Venerdì, 15 Novembre 2013

News tips:

please read this interesting article by Lise Brix on sciencenordic

The mollusc was born in  1499 contemporary of discovery of America and Martin Luther’s Reformation.

World’s oldest animal is 507 years old

It’s time to rewrite the record books. New accurate dating shows that the world’s oldest animal was 507 years old when it died in 2006. That’s more than 100 years older than previously thought.

In autumn 2006 a team of researchers went on an expedition to Iceland, where they discovered something that made the headlines across the world. The discovery even made it into the Guinness Book of World Records.

One of the Arctica islandica bivalve molluscs, also known as ocean quahogs, that the researchers picked up from the Icelandic seabed turned out to be around 405 years old, and thus the world’s oldest animal.

However, after taking a closer look at the old mollusc using more refined methods, the researchers found that the animal is actually 100 years older than they thought. The new estimate says that the mollusc is actually 507 years old:

“We got it wrong the first time and maybe we were a bit hastingly publishing our findings back then. But we are absolutely certain that we’ve got the right age now,” ocean scientist Paul Butler, who researches into the A. islandica at Bangor University in Wales, tells ScienceNordic...

Pubblicato in Scienceonline
Venerdì, 15 Novembre 2013 20:11

Film: Fukushima Never Again

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please watch this interesting film.

Film Festival: Green Unplugged
Witnessing Global Consciousness, with documentaries and films from storytellers around the World

Fukushima Never Again :
Director: Steve Zeltzer | Producer: Steve Zeltzer
Genre: Documentary | Produced In: 2012 | Story Teller's Country: United States

Synopsis: The film tells the story of the Japanese nuclear plant meltdown in 2011 and the cover-up by the Japanese government and TEPCO. The film documents how the nuclear energy program for "peaceful atoms" was brought to Japan under the auspices of the US military occupation. It explores the criminal cover-up of the safety dangers of the plant by TEPCO and GE management, which built the plant in Fukushima. Included is an interview with Kei Sugaoka, the GE nuclear plant inspector from the bay area who exposed cover-ups in the safety at the Fukushima plant and was retaliated against by GE.

The film features the voices of the people and workers about the reality of the disaster. It shows what this means not only for the people of Japan but the people of the world as the US government and nuclear industry continue to push for more new plants and government subsidies. This film breaks the information blockade and the cover-up by the corporate media in Japan, the US and around the world that seeks to convince the public that Fukushima is over....

Pubblicato in Scienceonline
Venerdì, 15 Novembre 2013 20:08

Film: The Animal Communicator

News tips:

please watch this interesting film.

Film Festival: Green Unplugged
Witnessing Global Consciousness, with documentaries and films from storytellers around the World

The Animal Communicator
Director: Craig Foster | Producer: Vyv Simson
Genre: Documentary | Produced In: 2012 | Story Teller's Country: South Africa
from: NHU Africa|South Africa

Synopsis: What if you could talk to animals and have them talk back to you?

Anna Breytenbach has dedicated her life to what she calls interspecies communication. She sends detailed messages to animals through pictures and thoughts. She then receives messages of remarkable clarity back from the animals.

Anna can feel the scars hidden under a monkeys fur, she can understand the detailed story that is causing a birds trauma, she transforms a deadly snarling leopard into a relaxed content cat - the whole animal kingdom comes alive in a way never seen before - wild birds land on her shoulders, fish gather around her when she swims, and wild unfamiliar baboons lie on her body as if she is one of their own.

This is the first full length documentary film on the art of animal communication....!

Pubblicato in Scienceonline

10th Annual Global California Conference
Dec. 5th, 2013 - Silicon Valley (Redwood City), CA

The Americas – A Plethora of Business Opportunity for U.S. Companies

Public and Private sector representatives from Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru will address the conference attendees on why 'The Americas' marketplace is hot, specially for California companies.

Dec. 5th, 2013 marks the exact date nine years ago that the 1st Global California conference was conducted at Cisco Systems in Silicon Valley. Nine years later exactly to the date (12/5/13) the 10th annual Global California conference will be held at NestGSV in Silicon Valley, (Redwood City) Ca., with this year's theme focusing on the Latin American marketplace and the bilateral trade and investment opportunities that exist now for businesses of all sizes.

Public and Private sector representatives from Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru will address the conference attendees on why 'The Americas' marketplace is hot, especially for California companies.

Additionally, a special 'take-action' roundtable will be conducted in the afternoon session of the conference where attendees will be able to interact and meet leading trade promotion service providers in the trade finance, legal, marketing, education, advocacy and logistics business sectors.

For more information, agenda, exhibit/sponsorship opportunities and online registration visit
Pay at door: Reservation required. Call 831-335-4780

Pubblicato in Scienceonline

Ocean plastics are, of course, an important conservation issue. But as bad as large pieces of floating plastic are , it's the tiny microplastic particles that pose a major threat as they both give off and absorb different chemicals or pollutants and end up in fish, some of which are consumed by...

Marine Debris: Microplastics – from facial scrub to the Great Lakes

Posted on October 25, 2013 by Steve Stewart, Michigan State University Extension In the Great Lakes, marine debris affects the beauty of our environment, is a health and safety hazard, threatens our wildlife and natural...

Microplastics are in the Great Lakes – where do they come from and are they a problem?

In the Great Lakes, marine debris affects the beauty of our environment, is a health and safety hazard, threatens our wildlife and natural resources, and comes at a significant economic cost. From a beach covered in trash to an animal entangled in fishing line, marine debris is a problem we can’t ignore. This article focuses on microplastics, a little—and little known—type of marine debris.

Microplastics are tiny bits of plastic that often originate from beach litter, or even consumer face scrubs, that are beginning to concern scientists. In the summer of 2012, Great Lakes research scientists sampling Lakes Erie, Huron and Superior were surprised to find tiny plastic particles suspended in the water. Although they knew about microplastics, what surprised them was the small size of the plastic Microplastics image from NOAA.particles – less than one millimeter in diameter. In the Great Lakes samples, approximately 85% of the plastic debris found was microplastics.

Often, large pieces of plastic are gradually broken down into smaller and smaller fragments by weathering and abrasion until they become microplastics.  Other sources of microplastics include industrial pre-production plastic pellets and polyethylene bead exfoliants from personal care products. While the percentage of microplastics found in the Great Lakes samples was greater than that typical of ocean samples, scientists are concerned that results from ocean studies on microplastics apply to the Great Lakes....!


Pubblicato in Scienceonline
Venerdì, 15 Novembre 2013 18:45

The case of the mysterious seafood

An unknown percentage of the fish we eat isn't what's it's purported to be – FAO meeting explores how forensic techniques could help address the problem

The first victim was a Caucasian male in his late 30s. He popped down to the pub for lunch and ordered fish and chips. As he enjoyed his meal alongside a pint, he thought to himself that he'd never tasted haddock so fresh. But he was wrong. What he was eating wasn't haddock at all.

The second victim was a young Japanese woman in her early twenties. On a business trip to the U.S., she ordered tuna sashimi for lunch. It seemed fishy to her—and she was dead right.
The third was a South African fisherman we'll call "Nate." He never ate a thing, but as he plied the waters of the new fishery he'd recently started working, elsewhere poachers harvested protected spiny lobster and exported them with false documents—further damaging recovering fishing grounds Nate hoped to one day fish again.

Seafood identity theft?

In each of these three hypothetical cases the culprit was mistaken or misrepresented identity—of seafood.

"Identifying unprocessed fish is usually fairly easy," says Michele Kuruc of FAO's Fisheries and Aquaculture Department. "But today seafood is transported far abroad, to places where it may not be well known. Plus, as the industry has globalized, it is common that fish products are processed on floating factories before they come to shore. What inspectors see often doesn't look much like a fish in the wild."
In some instances, accurately identifying fish may be beyond the abilities of inspectors. Innocent clerical errors can end up turning one type of fish into another.
Or unscrupulous fishers and traders game the system to avoid restrictions or taxes.
According to Kuruc, those involved in illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing use many methods to conceal their illegal activities and get their ill-gotten goods to market. "Fraudulent product substitution and use of false labels and documentation are frequently employed to transport and market products illicitly," she says.

The result? An unknown percentage of seafood on the shelves simply isn't what's it's purported to be.

Big stakes

This is a problem. Today's more conscious consumers are aware of the multiple health benefits of eating seafood—but are also keen to be sure they're eating fish that has been caught or farmed responsibly and is safe to eat.

And there's much more at stake.

In recent years a number of major food retailers have committed to stocking only seafood certified as sustainable. As of January 1, 2010, the world's biggest seafood market, the European Union, has put in place regulations aimed at blocking imports of fish not harvested legally.

With 110 million tonnes of seafood consumed globally per year, international trade in fish is valued at a record high of $86 billion annually and is a major source of employment and government revenue for developing countries, where many of the fishing grounds that feed the first world are found.

Additionally, concerns about the wellbeing of many fish stocks necessitates diligent oversight of what fish are being taken and where.

Forensic science can help

Forensic technologies based on genetics and chemistry are already being used by some countries to monitor and control trade in produce, animals and timber. So FAO recently convened a workshop of experts, inspectors, law enforcement officials, scientists and academics to discuss how they might be more widely deployed in fisheries enforcement.

"We're interested in promoting wider use of available forensic techniques, in particular by developing countries, Kuruc says."Some countries have successfully used various forensic methods in investigations and court cases, but many fisheries monitoring, control and surveillance personnel still remain unaware of their existence."

DNA analysis can reveal the species of a suspect white fillet. Chemical tests on fish earbones reveal absorbed nutrients and pinpoint the region where they were caught.

"We need to push the envelope, because we can be sure that those involved in IUU fishing are doing so," Kuruc added. "One workshop participant related how a group convicted of illegally trading abalone confessed that they learned techniques for destroying evidence by watching CSI: Miami."

In addition to surveying the state of the art and brainstorming how forensics might be used in fisheries and identifying needs—especially for capacity building in developing countries—the meeting also looked at best practices in handling evidence, how inspectors should be trained, and identifying laboratories capable of handling testing. (In many cases, labs in developing countries currently testing for food quality could be upgraded to conduct forensic work.)

The group also agreed to operate as an ad hoc FAO reference network that can be tapped by authorities around the world for guidance and advice.

"Fish can be properly identified if samples are handled properly, get to the right labs, and checked using forensic techniques," said Kuruc. "So the idea is to help countries that don't have such facilities and know-how access so them, so they can identify and prosecute cases of malfeasance."

Pubblicato in Scienceonline
Venerdì, 15 Novembre 2013 18:44

Greenpeace vs. Russia: the tip of the iceberg?

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please read thisinteresting article posted by Irene Quaile on

Moscow rejects the authority of an international tribunal hearing an appeal for the release of the "Arctic 30" Greenpeace activists detained in Russia. Meanwhile, it's business as usual in the race for Arctic oil.

Some 13 percent of the world's remaining undiscovered oil reserves, 30 percent of its gas are estimated to be in the Arctic. The higher the price of energy, the faster the ice melts, the greater the international interest in a region becoming increasingly accessible as the world continues to warm. At the same time concern is growing amongst those who see development as a threat to the sensitive environment of the "High North" - and an increasing risk for the global climate: the burning of more fossil fuels would further intensify global change by producing more CO2 emissions.

The harsh nature of Russia's reaction to the Greenpeace protest at the Prirazlomnaya oil rig in the Arctic demonstrates how important the region has become for the government in Moscow. Thirty of the activists and accompanying journalists have been held in jail in Russia since the Greenpeace ship "Arctic Sunrise" was impounded by Russian security officers two months ago. Last week, the Russian Federation boycotted a hearing at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), saying the court had no authority in the matter.!

Pubblicato in Scienceonline

Atlantic Bluefin tuna, several shark species, corals reviewed

An advisory panel of independent experts convened by FAO has issued recommendations regarding six proposals to limit international trade in a number of commercially exploited aquatic animals under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

The CITES Convention was established to protect wild species whose status is being directly affected by international trade. It is not designed to protect species that are endangered for other reasons. Once a species is listed by CITES, its international trade is subject to varying degrees of control depending on its status, ranging from controlled trading (if listed on CITES Appendix II) to outright bans (Appendix I).

The proposals, submitted by various CITES parties, request the Convention to control international trade in certain shark and coral species and to ban international trade in Atlantic bluefin tuna. They will be considered for listing at the 15th Conference of CITES parties (Doha, Qatar, 13-25 March 2010).

The advisory panel consisted of 22 international fishery experts from 15 different countries. It was convened to evaluate the proposals according to criteria established by CITES and to give independent and impartial recommendations based on the experts' knowledge and on the scientific evidence presented in each proposal. This follows a formal process through which FAO channels advice from external fishery scientists to CITES. The CITES Conference of Parties will take the final decision regarding listing of proposed species.

Panel outcomes

Following a thorough six-day review and using the CITES criteria, the panel determined that sufficient evidence exists to warrant placing the following species on CITES Appendix II: Oceanic whitetip shark (Carcharhinus longimanus), Porbeagle (Lamna nasus), and Scalloped hammerhead shark (Sphyrna lewini). In addition, the proposed listing of "look-alike" shark species to help enforcement for Scalloped hammerhead shark was found to be justified in two of the four cases, Great hammerhead shark (Sphyrna mokarran) and Smooth hammerhead shark (Sphyrna zygaena).

The panel did not reach consensus regarding the proposed listing under CITES Appendix I of Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus), however a majority of the panel agreed that the available evidence supports the proposal. There was consensus that the evidence available supports the inclusion of Atlantic bluefin tuna on Appendix II.

For the remaining species under consideration, Spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias) and all species of the coral family Coralliidae, the panel assessed that they did not meet the criteria required by CITES for listing on Appendix II. However, the panel did note that inadequate management in many areas of distribution of these species represents a cause for "serious concern". It urged that these shortcomings be remedied by relevant fishing nations and regional organizations in order to prevent rates of exploitation for these animals from exceeding acceptable levels.

The full report of the advisory panel will be available within the next month and accessible on the website of FAO's Fisheries and Aquaculture Department.

Pubblicato in Scienceonline

FAO publishes policy brief for Copenhagen

Climate change is projected to impact heavily on agriculture, forestry and fisheries in the Pacific islands, leading to increased food insecurity and malnutrition, FAO warned today ahead of the UN summit on climate change in Copenhagen. The agency urged governments and donors to immediately start implementing robust and action-oriented climate change adaptation plans for all Pacific islands. 
Climate change is expected to act as a "threat multiplier" in a region that is already under severe ecological and economic stress, according to the FAO policy brief Climate Change and Food Security in the Pacific prepared for Copenhagen.

Pacific islands will have to face sea levels rise, ocean warming and acidification, changing rainfall patterns, changing sunshine hours and cloud cover, altered ocean and atmospheric circulation patterns and an increased frequency of extreme weather events such as tropical cyclones and droughts.

Many of these impacts could lead to cumulative and adverse effects on agricultural and fishery yields and food security. Land and marine ecosystem degradation, heat stress, soil erosion, salinization and nutrient depletion, the spread of plant pests and diseases, more frequent forest fires, droughts and flooding pose an acute and serious risk to food production.

Adapt and diversify
"Farmers should not be left alone when it comes to climate change," said FAO Assistant Director-General Alexander Müller. "Countries and their development partners need to ensure that farmers receive the best available information on the choice of crop varieties as well as soil and water management options to adapt to climate change," he added.
Those Pacific islands with monoculture crop production will need to assess their food security potential closely, as diversified agricultural systems will fare better under all climate change scenarios. "Integrated systems of crops, trees and possibly livestock offer opportunities for sustainable intensification of food production while creating a more resilient ecosystem," Müller said.


Climate change also seriously threatens the sustainability of the fishing industry and has the potential to undermine food security in a region strongly reliant on fish as a source of protein and income derived from renting the sea to foreign fleets. Subsistence and commercial fishing, particularly of tuna species, are mainstays of many Pacific island economies. Changes in the distribution and abundance of tuna have serious implications for the long-term viability of industrial fisheries and canneries in the western Pacific. Subsistence and commercial fishing will have to diversify production, fish industry infrastructure and distribution patterns in order to adapt to abrupt environmental and industry change. 


"Climate change impacts, coupled with ongoing overexploitation of forest resources in the region, will place immense pressures on remaining forests," FAO said. Forests and trees provide important staple crops in the Pacific such as breadfruit, mangos, citrus fruits and coconuts. Mangrove forests prevent from coastal erosion, provide protection from storm surges and tsunamis, and offer important habitats for numerous fish species. Governments in the region should be supported in managing forests sustainably and in promoting integrated agro-forestry systems. The potential of forests to contribute to carbon sequestration should be recognised.

Robust adaptation

"International climate change negotiations should consider the close linkages between food security and global warming," Müller said. "All Pacific islands should be supported in implementing their ‘National Adaptation Programmes of Action', also including food security issues."
Research and development should be intensified in agriculture, fisheries and forestry to identify and promote the use of salt- and drought-resistant crop varieties, the rehabilitation of coastal forests and infrastructure development in vulnerable coastal areas.

"Failure to act is likely to lead to increased poverty, political instability and conflict," he stressed

The policy brief was written together with the Pacific Expert Group on Climate Change and Food Security.

Pubblicato in Scienceonline
Venerdì, 15 Novembre 2013 18:38

Locust infestation in Mauritania

Country teams and FAO bring situation under control

Ground control operations are in progress against an infestation of desert locusts in Mauritania. As long as there are no heavy rains the infestations should be eliminated by early December, FAO said today.

Seventeen teams from the National Locust Centre in Mauritania are currently undertaking survey and control operations against breeding locusts in the west of the country where a serious infestation developed earlier this month.

The new hatchlings are gathering together to form small but dense hopper groups that are good targets for the control teams. More than 2,100 ha have been treated since the control operations started on 11 September.

“The current situation appears to be under control,” said Keith Cressman. “FAO is monitoring the situation extremely closely and will continue to keep countries, the donor community and other stakeholders informed of any significant developments as they arise.”

2004 outbreak worse

The infestation is smaller than the outbreak in 2003 that led to a regional plague in 2004-05. No significant rain has fallen this month and vegetation is starting to dry out.

All countries within the region are much better prepared than in 2003 and have sufficient resources in place to bring the current situation under control.

Although there is no immediate threat, other countries in the region are on standby and ready to help Mauritania if needed. Morocco has mobilized survey teams and two aircraft in the extreme south just in case locust adults arrive from Mauritania. So far, ecological conditions remain dry in southern Morocco and no significant locust infestations have been detected.

Rains only risk

If unusually heavy and widespread rains occur in the next six weeks, there is a risk that small swarms will form in early December in the infested area.

They could then move north into northern Mauritania and southern Morocco and breed during the winter. This could eventually lead to further migration and breeding during the spring as far north as the Atlas Mountains in Morocco and Algeria.

However, the probability of this to occur is slim and FAO and its partners will keep a close watch on the developments. FAO has taken several precautionary steps in case the locust situation deteriorates.

FAO is organising an experts meeting in Mauritania next week  to assess the situation on the ground and to develop short and mid-term action plans. FAO is in regular contact with the donor community if additional funds are required for control operations.

Pubblicato in Scienceonline
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