Saturday, May 2, 2009

Emergency Action Taken for Threatened and Endangered Sea Turtles:Six-month Closure Ordered of Gulf of Mexico Fishery

From: Center for Biological Diversity

New England Rescinds Protections for Threatened Atlantic Sea Turtles
NOAA Fisheries Service Issues Rule to Improve Sea Turtle Bycatch Monitoring
Conservation Groups Act to Protect Loggerhead Sea Turtle
Federal Study: Loggerhead Sea Turtles Face Extinction, Fishing Fleets Blamed
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.— The National Marine Fisheries Service has ordered a six-month emergency closure of the bottom longline fishery in the Gulf of Mexico to protect imperiled sea turtles from capture and death. During the closure, which will go into effect May 16, the agency will determine whether and how the fishery can operate while ensuring the survival of the turtles over the long term.
The Service is closing the fishery because its data indicate the fishery had captured more than eight times the number of sea turtles it authorized in its 2005 biological opinion. A Federal Register notice that will be published May 1 explains that further bottom longline fishing could jeopardize the existence of loggerhead sea turtles "unless action is taken to reduce the fishery’s impact on this threatened species."
Earthjustice, the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, and a coalition of other conservation groups — Caribbean Conservation Corporation, Florida Wildlife Federation, Gulf Restoration Network and Sea Turtle Restoration Project — had sued the agency in mid-April to seek protection for these imperiled animals and requested the emergency closure implemented today.
"Today is a great day for all who believe in protecting vulnerable sea turtles from unnecessary and illegal harm and ensuring their continued survival in the wild," said Steve Roady, an attorney with Earthjustice. "We commend NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco for setting a new course for NMFS that relies on sound science to manage our oceans for the great benefit of our nation and local communities."
"This temporary closure gives sea turtles a much-needed reprieve and gives the agency time to make scientifically sound decisions regarding the long-term operation of the fishery," said Andrea Treece, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. "More sea turtles will now have a chance to make it back to their nesting beaches — and even just look for food — without getting caught up in longlines."
"After years of delay and the death of hundreds of turtles, it's great to know that protections are finally on their way," said Sierra Weaver, an attorney with Defenders of Wildlife. "This closure will insure that the fishery can operate without threatening these species with extinction."
Details on Emergency Closure:
1. Following the conservation organizations' lawsuit filed April 15 and renewed action by the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council to support an emergency closure in mid-April, the Fisheries Service is closing the bottom longline fishery for up to 180 days. 2. The closure will become effective May 16, 2009 (15 days after publication in the Federal Register) to provide two weeks for fishing trips that are now occurring to receive notice and reduce disruption on the fishery for already initiated trips. 3. During this closure, the agency states that it plans to complete a new biological opinion that will evaluate the impact of the fishery and ensure that it is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of the sea turtle species captured in it. It will also consider measures that could be used to reduce turtle capture and killing by the fishery, to allow it to reopen at a future date. 4. The Service also states that it is working with the Gulf Council to implement “long-term measures to reduce bycatch of sea turtles in the eastern Gulf of Mexico," which "are needed to provide protection for loggerhead sea turtles" in particular due to the long-term decline in their nesting population in Florida. Such long-term measures, for consideration on a permanent basis, would be implemented after a period of public notice during which all interested citizens would have full opportunity to comment. 5. The Service provides notice that it may renew the closure for a longer period of time if necessary for the agency to fulfill its legal obligations under the Endangered Species Act and the Magnuson Stevens Act to prevent further harm to threatened and endangered sea turtles.
The National Marine Fisheries Service took this action in part because in 2005, it had determined that the Gulf of Mexico fishery could capture up to 114 sea turtles, including 85 loggerheads, during a three-year period without violating the Endangered Species Act. But in recent months the agency released new information that vessels in the Gulf caught nearly 1,000 turtles between July 2006 and December 2008 — more than eight times the number allowed. In February 2009, the Service requested public comment regarding an emergency closure to protect sea turtles in view of the high numbers of unexpected turtle captures but still had not acted as of April 15, 2009 when conservation groups filed suit to compel protective action by the agency. The National Marine Fisheries Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is responsible for ensuring that bottom longline fishing does not pose a threat to sea turtle populations.
Bottom longline fishing is a fishing process that uses hundreds or even thousands of baited hooks along miles of lines laid behind fishing vessels and stretching down to the reef and Gulf floor. The fishing hooks target species like grouper, tilefish, and sharks, but often catch other fish or wildlife, including endangered and threatened sea turtles. Injuries from these hooks affect a sea turtle's ability to feed, swim, avoid predators, and reproduce. Many times the turtles drown or, unable to recover from the extreme physiological stress, die soon after being released from the longlines. A portion of fishing vessels within the reef fish fishery have used bottom longline fishing gear off the west Florida shelf within the eastern Gulf of Mexico, which the Fisheries Service has described as "an important sea turtle foraging habitat."
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Major Potential CO2 Storage in the North Sea

From: Jenny Haworth, the Scotsman

N.Sea CO2 store at 10 million tonnes: StatoilHydro
Microbes found living at record 1.6km below seabed
Scottish climate bill could set global example
Greenville Injection Project Could Have Global Implications
The North Sea could store the carbon dioxide from all Europe's power stations for hundreds of years, the results of major research to be unveiled today will reveal.
Porous rocks beneath the seabed of the North Sea and disused oil and gas fields could provide storage for millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide.
The research, by Edinburgh University, is likely to herald the startof a major new industry for Scotland, using the North Sea to lead the way in efforts to store the greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.

It will bring the possibility of compressed emissions being transported from power plants across Europe to underground stores beneath the North Sea using the network of pipes already in place for the oil and gas industry one step closer.
It will be the first time it has been shown the porous rocks — known as saline aquifers — beneath the seabed have the potential to store mass quantities of .
"We will be able to conclusively say we can store it in saline aquifers for hundreds of years," a source told The Scotsman.
"This will be a huge opportunity for Scotland. It could create a huge new industry for Scotland."
Professor Stuart Haszeldine, a world expert in carbon capture and storage at Edinburgh University, has been leading the eagerly-awaited research into the potential of the North Sea to store the greenhouse gas.
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Southern California Beetle Killing Oaks

From: ScienceDaily

Climate Change To Spur Rapid Shifts In Wildfire Hotspots, Analysis Finds
Rare Beetle Found in Massachusetts Forest
Western Canadian Pine Beetle infestation Spreads
Beetle attack

U.S. Forest Service scientists have completed a study on a beetle that was first detected in California in 2004, but has now attacked 67 percent of the oak trees in an area 30 miles east of San Diego.
Their report appears in the current issue of The Pan-Pacific Entomologist and focuses on Agrilus coxalis, a wood-boring beetle so rare it does not even have an accepted common name. Scientists have proposed the Entomological Society of America common names committee call it the goldspotted oak borer.
Land managers and scientists are concerned about further spread of the infestation because oaks are the dominant tree species in the area. Further tree mortality will increase fire danger and decrease wildlife habitat in southern California.
They are also concerned drought and climate change will make more oaks susceptible to an insect that is not native to California. Oak trees have a nearly continuous distribution in the state, reaching from the infestation area north to the Oregon border.
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