USDA releases baaaaad decision on sheep station

The USDA has released a long-awaited decision on the fate of its controversial Idaho Sheep Experiment Station, and unfortunately the news isn’t good: under the decision, the station will continue to run without adopting any measures to increase its compatibility with land health or wildlife habitat.

And the station is incompatible with both. Located in the Centennial Mountains along Idaho’s border with Montana, it obstructs a critical east-west wildlife corridor, thereby fragmenting carnivore populations and preventing bighorns from reestablishing themselves in historic habitats. Pneumonia from domestic livestock also has the potential to devastate bighorn herds.

To make matters worse, this decision also includes a plan to reopen grazing in two other domestic allotments, Snakey Canyon and Kelley Canyon, after it was suspended due to a legal challenge from Guardians in 2017. We’re extremely disappointed that sheep industry lobbyists and Idaho Representative Mike Simpson have scuttled plans to return the Centennial Range to wildlife and recreational uses, but we’ll keep fighting.

Read the press release.

The post USDA releases baaaaad decision on sheep station appeared first on WildEarth Guardians.

Shortcomings in Caviar Labeling System Pose a Risk to Sturgeons

Geneva, Switzerland – Twenty years after trade in sturgeons was regulated, illegal trade in sturgeon caviar continues and threatens the survival of this endangered group of species across the world, according to a new TRAFFIC and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) study.

Published today to coincide with the meeting of the Animals Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the rapid assessment – “Understanding the Global Caviar Market” – of market surveys and trade analysis found that the CITES caviar labeling system is lacking in key range and consumer countries, making it easier for illegally sourced wild caviar to be traded both domestically and internationally.

“Sturgeon populations have severely declined in the past decades: poaching and illegal trade in wild caviar is still a threat to sturgeons,” said Jutta Jahrl, caviar trade expert at WWF.

“Our study shows that inconsistency in labeling design, placement and quality is a serious issue, making it difficult for enforcement authorities, producers or consumers to detect invalid CITES labels,” said Hiromi Shiraishi, one of the study authors at TRAFFIC.

All 27 sturgeon species are listed in IUCN’s Red List, and 16 are critically endangered. One of the main reasons for the alarming pace at which sturgeon populations have been declining in the wild is unsustainable fishing driven by high prices of caviar and the demand for wild sourced caviar.  The rapid assessments of online and physical markets in six key range or consumer countries (China, France, Germany, Japan, the Russian Federation and the United States) were conducted between December 2017 and February 2018. The goal of the study was to shed some light on the global market of caviar after two decades of CITES regulation of the caviar trade.

The countries examined in the study are Parties to CITES and should implement a universal labeling system for any caviar sold internationally and domestically. However, the study found that only two (Germany and France) have implemented it in their domestic trade. The lack of implementation in key domestic markets, such as the US, China and Russia, undermines the original purpose of the labeling system to ensure legal and traceable trade. And even where labels were found on caviar containers, they did not always fulfill the CITES labeling requirements. In France, there were instances where the containers appeared to have no seals or packaging to show visual evidence of opening and the lot identification number was missing in one case.

Caviar claimed as of wild origin was offered for sale in all six countries, both online and – apart from China, where no caviar was found at all – in physical markets. Consumers still ask for wild caviar, as it is regarded as superior to farmed.

“The fact that in Russia, Germany and France caviar sold as wild was offered ‘under the counter’ or on the black market, not openly, suggests dubious business,” says Jahrl. “In the previous surveys, we already found both aquaculture caviar falsely sold as wild, deceiving the consumer, but also wild caviar ‘laundered’ as farmed to legalize it. This still poses a threat to wild sturgeon populations as poaching occurs across the globe.”

Despite the introduction of CITES regulations and the rapid growth of aquaculture production, illegal fishing of sturgeon and illegal trade in wild caviar still pose a serious threat to remaining sturgeon and paddlefish. The Caspian Sea sturgeon population has continued to decrease dramatically despite the CITES listing, and anecdotal evidence of poaching was found in Russia. As European species have declined, the US has seen more poaching pressure on American species.

“If we don’t stamp out poaching and illegal trade, sturgeons will disappear,” says Beate Striebel, WWF’s sturgeon strategy coordinator. “Parties to CITES urgently need to implement the rules and crack down on selling wild caviar illegally.”

There is an obvious need for sampling, DNA and isotope analysis to determine the hot spots for poaching and trade. CITES enforcement must be improved to resolve the traceability and fraud issues. Existing regulations should be implemented at the  domestic level to increase traceability of all caviar on the market, and existing caviar labeling regulations should be strengthened to facilitate controls and avoid fraud.

WWF Urges Action on Unsustainable Fishing as UN Report Shows Dangerous Declines in Global Fisheries

Rome, 9 July 2018 – The release today of the latest global assessment of fishing by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is cause for great concern. The report shows that the percentage of fisheries classified as overfished continues to increase and is now a third of all assessed fisheries worldwide. Only a decade ago, this percentage was a quarter, and in 1974, the baseline for the report,10 percent of assessed stocks were overfished.

Michele Kuruc, Head of WWF’s delegation to the ongoing FAO Fisheries Committee meeting, said: “This steady creep upwards in overfishing must be seen as a clear warning that despite many efforts to curb this serious problem, clearly, we are not yet winning the battle.

As growing coastal populations lead to an increased demand for fish for food and livelihoods, particularly in less developed countries, the depletion of fish stocks will hit those most vulnerable, especially small-scale fishers whose daily nutrition and livelihoods are already on the line. With overfishing and its ecosystem impacts increasingly becoming a humanitarian issue, global leaders must act urgently to rein in unsustainable fishing to achieve the agreed sustainable development goals.

According to WWF, solutions to unsustainable and destructive fishing must include governments urgently setting aside short-term economic interests and responding instead to scientific advice on managing shared fish stocks and ecosystems with a long-term, responsible outlook; partnering with small-scale fishing communities to support sustainable fishing; ending harmful subsidies; and making further progress on tackling illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU). In addition, WWF is calling for robust action to protect important habitats like fish spawning areas, coral reefs, mangroves and seagrasses which are vital for global ocean and fisheries health.

“It is important to note that this report does not assess the broader ecosystem impacts of fishing on threatened and non-target species. We know that fishing’s impact on whales and dolphins, turtles, sharks, seabirds, and other species groups continues to be a major threat to ocean ecosystems, as does its footprint on fragile and productive habitats,” added Kuruc.

The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture is a bi-annual report published by the FAO. In 2007, 52 percent of assessed fish stocks were at maximum sustainably/fully-fished levels, while the findings published today show the figure to be close to 60 percent.