Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling (WDC Source)

  • Par
  • Le 04/08/2017
  • Dans Eco




The international community recognises the rights of certain aboriginal peoples to hunt a limited number of whales to meet nutritional and cultural needs. Over the last few years                      certain aboriginal subsistence whaling communities have abused the definition by allowing whale meat to enter the commercial exchange chain, with whale meat being sold to tourists.               This has allowed for a blurring of the definition which has simply assisted commercial whaling interests to advance their arguments to be allowed to resume commercial whaling.

Talking points

  • Greenland, the USA, the Russian Federation, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Canada all have aboriginal subsistence hunters

  • ASW communities hunt both whales and dolphins

  • WDC has exposed abuses of ASW hunts in Greenland with meat being sold to tourists

  • ASW allows for the hunting of endangered species

  • The IWC needs to change its classification of ASW if it is to remain credible

The International Whaling Commission implemented a moratorium on commercial whaling in 1986. However, the international community has a longstanding policy of allowing                           certain indigenous peoples to hunt otherwise protected whales to satisfy aboriginal subsistence needs. As the IWC itself declares on its website in discussing Aboriginal Subsistence            Whaling.

In several parts of the world native peoples are dependent on whale products for survival.Despite this, the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, which established                       the IWC, contains no definition of the key terms, including “aboriginal”, “aboriginal subsistence whaling (ASW)” or “needs”. Consequently, and also as a result of the IWC not                 implementing a management regime for these hunts, the establishment of Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling quotas and the operation of these hunts remain controversial issues for the IWC.

Current situation

The ICRW does not allow for the allocation of ASW quotas to specific aboriginal people; it sets quotas on relevant stocks from which indigenous groups whose needs have been recognized by the IWC can take whales. A government seeking an ASW quota must submit a “needs statement” (no specification or terms of reference for this document is provided by the IWC and, in fact, St Vincent has never provided such a statement in support of its aboriginal quota). The Scientific Committee assesses the status of the stocks and, based on a mathematical calculation specific to that population or species, advises if the catch limit is safe. The Commission must then decide by three-quarter majority whether to set the catch limit requested. Notably, several of the whale populations currently subject to Aboriginal Whaling would probably not be considered suitable candidates for a commercial hunt and the IWC uses a less precautionary catch calculation method to set ASW quotas than it would for commercial quotas. Essentially, when weighing human need against the survival of the stock, the IWC gives a greater emphasis to human need in ASW than commercial hunts. It is therefore vital for the whales that aboriginal whaling is well managed by the IWC to avoid abuse of this category.

The Commission has begun developing an Aboriginal Whaling Management Scheme (AWMS). Like the better known Revised Management Scheme (RMS) for commercial whaling that has long been under consideration by the IWC, the AWMS has two components: the quota setting mechanism which has now been developed for almost all the stocks concerned and a supervision and control scheme to establish how ASW will be managed in the future. Unsatisfactorily, the IWC has made, in the last decade, no progress on the latter, including how to document and evaluate needs and ensure compliance with catch limits and reporting requirements.

Recent Quotas and kills

The IWC has historically set ASW quotas in five year blocks, but since the IWC now meets every two years, has moved to six year blocks. The previous quotas set in 2008 expired in 2012 and were up for renewal in July 2012 at the IWC annual meeting in Panama. Canada sets its own quotas and the federal government raised the number of bowhead whales that can be hunted each year in Nunavut to three in May 2012.

In July 2012, the IWC issued new quotas for the Russian Federation, the USA and Bequians of St Vincent and the Grenadines. The IWC rejected a proposal from Denmark on behalf of the hunters of Greenland, after Denmark refused to accept an amendment to their quota request, and in pushing their inflated proposal to a vote, lost the whole quota from the end of 2012.

The IWC Quotas for 2013-2018

Bering-Chukchi-Beaufort Seas stock of bowhead whales (taken by native people of Alaska and Chukotka) -A total of up to 336 bowhead whales can be landed in the period 2013 - 2018, with no more than 67 whales struck in any year (and up to 15 unused strikes may be carried over each year).

Eastern North Pacific gray whales (taken by native people of Chukotka) - A total catch of 744 whales is allowed for the years 2013 - 2018 with a maximum of 140 in any one year.

Humpback whales taken by St Vincent and The Grenadines - For the seasons 2013-2018 the number of humpback whales to be taken shall not exceed 24.

The IWC Quotas for 2014-2018 (agreed at IWC65 in Slovenia)

The number of fin whales struck from the West Greenland stock in accordance with this sub-paragraph shall not exceed 19 in each of the years 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018

The number of minke whales from the Central stock shall not exceed 12 in each of the years 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

The number of minke whales struck from the West Greenland stock shall not exceed 164 in each of the years 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

The number of bowhead whales struck from the West Greenland shall not exceed in each of the years 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

The number of Humpback whales struck off West Greenland shall not exceed 10 in each of the years 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Recent ASW Whaling



WDC has a series of general concerns about the IWC’s management of ASW whaling, as well as specific concerns about individual hunts.

Failure to provide vital scientific data

The Scientific Committee is reliant upon whaling nations to conduct surveys of the whales they hunt and collect data such as DNA samples to help elucidate stock structure and to provide the information needed to set quotas. Failure to provide this data has serious implications. For example, without new survey and genetic data the Scientific Committee could only base its evaluation of the sustainability of Greenland’s fin and minke whale hunts on outdated assessments (from 1987 for fin whale and 1993 for minkes). For years, and with increasing urgency, the Scientific Committee warned the IWC that, without specific information from Greenland, it could not guarantee the sustainability of the hunt, and advised of “potentially serious consequences for the status of the stocks involved”. Greenland repeatedly failed to provide the data until, in 2005, faced with the IWC cancelling its fin whale quota, it volunteered to reduce its hunt to 10 whales (from 19) in the last two years of the block quota. Finally in 2006, it provided enough data for the Scientific Committee to resolve new population estimates for both species.

Strike and landing limits

ASW quotas are expressed inconsistently. After many years of campaigning by WDC, other NGOs and some conservation led countries, a strike limit is now set, meaning that once that number of whales have been hit with a harpoon (or rifle in the case of Greenland), hunting must stop, regardless of how many were landed. For other hunts, a landing limit is set. WDC is concerned that landing (or ‘take’) limits do not provide strong incentives for hunters to land all the whales that they strike. This has serious conservation implications (for example, during the 2001 Alaskan bowhead hunt, 26 whales were struck and lost). It also raises significant welfare concerns. A wide range of wounds can be inflicted by harpoons and rifles - from lacerations to soft tissue, organ or bone damage, and loss of flippers and flukes. Injured whales that do not die within hours or days may still be prevented by their wounds from functioning normally, including communicating, migrating, feeding and reproducing, and may die a premature death as a result of infection, starvation, or predation. The Bequian quota is set at number of whales ‘taken’ and this should be changed to struck to be consistent with best practice.

Who qualifies?

The IWC provides no complete definition of the word ‘aborigines’ although it is assumed through practice to refer to native or indigenous people. The IWC permits contracting governments to nominate those whom they consider applicable. Even though the IWC has been clear on what they regard as those who should benefit from aboriginal subsistence hunts there is no formal requirement that they meet any definition agreed in wider international law based on cultural or anthropological parameters.

Paragraph 13a of the Schedule to the Convention describes the aim of Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling (ASW) as “catch limits for aboriginal whaling to satisfy aboriginal subsistence need”.  In 1982 the IWC Working Group noted that,

'Aboriginal/subsistence whaling means whaling, for purposes of local aboriginal consumption, carried out by or on behalf of aboriginals, indigenous or native peoples who share strong community, social and cultural ties related to a continuing traditional dependence on whaling and on the use of whales.

Local aboriginal consumption means the traditional uses of whale products by local aboriginal, indigenous or native communities in meeting their nutritional, subsistence and cultural requirements. The term includes trade in items which are by-products of subsistence catches’ [Emphasis added].

Also, at the 36th Annual meeting in 1984, the ASW Sub-committee provided guidelines on the format and content of needs documentation. These guidelines, which the Commission agreed provided “a useful checklist of information to be provided in considering aboriginal/subsistence whaling”, sought details such as “role of whale products as food in the community/importance of whale products in the traditional diet” and “number in each whaling community”. This emphasis arguably reflects the IWC’s intent that the human population whose needs are being considered is the whaling community, not the population at large

Both Norway and Japan have taken advantage of the lack of a formal definition to try to blur the distinction between subsistence and commercial whaling by making applications on behalf of those engaged in ‘small type whaling’. St Vincent and the Grenadines, whose whaling operation is the remnant of a post-colonial commercial ‘Yankee’ whaling operation from the late 1800s, has secured a quota for the inhabitants of one of its islands (Bequia) although they are not pre-colonial firstpeople.

Of course any definition is now openly abused as we see in Greenland but, increasingly also in other countries if this 2012 comment on the Alasakan Dispatch Website can be taken as true.

Statement by non-native Alaskan about eating Bowhead whale

What is “need”?

Traditionally, the IWC has taken a twin approach in considering ASW applications; requiring to be satisfied that applicants have demonstrated both a nutritional/subsistence need for whale meat, and a cultural (i.e. traditional) reliance upon it. Historically, the Schedule specified that whales can only be taken by those “whose traditional aboriginal subsistence and cultural needs have been recognised” (our emphasis). Unfortunately, this language was not carried forward when quotas were amended in 2002. WDC believes that the previous twin approach, that highlighted the importance of nutritional need, should be re-examined.


In the majority of ASW cases, biological or nutritional need (i.e. the need for physical sustenance) is met or supplemented by other locally-sourced foods (including small cetaceans and other marine mammals) or increasing ‘imports’ of non-local, sometimes ‘western’ food. Thus, to justify a continued claim for an ASW quota, WDC believes that claimants should have to show something more – that their continued nutritional reliance on whales over alternatives is part of their traditional culture. WDC believes that when assessing subsistence need, the IWC should have all the relevant facts before it, including, at least, what takes of small cetaceans are being consumed by these communities in addition to the big cetacean takes proposed. Before making a judgment to allow a hunt on a potentially endangered species the Commission must be able to make an assessment of the relative impact of not granting a quota verses the risk of hunting on such endangered populations


It would seem self-evident that a so-called subsistence quota should not countenance any commercial elements. However, in Greenland, once the hunting crew and boat owner have taken their share of the whale, the rest is sold to a state-owned company that processes (packages and freezes) it for distribution all over the territory, including through supermarkets. Increased evidence appears to be coming to light of narwhal that have been killed solely for their tusks, the fabled ‘unicorn horn’. The mixing of commercial and nutritional needs clouds the ability to make an appropriate assessment of the real nutritional needs of these communities.

Local consumption

All the ASW allocations require “the meat and products of such whales …to be used exclusively for local consumption”, although the Greenland and St Vincent quota do not require the consumption to be by the “aborigines”. As a result, the widely distributed whale meat distributed in Greenland can be consumed by all residents, not necessarily just the Inuit population. WDC has exposed the fact that whale meat is also available to tourists. Whale meat has It is also exported to Denmark for the non-commercial use of Greenlanders living there. The IWC does not formally define “local”, but an IWC panel suggested in 1980 that it be defined as “the barter, trade, or sharing of whale products in their harvested form with relatives of the participants in the harvest, with others in the local community or with persons in locations other than the local community [with] whom local residents share familial, social, cultural, or economic ties…”. However, this definition was never formally adopted by the IWC.


WDC believes that the IWC should apply two criteria in respect of culture to its assessments of ASW claims: Whaling must be central to the culture of the claimants and they must have a long and uninterrupted history of whaling. This was a point of controversy in repeated applications by the US in the 1990s for the Makah tribe of Washington State to hunt gray whales. Although the Makah tribe had a US treaty right to whale, at that time they had not done so for over 70 years and many IWC member states argued that a continuing tradition could not be claimed. Many IWC members still do not believe that the claim of the Makah has been recognised by the IWC and is therefore, not endorsed by the international community.

Welfare Issues

The IWC recognises that killing methods used in ASW hunts are typically less efficient than those used in commercial whaling operations, often leading to higher struck and lost rates and longer times to death. The IWC has passed several resolutions seeking improvements in the humaneness of aboriginal subsistence whaling operations.

There are serious concerns about the efficiency of some methods used in aboriginal subsistence hunts, particularly the use of underpowered rifles in Greenland as a primary killing method for some minke whales and as a back-up (secondary) killing method for the much larger fin whales. However, the IWC leaves the decision about which equipment to use to the discretion of the hunters.

Hunting data are shared at annual working groups and advice about techniques and equipment is provided by experts during regular technical Workshops. However, in many cases, the information provided by Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling nations is incomplete or not based on consistently applied criteria. For example, Greenland’s hunters use the same harpoon on the same species (minke whale) as Norway, but apply different criteria for judging the onset of death or insensibility - making it difficult to draw useful conclusions from a comparison of their techniques. Furthermore, Greenland does not collect welfare data for each whale landed, making a full comparative analysis of its different killing methods for the same species impossible. For example, in 2006, Greenland reported the time to death data for only 13% of minkes it killed with rifles (the less effective killing method), while it reported data for 94% of minkes killed with the more efficient harpoons.

Blurring the lines

It has long been a strategy of the proponents of commercial whaling that they wish to blur the lines in the minds of the public between what is Aboriginal Subsistence Whaling and commercial whaling. The recent attempts at secure a ‘compromise’ deal on Japanese whaling are one case in point. WDC believes that this technique to try to circumvent the IWC is highly inappropriate and unethical.

ASW claims should be judged on their merits wherefore the IWC determines such claims have a legitimate basis in fact. However, where aboriginal peoples seek to ally themselves with commercial interests they should be prepared for the IWC to not look so favourably on their requests.

The failure of Greenland to obtain a quota in 2012

Following revelations by the Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) and the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) of the wide-spread commercial sale of whale meat in Greenland to tourists, increasingly concerned IWC Member States reacted by refusing to grant Greenland any increase in its hunt of large whales for so-called aboriginal subsistence needs. Indeed, in a procedural failure, Denmark failed to get any quota approved at all.
Greenland was seeking to increase the number of endangered fin and humpback whales it kills for the subsistence needs of its native people for the next six years, but the undercover operation conducted by WDC and AWI exposed how Greenland has been actively undermining the IWC’s ban on commercial whaling by openly selling whale meat in the vast majority of its restaurants and also in supermarkets.

The EU offered to amend Denmark’s proposal, but Denmark refused, demanding that its original proposal was voted on immediately. The final IWC vote was 25 in favour, and 34 against, 3 abstained. Failure to obtain the 3/4 majority meant that the proposal was rejected.
Criticism of Greenland was led by the Latin block of countries who pointed out there was little difference between what Greenland was doing in feeding whales to tourists and that practiced by commercial whaling operations.
Claims by Denmark on behalf of Greenland that they would not stop selling whale meat to tourists and that Greenland’s whalers could use baseball bats to kill whales if they wanted to, did little to endear Greenland to the rest of the IWC.
The European Union originally struggled to come to a position due to ongoing confusion over its internal decision making processes. WDC worked extensively with the EU Commission to give guidance to the EU Member States and eventually, EU Members who shared WDC’s concern that Greenland’s whaling was not in fact properly regulated aboriginal subsistence whaling, forced an internal vote on the Danish proposal. This resulted in the EU voting in a block in an attempt to amend the Danish proposal.

Denmark was fully aware of the EU position as well as the strong opposition amongst other members of the IWC, so in pushing their original proposal, they knew it was bound to fail and so rob the actual aboriginal subsistence hunters of Greenland's remote communities of an IWC quota.

In 2014, further to threats from Denmark that it would leave the IWC if the EU Commission did not support its proposals, Greenland secured a new quota for the period 2014-2018.


Plastic pollution threatens water quality in world’s oceans

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  • Le 04/08/2017
  • Dans Eco

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Capt. Charles Moore


In 2003, we declared war on Iraq after accusing Saddam Hussein of harboring “weapons of mass destruction” (WMD). Our government claimed that it had to keep our country safe. We spent thousands of lives, and billions of dollars on this war about WMD, which turned out not to exist.

In the meantime, day by day another insidious WMD has been growing exponentially in our oceans. Disposable plastic debris is now ubiquitous in the world’s oceans, where it is wreaking havoc on marine life and contaminating our seafood supply, a primary source of protein for billions of our global population.

And the world’s governments stand idly by, ignoring this new WMD that is growing in our oceans.


Quoting Capt. Charles Moore, the sea captain who first discovered the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the north Pacific Ocean, “The world is awash in plastic. We wrap it around the food we eat and virtually every other product that we consume or use. Disposable plastic products pose a threat to all marine life.”

Marine scientists estimate that by 2050 there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish.

That prediction is not so surprising since the amounts of disposable plastic products that we use are in fact staggering. Just here in the U.S.:

We use 100 billion plastic bags every year;

We use 50 billion plastic bottles every year;

We use 500 million plastic straws every day;

We use 25 billion styrofoam coffee cups every year (almost 3 million every hour!);

And 800 trillion microbeads disappear down our drains every day (in addition to all the other plastic “stuff”).

That adds up to the production of 300 million tons of plastic every year, a great part of which ends up in our oceans. It is well known that plastic litter in the ocean can entangle and eventually drown millions of sea creatures. But additionally, after the plastic enters the ocean, it slowly photodegrades and eventually breaks down into tiny pieces so small that often they cannot be seen by the naked eye. Hundreds of species from the smallest fish to the largest blue whale mistake these microplastics for natural food which they ingest but cannot digest, causing a slow and painful death of the marine animal.

Gruesome examples abound and have been reported in the media. As far back as 2002 a dead Minke whale washed up on the coast of Normandy, France, with nearly a ton of plastic in its stomach, including bags from British supermarkets. In 2008, two sperm whales stranded on the California coast and were found to have over 400 pounds of plastic bags in their intestines.

More recently an emaciated whale floated into a small cove in Norway. The whale had to be shot to take it out of its misery. During the necropsy, about 30 large plastic bags were removed from the whale’s organs.


Albatross chicks, hatched on the remote Midway Island in the Pacific Ocean, die by the thousands with their stomachs full of disposable plastic that has been fed to them by their parents who mistook the bright colored plastic pieces for food. And these are only some of the reported tragedies. We have no idea how many other creatures die and sink to the bottom of the ocean after a grisly death of starvation or torn flesh.

As yet we do not know how much harm is being done to humans. We do know that the lantern fish, plankton and krill eat immeasurable amounts of plastic particulates and their contaminants. These bait fish are then devoured by larger fish, and are quickly passed along the food chain ultimately ending up on our dinner plates.

So how do we confront these plastic weapons of mass destruction? We must reduce the daily outflow of plastic into our oceans. We can dramatically reduce our use of plastic by refusing to use disposable plastic products and we must recycle whatever residual plastic we continue to use. We can help with beach and ocean clean-ups. But at the end of the day these activities are only Band-aids that are insufficient to solve the problem.

As Capt. Moore stated some years ago, “The reality is that only by preventing disposable plastic products from getting into the ocean in the first place will a measurable reduction in the ocean’s plastic load be accomplished. Until we stop the flow of plastic to the sea, the global threat of this plastic age will only get worse.”

So while our government continues to protect the American people from possible overseas threats it ignores the real threats posed by our own domestic industries who are enabling havoc in our oceans, and exposing unknown numbers of our population to the hazards of plastic pollutants.

In 2017, it is way past time for governments to declare war on plastic before it is too late.

[And until the governments awake, the public may help the cause by joining the new global organization at:]

Goffinet McLaren is an environmental activist and author who lives at Pawleys Island.


Overshoot Day

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  • Le 03/08/2017
  • Dans News

Minhbao net mat dan oxy

Le 2 août 2017... c’est comme si notre planète disparaissait sous nos pieds. Notre gourmandise de ressources naturelles, notre soif sans fin pour le gaspillage et les déchets nous conduisent, jusqu’à la fin de l’année, à vivre à crédit. Depuis plus de vingt ans, l’over­shoot day symbolise ce moment à partir duquel nous avons collectivement épuisé le potentiel renouvelable de la planète. Cette date fatidique arrive chaque année plus tôt. Au rythme où nous vivons, il faudrait presque une planète de plus pour satisfaire nos besoins.

« Aujourd’hui, l’humanité est collectivement l’auteure de la disparition des espèces »

Au milieu de l’été, la publication de cet indicateur souligne que malgré notre prise de conscience collective de l’érosion de la biodiversité et du changement climatique, malgré une mobilisation sans précédent de la société, nous ne nous éloignons pas encore du pire. Récemment, des études alarmantes sur l’imminence d’une sixième extinction massive ont été publiées. Il y a 65 millions d’années, l’homme n’était pas responsable de la 5e extinction, celle des dinosaures. Aujourd’hui, l’humanité est collectivement l’auteure de la disparition des espèces.

Une sécheresse inédite

C’est une façon de se rappeler combien notre existence sur la planète Terre est fragile. En France, nous faisons face à une sécheresse inédite depuis plus de trente ans. Les feux de forêt se sont multipliés. Un récent rapport indique que sans action pour limiter le réchauffement de la planète, nous pourrions connaître des pics de chaleur à plus de 50 °C d’ici à la fin du siècle en France.

Et pourtant, certains osent encore prétendre que nous n’y pouvons rien, que rien ne sert de mettre en œuvre l’accord de Paris, que nous avons encore le temps pour changer de modèle agricole, pour sortir des énergies fossiles. Et avec la croissance exponnentielle de la démographie, nous avons plutôt l'impression d'entrer de plus en plus chaque jour dans une urgence absolue.

A réfléchir...

Actions Vertes / La Nature à Vendre

075 kalimantan parc tanjung puting camp pondok tanggy orang outan femelle bebeOrang-outans à Kalimantan

Billet par Danièle Favari (Juriste environnementale, veille juridique des Collectifs nationaux, intervenante auprès du Parlement européen et du Cese, auteure)

ANIMAUX - Monétarisées et financiarisées, d'immenses zones naturelles sont transformées en produits boursiers ou fonds spéculatifs. En investissant dans des actions d'espèces en voie d'extinction, de "mouches des sables amoureuses des fleurs", d'"orangs outans" ou encore des infatigables "saumons", tous "empêcheurs de tourner en rond"; les entreprises polluantes et peu scrupuleuses obtiennent des "certificats de bonne conduite" qui les dispensent de suspendre leurs activités les plus néfastes... ou pire, de les exercer en toute bonne conscience. Ainsi est apparue la notion d' "actions vertes" (marécages, cactus, chiens de prairie ou encore lézards), de "capital naturel" et de financiarisation de la nature, selon le précepte que la nature serait en danger parce qu'elle est gratuite. Le prix des produits de consommation courante ou manufacturés; c'est ce que qu'ils coûtent réellement ou ce qu'on est prêt à payer pour se les procurer. La nature est elle une valeur échangeable et faut-il donc y mettre un prix comme sur toute chose pour ne pas la voir se déprécier?

Gratuite, la nature?

C'est le syndrome d'effondrement des colonies d'abeilles aux Etats-Unis (1) -où les colonies ont totalement disparu dans 27 états pour cause de pesticides systémiques- qui a donné une valeur aux écosystèmes pour la pollinisation des récoltes, processus indispensable à la reproduction sexuée des plantes à fleurs (graines, fruits, racines ou bulbes, feuillages). Les abeilles y participent à 80%. Sans elles, l'homme devrait donc la faire à la main. Sans ces pollinisateurs, dont la valeur a été estimée par l'Inra à 153 milliards d'euros, notre source d'alimentation se limiterait principalement aux seules céréales.

La biodiversité, une forme de "capital naturel"

Le "capital naturel" fait référence à la terre, à l'air, à l'eau, aux organismes vivants ainsi qu'à toutes les formations présentes sur la Terre qui nous procurent des biens et services environnementaux requis pour notre survie et notre bien-être. "Il est le stock qui produit le flux de ressources naturelles: les poissons dans l'océan qui génèrent le flux de pêche allant sur le marché; la forêt sur pied à l'origine du flux d'arbres coupés; les réserves de pétrole dans le sol dont l'exploitation fournit le flux de pétrole à la pompe" (2). Soigneusement conservées dans des bio-banques, dont le chiffre d'affaires dépasse pour certaines les 30 millions de dollars chaque année (3), des actions « serpents jarretière », « truites arc-en-ciel » « éperlan » « longicorne » ou encore « crevettes » permettent aux « clients » de choisir un produit pour compenser la destruction inévitable des espèces par le projet d'aménagement qu'ils envisagent au sein du territoire concerné, les soulageant ainsi de leur responsabilité et leur permettant de se dédouaner de leur absence de culpabilité par un retour sur investissement prometteur.C'est la loi de l'offre et de la demande, celle du marché appliqué aux espèces en danger. C'est ainsi que certaines espèces -plus « lucratives »- pourront subsister tandis que d'autres disparaitront irrémédiablement. La rareté va engendrer une hausse du prix de telle ou telle espèce, non pas en devenir, mais en voie de disparition. Basé sur un système économique où seules les notions de travail et du capital avaient de la valeur, le "capital naturel" représente donc aujourd'hui une tentative de prise en compte par la science économique des apports et des contraintes du milieu naturel sur les activités économiques humaines. Jusqu'ici négligé, il aurait mené à sa perte les ressources naturelles, la dégradation de l'environnement naturel et la perte de services environnementaux. C'est un nouvel espace économique (4) qui intéresse, désormais, banques et investisseurs et permettrait de prendre en compte certains aspects des interactions entre la sphère économique et la sphère écologique ou de rendre visible la valeur intrinsèque de la nature pour l'adapter au système. C'est le principe de la compensation du dommage et de l'impact écologiques sur les espèces ou leur habitat.

La biodiversité, nouvelle opportunité?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Pas vraiment car les Mitigation Banks qui ciblent un milieu naturel prioritaire: les zones humides, sont apparues dès 1970 aux Etats-Unis et c'est en 1991, que furent créés les 1ères banques de la biodiversité. "Ecosystèmes des services", "banques de la biodiversité", "banques de la conservation", tous ces vocables ont pour unique but de dissimuler l'approche économique sur l'écosystème de la biodiversité et la marchandisation de la nature au nom d'une spéculation financière inavouable. Or, la nature n'a pas été produite pour être vendue, ce n'est pas un bien économique, ni un bien en accès libre, ni une connotation marchande, mais un bien commun dont l'Etat Nation doit être le garant. Et « les biens communs ne peuvent être mis sur le marché » (5) . Sommes-nous propriétaires de la nature, des animaux et, d'ailleurs, déplace t-on des populations entières d'espèces d'un endroit à un autre sans dommage collatéral? Ne risque t-on pas de priver les générations futures de leur droit à l'auto-suffisance alimentaire?

Permis de polluer, de détruire tout en ayant bonne conscience.                                                                                                                                                                                                     Ainsi, la forêt de Bornéo -qui abrite l'un des écosystèmes les plus riches en biodiversité- a été achetée par un fonds d'investissement qui la revend aux producteurs d'huile de palme; c'est ainsi que plus de 2/3 de ses arbres ont disparu (6). Les 80.000 hectares restants de la forêt primaire sont la propriété de Malua Bank dont l'approche commerciale cherche à rentabiliser sa valeur écologique par sa conversion en unité monétaire. C'est pourtant le système économique lui-même qui détruit la nature: consommation d'eau, déforestation, destruction des zones humides, réchauffement climatique, empreinte écologique. Déjà, le « jour du dépassement » (7)arrive de plus en plus tôt dès le mois d'août. En 2050, nous aurons alors besoin de 2 planètes ½ pour assouvir nos besoins. Or, conservés in situ, les écosystèmes fournissent des services pour notre préservation: contrôle de l'érosion, capture du carbone, etc... Le marché du carbone a été créé par le "système européen d'échanges des quotas d'émissions de carbone"; c'était le choix de l'Union européenne après l'entrée en vigueur du Protocole de Kyoto en 2005. Basé sur le système du « cap and trade/compliance » (8) , ce mécanisme économique comprenait deux volets: un plafond d'émissions fixé par le régulateur du marché (la Commission européenne), et un système échange de quotas d'émission (ETS) entre acteurs publics et privés contraints à réduire leurs émissions de CO2. Ce système concernait quelques 15 000 installations industrielles qui étaient soit bénéficiaires à titre gratuit (à concurrence d'un certain plafond), soit acheteurs sous forme d'enchères (9) d'un droit à émettre des gaz à effet de serre. Pour réduire ses émissions, chaque pays industrialisé signataire recevait, en effet, un quota de carbone, il permettait à une entreprise "polluante" A qui n'utilisait pas ses crédits de les revendre à une entreprise B qui dépassait son quota avec, néanmoins, la possibilité d'investir dans des sources d'énergie propre dans un pays moins industrialisé. C'est ainsi que l'entreprise allemande "Global Woods" a saisi cette opportunité et que l'Ouganda est devenue l'une de ses destinations-carbone où elle investit, espérant contribuer à la protection climatique.

De là est née l'idée -avec pour objectif fallacieux de la sauver- d'appliquer un coût à la nature. Et aux écosystèmes: la loi de l'offre et de la demande. C'est surtout la fin de notre planète, telle qu'elle existe aujourd'hui.


(1) (en anglais, « Colony Collapse Disorder »: CCD)

(2) Herman Daly (1994, p 30) (Glossaire du CEECEC)

(3) 2,5 à 4 milliards pour l'ensemble des banques référencées

(4) The MATRIX (Innovative Markets and Market like instrument)

(5) Alberto Lucarelli, Politis « hors série » novembre-décembre 2014

(6) Il reste à peine 45 400 km2 de terrain couverts par la végétation sur 364 000 km2 de terrain.

(7) « Overshoot Day »

(8) marché pour protéger la santé humaine et l'environnement par le contrôle de grandes quantités d'émissions à partir d'un programme de plafonnement et d'échanges

(9) Les transactions peuvent se faire sur un marché organisé (une bourse du carbone), ou de gré à gré (Over The Counter), directement entre un acheteur et un vendeur

Les pompes des océans

  • Par
  • Le 01/05/2017
  • Dans Eco

Leur cycle de vie a bien des répercussions sur les mers. Les chercheurs sont venus à les surnommer « les pompes de l’océan ». En effet, les baleines remontent en surface de la matière organique nourricière issue des poissons engloutis dans les profondeurs et rendue accessible au microplancton via leur fèces, c’est-à-dire les excréments. Vu que les baleines se nourrissent dans certaines eaux puis migrent ensuite dans d’autres eaux pour se reproduire ou accoucher, la circulation de ces nutriments prennent eux aussi une direction horizontale. Il s’agit du « tapis roulant » baleinier explique Joe Roman. Lorsqu’ils meurent, les cétacés redescendent ensuite une dernière fois dans les fonds marins pour servir de nourriture aux animaux nécrophages, c’est-à-dire qui se nourrissent de cadavres. La boucle de la chaîne alimentaire est ainsi bouclée.

Enfin, les baleines seraient une espèce animale qui pourrait atténuer l’impact du changement climatique sur les océans. Les chercheurs ont constaté que contrairement aux espèces qui ont une courte durée de vie, les baleines présentent davantage de résistance aux événements extérieurs. Joe Roman précise : « Parce que ce sont des espèces qui vivent longtemps et n’ont des petits que peu souvent, les oscillations sont atténuées et le système entier est stable. » Ainsi, le fait de ne plus les chasser permet désormais de maintenir le carbone de leur carcasse dans les océans et non plus dans l’atmosphère.

Cette découverte est réellement fascinante. La nature saura toujours nous impressionner… Nous sommes ravis de constater que les lois internationales pour protéger les baleines ont eu un effet positif sur leur population (et par conséquence pour toute la planète), même si nous savons qu’il y en a encore qui leur font du mal… C’est une excellente surprise de réaliser que ces cétacés ont un rôle dans la régulation du réchauffement climatique.

Restez curieux. Suivez nous !

Pollution plastique des océans

  • Par
  • Le 19/04/2017
  • Dans Eco

Pollution plastique des océans : la faune souffre en continu

En février 2017, une baleine à l’agonie retrouvée près des côtes norvégiennes a dû être euthanasiée. La cause de cette souffrance ? Une trentaine de sacs plastique obstruait son estomac l’empêchant de se nourrir. Cet exemple n’est pas un cas isolé. Actuellement, les océans contiennent plus de 280 millions de tonnes de plastique sans compter les milliards de micro particules de plastique. Ce fléau réel ne peut diminuer sans l’intervention de l’homme.

Avec sa durée de vie de 450 ans, le plastique est devenu le roi des océans. Mauvaise nouvelle, sa présence ne cesse d’augmenter. Selon une étude récente du CNRS, il a désormais atteint la banquise arctique et menace sa faune. Le plastique a 2 effets néfastes pour les mammifères marins. Certains se retrouvent directement pris au piège par le matériau, ils se blessent ou meurent d’épuisement en tentant de s’en défaire. D’autres l’ingèrent, s’étouffent et finissent par en mourir, c’est notamment le cas des tortues, des dauphins, des thons mais aussi des oiseaux, qui les confondent avec des proies (méduses en particulier). Chaque jour, plus de 8 millions de tonnes de plastique sont déversées dans les océans. Un constat lourd dû au comportement humain. 80% des déchets proviennent des terres (contre 20% des bateaux) et les déchets plastiques (bouteilles, sacs à usage unique, emballages, bouchons, cotons tiges) représentent entre 60% et 90% de ces déchets. Si la surconsommation de plastique ne diminue pas, en 2050, sa présence sera plus importante que celle des poissons…

déchets plastique

Une chaine alimentaire faite de plastique

Jeter un déchet en pleine nature n’est jamais anodin. Cette pollution se répercute directement sur les écosystèmes et a effectivement de fortes chances de finir dans les océans, les fonds marins, les plages et les littoraux avec les vents, la pluie et les courants. En dehors du réchauffement climatique, les objets plastiques sont une menace omniprésente pour les écosystèmes marins. La chaine alimentaire se retrouve entièrement contaminée à son contact. Le plancton qui ingère du plastique est mangé à son tour par d’autres poissons ou coquillages, qui, s’ils sont pêchés, se retrouvent dans nos assiettes et nos estomacs. Limiter la consommation de plastique est donc primordiale pour la santé de notre planète et la nôtre.

Le meilleur déchet reste celui que l’on ne produit pas

Alors comment diminuer cette pollution croissante ? Changer de comportement. Privilégier le vrac, limiter les produits aux emballages superflus, choisir des produits en matériaux recyclés ou renouvelables, trier ses déchets sont autant de gestes à l’impact positif pour réduire cette propagation dévastatrice. En plus d’agir au quotidien pour réduire ses déchets, il est possible de participer à des actions collectives. Pour nettoyer les cours d’eau et les plages, des associations organisent toute l’année de grandes opérations de ramassages de déchets.                                                 Pas toujours attirantes, ces actions sont essentielles pour préserver notre environnement. Chaque année, de nombreux bénévoles franchissent le cap et ramassent ainsi les déchets des autres. L’élément déclencheur de leur action vient souvent du même constat : une incapacité à supporter la vue d’un paysage détérioré. Ces grandes collectes permettent aussi de sensibiliser les participants aux enjeux environnementaux.

Source FNH

Why do we need to protect biodiversity?

  • Par
  • Le 18/02/2017
  • Dans Eco


Expo biodiversite web 01


We need ants to survive, but they don't need us at all.
       Prof. E. O Wilson, in How Our Health Depends on Biodiversity,
       Chivian, E., Bernstein A., Center for Health and the Global Environment, Harvard Medical School, 2010

Biological diversity, or biodiversity, is the scientific term for the variety of life on Earth. It refers not just to species but also to ecosystems and differences in genes within a single species. Everywhere on the planet, species live together and depend on one another. Every living thing, including man, is involved in these complex networks of interdependent relationships, which are called ecosystems. Healthy ecosystems clean our water, purify our air, maintain our soil, regulate the climate, recycle nutrients and provide us with food. They provide raw materials and resources for medicines and other purposes. They are at the foundation of all civilisation and sustain our economies. It's that simple: we could not live without these “ecosystem services”. They are what we call our natural capital. Biodiversity is the key indicator of the health of an ecosystem. A wide variety of species will cope better with threats than a limited number of them in large populations. Even if certain species are affected by pollution, climate change or human activities, the ecosystem as a whole may adapt and survive. But the extinction of a species may have unforeseen impacts, sometimes snowballing into the destruction of entire ecosystems.

European diversity is unique, but the loss of biodiversity has accelerated to an unprecedented level in Europe and worldwide. It has been estimated that the current global extinction rate is 100 to 1000 times higher than the natural rate. In Europe some 42% of European mammals are endangered, together with 15% of birds and 45% of butterflies and reptiles. To list just a few examples, the Arctic fox, the Iberian lynx and the red squirrel are all under serious threat.

La Polynésie française sera un refuge climatique pour la survie des récifs coralliens dans le futur

  • Par
  • Le 26/01/2017
  • Dans Eco

Un nouveau modèle prédit que la Polynésie française sera un refuge climatique pour la survie des récifs coralliens dans le futur.
23 Janvier 2017| Scientific Reports | Contact: Jeffery Maynard

  • Les nouvelles projections climatiques sur les récifs coralliens de notre planète montrent les récifs qui seront affectés par un blanchissement annuel, un stress qui est considéré comme le plus dramatique pour la survie même des récifs.
  • Ces projections hautes-résolutions, basées sur les nouveaux modèles climatiques, prédisent où et quand on peut attendre des blanchissements coralliens. Ces prédictions montrent ainsi que les récifs de Taiwan et ceux autours des archipels de Turks et Cocos seront les premier à sibir des blanchissements annuels récurrents. D’autres récifs, tels que ceux des côtes de Bahrain, du Chili ou de Polynésie, seront affectés par des blanchissements annuels récurrents plusieurs dizaines d’années plus tard si l’on se fie aux travaux publiés récemment dans Nature Scientific Reports.

Les récifs coralliens sont parmi les écosystèmes les plus vulnérables aux changements climatiques est la vulnérabilité des récifs face aux évènements futurs de blanchissement varie dans le monde. Cette vulnérabilité est directement fonction de l'exposition à l'augmentation de la température des océans qui cause le blanchissement et entraîne des mortalités dans les récifs coralliens. Le but de notre étude était d'utiliser des modèles de prédictions du changement climatique afin d'évaluer comment l'exposition future à l'augmentation de la température des océans variera selon les récifs du monde entier et en fonction de la localisation.

Nous avons produit des modèles de projections climatiques à une résolution fine de 4 km qui montrent que tous les récifs coralliens connaîtront des épisodes de blanchissement sévère au cours de ce siècle. La répétition des blanchissements années après années entrainera des mortalités et des récifs coralliens où les coraux deviendront rares et seront dominés par les macro-algues. Il faut alors savoir que les récifs couverts d'algues fournissent moins d’usages et de services aux civilisations - ils abritent moins de biodiversité et représentent un habitat de qualité inférieure pour les récifs et les poissons coralliens. Les modèles climatiques nous ont permis de prédire les évènements de blanchissement annuels jusqu'en 2043. On observe qu’il existe de grandes variations spatiales dans les projections des blanchissements annuels avec les modèles climatiques actuels. Les récifs qui subissent le moins de blanchissement et donc de stress représentent des priorités pour la conservation. Ces «refuges» sont les régions susceptibles de fournir des biens et des services sur plusieurs décennies. La Polynésie française, en particulier les régions méridionales où sont situées les îles de Tahiti et de Moorea, feront partie des «refuges climatiques» et doivent être protégées en priorités.

Nous avons également examiné comment le futur des récifs coralliens pourrait changer en prenant en compte l'Accord de Paris récemment ratifié sur le climat. Dans le cadre de l'Accord de Paris, la plupart des pays du monde entier ont pris des engagements pour réduire les émissions de gaz à effet de serre. Dans le contexte de ces réductions, il n’en demeure pas moins que la plupart des récifs coralliens continueront de devoir faire face à des blanchissements sévères au cours de ce siècle même si les promesses de réduction des émissions deviennent une réalité. Cependant, ces réductions d'émissions prévues offrent un temps de répit supplémentaire avant que les températures des océans ne soient trop importantes pour causer un blanchissement sévère des coraux. La Polynésie française reste l'un des sites, avec les îles du nord-ouest d'Hawaï, qui seront les bénéficiaires des engagements de réduction des émissions de gaz à effet de serre. En effet, de nombreux récifs dans le sud de la Polynésie française, tels que Tahiti et les îles Moorea, ne seraient alors pas impactés par un blanchissement annuel récurrent. Dans ce contexte, la Polynésie française représente un refuge climatique mondial pour les récifs coralliens et pourrait être parmi l'un des rares récifs coralliens qui maintienne sa structure actuelle d’ici à la fin de ce siècle.

« Ces prédictions représentent un élément essentiels pour tous ceux qui se focalisent et se battent pour la protection des récifs coralliens et contre les conséquences dramatiques du changement climatique sur les récifs coralliens, dit ainsi Erik Solheim, directeur de UN Environment. «Ces prédictions permettent à présent aux gouvernements de mettre en place des priorités en termes de protections des récifs coralliens qui donneront un peu plus de temps aux récifs pour s’acclimater au réchauffement des océans. Ces projections nous montrent où nous avons un peu de temps avant qu’il ne soit trop tard.»

Fig 1_SciReports_Dec2016

Figure 1. Les projections mondiales des conditions annuelles de blanchissement de l'année commencent pour tous les emplacements des récifs, dans le scénario des émissions qui suppose que la politique climatique ne sera pas adoptée ou respectée. L'année médiane est 2043. Les emplacements verts représentent des refuges climatiques à l'échelle mondiale.

Fig 2_SciReports_Dec2016

Figure 2. Carte du nombre d'années supplémentaires que les récifs auront avant que les conditions annuelles de blanchissement ne commencent si les promesses de réduction des émissions faites dans le cadre de l'Accord de Paris deviennent réalité. Dans ce cas, la Polynésie française, avec le golfe d'Oman au Moyen-Orient, sont les seules zones récifales qui ne devraient pas voir les conditions de blanchissement annuelles de ce siècle. Cette carte suggère que la Polynésie française est un refuge climatique mondialement significatif pour les récifs coralliens.

Les projections que nous avons élaborées sont disponibles sous forme d'outils cartographiques interactifs sur les sites Web du PNUE et du NOAA Coral Reef Watch. Ce projet a constitué une collaboration entre le PNUE, le WWF, le NOAA-PIFSC, l'USGS-PICSC, l'US-NFWF, l'ERC et l'EPHE-CNRS et CRIOBE.

van Hooidonk, R., Maynard, J., Tamelander, J., Gove, J., Ahmadia, G., Rymundo, L., Williams, G., Heron, S.F. and S. Planes. Local-scale projections of coral reef futures and implications of the Paris Agreement. Sci. Rep. 6, 39666; doi: 10.1038/srep39666 (2016).

plus Les cartes et les images

Jeffery Maynard (États Unis)
Serge Planes (Perpignan, France)

Global Impact of Sea Plastic

  • Par
  • Le 17/12/2016
  • Dans Eco

Plastic debris crossing the Pacific can transport more species with the help of barnacles


photographer: Marina Garland

The smooth surfaces of much of the plastic waste rapidly increasing in the ocean appear to provide poor habitat for animals -- that is, until barnacles step in.

University of Florida researchers discovered that diverse communities of rafting animals can inhabit even the smoothest pieces of plastic debris if barnacles step in first to create complex habitat, similar to trees in a rainforest or corals in a reef. That means plastics could better transport foreign species across oceans than previously believed, said Mike Gil, who, as a doctoral candidate at UF, led the study published  in Scientific Reports. Now the bad news: While conservationists generally aim to preserve biological diversity, Gil said, the diversity found on plastic debris could be harmful.

“Plastic waste provides an unprecedented amount of artificial oceanic ‘rafts’, which could allow foreign species to invade and compromise the biological diversity of natural coastlines,” he said.This claim and its broad economic implications are underscored by a piece of plastic debris, which Gil sampled near the coast of California, that was home to both an isopod from the Americas and a crab from Asia.Before plastics, rafting communities in the ocean were limited because of a limited number and lifespan of natural floating rafts, like downed trees, seaweed or pumice. Over the last 40 years, however, the amount of oceanic plastic waste has increased at an alarming rate, and the lifespan of these artificial rafts can vastly exceed that of natural rafts. In fall 2012, Gil and his colleagues sailed from California to Hawaii to survey communities of organisms residing on plastic debris, some of which likely originated from the Japanese tsunami, which took place over 4,000 miles away and a year and a half earlier. Their findings show that stalked barnacles on smooth plastic rafts, ranging in size from 1 inch to several feet in diameter, create a foundation on which other species can attach and thrive.

In addition, Gil says his study points to a bigger, often overlooked issue.

“Even if people are responsible with the disposal of plastic, natural disasters can deposit incredible amounts of plastic waste into natural ecosystems,” Gil said. “Thus, if we truly want to remediate harmful effects of plastics on nature, reductions in plastic dependence and, ultimately, production may be the only answer.”

Photo information: (left to right) Tyson Bottenus, Mike GIl, and Laura Hansen examining species rafting on a piece of plastic debris.

Bruit en mer

  • Par
  • Le 24/11/2016
  • Dans Eco


La célérité du son est 4 fois plus élevée dans l’eau que dans l’air.
Les sons de basse fréquence se propagent beaucoup plus loin que les sons de haute fréquence.
La surface renvoie presque intégralement les sons qu’elle reçoit, c’est un véritable « miroir acoustique »


  • bruits environnementaux (bulles, vagues, pluie, tempêtes)
  • bruits biologiques (crissements des mandibules des crustacés, sons des cétacés)
  • bruits d’origine anthropique ( les sonars militaires, la prospection de pétrole et de gaz, la marine marchande et la navigation de plaisance en sont les principales sources)


  • Mégaptère(chant)domaine de fréquence 30-8000Hz, niveau de source 145-190dB
  • Rorqual commun (mugissement) : 30-75 Hz, niveau de source 155-165 dB
  • Grand dauphin (sifflement) : 800-24000 Hz, niveau de source 125-173 dB
  • Grand dauphin (clics) : 110-130 Hz, niveau de source 218-228 dB
  • Cachalot (clics) : 0,1-30 KHz, niveau de source 210-230 dB

Il existe une grande variété de cris et d’appels, de nombreuses catégories de sons (sons composés et complexes), beaucoup de variantes dans les sifflements.

Pour comparaison, l’oreille humaine supporte un son de 160 dB maximum et le spectre audible de l’homme est de 20 Hz à 20 KHz.


  • De 80 à 90 dB : tondeuse à gazon, klaxon de voiture, tronçonneuse électrique.
  • De 90 à 100 dB : route à circulation dense, atelier de forgeage, TGV à 300 km/h à 25 m
  • De 100 à 110 dB : marteau-piqueur à moins de 5 mètres dans une rue, discothèque, concert amplifié
  • De 110 à 120 dB : tonnerre, atelier de chaudronnerie.
  • De 120 à 130 dB : sirène d’un véhicule de pompier, avion au décollage (à 300 mètres).
  • De 140 à 150 dB : course de Formule 1, avion au décollage.
  • 170 dB : fusil d’assaut.
  • 180 dB : décollage de la fusée Ariane, lancement d’une roquette.




La contribution humaine à la pollution sonore des océans a augmenté au cours des dernières décennies.
Le bruit humain est devenu la principale composante du bruit marin de certaines régions et le bruit est directement lié à l’industrialisation croissante de l’océan.

Les principales sources sonores sous-marines d’origine anthropique :

  • les sonars militaires
  • la prospection de pétrole et de gaz
  • la marine marchande
  • la navigation de plaisance

Plus de deux millions d’espèces peuplent les océans.

Il n’est pas possible de connaître l’impact du bruit sur chacune de ces espèces et la communauté scientifique manque encore de connaissances pour comprendre l’impact précis des nuisances sonores.

Il existe des programmes internationaux dont :

  • L’I.Q.O.E : le Comité Scientifique de Recherche Océanique (S.C.O.R.) et le Partenariat pour l’Observation de l’ Océan Mondial (P.O.G.O.) se sont réunis en août 2011 pour mettre en place l’I.Q.O.E : Expérience Internationale de l’Océan Tranquille conduite jusqu’en 2021.
  • La Directive Européenne (2008/56/CE) du cadre stratégique pour le milieu marin (17 juin 2008) établit un cadre d’action communautaire dans le domaine de la politique pour le milieu marin et l’impact des nuisances sonores figure en bonne place dans les données à recueillir pour établir un état des lieux plus précis.

Nous avons plus d’informations aujourd’hui sur l’impact du bruit d’origine anthropique sur les cétacés. Certaines hypothèses restent encore à valider, notamment sur les causes des échouages des baleines et dauphins.


Les sonars servent à détecter les sous-marins ou d’autres objets, et rendent infernale la vie des baleines et d’autres espèces marines.

«Le bruit est si intense que les êtres humains ne le supporteraient pas. C’est comparable à la détonation supersonique d’un avion de combat à proximité immédiate de nos oreilles.»

Dieter Paulmann, spécialiste du bruit chez «Noise Busters», décrit ainsi l’intensité des sonars militaires.


Parmi les pires sources de bruit pour les espèces marines, on trouve également les canons à air de haute performance utilisés pour la prospection sismique. A quelques secondes d’intervalle, ils projettent des pressions sonores allant jusqu’à 260 décibels dans les eaux et le sous-sol marin, pour y déceler les gisements de pétrole et de gaz.


Echouage d’un dauphin plage de Sérignan en 2011. 10 dauphins se sont échoués cette semaine-là

Organes auditifs détruits, hémorragie interne, embolie, rupture pulmonaire, perte de l’audition, affaiblissement du système immunitaire, procréation insuffisante ou nulle, ne sont que quelques-unes des atteintes à la santé observées chez les baleines. Mais le vacarme sous-marin ne nuit pas seulement aux baleines. On peut partir du principe qu’il menace pratiquement toutes les espèces marines, car la plupart d’entre elles s’orientent à l’aide de l’ouïe.

Effets physiologiques liés au niveaux sonores reçus:

Les ondes sonores de plus de 200dB entraînent la résonance d’organes, mandibules, oreilles moyennes, poumons, sinus et causent des lésions de gravité variable.

Effets physiologiques liés au niveaux sonores perçus:

Surdité temporaire ou définitive qui dépendent des niveaux perçus (seuil d’audition, chaque cétacé ayant sa propre courbe de sensibilité / audiogramme) ainsi que la durée d’exposition.


Les ondes sonores ont des effets comportementaux (dérangement, interruption d’activité, fuite, panique) qui dépendent des niveaux perçus. Selon le contexte, des niveaux perçus qui n’ont pas une intensité extrêmement forte peuvent avoir des conséquences fatales. Par exemple, on a observé que des groupes de dauphins pouvaient s’éloigner des sonars puissants, mais se retrouver dans une baie refermée, soumis à un risque d’échouage. Ou bien, des dauphins isolés de leur groupe (nourrissons) et incapables de fuir dans une bonne direction peuvent alors être soumis à des niveaux extrêmement forts qui entraînent leur mort.

ADENA Stenella roquille nov 2011 Copie de P1130227


Carte-sonore-ocean-baleine_Dimitri-PonirakisLe bleu représente le bruit de fond naturel des océans, les points plus clairs représentent le chant des baleines franches près de Boston


Carte-sonore-polution-bruit-ocean_Dimitri-PonirakisCette carte visualise le bruit d’un seul navire commercial entrant dans le port de Boston. Les petits points clairs sont étouffés par le bruit de ce navire.



Un bateau à moteur de 90 chevaux → entre 94 et 102 décibels :
C’est le seuil de la fatigue auditive pour un homme (équivaut à une usine très bruyante)

EXEMPLE DE RèGLEMENT DANS CERTAINES ZONES COTIèRES (dans le cadre des Rencontres nationales Ports de plaisance et développement durable)

Zone Limite Lden en dB
Zone résidentielle 55
Zone de loisirs 40-60
Parc naturel ou zone protégée 30-40

Rapport Planète Vivante 2016 : deux tiers des populations de vertébrés pourraient disparaitre d’ici 2020

  • Par
  • Le 31/10/2016
  • Dans Eco
Scott s warren national geographic creative min

Les populations de vertébrés - poissons, oiseaux, mammifères, amphibiens et reptiles - ont chuté de 58% entre 1970 et 2012. Et si nous ne faisons rien pour inverser la tendance, ce déclin pourrait continuer à s’aggraver jusqu’à atteindre 67% d’ici 2020. C’est sur ce nouveau constat alarmant que s’ouvre l’édition 2016 du Rapport Planète Vivante, analyse scientifique réalisée tous les deux ans par le WWF concernant la santé de notre planète et l'impact de l'activité humaine.
Pour mesurer l’évolution de milliers de populations d’espèces vertébrées partout dans le monde, le WWF s’appuie sur l’Indice Planète Vivante, indice reconnu de l’état écologique de la planète. Cette année, la Société zoologique de Londres qui le calcule a utilisé les données scientifiques collectées sur 14 152 populations appartenant à 3 706 espèces vertébrées.
S’il était encore nécessaire de démontrer la responsabilité de l’Homme dans ce déclin de la biodiversité, le Rapport Planète Vivante 2016 s’appuie sur un second indicateur, l’Empreinte écologique, qui mesure l’aptitude de plus en plus limitée de la planète à subvenir aux besoins de l’humanité.
Le 8 août 2016, l’humanité avait déjà consommé l’ensemble des ressources que la planète ne peut renouveler en une année. En huit mois, nous avons émis plus de carbone que ce que les océans et les forêts ne pouvaient absorber en un an, nous avons pêché plus de poissons, coupé plus d’arbres, fait plus de récoltes, consommé plus d’eau que ce que la Terre aurait pu produire sur cette même période.
En s’attaquant au capital naturel de la planète, l’humanité se met donc elle-même en danger puisque qu’elle dépend de l’état de santé des écosystèmes pour se développer et plus simplement pour survivre. Le Rapport Planète Vivante 2016 met plus particulièrement l’accent sur l’impact de notre système alimentaire, l’un des premiers facteurs de dégradation des habitats et de surexploitation des espèces (surpêche par exemple), de pollution et d’érosion des sols. A elle-seule, l’agriculture occupe environ un tiers de la surface terrestre totale, est la cause de 80% de la déforestation mondiale et pèse pour près de 70 % de la consommation d’eau.
« Les espèces disparaissent à un rythme sans précédent. Et ce phénomène ne concerne pas seulement les espèces emblématiques que nous adorons tous, mais toute la biodiversité, dont dépend la bonne santé des forêts, des fleuves et des océans. Sans les espèces qu’ils abritent, les écosystèmes vont s’effondrer emportant avec eux les services qu’ils nous rendent qu’il s’agisse d’air pur, d’eau ou de nos moyens de subsistance. Nous disposons des outils qui peuvent permettre de résoudre le problème auquel nous sommes confrontés : il faut maintenant les mettre en action sans plus tarder si nous tenons sérieusement à préserver une planète vivante pour notre survie et notre prospérité. Plus nous irons loin au-delà des limites de la Terre, plus nous compromettrons notre propre avenir. » - Marco Lambertini, directeur général du WWF International
Pour parvenir à un développement économiquement soutenable, il est donc indispensable de repenser en profondeur notre manière de produire et de consommer et ce, sur les questions alimentaires comme énergétiques.
« L’Homme détruit le capital naturel sur lequel il est assis et sans lequel toute prospérité est tout simplement impossible. Notre Rapport Planète Vivante montre que l’’effectif des populations de mammifères, de poissons, d’oiseaux, de reptiles et d’amphibiens a chuté de 58% en l’espace de 40 ans. Nous devons au plus vite passer de cette période de grande régression à une réconciliation de l’Homme avec la nature et donc de l’Homme avec lui-même. » - Pascal Canfin, directeur général du WWF France



New Study Found that the Ocean is on its Way to Suffocating by 2030

  • Par
  • Le 31/10/2016
  • Dans Eco
Dead 1

Imagine if we were running out of oxygen on land. According to a study, that’s happening in the ocean. Image: Shutterstock.

It seems that every week, a new study comes out showing just how much damage we’re doing to our planet. This last one’s a doozy, though: according to Matthew Long, an oceanographer at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, if we continue along the road we’re on, the ocean could begin to suffocate in about 15 years. Actually.

The study was published a few days ago in Global Biogeochemical Cycles, which is not The National Enquirer and is a publication entirely based on science. Long’s not some quack, either. He’s a dyed-in-the-wool scientist with a Ph.D. in Oceanography from Stanford University, an M.S. in Environmental Engineering (Hydrology) from Tufts University, and a B.S in Environmental Engineering. That is a man who likes facts. According to Ocean Scientists for Informed Policy, “ocean deoxygenation refers to the loss of oxygen from the oceans due to climate change.”  It’s not up for debate, either: it is a cold and hard fact that both climate change and ocean deoxygenation are happening, and no amount of climate change deniers stamping their feet will change it.

“Long-term ocean monitoring shows that oxygen concentrations in the ocean have declined during the 20th century, and the new IPCC 5th Assessment Report (AR5 WG1) predicts that they will decrease by 3-6% during the 21st century in response to surface warming,” the website explains. “While 3-6% doesn’t seem like much, this decrease will be felt acutely in hypoxic and suboxic areas, where oxygen is already limiting. […] To put this in context, a highly optimistic emissions scenario of atmospheric CO2 levels of 550 ppm by 2100 would lead to a 1.2°C warming of the upper ocean. Therefore, these declines in oxygen are changes we should be prepared to see While it seems obvious that an ocean deprived of oxygen is a bad thing, let’s break it down real quick: Almost everything in the ocean depends on the oxygen in the water to survive. Of course, there are a few things that don’t–whales, dolphins, turtles, and other creatures that surface to breathe–but for the most part, everything takes oxygen from the water. If those things die, that’s a pretty massive big ball rolling towards everything else being dead.


Deoxgenation due to climate change is already detectable in some parts of the ocean. New research from NCAR finds that it will likely become widespread between 2030 and 2040. Other parts of the ocean, shown in gray, will not have detectable loss of oxygen due to climate change even by 2100. (Image courtesy Matthew Long, NCAR.)

So how does climate change affect the ocean? Well, the ocean is warming up, and a warm ocean doesn’t take in as much oxygen from the atmosphere, for starters. There’s the whole sea level rising issue, which is just way too big to go into here. But possibly the most concerning part of the whole thing has to do with phytoplankton, which are one of the smallest, most prolific, and really fucking important creatures on earth. If you believe National Geographic, “fish, whales, dolphins, crabs, seabirds, and just about everything else that makes a living in or off of the oceans owe their existence to phytoplankton, one-celled plants that live at the ocean surface. Phytoplankton are at the base of what scientists refer to as oceanic biological productivity, the ability of a water body to support life such as plants, fish, and wildlife.” Warmer water doesn’t mix well with colder water. As the surface warms, the phytoplankton that float around up there most of the time don’t get down deep as often, and those little guys are responsible for about half of the oxygen in the ocean. Until the recent study, blaming climate change on the dropping levels of oxygen in the ocean was a tough sell, even to those who aren’t turning a blind eye to one of the hugest problems humans have ever faced. It was a tough sell because it was almost impossible to prove in nature. When it’s windy, for example, it churns everything up, making it nearly impossible to get an accurate measurement over a long period time. Long’s study cut out the variables of Mother Nature and all her vagaries. “This new study tells us when we can expect the impact from climate change to overwhelm the natural variability,” he said.

Using simulations, he predicted and calculated ocean deoxygenation until the next century. And holy Christ, was it ever bad news. According to the predictive study, vast portions of the Pacific–Hawaii and the western edge of the Americas included–will be seriously deprived of oxygen somewhere between 2030 and 2040, which would most likely mean massive die-offs of very important creatures. Although Long’s study is far more telling than any other before it, it’s not really anything all that new. Back in 2010, Scripps Institution of Oceanography warned about the dangers of something called “oxygen minimum zones”, which are exactly what they sound like: large portions of the ocean, usually very deep, that don’t have enough oxygen to really sustain much life. “A major concern is that these so-called oxygen minimum zones (OMZs) will expand in the future as the upper ocean warms and becomes more stratified,” wrote Scripps scientist Ralph Keeling. What does it all come down to? Well, more and more, it seems we’re already too far gone. Every day, we’re passing tipping points. Long, who seems a little frustrated that no one in charge is listening to him or anyone else that has been screaming about a host of environmental issues, made his point very clear. “This inexorable force of human-induced warming will clearly result in widespread ocean deoxygenation in the future,” he said. And like it or not, our lust for carbon is causing it. “This latest study adds one more item to the list of insults we are inflicting on the oceans through our continued burning of fossil fuels,” said Michael Mann, a climate scientist at Penn State University. “Ocean life and marine ecosystems must now simultaneously contend with the triple threat of warming waters, increased acidity, and now, we’re learning, lower oxygen levels. Any one of these challenges alone would be daunting. “We have yet another reason to be gravely concerned about the health of our oceans, and yet another reason to prioritize the rapid decarbonization of our economy.”

An Antidote to high-tech fishing

  • Par
  • Le 23/06/2016
  • Dans Eco

Whale shark

Words by Daniel Pauly



  • Par
  • Le 12/02/2016
noise hotspots fig9

It's awfully loud in the Mediterranean Sea

Scientists present the first mapping of noise sources in the Mediterranean. Learn here, who causes this underwater noise, how many ships are sailing in every single second, and where noise hotspots overlap with marine mammal conservation areas.

Press Release dated January 21st, 2016

It is very loud in the Mediterranean Sea: Scientists present the first basin-wide map reflecting the density of underwater noise sources in the region

Wädenswil/Switzerland, January 21st, 2016: There are several clearly identifiable areas within the Mediterranean basin where noise-producing activities accumulate. Many of these so-called noise hotspots overlap with important cetacean habitats. This is a conclusion reached by scientists from France, Italy, Switzerland and the US who – for the first time – present a basin-wide map that shows the density of the main anthropogenic noise sources in the Mediterranean Sea. The results of the report ”Overview of the Noise Hotspots in the ACCOBAMS Area, Part I - Mediterranean Sea” for the period 2005 to 2015, are drawn from a dataset covering 1446 harbours and marinas, 228 oil drilling platforms, 830 seismic exploration activities, 7 million ship positions, publicly available information regarding military activities, and 52 wind farm projects.

The increase in seismic activities is particularly striking, especially in connection with oil and gas explorations which deploy so-called ‘airguns’ sending loud impulsive noise of up to 260 decibels towards the sea floor about every 10 to 12 seconds for weeks or months at a time. While 3.8 % of the Mediterranean’s surface was affected by such airgun use in 2005, this share increased to 27 % in 2013. The scientists also found that an average value of around 1,500 commercial vessels are contemporarily present in the area – at any given time – not taking into account leisure crafts and fishing vessels. Considering that data surrounding military activities - such as manoeuvres, use of medium and low frequency sonar for submarine detection, etc. are generally not available to the public, such results for this sector represents an underestimation of the reality of the situation as well.
Crucially, through such mapping exercise, the scientists were able to reveal several noise hotspots overlapping with areas that are of particular importance to noise-susceptible marine mammal species, and/or areas that are already declared protected areas. Such important cetacean habitats include the Pelagos Marine Mammal Sanctuary in the Ligurian Sea, the Strait of Sicily, and parts of the Hellenic Trench, as well as waters between the Balearic Islands and continental Spain where noise-producing activities accumulate, according to the report. The risk for the marine animals in such areas is thus high, as they are exposed to cumulative and synergistic noise, and hence, extensive sources of stress.
Such threat has also been recognised by the Spanish Government. Their Ministry of the Environment recently announced that the waters between the Balearic Islands and the Spanish mainland will be designated a protected migration corridor for whales and dolphins, which will also result in strict management measures for noise producing activities.

“This report is the first basis for a purposeful development of noise reducing measures. It substantiates the urgent need for action to establish a transparent data register on anthropogenic noise sources in the Mediterranean and to take measures to reduce the problem”, says Silvia Frey, PhD, co-author of the report and director for science and education at OceanCare. Implementing such a register is also part of the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive’s current action plan.
"With this report, we stand at the beginning of an acoustic assessment of the Mediterranean Sea as a marine habitat. Thus far, only noise sources which are timely and spatially incomplete could be identified. Hence, there is further need for scientific investigations into noise levels within the Mediterranean and, moreover, into what can be assessed as an acceptable and safe noise limit. Nevertheless, this first glance is remarkable and the extent of the noise sources is worrisome", explains Frey.
“The present mapping also reveals data weaknesses, as we have to assume that some areas currently identified as ‘quiet’, particularly along the coastline of Northern Africa, are only considered quiet due to a lack of data. In particular, activities by oil and gas companies, as well as the military remain largely obscure", adds Nicolas Entrup, consultant on underwater noise pollution for OceanCare and for US-based organisation NRDC.
“For the first time we have a wide spatial and temporal vision of the multiple and often overlapping human activities that produce noise underwater and that may have synergistic and cumulative effects on marine life. We now need models to map sound levels and sound exposure. We should not forget that conservation also means ‘conserving the acoustic quality of the habitats’”, says Gianni Pavan, co-author of the report and professor of the University of Pavia, Italy.
“Human activities using loud noise sources appear to cover very big portions of the Mediterranean Sea, and, of course, their impacts on marine wildlife propagate, regardless of human boundaries. Although far from being exhaustive, results shown in this study point out the need of a regulatory framework which takes into account the transboundary effects of man-made noise on the marine environment”, Alessio Maglio, co-author and scientist at SINAY SAS, adds.
Manuel Castellote, PhD, co-author and scientist at NOAA, concludes: “With this report we have barely grasped the tip of the iceberg when it comes to underwater noise occurrence in the Mediterranean Sea. A major concern is the amount of silent Mediterranean countries, silent when it comes to information sharing, not underwater silence!”
The report was commissioned by the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS) in order to identify areas of concern, to propose the need for further scientific assessment, as well as to deduce appropriate conservation measures.
Media contact persons
Scientific questions/Content:
Silvia Frey, PhD, co-author of the report and director science & education at OceanCare, Wädenswil/Switzerland. T: (+41) 44 780 66 88, M: (+41) 79 742 93 23.
Political context:
Sigrid Lüber, OceanCare President, Wädenswil/Switzerland. T: (+41) 44 780 66 88, M: (+41) 79 475 26 87,
Nicolas Entrup, Consultant for OceanCare and NRDC. T: +43 660 211 9963.

Further Information and Links

•    The authors of the report are:
Alessio Maglio, responsible for marine environmental assessments, SINAY SAS, environmental consulting, France
Gianni Pavan, professor for terrestrial and marine bioacoustics, CIBRA-DSTA, University of Pavia, Italy
Manuel Castellote, PhD, scientist at the Cetacean Assessment & Ecology Program at the National Marine Mammal Laboratory of NOAA – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, USA
Silvia Frey, PhD, director science and education, OceanCare, Switzerland

•    Report "Overview of the Noise Hotspots in the ACCOBAMS Area. Part I – Mediterranean Sea"
Citation: Maglio A., Pavan G., Castellote M., Frey S. (2015). „Overview of the Noise Hotspots in the ACCOBAMS Area. Part I – Mediterranean Sea“. A report prepared for the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS). DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.1.2574.8560/1
•    Information on the Silent Oceans Campaign:
•    Edutainment Video „Underwater Noise – The Overlooked Catastrophe“ (approx. 3.45 mins.) 
•    Link Brochure „Drowning in Sound“

•    Figure 9: ÜOverview of noise hotspots in the ACCOBAMS area
Citation: from: Maglio et al. 2015, page 28
Further explanation:
The figure shows where and how many of the four anthropogenic noise sources, namely ports and marinas, industrial projects (including oil and gas production facilities, wind turbines), commercial and scientific seismic exploration and military exercises occur. Areas with a higher number of noise-producing sources can be described as noise hotspots.

•    Figure 10: Noise-cetacean interaction hotspots: overlap of noise hotspots and important cetacean habitats.
Citation: from: Maglio et al. 2015, page 29.
Further explanation:
The illustration shows the areas with noise-producing human activities superimposed over the layer of important cetacean habitats as adopted by the Parties to the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS) in 2010. It yields important information of areas where potential conflicts between human activities and cetacean conservation may occur with reference to underwater noise pollution. Areas with no displayed noise sources, however, should not be interpreted as quiet or noise safe zones, because ship traffic as an important sound source is not depicted. Furthermore, it should be noted that the collated number of noise sources is not completely representative of the spatial and temporal noise situation due to a lack of a central database of noise-producing human activities, missing transparency regarding the implementation of seismic explorations, a deficiency of readiness to provide information of certain stakeholders and the security/secrecy aspects of military activities.
OceanCare has been working for the protection of marine mammals and oceans since 1989 and has initiated the campaign “Silent Oceans”. With research and conservation projects, environmental campaigns and intense contributions to a range of international committees, OceanCare has undertaken concrete steps worldwide to improve living conditions in the world’s oceans. Since July 2011, OceanCare has been recognised by the United Nations as a special advisor on marine conservation issues. Since 2004, OceanCare is an official partner of the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS).,
Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
Natural Resources Defense Council is a major American non-profit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, the organization has 1.3 million members and online activists, supporting national and international work on energy, wildlife, oceans, and other issues.

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Cargo polluters

  • Par
  • Le 12/02/2016


The pollution of just 16 Super Cargo ships equals that of all the cars in the world!

If you have ever driven behind a large diesel truck you have experienced the oily smell and the thick black smoke that leaves the air a brownish color. It's easy to see the cumulative effect of this exhaust on a busy highway. But there's something much worse out there -- cargo ships! Almost everything bought in America is made in Asia. This requires a constant procession of cargo ships crossing the oceans of the world. Some of these cargo ships are huge -- a quarter mile long -- and they have engines in them as big as a house [below].                                                                                   As ships get bigger, the pollution is getting worse. The most staggering statistic of all is that just 16 of the world's largest ships can produce as much lung-clogging sulphur pollution as all the world's cars put together!

These super-vessels use as much fuel as small power stations, but unlike power stations, they can burn the cheapest, filthiest, high-sulphur fuel -- the thick residues left behind in refineries after the lighter liquids have been taken. The stuff nobody on land is allowed to use.


There are now an estimated 100,000 ships on the seas, and the fleet is growing fast as goods are ferried in vast quantities from Asian industrial powerhouses to consumers in Europe and North America. The recession has barely dented the trade. Super-ships from the Far East, such as the Emma Maersk and her seven sisters Evelyn, Eugen, Estelle, Ebba, Eleonora, Elly and Edith Maersk can carry up to 14,000 full-size containers on their regular routes from China to Europe and America. Emma -- dubbed SS Santa by the media -- brought Christmas presents to Europe in October and is now en route from Algeciras in Spain to Yantian in southern China, carrying containers full of our waste paper, plastic and electronics for recycling. It burns marine heavy fuel, or 'bunker fuel', which leaves behind a trail of potentially lethal chemicals like sulphur and smoke that has been linked to lung problems, inflammation, cancer and heart disease. James Corbett, of the University of Delaware, is an authority on ship emissions. He calculates a worldwide death toll of about 64,000 a year, of which 27,000 are in Europe. Britain is one of the worst-hit countries, with about 2,000 deaths from funnel fumes. Corbett predicts the global figure will rise to 87,000 deaths a year by 2012.Part of the blame for this international scandal lies close to home. The International Maritime Organisation, the UN body that polices the world's shipping has rebuffed calls to clean up ship pollution for decades. As a result, while it has long since been illegal to belch black, sulphur-laden smoke from power-station chimneys or truck exhausts, shipping has kept its licence to pollute. For 31 years, the IMO has operated a policy agreed by the 169 governments that make up the organisation which allows most ships to burn bunker fuel. It's just another negative effect from globalization.


Christian Eyde Moller, boss of the DK shipping company in Rotterdam, recently described this as "just waste oil, basically what is left over after all the cleaner fuels have been extracted from crude oil. It's tar, the same as asphalt. It's the cheapest and dirtiest fuel in the world." Bunker fuel is also thick with deadly sulphur. IMO rules allow ships to burn fuel containing up to 4.5 per cent sulphur. That is 4,500 times more than is allowed in automobile fuel. The sulphur comes out of the ship's exhaust as tiny particles, and it is these that get deep inside the lungs. Thanks to the IMO's rules, the largest ships can each emit as much as 5,000 tons of sulphur in a year -- the same as 50-million typical cars, each emitting an average of 100 grams of sulphur a year. With an estimated 800million cars driving around the planet, that means 16 super-ships can emit as much sulphur as the world fleet of cars!


A year ago, the IMO belatedly decided to clean up its act. It said shipping fuel should not contain more than 3.5 per cent sulphur by 2012 and eventually must come down to 0.5 per cent. This lower figure could cut the deaths in half, says Corbett. It should not be hard to do. There is no reason ship engines cannot run on clean fuel, like cars. But, away from a handful of low-sulphur zones, including the English Channel and North Sea, the IMO gave shipping lines a staggering 12 years to make the switch. And, even then, it will depend on a final "feasibility review" (think cost) in 2018.                         In the meantime, according to Corbett’s figures, nearly one million more people will die. Smoke and sulphur are not the only threats from ships' exhaust. Every year they are also belching out almost one billion tons of carbon dioxide. Ships are as big a contributor to global warming as aircraft -- but have had much less attention from environmentalists.

Both international shipping and aviation are exempt from the Kyoto Protocol rules on cutting carbon emissions!

Of course, shipping companies are keeping their heads down. A meeting of the IMO in July threw out proposals from the British Chamber of Shipping, among others, to set up a carbon-trading scheme to encourage emissions reductions. Amazingly, the shipping companies pleaded poverty. Two-thirds of the world's ships are registered in developing countries such as Panama. But these are just flags of convenience, to evade tougher rules on safety and pay for sailors. At the IMO, governments successfully argued that ships from developing countries should not have to cut carbon emissions. IMO secretary-general Efthimios Mitropoulos insisted: "We are heavily and consistently engaged in the fight to protect and preserve our environment." Yet without limits, carbon emissions from shipping could triple by 2050. The failure brought calls for the IMO to be stripped of its powers to control the world's ships. Colin Whybrow, of Greenwave, a British charity set up to campaign for cleaner shipping, says: "The IMO is drinking in the last-chance saloon." Burning low-sulphur fuel won’t cut carbon emissions from ships. But there are other ways. More efficient engines could reduce emissions by 30 per cent, according to British marine consultant Robin Meech. However you look at it, the super-ships are rogues on the high seas, operating under pollution standards long since banished on land; warming the planet and killing its inhabitants. But what can we do?                                                                                                  Robert Pedersen, of Maersk, said: "The sulphur content varies according to where you get your fuel. Our average sulphur content is, I believe, 2.5 per cent. It's rather rare you get anything close to 4.5 per cent. The sulphur issue is one for the whole industry... There would be a huge cost implication to switch to cleaner fuel."

Cough ... cough!



Action for migratory animals

  • Par
  • Le 19/11/2014
  • Dans Eco

Governments Commit to Step up Action for Migratory Animals at UN Wildlife Conference

Polar Bear, Cuvier's Beaked Whale, Hammerhead Shark and Reef Manta Ray among Migratory Species Benefiting from Greater International Protection

Quito, Ecuador, 9 November 2014 - The Eleventh Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) concluded today after six days of intense negotiations aiming to set conservation actions for the benefit of the world’s migratory species for the coming years.  The Conference, held in Latin America for the first time, attracted over 900 delegates – a record for CMS – representing Parties, non-Parties, IGOs, NGOs and the media together with a large number of leading experts guiding global conservation efforts for the world’s avian, aquatic and terrestrial migratory species.  “The Conference in Quito has generated an unprecedented level of attention for the Convention,” said Bradnee Chambers, the Convention’s Executive Secretary, “Like never before in the 35-year history of CMS, migratory animals have become the global flagships for many of the pressing issues of our time. From plastic pollution in our oceans, to the effects of climate change, to poaching  and overexploitation, the threats migratory animals face will eventually affect us all”, said Chambers.Thirty-one proposals to add species to the Convention’s two appendices to improve the conservation status of endangered species were approved.  These included the addition of a record number of 21 shark, ray and sawfish species proposed by Kenya, Egypt, the European Union, Fiji, Costa Rica and Ecuador - leading the Conference to be dubbed the “Sharks COP” in some circles.  Cuvier’s beaked-whale proposed by the European Union was added to Appendix I and the Polar Bear (Norway) was added to Appendix II.  For bird species, the Semipalmated Sandpiper (Ecuador and Paraguay), the Great Knot (Philippines), the European Roller (European Union) and the Great Bustard (Mongolia) were listed on Appendix I, while the Canada Warbler (Ecuador) has been confirmed for Appendix II. The Red-fronted Gazelle (Niger and Senegal) will benefit from full protection, whereas international cooperation is recommended for the White-eared Kob (Ethiopia) following its inclusion in Appendix II. The European Eel (Monaco) has been added to Appendix II.“Ecuador is proud to have been given the historic opportunity to host CMS COP11. Our country is not only the first to defend the Rights of Nature, it is also home to an extraordinary variety of migratory wildlife,” said Lorena Tapia, Minister of Environment of Ecuador.A High-Level Ministerial Panel on 3 November on “Uniting the Rights of Nature and the Green Economy in the Context of Sustainable Development and Poverty Eradication” directly preceded the COP. Chaired by Lorena Tapia, the panel included environment ministers from Asia, Africa and Latin America and Executive Secretaries of Multilateral Environment Agreements and the CEOs of some of the world’s largest conservation NGOs as well as key experts. “Ecuador proposed the listing of a number of bird and shark species to ensure that they receive better protection. Together with the international community, we will continue to ensure safe passage for the travellers of our natural world,” said Tapia.

"The decisions made by Governments at the CMS Conference reflects the growing awareness that the responsibility for protecting wildlife is a shared one, and that the threats to wildlife can be tackled most effectively through global cooperation," said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, which administers  the Convention. "International agreements such as the CMS work on behalf of citizens and communities around the world who wish to conserve and protect our natural heritage. They are an expression of our shared commitment that the pursuit of human development does not come at the expense of our natural world," said Steiner.Tine Sundtoft, the Norwegian Environment Minister, proponent of the Polar Bear listing said “Norway is deeply committed to the conservation of polar bears and to the continued cooperation with Range States, other countries and stakeholders to achieve this end”.

The Polar Bear, the largest apex predator on Earth is affected by climate change that has led to the loss of 2 million m2 of sea ice. The Appendix II listing introduces the global perspective of existing threats to Arctic species stemming from shipping and oil exploration, making it a case for all CMS Parties.

Three Species Action Plans were approved: for the Argali Sheep in Central Asia, the Pacific Loggerhead Turtle and the Saker Falcon.  In addition a regional initiative covering large migratory mammals in Central Asia, such as the Bactrian Camel, the Snow Leopard and the Saiga Antelope, was launched together with an accompanying publication called “Central Asian Mammals Initiative: Saving the Last Migrations”.

During their extended journeys, migratory birds face serious threats. While in the past a sustainable level of trapping in nets had taken place, huge numbers have fallen victim of illegal trapping and killing for consumption and trade in recent years.  Countries now agreed to take action against illegal hunting.The adoption, by CMS Parties, of the global Guidelines to Prevent the Risk of Poisoning of Migratory Birds is a significant step forward.  A key element enshrined in the Guidelines is to phase out the use of lead gunshot in all environments over the next three years.Overexploitation and poaching remains a key threat. Initiating regional cooperation to better protect migratory animals across political borders is part of the Convention’s mandate. CMS plays a unique role in the fight against wildlife crime in the fields of transboundary conservation, training of local staff, law enforcement and creating alternative livelihoods.  The increasing levels of poaching of species such as the African Elephant have brought this issue to the fore.  For the first time, the threat posed by renewable energy technologies to bats, birds and cetaceans was on the agenda.  Guidelines on how wind turbines, solar panels, dams and other forms of renewable energy developments can be deployed in a wildlife-friendly manner were also adopted by COP.

In the marine environment, Resolutions were passed concerning plastic and other debris, cetacean culture, live capture of cetaceans and boat-based wildlife watching.Parties adopted the Strategic Plan for Migratory Species, which mirrors the Aichi Targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity to meet the Parties’ requirement that biodiversity-related agreements work ever more closely together. The objective of the Plan is to help integrating the needs of migratory species in national and international action plans. Details on how CMS and the civil society should implement the Strategic Plan including indicators to measure progress will be made available at COP12 in 2017. In their closing comments many delegates said the COP11 marked a milestone in the development of the Convention, which was better placed than ever to fulfill its mandate to conserve endangered migratory species.


Notes for Editors:

Administered by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (also referred to as the Bonn Convention, after the German city in which it was signed) held its 11th Conference of the Parties (COP) in Quito, Ecuador, from 4 - 9 November. Negotiated in 1979, CMS works for the conservation of a wide array of endangered avian, aquatic and terrestrial migratory animals worldwide.  The Convention currently has 120 Parties.  The Conference of the Parties (COP) is the principal decision-making body of the Convention and meets every three years.

Listing on CMS Appendix I carries an obligation on Parties for strict protection, such as bans on take. Appendix II listing commits countries to coordinate transboundary conservation measures throughout the species’ range.  

Further resources related to CMS COP11 (Press Releases, Video Interviews Conducted with COP Participants and Daily Conference Coverage by ENB) can be found here:

Contact details:

Florian Keil, Coordinator of the Common Information Management, Communication and Outreach Team of the UNEP/CMS and UNEP/AEWA Secretariats,
tel: +49 (0)228 815 2451, +(593) (0)9 934 92508 (during the conference), e-mail:

Veronika Lenarz, Public Information, UNEP/CMS Secretariat, tel: +49 (0)228 815 2409 ; +(593) (0)9 9911 84 42 (during the conference), e-mail:

WWF Report 2014

  • Par
  • Le 30/09/2014
  • Dans Eco

Solutions still in reach as world biodiversity suffers major declin

Gland, Switzerland: Global wildlife populations have declined by more than half in just 40 years as measured in WWF's Living Planet Report 2014. Wildlife's continued decline highlights the need for sustainable solutions to heal the planet, according to the report released today.

The Living Planet Report 2014 also shows Ecological Footprint – a measure of humanity's demands on nature – continuing its upward climb. Taken together, biodiversity loss and unsustainable footprint threaten natural systems and human well-being, but can also point us toward actions to reverse current trends.

“Biodiversity is a crucial part of the systems that sustain life on Earth – and the barometer of what we are doing to this planet, our only home. We urgently need bold global action in all sectors of society to build a more sustainable future,” said WWF International Director General Marco Lambertini.

The Living Planet Report 2014 is the tenth edition of WWF's biennial flagship publication. With the theme Species and Spaces, People and Places, the report tracks over 10,000 vertebrate species populations from 1970 to 2010 through the Living Planet Index – a database maintained by the Zoological Society of London. The report's measure of humanity's Ecological Footprint is provided by the Global Footprint Network.

This year's Living Planet Index features updated methodology that more accurately tracks global biodiversity and provides a clearer picture of the health of our natural environment. While the findings reveal that the state of the world's species is worse than in previous reports, the results also put finer focus on available solutions.

“The findings of this year's Living Planet Report make it clearer than ever that there is no room for complacency. It is essential that we seize the opportunity – while we still can – to develop sustainably and create a future where people can live and prosper in harmony with nature,” said Lambertini.

Critical wildlife declines
According to the report, populations of fish, birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles have declined by 52 per cent since 1970. Freshwater species have suffered a 76 per cent decline, an average loss almost double that of land and marine species. The majority of these losses are coming from tropical regions with Latin America enduring the most dramatic drop.

The report shows that the biggest recorded threat to biodiversity comes from the combined impacts of habitat loss and degradation. Fishing and hunting are also significant threats. Climate change is becoming increasingly worrisome, with research cited in the report finding that climate change is already responsible for the possible extinction of species.

“The scale of biodiversity loss and damage to the very ecosystems that are essential to our existence is alarming,” said Ken Norris, Director of Science at the Zoological Society of London. “This damage is not inevitable but a consequence of the way we choose to live. Although the report shows the situation is critical, there is still hope. Protecting nature needs focused conservation action, political will and support from industry.”

While biodiversity loss around the world is at critical levels, the Living Planet Report 2014 highlights how effectively managed protected areas can support wildlife. In one example, Nepal is noted for increasing its tiger population in recent years. Overall, populations in land-based protected areas suffer less than half the rate of decline of those in unprotected areas.

Ecological Footprint increases

According to the report, humanity's demand on the planet is more than 50 per cent larger than what nature can renew. It would take 1.5 Earths to produce the resources necessary to support our current Ecological Footprint. This global overshoot means, for example, that we are cutting timber more quickly than trees regrow, pumping freshwater faster than groundwater restocks, and releasing CO2 faster than nature can sequester it.

“Ecological overshoot is the defining challenge of the 21st century,” said Mathis Wackernagel, President and Co-founder of Global Footprint Network. “Nearly three-quarters of the world's population lives in countries struggling with both ecological deficits and low incomes. Resource restraints demand that we focus on how to improve human welfare by a means other than sheer growth.”

Delinking the relationship between footprint and development is a key global priority indicated in the report. While per capita Ecological Footprint of high-income countries is five times that of low-income countries, research demonstrates that it is possible to increase living standards while restraining resource use.

The 10 countries with the largest per capita Ecological Footprints are: Kuwait, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Denmark, Belgium, Trinidad and Tobago, Singapore, United States of America, Bahrain and Sweden.

The climate connection
The report comes months after a United Nations study warned of the growing impacts of climate change and gives evidence to the finding that climate is already impacting the health of the planet.

According to the Living Planet Report 2014, more than 200 river basins, home to over 2.5 billion people, experience severe water scarcity for at least one month every year. With close to one billion people already suffering from hunger, the report shows how climate, combined with changing land uses, threatens biodiversity and could lead to further food shortages.

Constructive negotiations over an international climate deal are among the opportunities that exist to control these trends. Completion of a global agreement that clears the way to a low carbon economy is essential given that fossil fuel use is currently the dominant factor in Ecological Footprint.

A complementary set of negotiations on a set of development goals creates the opportunity for countries to address how natural systems can be protected as world population surpasses 9.5 billion in coming decades.

Sustainable solutions
The Living Planet Report 2014 serves as a platform for global dialogue, decision-making and action for governments, businesses and civil society at a critical time for the planet.

The report provides WWF's “One Planet Perspective” with strategies to preserve, produce and consume more wisely. It also includes examples of how communities are already making better choices to reduce footprint and biodiversity loss.

“Nature is both a lifeline for survival and a springboard to prosperity. Importantly, we are all in this together. We all need food, fresh water and clean air – wherever in the world we live. At a time when so many people still live in poverty, it is essential to work together to create solutions that work for everyone,” said Lambertini.

In Asia, the report shows how cities are innovating ways to reduce carbon emissions, integrate renewable energy and promote sustainable consumption. In Africa, the report profiles how government can work with industry to protect natural areas. In other examples from around the world, the report highlights initiatives to control pollution, transform markets and improve lives.

WWF's “One Planet Perspective” shows how every corner of the globe can contribute to maintaining a footprint that doesn't outpace Earth's ability to renew. By following WWF’s programme for one planet living, society can begin reversing the trends indicated in the Living Planet Report 2014.

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Blue Whale

  • Par
  • Le 08/09/2014
  • Dans Eco


California blue whales rebound from whaling, first of their kin to do so

Blue Whale 1
A California blue whale 65-feet-long swims off Baja California. California blue whales are also known as eastern North Pacific blue whales.

The number of California blue whales has rebounded to near historical levels, according to new research by the University of Washington, and while the number of blue whales struck by ships is likely above allowable U.S. limits, such strikes do not immediately threaten that recovery.

This is the only population of blue whales known to have recovered from whaling – blue whales as a species having been hunted nearly to extinction.

Blue whales – nearly 100 feet in length and weighing 190 tons as adults – are the largest animals on earth. And they are the heaviest ever, weighing more than twice as much as the largest known dinosaur, the Argentinosaurus. They are an icon of the conservation movement and many people want to minimize harm to them, according to Trevor Branch, UW assistant professor of aquatic and fishery sciences.

"The recovery of California blue whales from whaling demonstrates the ability of blue whale populations to rebuild under careful management and conservation measures," said Cole Monnahan, a UW doctoral student in quantitative ecology and resource management and lead author of a paper on the subject posted online Sept. 5 by the journal Marine Mammal Science. Branch and André Punt, a UW professor of aquatic and fisheries sciences, are co-authors.

California blue whales ¬ are at their most visible while at feeding grounds 20 to 30 miles off the California coast, but are actually found along the eastern side of the Pacific Ocean from the equator up into the Gulf of Alaska.

Today they number about 2,200, according to monitoring by other research groups. That's likely 97 percent of the historical level according to the model the co-authors used. That may seem to some a surprisingly low number of whales, Monnahan said, but not when considering how many California blue whales were caught. According to new data Monnahan, Branch and another set of co-authors published earlier this summer in PLOS ONE, approximately 3,400 California blue whales were caught between 1905 and 1971.

"Considering the 3,400 caught in comparison to the 346,000 caught near Antarctica gives an idea how much smaller the population of California blue whales was likely to have been," Branch said.

The catches of blue whales from the North Pacific were unknown until scientists – in particular Yulia Ivashchenko of Southern Cross University in Australia – put on their detective caps and teased out numbers from Russian whaling archives that once were classified as secret but are now public. The numbers Russian whalers had publicly reported at one time were incomplete and inaccurate ¬– something that was admitted in the late 1990s – but there wasn't access to the real numbers until recently.

Blue Whale 2
 California blue whales (the cow is 76 feet long and the calf is 47 feet) swim near the California Channel Islands.

For the work published in PLOS ONE, the scientists then used acoustic calls produced by the whales to separate – for the first time – the catches taken from the California population from those whales taken in the western Northern Pacific near Japan and Russia. The two populations are generally accepted by the scientific community as being different. Places where acoustic data indicated one group or the other is present were matched with whaling catches.

In the subsequent Marine Mammal Science paper just out, the catches were among the key pieces of information used to model the size of the California blue whale population over time – a model previously used by other groups to estimate populations of hundreds of fish and various other whale species.

The population returning to near its historical level explains the slowdown in population growth, noted in recent years, better than the idea of ship strikes, the scientists said.

There are likely at least 11 blue whales struck a year along the U.S. West Coast, other groups have determined, which is above the "potential biological removal" of 3.1 whales per year allowed by the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act.

The new findings says there could be an 11-fold increase in vessels before there is a 50 percent chance that the population will drop below what is considered "depleted" by regulators.

"Even accepting our results that the current level of ship strikes is not going to cause overall population declines, there is still going to be ongoing concern that we don't want these whales killed by ships," Branch said.

Without ship strikes as a big factor holding the population back – and no other readily apparent human-caused reason (although noise, chemical pollution and interactions with fisheries may impact them) – it is even more likely that the population is growing more slowly because whale numbers are reaching the habitat limit, something called the carrying capacity.

"We think the California population has reached the capacity of what the system can take as far as blue whales," Branch said.

"Our findings aren't meant to deprive California blue whales of protections that they need going forward," Monnahan said. "California blue whales are recovering because we took actions to stop catches and start monitoring. If we hadn't, the population might have been pushed to near extinction – an unfortunate fate suffered by other blue whale populations."

"It's a conservation success story," Monnahan said.


Funding for students working on the research in Branch's lab comes through the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean, a collaboration between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and UW.

Contact: Sandra Hines
University of Washington

Oil prospecting

  • Par
  • Le 29/08/2014
  • Dans Eco
Northern Right Whale mother & calf (Eubalaena glacialis) off Atlantic coast of Florida. Aerial views..

A North Atlantic right whale mother and calf swim in the Atlantic off the coast of Florida. Only about 500 of this species remain.

Photograph by Brian Skerry, National Geographic Creative

Doug Struck

for National Geographic

Published August 9, 2014

Whales talk. But what makes them stop talking?

Scientists have long known that the marine mammals use creaks, groans, growls, and buzzes to communicate with each other—often over long distances—to find food, and even for mothers to keep track of their calves.

But what happens when the watery echosphere of their communication is filled with a drumbeat of undersea booms?

To the dismay of some who study whales, they may soon find out. The Obama administration this month gave the go-ahead for oil and gas companies to seek permits to use seismic noise cannons to map the Atlantic Ocean off the East Coast, to prepare for possible drilling after 2017.

Drilling companies already have carved up a target zone from Delaware to Cape Canaveral, Florida. The permits will allow their ships to crisscross the area dragging an array of cannons that erupt with a shock wave of sound every 10 to 15 seconds. The sound travels to the seafloor, enters the substrate, and bounces back to receivers on the ships.

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