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ebonites

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  1. Due to significant push back against the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) & the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the public comment period on the proposed implementation ruling titled "Relationship of Regulations With Current State Rules" of the Shark Conservation Act has been granted a final extension until July 31st. A cherry-picked, narrow interpretation of the Magnuson-Stevens Act's "conservation and management" provisions is being applied in NMFS-NOAA's implementation rule, avoiding broader conservation considerations for sharks. Although NOAA is a scientific agency, a deliberate policy choice -- expanding U.S. participation in the shark fin trade while killing all existing and future state & territorial fin bans -- is being promoted with the guiding hand of commercial interests despite the continuing decimation of many shark species. The importance of getting involved to counter this attempt to erase all the hard-fought gains achieved in U.S. shark conservation -- in American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Hawaii, California, Washington, Oregon, Illinois, Maryland, Delaware, and New York (once signed) -- cannot be overstated. You can submit your comment for NOAA to eliminate language that preempts state and territorial shark fin bans by using the bullet points and instructions offered in Shark Saver's Action Alert: https://www.sharksavers.org/en/blogs-news/shark-savers-blog/action-alert-stop-the-us-federal-government-from-interfering-with-state-shark-fin-bans/
  2. Guam's Shark Bill Passes The bill making it illegal to possess or sell shark fins and manta parts in Guam was passed yesterday by unanimous vote. A hearty thanks to all who wrote to Guam's senators to help influence this bill's passage, with a particular thanks to Tim Rock and Stefanie Brendl for their on-site participation. Tim Rock summed up the significance of this victory: "With Palau declaring its waters a shark sanctuary in 2009, Yap having its water a manta ray sanctuary since 2008, Guam and the Nothern Mariana Islands banning fin trade, this creates a huge corridor in the western Pacific stretching 1300+ miles from north to south from Helen Reef in far southern Palau to Farralon de Medina in the northern CNMI and across four countries that now prosecute those involved in the non-sustainable shark fin trade. Hawaii in the east central Pacific, a US state, has the first such law on its books passed last year. Thus, this is a real regional victory for the western Pacific nations and their marine resources." The in-depth story on the bill and all necessary contact information to thank Guam's legislators (and to write Guam's governor to insure that the bill is signed into law) can be found on Tim's Guam & Micronesia Dive Travel blog.
  3. Japan has officially recalled the whaling fleet From the SSCS site: Thursday, February 17, 2011 VSO Day Victory in the Southern Ocean Day for the Whales "It's official – the killing of whales in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary is over for this season and the whalers did not even take 10% of their quota. Sea Shepherd estimates that over 900 whales have been saved this year."
  4. A very significant development: "Whaling: Beginning of the End?" The future is still murky, but -- for now -- several hundred whales will not be subjected to a terrible fate in the Southern Ocean. That fact alone is wonderful news.
  5. December 21, 2010 The Shark Conservation Act of 2009 is now officially U.S. law. The U.S. House of Representatives rapidly passed the Shark Conservation Act today.
  6. The U.S. Shark Conservation Act of 2009 was finally passed today, Dec. 20, 2010, in the U.S. Senate! This bill's passage now closes a massive loophole in the Magnuson-Stevens Act concerning shark finning. All vessels in U.S. territorial waters, no matter how they are designated, are now prohibited from transferring shark fins at sea. All sharks must be landed with fins attached. The Shark Conservation Act will return to the House of Representatives for a final vote to accept the Senate version before it can be signed into law. While a substitute amendment was included by the Senate, no hurdle in the House is anticipated. A special thanks to all who wrote, faxed, and called their senators to help influence passage of this vital legislation for shark conservation. ~ Edward Dorson CQ TODAY ONLINE NEWS – ENVIRONMENT Senate Passes Bill to Curb Practice of Shark Finning By Charlene Carter | Dec. 20, 2010 The Senate on Monday passed legislation aimed at stopping fishermen from removing fins from sharks and discarding the carcasses. The fins are a delicacy in many Asian countries and this harvesting practice has contributed to declines in shark populations. Passed by unanimous consent, the bill would prohibit ships from having custody, control or possession of shark fins without the corresponding carcass. "Shark finning has fueled massive population declines and irreversible disruption of our oceans," Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., said in a statement. "Finally we've come through with a tough approach to tackle this serious threat to our marine life." The bill also would allow the Commerce secretary to identify and list nations that have fishing vessels but have not adopted a regulatory program for shark conservation similar to the United States. The House passed the bill in March 2009. Under the unanimous consent agreement, the Senate also adopted a substitute amendment by Kerry and Olympia J. Snowe, R-Maine, that added the text of two other bills that would make corrections and clarifications to fisheries laws. As amended, the bill also includes provisions from S 2856 that would clarify the status of the U.S.-Canada Transboundary Resources Sharing Understanding and give the National Marine Fisheries Service greater flexibility in the management of groundfish stocks covered by the agreement. The substitute amendment also added the text of S 2871, which would make technical corrections to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Convention Implementation Act (PL 109-479) and change eligibility requirements for individuals serving as commissioners.
  7. Walt- Thanks to you as well as all the other "star throwers" for making a difference with these recent hard-fought victories: The Star Thrower A man was walking along a beach where thousands of starfish had been washed up on the shore. He noticed a boy picking the starfish one by one and gently throwing them back into the sea. The man observed the boy for a few minutes and then asked what he was doing. The boy replied that he was returning the starfish to the water, otherwise they would die under the sun while the tide was going out. The man asked how saving a few, when so many were doomed, would make any difference whatsoever? After listening politely, the boy picked up a starfish and threw it back into the surf and said "Made a difference for that one." The man left the boy and went home, troubled with what the boy had said. The next morning he returned to the beach and spent the rest of the day helping the boy throw starfish into the sea. ~ adapted from "The Star Thrower" by Loren Eiseley
  8. A victorious veto in Palau This past autumn, the UN announcement of Palau as a National Shark Sanctuary was posted as "Historic Sea Change" in this forum. Now more positive change has taken place in Palau since President Toribiong's UN proclamation: On January 13th, Palau Senate Bill No. 8-50 - a destructive purse seining/tax exemption bill that was passed by Palau's National Congress - was vetoed by President Toribiong. The president said: "this bill does not promote the implementation of national objectives set forth in the Constitution with regards to conserving a resourceful natural environment or promoting the national economy." He added that "exempting certain companies from paying fish export tax contradicts the government's policy." He also proposed a fisheries summit to be held in late February in order to make sound fishing policy more beneficial for Palau and all of Micronesia, with the participation of neighboring Pacific countries. A recap on the bill: Palau's Senate Bill No. 8-50 would have prevented Palauans from receiving tax export revenue for all catches along with assigning General Santos City in the Philippines as the new transshipment port (presently Malakal harbor in Palau). Without the tax collection incentive and with catches avoiding Palau's port, all Palauan regulatory oversight would have been removed...including preventing rampant shark fishing/finning, curtailing endangered species harvest, and control of overshooting quotas. Palau's President Toribiong has now proved himself as having true leadership abilities, as well as a vision capable of seeing Palau's "sanctuary" as a promise he has vowed to fulfill -- beyond just a metaphor of stewardship with his announcement at the UN on September 25th. Although vetoed, SB No. 8-50 can still become law by a 2/3rd overriding vote in Palau's National Congress (the OEK) within 30 days of its return to the Senate and the House of Delegates. With this possibility, I urge that people lend their support to the president's stance. All congratulatory messages backing President Toribiong's veto can be sent to: President Toribiong, President of the Republic of Palau: rop.president@palaunet.com and Cc'd to: The Senate of the Eigth Olbiil Era Kelulau (OEK): senate@palaunet.com Speaker of the House of Delegates: oekspeaker@palaunet.com House Committee on Maritime and Fisheries: hod.clerk@gmail.com Palau Chamber of Commerce: pcoc@palaunet.com Palau Conservation Society: pcs@palaunet.com Belau Tourism Association: bta@palaunet.com Palau Visitors Authority: pva@visit-palau.com
  9. News Corporation / Fox Entertainment Group has a majority ownership of National Geographic Ventures (the taxable arm of the Society) and does most of the marketing and distribution. I believe any such association can result in tainting their environmental and educational initiatives, particularly with the National Geographic Channel.
  10. Steve I'm glad that this slob's blood lust grabbed your attention, but your concluding implication of "how do we hold up our heads?" is something that I'd ask you to further consider. Our assumptions are sometimes so familiar to us that they can escape detection as fitting a harmful pattern. I'm not saying this is you personally; but I hear variations of this so often that I think it should be addressed. If this "pot calling the kettle black" stance remains a prevalent attitude, then we're not just stuck - we're screwed. Whether by spear, hook, or net; unsustainable acquisition is still the operating principle and our oceans are slated for functional extinction in less than 40 years. Nearly all nations can easily be condemned for their own citizens' atrocities against nature, but claiming membership into some collective national guilt as a reason to postpone positive individual action becomes a form of consent that condones more devastation. Any meaningful stance regarding species preservation, stewardship, etc. shouldn't be influenced by your nation's acts. We're global citizens first. Each person's actions have to originate as a member of nothing more than as a member of humankind - a species capable of consideration for the greater good - before any consideration of nationality. Everyone has an equal entitlement to safeguard the land and oceans from any bullying predators who set themselves up as deciders of any wild creature's fate. Whether protecting these still threatened Florida Goliaths or Palau's Bumpheads and Napoleons...these animals don't check passports; they just want and need to live. Any cultural imperative is trumped by the moral imperative for a species right to continue.
  11. ".....The propose culling (because that is what it is, not for scientific research) of 400 Goliaths is strictly political move to appease a group of people who have been beating on the FWC Commissioners. It is knee jerk move. The scientific community have most of the data, but they haven't been able to assimilate all of it. Furthermore, from what I got from FWC fishery staff, they are in no way ready, or able to handle delivery of even a fraction of the propose number of fish the Gulf Council is trying green light with the Sate and Feds. So where would these fish be taken, most likely the nearest seafood market. So much for their Scientific collection campaign." I'll lend some more credibility to Walt Sterns' claim: When the GG issue surfaced the first time around, I got in touch with Walt & wrote up the original petition for DPG that still seems to be getting used (with some transformations). Anyway, in doing research to see which force was pushing this legislation, I wandered over to the "dark side" to see who/what was driving this. The following notes comes from trolling spearboard.com at that time (be sure not to miss the science-based mentality of the last mastermind): http://www.spearboard.com/showthread.php?t...Grouper+Harvest [bold fonts are mine] Interested In A Limited Goliath Grouper Harvest? Here's How We Get One: post #1 A fellow dive club member just called me last week about an acquaintance he has with a very high ranking official in the FWC. In their conversations, this person has expressed the desire to get diver-based info on goliath grouper populations, and behavior around the state. He wants to take this info to form a springboard for a very possible limited harvest sometime in the near future. I just got off the phone with this gentleman today, and although he declined that he be identified due to not wanting to get barraged with phone calls/emails, he is very interested in what we have to say. Ultimately, both he, and several other key personnel would like for a limited harvest along the lines of the alligator lottery to occur. A limited number of kill tags would be given out to those that apply, and for a fee would allow that fisherman to harvest a goliath. This is provided that the fisherman report the info regarding the catch, and surrender the filleted carcass for scientific study. What he asking is for anecdotal info, photos, and video. Please reply on this thread in non-inflammatory manner, and provide your feedback. I am going to email him the link to this thread so that he, and his associates at the FWC may read, and see. They want to know: *Where are you seeing them *How many *What size *Their behaviors especially if they are aggressive *What you have seen them eat *If you have seen increase in their populations *Anything else pertinent to determining whether a limited harvest can work. Let's represent our spearfishing community, and flex our muscle in a constructive way. Thanks. AJ Suarez ***** post#3 AJ- This idea sure sounds farmiliar...Wait!! I know. It was my idea. And it is moving forward. Good to hear it from another perspective. The Goliath harvest was discussed at the reef fish advisory panel meeting and also at the last Gulf Council Meeting. The FRA is on it. Let's all put up some information here. When the time comes, I'll let you all know where to direct your emails and phone calls. If you haven't joined the FRA, now is the time. To review, the Fishing Rights Alliance is: For moving the longlines out to 50 fathoms (at least) For equal treatment of spearguns as fishing tackle For the limited harvest of Goliath Grouper Responsible for SAVING YOUR HOGFISH LIMITS Against the EXTREME reduction of the bag limit for Red grouper due to its disproportionate impact on recreational anglers. JOIN THE FRA TODAY!!! Join the Fishing Rights Alliance ****** [Also, response from: http://www.spearboard.com/showthread.php?t=47996] Does everyone know that any moderator has the capability to run an IP search and find out who and where the posts are coming from? Is everyone aware that this website is monitored each and every day by State and Federal law enforcement officials? Is everyone aware that it is read by members of the Gulf Council and the South Atlantic Council? Is everyone aware that it is read by the Florida Willdlife commisioners? Is everyone aware that it is read by the National Marine Fisheries Service? Is everyone aware it is read every single day by members of the Ocean Conservancy and other environmental extremist groups who are constantly trying to find ammunition to use against the sport of Spearfishing?? Does everyone know that Spearboard posts have already been used to tarnish spearfisherman and the sport! PLEASE! Think about what you post!! Spearboard is not some little place that you can be anonymous and chat with a couple buddies anymore. Its read worldwide by a great many people, many of which can effect the sport of Spearfishing a great deal. WWW.SPEARFISHINGSPUC.ORG WWW.DIVEFSDA.COM *** Re: The Law may hunt you down for showing illegal fish activity on the Internet! Quote: Originally Posted by inletsurf Save your gay ass moaning for the douche freediving forums and man the f**k up if you want to play over here, because this forum here ain't nothing but guys legally killing fish and enjoying every minute of it, from the shot, to the blood spatter on the gunnel. You hypocritical, judgemental douche bags from the west coast that have a problem with this post can suck this big 'ol florida d**k because thats how we roll. Open wide, bitches. Kick ass bro!!!
  12. Thanks for your words of appreciation. Look for a PM from me to arrive within 24 hours. I'll be sending you a more trimmed down petition letter (with a credit) for you to share on Facebook. I've given this some thought - perhaps this can be more than a cut and paste petition (if it isn't already) - at least here among divers and UW photographers. For those who wish to take a writing campaign a step further, it's best to use what I've written as a working framework to be personalized by separate individuals. Please put your name in the introductory sentence. Feel free to add a passage of your own experiences on the reef, and what these particular species means to you in terms of wanting to come to Palau. In order to best influence Palau's lawmakers to withdraw this destructive legislation, email your letters with your voice calling for maintaining their total protection. Choose the fonts, text color, and layout the way you would want it to appear. You can edit out any passages that may seem redundant, or alter the order of paragraphs as long as it still makes sense. A few moments of customization makes the letters powerful individual expressions. Letters with this kind of customization are accorded more respect than obviously cloned form letters. The effort it takes is a little bit larger. But the potential for making an actual difference will be magnified significantly.
  13. Palau Napoleon & Bumphead Petition: Please use this revised petition instead of my previous one re Palau's SB No. 8-56 (which sanctions the taking and selling of Napoleon Wrasse and Bumphead parrotfish). I've taken out some details better used in protest against Palau's SB 8-50): Subject: An Appeal for the Withdrawal of Bill No. 8-56 from: [your name, country] to: - Johnson Toribiong, President of the Republic of Palau rop.president@palaunet.com and: Members of the House of Delegates of the Eighth Olbiil Era Kelulau; House Committee on Maritime and Fisheries; Delegate Tmewang Rengulbai, Chair - HOD Speaker of the House oek-speaker@palaunet.com - HOD Clerk hod.clerk@ymail.com Cc'd to: - Palau Conservation Society pcs@palaunet.com - Palau Chamber of Commerce pcoc@palaunet.com - Belau Tourism Association bta@palaunet.com - Palau Visitors Authority pva@visit-palau.com - Pelau Shark Sanctuary sharksanctuary@gmail.com Dear President Toribiong, Chairman Rengulbai, and Members of the House of Delegates of the Eighth Olbiil Era Kelulau: I'm writing in protest to the Palau legislation that was passed as Senate Bill No. 8-56. This bill proposes to remove Palau's present total ban in the taking and selling of adult Bumphead parrotfish and Napoleon wrasse with a three month open taking and selling season. This is an ecological and economical tragedy in the making. Although Palau has set a new environmental benchmark with its creation as the world's first national Shark Sanctuary, its Senate has passed Bill No. 8-56 in its third and final reading. SB No. 8-56 is now before the House of Delegates in the House Committee on Maritime and Fisheries. The next session can begin with the House's second (and a possible final third) reading within this month. Although SB No. 8-44 (the bill to repeal the ban on shark fishing and finning) is now withdrawn, 8-56 remains as a contradiction to the pledge of stewardship that Palau pronounced before all the world with President Toribiong's UN announcement. This has been distressing news for the 75% of all the tourists that travel to Palau to dive and snorkel. The iconic Napoleon wrasse and Bumphead parrotfish are premier attractions in Palau's waters, equal to, if not surpassing, the patrolling sharks in popularity. Napoleons and Bumpheads are seen as living treasures to divers, and they are as much a signature for Palau as are the sharks. Divers and snorkelers repeatedly experiencing these amazing species is a thousand-fold more profitable than their one-time sale as some dish to consume. By permitting the sale of these extremely valuable fish, this bill would encourage the highly lucrative live fish export trade (priced as much as $2000 at destination). This is in direct opposition to the no-sale provision of this species in Senate Bill No. 7-64 of 2005. As the average annual Palauan income is approximately $7000, this bill invites a great incentive for unimpeded plunder, particularly during spawning aggregations that can occur during the open season. Capturing, not killing, would be the chief method of "taking" these fish. This bill wrongly uses Palauan tradition as a justification to what will be an aid to the black market trade in live Napoleon wrasse and Bumphead parrotfish (infamously known as the "blue gold" trade). The "local sale" allowance in the bill facilitates this, where the outcome will result in intensive black market smuggling for these species to feed the insatiable demand for live fish in other nation's expensive restaurants. Because of this "blue gold" trade, these species are greatly depleted globally and Palau's population is a fragile target. In 2006, Palau wisely declared a total ban on the taking of these species until a scientifically conducted non-detrimental finding could recommend any change from their fully protected status. Incredibly, this legal requirement has been completely ignored in the Senate's bill. Another consideration in sancioning the taking of the remaining population of these fish is the typical method of easy capture using cyanide, which kills all the surrounding reef and other aquatic life where it is used. Even where cyanide isn't used, without these grazing fish, the reef is much more likely to being smothered by algae; particularly while stressed by a warming event like the El Nino in 1998. One third of your reefs were severely damaged, yet the "grazers" were able to help restore the corals before they perished forever. Napoleon wrasse are also of great benefit as one of only a few animals that prey upon the reef-destroying Crown of Thorns seastar, now present in several areas of Palau. The negative economic repercussions from prospective visitors can't be overstated with this standing bill. Those who wanted to depend on Palau as a desirable dive oasis are now feeling betrayed with the Senate's passage of SB No. 8-56. Great promise was instilled with Palau's UN declaration as the world's first national Shark Sanctuary. I respectfully ask that you use your best judgment to continue Palau's momentum in its bold pursuit of respite and restoration. Please allow Senate Bill No. 8-56 to be stopped from causing further harm by withdrawing it in the House Committee on Maritime and Fisheries. Sincerely, [your name, country]
  14. While I really want to go after Palau's disastrous SB No. 8-50 as well - which just passed through its second reading on September 29th (see my previous post, ebonites #3) - perhaps it's best to split them up: Please feel free to use this as a petition text (whole or as a resource) to protest SB No. 8-56, the Palauan bill seeking to allow the taking and selling of Napoleon wrasse and Bumphead parrotfish. I believe if you've spent just a few seconds under the turreted inspection of a Napoleon wrasse, you'd be compelled to prevent this bill's passage. Consider the inhumane aspect as well: in order to prove the Napoleon's freshness to the indifferent diner, these fish are often filleted in a manner to keep them alive as long as possible...with the still-beating heart on display for the well-heeled customer's satisfaction. to: President of the Republic of Palau President Toribiong • rop.president@palaunet.com and Members of the House of Delegates of the Eighth Olbiil Era Kelulau (OEK) HOD Speaker of the House • oek-speaker@palaunet.com HOD Clerk • hod.clerk@ymail.com Cc'd to: Palau Conservation Society • pcs@palaunet.com Palau Chamber of Commerce • pcoc@palaunet.com Belau Tourism Association • bta@palaunet.com Palau Visitors Authority • pva@visit-palau.com Palau Shark Sanctuary • sharksanctuary@gmail.com Dear President Toribiong and Members of the House of Delegates of the Eighth Olbiil Era Kelulau, Unfortunately, while Palau has become a shining beacon to the world as the first national Shark Sanctuary, the Palau Senate has passed Bill No. 8-56 in its third and final reading. This bill allows the removal of the complete ban in the taking and selling of Napoleon wrasse and Bumphead parrotfish. SB No. 8-56 is now before the House of Delegates in the House Committee on Maritime and Fisheries chaired by Delegate Tmewang Rengulbai. The next HOD session convenes with its second reading on the bill sometime this month. While Senate Bill No. 8-44 (which sought the repeal of the ban on shark fishing and finning) is now officially withdrawn, Senate Bill No. 8-56 is an ongoing assault on the spirit of conservation that Palau demonstrated with its Shark Sanctuary. This has been very disturbing news for the 75% of all tourists that come to Palau as divers and/or snorkelers. The charismatic Napoleon wrasse and Bumphead parrotfish are magnificent denizens of Palau's reefs, equal if not surpassing the patrolling sharks in their popularity with the visiting divers. The Napoleons have an air of splendor about them, and are often perceived as being the most "thoughtful" of fish. Divers and snorkelers repeatedly experiencing these living underwater treasures is a thousand times more profitable than the selling of these species for consumption. Senate Bill No. 8-56 seeks to remove Palau's present ban in taking and selling adult Bumphead parrotfish (kemedukl) and Napoleon wrasse (maml) by proposing a three month open fishing season. There's absolutely no environmental assessment to justify this. These fish are endangered worldwide and Palau's population is particularly fragile. In fact, in 2006, Palau stipulated a total ban on the taking of these fish until a thorough non-detrimental finding could recommend altering their protected status. By permitting the sale of these extremely valuable fish (up to US$2000 - priced at destination), this bill would encourage the highly lucrative live fish export trade. This is in direct opposition to the no-sale provision in Senate Bill No. 7-64 of 2005. As the average annual Palauan income is approximately US$7000, this bill invites a great incentive for unimpeded plunder, particularly during spawning aggregations. It's noteworthy that Palau's Senate didn't bother with any such sale provision in a similarly worded companion bill, SB No. 8-55, which allows for a hunting season of the Micronesian Imperial Pigeon (Belochel), with a current local black market price of US$15-20. With this bill as law, capturing, not spearing, would be the chief method of "taking" these fish. This bill uses a "Palauan custom" justification to what's really an aid to the black market trade in live Napoleon wrasse and Bumphead parrotfish (also known as the "blue gold" trade due to the coloration of these species). The "local sale" allowance in the bill can facilitate unimpeded transfer to the airport in Koror, where the airport's security firm* would be able to ignore these live fish going out as cargo. These extremely rare species would be air shipped alive to the restaurants of Singapore, Tokyo, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. * Kuniwo Nakamura - a man whose fishing firm, Kuniyoshi Fishing Co., is historically linked to tax-evasion, money laundering, shark finning, poaching, falsifying catch records, and illegally unloading catches offshore and overseas - has ownership of the Belau Airport Security Company, a firm that was given a five year no-bid contract last December to conduct all security at Palau's airport. Thus, Kuniwo Nakamura essentially has control of all air shipping activity in the Republic of Palau. Along with devastating the remaining population of these fish, the typical method of cyanide capture would destroy all surrounding reef and other aquatic animals where it's deployed. Even where cyanide isn't used, without these "grazing" fish, the reef is much more prone to being smothered by algae. Napoleon wrasse are also one of only a few aquatic species that are vitally needed to prey upon the reef-eating Crown of Thorns starfish, now present in five areas of Palau. As a diver, I'll always be stupefied by those that have no concern for our finite environment on our island planet in space, particularly when they're island people. Such gross short-sightedness with the Senate's passage of SB No. 8-56 can be seen as a clear breech in Palau's ecological and economical commitment to its new declaration as the world's first national Shark Sanctuary. Please allow thoughtfulness and economic sense to promote the continuing example of Palau's leadership as stewards for the sea by withdrawing Senate Bill No. 8-56 in the House Committee on Maritime and Fisheries. Sincerely, [your name, country]
  15. Loftus Right now, we - all of us - need to be that organization you're asking for. This can be done without any heavy lifting: An urgently needed benefit to Palau right now lies in a campaign of emailing congratulatory letters to Palau's President, wherein he'd also be asked to issue an immediate Executive Order to form an environmental task force to assess the detrimental effects of Senate Bills' No. 8-50 and No. 8-56. These bills as law will have severe negative impact upon his vision of Palau as a sanctuary and as a leader in ocean conservancy. At this time, Palau requires the direct action of halting these two destructive bills within the next two weeks (before the October session of the OEK; Palau's National Congress). • Background: I've been active on Palau environmental issues since March. Those who have been reading and posting in this conservation forum since early spring may recall that Palau was initially red-flagged with news of mounting legislative atrocities introduced by Palau's newly elected Senate. I'm referring to: 1) Palau's Senate Bill No. 8-44 (which sought to repeal Palau's existing ban on shark finning), 2) Senate Bill No. 8-50 (which exempts Palauans from 5 years of tax export revenue for all catches and assigns General Santos City in the Philippines as the new transshipment port), and 3) Senate Bill No. 8-56 (which introduces the taking and selling of Napoleon wrasse and Bumphead parrotfish in Palau's waters). • To date: The most immediate positive outcome of the Palau President's UN declaration was the assured death for the pro-finning Senate Bill, SB No. 8-44. However, SB No. 8-50 and SB No. 8-56 are still very much alive. Both bills are soon going into further readings in the mid-October OEK session (three readings are required for passage both in the Senate and then the House of Delegates). If passed in both the Senate and the House, they then become law with the President's signature. If vetoed, they can still become law by a 2/3rd overriding vote in the OEK. Despite Palau's recent UN declaration, Senate Bills' No. 8-50 and 8-56 are still viable, and the result of their passage into law would be even more devastating than the passage of the now defunct SB No. 8-44. It's well known that the lack of monitoring and enforcement resources in Palau provides incentive for illegal plunder of its EEZ, but Palau must also get its legislative Houses in order for such measures to achieve any prospect of restoration and replenishment. While it's true that Palau is victimized by foreign fishers and poachers, many of Palau's problems with marine resource management lie within its own corrupt officials, compromised and/or uninformed OEK members, and Palau's horrendous homegrown commercial fishing fleet. President Toribiong's UN announcement sets a new high as a manifesto, but his aspirations would rapidly unravel if these two bills become law. • Senate Bill No. 8-50 specifically allows for five years of export tax exemption for all fish caught (that would normally go to Palau's Treasury), and assigns General Santos City in the Philippines as the major designated transshipment port for catches (presently Malakal harbor in Palau). Without the tax collection incentive and with catches avoiding Palau's port, all Palauan regulatory oversight is removed...including preventing rampant shark fishing/finning, curtailing endangered species harvest, and control of overshooting quotas. That's the equivilent of institutionalizing the out-of-sight practice of transshipment at sea for a full five years. Some figures: The processing facilities in General Santos are the region's largest; employing over 120,000 people. At present depletion levels, the region's yellowfin populations will collapse within 3 years. The list goes on... This is a terribly unjust and destructive bill, rigged over months of meetings between Palauan and Filipino fishing interests as well as with political figures. It's particularly worrisome in that it's sponsored by Joel Toribiong, the brother of Palau's President. I should mention here that I heard President Johnson Toribiong speak while at the UN. I believe he truly wants a legacy of environmental stewardship. During the Q. & A. session, I realized he was still an island person inside who understood the meaning of a finite environment. • Senate Bill No. 8-56 has already passed in all three readings by Palau's Senate by July 28th and has been moved into the House of Delegates where it may pass its second reading as soon as October13th. SB 8-56 seeks to remove Palau's present ban in taking and selling the already threatened adult Napoleon wrasse and Bumphead parrotfish by proposing a three month open fishing season. There's absolutely no environmental assessment to justify this. In fact, in 2006, Palau stipulated a total ban on the taking of these fish until a thorough non-detrimental finding could recommend altering their protected status; yet it's simply being ignored. The bill uses a "Palauan custom" excuse and a "local sale" provision to essentially legalize the extremely lucrative "blue gold" trade in live Napoleon wrasse and Bumphead parrotfish. The sale allowance in the bill can facilitate unimpeded transfer to the airport in Koror, where the airport's security would be able to ignore these fish going out as live cargo. In a previous post, I pointed out that former Palau President Kuniwo Nakamura -- a man whose fishing firm, Kuniyoshi Fishing Co., is historically linked to shark finning, tax-evasion, money-laundering, poaching, falsifying catch records, and illegally unloading catches offshore and overseas -- has ownership of the Belau Airport Security Company, a firm that was given a five year no-bid contract last December to control all security at Palau's airport. • I wish there was some simpler, cyber "1- click" answer with this present situation, but only Senate Bill No. 8-44 lent itself to that approach. The pro-finning aspect of SB No. 8-44 was so obvious that I believe it was soon allowed to be a sacrificial diversion while the outrageously damaging SB No. 8-50 could be passed unseen. SB No. 8-56 achieves cover under the disingenuous guise of preserving tradition and culture. It's vital for Palau to keep up the maintenance of its extraordinary reefs and to protect its fisheries from the schemes that that can only benefit a cabal of corrupt officials and reckless fishing firms at the permanent expense of the ocean and the islanders that depend on it. The vision of Palau's President with his UN manifesto can only be realized if we all become the momentum in getting back from the abyss. • All congratulatory messages to President Toribiong - including your request for a rapid Executive Order to form an environmental task force to assess Senate Bills' No. 8-50 and No. 8-56 - stated from your own unique perspective and experience - can be sent to: rop.president@palaunet.com; and Cc'd to: pcoc@palaunet.com, bta@palaunet.com, and sharksanctuary@gmail.com Thanks, Edward Dorson
  16. Here are the environmentally relevant passages from Palau President Toribiong's speech to the United Nations General Assembly, Sept. 25, 2009: • Palauans have lived throughout history in symbiosis with the sea. We are seeing now though that the sea, which has long been the source of our sustenance, is both rising in rage to destroy us and becoming barren. This fury was caused by the abuses of humankind and we therefore need to take every action necessary to allow the oceans to heal themselves. • In days gone by, the traditional chiefs of Palau would declare a "bul" – a moratorium to protect a resource which had become scarce. This traditional concept, now popularly known as conservation, shows the way for us to move forward. As Mahatma Gandhi said, "Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed." This is why the world must declare a bul on destructive fishing practices like deep sea bottom trawling, unsustainable harvesting of shark for their fins and overexploitation of tuna stocks. • The odious fishing practice of bottom trawling, where a weighted net is dragged along the sea floor crushing nearly everything in its path, is contributing to the rapid loss of a critical ecosystem, our coral reefs. We have outlawed deep sea bottom trawling in Palau, but no matter what we do in our own waters, there must be an international solution. For several years, we have advocated, along with our Pacific neighbors, a moratorium on this practice. The Sustainable Fisheries resolution adopted by the UN in 2007, urged nations and regional fisheries management organizations to stop trawling in sensitive areas by 2009. We have waited for compliance, which has not come, and now renew our call for a worldwide moratorium on this practice. • An equally destructive fishing practice is shark-finning. We have banned it in Palau and call upon the world to address this issue in order to save the sharks from extinction. • The strength and beauty of sharks are a natural barometer for the health of our oceans. Therefore, I declare today that Palau will become the world's first national shark sanctuary, ending all commercial shark fishing in our waters and giving a sanctuary for sharks to live and reproduce unmolested in our 237,000 square miles of ocean. We call upon all nations to join us. • It is anomalous that Palau is experiencing economic difficulty while it sits in the middle of the richest waters in the world. We can no longer stand by while foreign vessels illicitly come to our waters to take our greatest resource, our tuna stocks, without regard to their conservation and without regard for adequate compensation to the island states which rely on this resource. Palau believes that the best model for a regional effort to conserve our tuna resources and maximize the benefits to us is the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). I therefore will work for the establishment of OTEC, the Organization of Tuna Exporting Countries, and I now call upon our friends in OPEC to come forward and help us to understand and obtain fair value from our threatened resource and to make tuna fishing sustainable. • We have heard the voices of world leaders from countries small and large, powerful and vulnerable. We have heard the voice of science. Let us heed these voices, fulfill our obligations to our people, and work for a strong economy and a healthy planet. Messages to President Toribiong can be sent to: rop.president@palaunet.com; and Cc'd to: pcoc@palaunet.com, bta@palaunet.com, and sharksanctuary@gmail.com
  17. A Historic Sea Change: "Palau Creates World's First Shark Sanctuary" For Immediate Release: World's First National Shark Sanctuary To Be Announced by The Honorable Johnson Toribiong, President of the Pacific Island Nation of Palau, at the United Nations General Assembly On Friday, September 25, President Johnson Toribiong of Palau will address the United Nations General Assembly and declare that his country will become the world's first national shark sanctuary protecting sharks in 629,000 square kilometers, an area slightly smaller than France or Texas. President Toribiong will also call for a global moratorium on the finning of sharks as well as an end to deep sea bottom trawling, which destroys ancient coral ecosystems. WHO: The Honorable Johnson Toribiong, President of Palau H.E. Mr Sturt Beck Ambasador of Palau Matt Rand, Director, Global Shark Conservation, Pew Environment Group WHAT: Press conference following the President's address to the United Nations General Assembly, which will include a declaration that Palau's waters will become the first International Shark Sanctuary. President Toribiong will also call for UN member states to adhere to more stringent marine conservation measures, including an end to the practice of shark finning. WHY: Numerous scientific studies have documented huge declines in shark populations. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations estimates that more than half of all highly migratory sharks are either overexploited or depleted and up to 73 million sharks are killed every year to support the shark fin trade, an unsustainable rate. WHEN: 1:30 p.m., Friday, September 25, 2009 WHERE: Room S-226, United Nations Headquarters, 405 E 42nd Street, New York, NY, USA CALL-IN: 1-800-311-9403 for U.S.-based journalists 1-334-323-7224 for Non-U.S.-based journalists B-ROLL WILL BE AVAILABLE – EMAIL dklotz@pewtrusts.org for the FTP site
  18. I find this a disturbing and irrelevant downplaying of the very film that was first presented as noteworthy in the initial post for this topic. Such an obvious moral evil as the prolonged hacking and stabbing of the highly sentient cetaceans as depicted in "The Cove" shouldn't receive countenance with some capricious determination of their "sustainable" numbers. The film's "Mission Impossible" approach was primarily used in an extraordinary effort to display the barbaric commercialized slaughter and the vicious captures of the smaller cetaceans. Species preservation, including the plight of the endangered Botu, Irrawaddy and the Maui dolphin populations, is certainly an important and related issue...appropriate for another documentary altogether. Yet "The Cove" also used the massacres in Taiji to specifically illuminate that if such iconic species can't be protected, then all the seas' other inhabitants will surely be lost. Overfishing was highlighted with skillful footage of the endless tuna catches going through the vast market in Tokyo. Commentary from Paul Watson and Dr. Roger Payne also conveyed the broader consequences of killing the oceans - of restraining the economic ruthlessness enough to let all species continue in their right to share the planet with us. The irrationality of seeing "everything as a resource to be controlled" shouldn't be accepted with "like it or not" - it's the very thing worth fighting against if we're to have a viable ocean essential for our own species continued existence.
  19. Although Humphead parrotfish and Napoleon wrasse are illegally speared by Palauans for local consumption (particularly at night when they sleep in shallow water), the proposed bill also permits the sale of these fish. This would cause the intensive taking of these fish for the lucrative live trade. Harvesting, not spearing, wouldn't take place in dived areas like Blue Corner; it will be in the lagoons of the more remote areas of Palau. Keep in mind that an individual with an established record of shark finning is also the owner of the security firm overseeing all of Palau's air transshipment. Aside from vacuuming out the population of these fish, the typical method of cyanide capture will destroy the surrounding reef where it's deployed. Michael Aw has a great essay on this nightmarish trade in the Napoleon wrasse: "The Napoleon Wrasse Crisis"
  20. This siege is still unraveling: Further findings on Kuniwo Nakamura, the former Palau President (1993-2001)- I previously identified him as spearheading the effort with several Filipino and Palauan firms to press for the bills to repeal the shark finning ban and to eliminate the tax on fish catches for 5 years. I also identified him as the president of the Palauan fishing firm that was charged with illegal shark finning in Palau's waters (with yet another arrest just 2 weeks ago). I've made two discoveries in the past few days: Mr. Nakamura is the owner of the Belau Terminal & Transfer Co., the firm that oversees all vessel activity in Palau's national port at Malakal Harbor. In addition, Nakamura is also president of the Belau Airport Security Company, the firm that conducts all airport security at Palau's airport. Kuniwo Nakamura essentially has control of all air and sea transshipment activity in the Republic of Palau. Unbelievably, there's yet another component to Palau's about-face assault on the oceans: Palau's Senate (OEK) has just introduced (on April 20th) yet another corrupt bill, SB No. 8-56, that repeals their complete ban on taking and exporting adult parrotfish and wrasse: "A BILL FOR AN ACT- To establish a three-month fishing season for adult parrotfish (kemedukl) and adult wrasse (maml), and for other related purposes. Section1. Legislative findings. The Olbiil Era Kelulau finds that the absolute, year-round protection of two species of fish – the adult parrotfish and the adult wrasse – creates a conflict between the needs of environmental conservation and the observance of Palauan custom. The taking and consumption of kemedukl and the maml are both deeply connected to Palauan tradition, but the current law effectively outlaws this part of Palauan tradition. To resolve this conflict, but also to continue to provide for the protection of these highly important species of fish, the Olbiil Era Kelulau finds that there should be a three-month season, from November 1 to January 31, during which these two species of fish may be legally taken from Palau’s waters. Creating this season will allow Palauans to once again legally partake in cultural traditions and to enjoy these species of fish during the holiday season. Furthermore, this legislation will also allow for the local sale of parrotfish in Palau during the November 1 to January 31 season, which will allow local fishermen to receive additional income during the holiday season." Note the "Palauan custom" tactic that's being used to justify this lucrative Wrasse-Humphead bill. These fish are extremely threatened globally and Palau’s population of Humphead Parrotfish and Napoleon Wrasse is particularly small and fragile. There's no environmental assessment to allow this. Imagine how many of these US$1500+ fish, "customarily" caught with cyanide, will be "traditionally" rocketed at 600 mph to Singapore, Tokyo, or Hong Kong. And how convenient with a sharkfinner's security firm overseeing all air transship. These legislative atrocities clearly need concerted international condemnation. May 5, 2009 was previously described as the deadline for the Palauan pro-finning bill (SB No. 8-44) to go before the President, however, the Palauan Constitution states that no bill may become a law unless it has been adopted by a majority on 3 separate readings. Since no bills have gone into their second readings so far, the legislation's timeline can be extended. An educated guess from a Palauan attorney gives another 3 to 4 weeks for the next two readings. Please continue in all your Palau petition efforts.
  21. This report on the Kuniyoshi Fishing Company's poaching activity is now described in depth at: Shark Fishing Continues! Thumbing Their Noses at Palau! Kuniwo Nakamura, Kuniyoshi's president and former Palau President (1993-2001), also spearheaded several negotiations between Palauan and Filipino firms to enter into commercial fishing agreements. Their group then pushed for the political support for the two pending bills that essentially repeal Palau's ban on shark finning and exempts these firms from paying Palau any export tax on their catch.
  22. The second of these Palauan bills, No. 8-50, is also a travesty and is particularly worrisome as it is being sponsored by the brother of the only man who can veto these bills if not withdrawn beforehand - Palau's President. It specifically allows for 5 years of catch export tax exemption, contrary to Palau's existing Law. It also introduces General Santos City in the Philippines as the designated transshipment port. This is another aspect to the outrage; without the tax incentive, it further removes any Palauan oversight regarding catch limits as well as any other form of regulation, particularly with shark fins and the taking of all other unauthorized or endangered species. The scheme would also include even more unsustainable tuna catch from the local firms getting their sashimi air transshipped out of Koror. This still can be stopped, but it can't be put off. Please write your letter of condemnation and get others to do the same...the more personal the better. People are in place to make sure your statements are heard by the officials who can pull this legislation. The bill repealing the ban on finning can become law on May 5th. Let Palau be a place where you can say you've reached your threshold of tolerance of the accelerating pillage. And, no, I don't live in Palau or have a stake in any business concern there. I'm in NYC and I remember a Palau that once had an invisible tunnel filled with patrolling sharks; nearly touching fin to fin. I owe them the effort.
  23. Senate Bill No. 8-44 (to allow commercial fishing for sharks) was passed on first reading on March 5th by Palau's Senate and is now in the Committee on Resources and Development. The additional threat of proposed Bill No. 8-50 (to exempt fishing companies from export tax on fish caught using purse seining methods) was introduced on March 30th. The President of Palau has the power to veto these bills. If he doesn't, they'll become law 60 days after passage. I've now made another disturbing disovery regarding Bill No. 8-50...it's being sponsored by Senator Joel Toribiong, none other than the brother of Palau's President, Johnson Toribiong. It's definitely not the time to go limp with this and accept some perception of inevitable defeat with "market forces" and underlying corruption. I'm revealing this political/industrial machine to encourage all efforts to stop such relentless assaults on our shared natural heritage. Please ripple the word on this disaster in the making & continue in putting a harsh light on this racket. Voice your condemnation to those 3 email addresses provided at the bottom of post #1 (above) on this topic.
  24. A goal set in the Terrestrial and Marine Strategic Plan by the Palau Conservation Society was "for every Palauan resident to understand the importance of conservation and the environmental impacts of different kinds of development by 2009." Were some of Palau's policy makers somehow exempt from acquiring the same knowledge mandated for all of their fellow citizens? Such an exemption must surely include Kuniwo Nakamura, the former Palau President from 1993-2001, and the current president of Kuniyoshi Fishing Co., a Filipino fishing firm. Nakamura recently claimed it would be wise for the Philippine fishing firms to engage in activities in Palau as it was a small country and "cannot fully exploit its marine resources." The only word needed to focus on is "exploit", which can also refer to Mr. Nakamura's pro-whaling mindset in his additional role as Palau's IWC Commissioner.
  25. The legislative threat to Palau's waters is now compounded with yet another insane bill against its marine environment. This is a very real threat to the sharks and to the entire ecosystem in one of the last relatively healthy dive locations remaining in the world's oceans. The following worsening news comes from April 2nd's Palau Shark Sanctuary's blogspot: The Pressure Mounts on Palau's Sharks and Other Marine Species! On the heels of recently proposed legislation (SB8-44) that would undo Palau's ban on shark fishing comes yet another threat to Palau's marine resources and national treasury by way of proposed legislation (SB8-50) to exempt fishing companies from export taxes on fish caught by purse seining and to allow those fish to be off-loaded at a foreign port(s). If these two proposed bills pass into law, the combined effect will be: * To permit and encourage the killing of sharks in Palau's waters * To promote shark finning * To promote fishing methods that according to Monterey Bay Aquarium "result in large amounts of unintended catch" including sharks, dolphins, turtles, rays and juveniles * To exempt fishing companies from any export taxes on fish taken from Palau's waters * To make it practically impossible for Palau's law enforcement personnel to successfully prosecute alleged violators in the courts * To risk destroying Palau's sustainable tourism industry * To risk destroying Palau's marine resources through unsustainable practices * To gamble on all of the above for no apparent gain to Palau or Palauans. There is still time to comment, so if you've not already done so, please take the time now and submit your views on this travesty. No, this isn't "1 click" activism, but it's worth a few minutes to address this critical issue. The 2 billion (US) dollar tuna industry in the Western Pacific has used its tremendous power to push this legislation and will rapidly vacuum out this rare aquatic oasis. Every voice is needed to let Palau's Senate realize they're under the global spotlight. Please write your email to the following 3 addresses on what the rapid degradation of Palau's waters means to you. Describe how despoiling "One of the "Seven Wonders of the Underwater World" would affect your plans of ever again seeing Palau as a desirable destination. All of these comments will be presented to the Senate Committee in charge of reviewing these 2 Bills. Palau Chamber of Commerce: pcoc@palaunet.com Belau Tourism Association: bta@palaunet.com Palau Visitors Authority: pva@visit-palau.com ebonites
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