says, there are no Elkhorn corals left there.

"It got to the point where I was getting tired of just watching things die and learning about them in the process. I wanted to be able to do something to recover them," says Lirman.

He credits scientists in nations like Israel, Fiji, Indonesia and the Philippines for coming up with the coral gardening techniques that Florida researchers are now using, and says sharing knowledge across borders helped everyone perfect their techniques.

"We are now reaching ecologically meaningful scales," Lirman says.

"We realized it is all about the numbers -- the numbers you can grow, the numbers you can put back."

Explosive growth

A major part of the movement in Florida and the Caribbean is led by the Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF), which employs about 10 staff and leads an army of volunteers on regular expeditions.

CRF and the University of Miami's reef programs were initially funded in large part by the Recovery Act of 2009, a White House initiative to kickstart the US economy following the global financial crisis. Donations have poured in as well.

Volunteers prepare to make a dive to plant coral as part of the University of 
Miami Rosentiel School’s Rescue a Reef program, in Biscayne Bay, Forida
on May 23, 2015 (AFP Photo/Kerry Sheridan)

"We are kind of at the explosive growth stage," says CRF president Ken Nedimyer.

A few years ago, the foundation planted a few thousand corals per year. Now they have 500 underwater trees in Florida that are growing 40,000-50,000 corals at any one time, he says.

For those who want special training, the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) offers courses and certifications in coral reef restoration.

Scuba divers must be aged 14 or older, and must be able to control their buoyancy underwater so as not to harm the reefs, says Patti Gross, a master diving instructor with PADI who says she has certified around 250 people in coral restoration in the past four years.

"This is way harder than it appears on land," she says.

"But it is very rewarding in the end."