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.

Forest Program Digital Campaign Strategist

Rainforest Action Network (RAN) is an environmental and human rights organization that believes individuals and communities can confront corporate power together to create the world we want and need. RAN uses nonviolent direct action, grassroots organizing, and strategic communications to challenge corporations to stop destructive operations, respect human rights, and adopt comprehensive policies to reduce their contributions to climate change. We take leadership from grassroots and Indigenous movements and are currently developing our organization-wide racial justice lens.

RAN’s Forest Program fights for the health of the world’s rainforests, and the people and species which rely on them for survival. We stand up to the biggest corporations in the world, the companies putting profits over people and the planet as a matter of business. When human rights are abused, when child and forced labor is an everyday tactic, where land is stolen from Indigenous Peoples so multi-national mega-corporations can destroy forests with impunity, we’ll be there fighting the root causes of deforestation.

RAN believes that people acting together can change this, as we have seen time and again throughout history.

Position Summary:

RAN has an opening for a full-time position on our Digital Engagement Team for a Digital Campaign Strategist for the Forest Program. If you want to make a difference for the environment and human rights, you’re creative and have strong digital and writing skills, this could be the perfect role for you. The Digital Campaign Strategist will work closely with RAN’s Forests Program to provide the digital strategy and technical backbone necessary for effective online campaigning. The successful candidate will know how to utilize digital channels to compel online and offline action. They will be experienced and strategic in leveraging both in-house resources such as our email list and advocacy platform, NationBuilder (or have equivalent eCRM experience), as well as social media to leverage people power and provide concrete results for the campaign. The Digital Campaign Strategist will plan and implement a range of digital strategies and tactics, some tried-and-true and some innovative. The Digital Campaign Strategist will be responsible for evaluating data, testing, and reporting back on insights and knowledge gained from each online action completed. In addition to the utilization of online assets in strong and effective campaigning and fundraising, the Digital Campaign Strategist will be responsible for assisting with growth of RAN’s presence across social media channels. The ideal candidate will have strong writing skills—for example, they will be able to craft an excellent advocacy email, write an engaging blog and create effective social media copy. Applicants with a background in organizing, campaigning, and/or strategic communications will be a better fit for this position than those with purely technical backgrounds.

This position is full-time, salary with excellent benefits and reports directly to the Digital Director. This location is flexible, San Francisco preferred. A successful applicant outside of San Francisco must be comfortable and effective working in a distributed team from a home office. With our headquarters located in San Francisco, remote applicants must be comfortable working on or near San Francisco time during normal working hours.

Specific Duties:

● Working with campaigners, the Digital Campaign Strategist will plan and execute all aspects of robust campaigns in the digital space to move corporate targets.

● Write and produce email blasts, blogs, social media content, and other written materials for online production.

● Build, test, and deploy online action, fundraising and landing pages.

● Create and test emails and other online communications.

● Use online tools such as Share Progress, Brigade, Causes, and MoveOn Petitions to increase reach and growth for RAN’s campaigns.

● Create advocacy and donation forms and surveys using NationBuilder or similar eCRM platform.

● Use Google Analytics, eCRM, Facebook Insights, and other data reporting tools to track and share data analytics and strategically adapt campaign tactics.

● Provide analysis of online performance and recommendations for changes when needed.

● Manage followers on social media and implement strategies to grow reach.

● Create content highlighting regions impacted by deforestation and/or climate change.

● Support other aspects of RAN’s work (e.g. helping during major fundraising events, grassroots trainings, or campaigns priorities as requested by supervisor);

● Work openly and cooperatively within a high functioning team dynamic;

● Participate in weekly team meetings and bi-weekly RAN staff meetings;

● Share office responsibilities to maintain a healthy and safe workplace.

Required Qualifications:

●  2-3 years of experience using online advocacy tools such as NationBuilder, Blue State Digital, Action Kit, Salsa, Convio, etc;

●  2-3 years of experience writing advocacy content for online use;

●  Strong interpersonal skills;

●  Strong organizational, time management and project management skills, ability to work to tight deadlines;

●  Passionate commitment to forests protection, human rights and/or corporate campaigning;

●  Basic understanding of HTML;

●  Experience using social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, for campaigning;

●  Experience using basic reporting tools to analyze and track data;

●  Ability to work independently from a remote location, to follow instructions, and complete tasks across time zones with a minimal amount of supervision if necessary;

●  Strong commitment to and belief in the power of using online resources to help empower communities and activists;

●  Knowledge and commitment to advancing racial justice;

The post Forest Program Digital Campaign Strategist appeared first on Rainforest Action Network.

We don’t just need electric cars, we need fewer cars

Ever since the first production car rolled off the assembly line more than 100 years ago, our love affair with automobiles has grown and grown. In countries like the UK, France, Italy and Germany there are now around 5 vehicles for every 10 people. In the USA, Australia and New Zealand, the number is higher still. 

But, after a century of the automobile playing a central part in our lives, we’re starting to see a shift toward alternative forms of transport. If this trend continues, the car’s domination of global transport could soon come to a spluttering end.

Cars in BeijingTraffic jam in Beijing

Hidden cost of cars

With the cost of electric vehicles set to plummet over the next decade, many car firms now admit that the future is an electric one. But will this be enough? Shouldn’t we also be asking ourselves if we need so many cars in the first place?

If we could flick a switch and turn every fossil fuelled car into an electric one, lungs across the planet would breathe a sigh of relief as toxic emissions dropped (as long as the electricity used was from clean energy sources).

But this wouldn’t address the problem of just how wasteful a car dominated transport system is. 

In 2016, more than 72 million new cars hit the road. Manufacturing such a giant quantity of vehicles year on year uses vast quantities of steel, aluminium, copper, glass, rubber, and other raw materials.

It’s a great environmental cost, considering the majority of these vehicles sit idle 95% of the time.

Parked cars take up a vast amount of space, too. In urban areas in Los Angeles county, an estimated 14% of land – 200 square miles – is dedicated to parking.

Changing attitudes

Though progress is often slow, city planners and politicians are gradually waking up to the fact that when cities offer safe and affordable alternatives to cars, we start to travel differently.

Cyclists in Copenhagen Cyclists in Copenhagen 

More and more young people are choosing bicycles, buses and trains over owning a car out of the sheer cost. In Berlin, it’s public transport, not cars, which is the coolest way of getting around

In Copenhagen, a city that has a long held reputation for being bike-friendly, a whopping 62% of people choose to cycle their commute.

In the French city of Lyon, the number of cars entering the city has fallen by 20% compared to just a decade ago. As the city’s network of bike hire stations continues to grow, town planners are hoping for a further 20% decline.

In London, where cycle super-highways are becoming popular, the share of journeys made by car has fallen by a quarter since 1990

Car free days are rising in popularity in many of the world’s largest cities, giving people a taste of what it’s like to live with less noise, traffic and pollution. Bogota was one of the first cities to introduce a car free day, and it’s now become so popular that it’s been extended to a full week.

Our vision

Though the rise of electric cars should be celebrated, a truly sustainable transport system isn’t just about ditching fossil fuel vehicles.

It’s about building more cycle lanes, and supporting schemes to get people on bikes in the first place. It’s about constructing roads which encourage a more diverse range of travel – cycling, electric scooters and cargo bikes – instead of so heavily favouring cars. It’s about mass transport that runs on clean energy and is affordable and easy for everyone to use. And it’s about all of us – citizens, politicians, and businesses – playing a part in making it happen.

To coincide with the World Economic Forum taking place in Davos this week, Greenpeace has published Freedom to Breathe: Rethinking Urban Transport, a report that lays out our vision for the future of transport.

Richard Casson is a campaigner for Greenpeace UK